Ehud Olmert: Annexation of Judea and Samaria will forever tie us down to Palestinians

The former prime minister was asked about an interview he gave to a Saudi news site in which he opposed the annexation of the Jordan Valley.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Flash 90

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert was interviewed by the Saudi Elaph news site, warning that Israel’s annexation of the Jordan Valley would lead to "disaster." He went on to say that the claim of the Jordan Valley's strategic significance to Israeli security in case of attack from the East was "nonsense" since Jordan was willing to allow international peacekeepers to prevent such an attack from taking place.

Following the publication, Olmert was interviewed by Yinon Megal and Ben-Caspit of 103FM who reminded the former prime minister of the failed 2006 Lebanon campaign in which the IDF suffered unexpected casualties at the hands of Hezbollah, failing to advance past the Litani River before a ceasefire forced a retreat. To the interviewers' dismay, Olmert called the war a "success," saying it was "very helpful, and contributed to the fact that there haven't been any shootings at the border for the last 14 years."

Buffer from the East? 'Nonsense!'

When one of the interviewers pointed out that Hezbollah was just waiting for the right moment to strike and was within rocket's reach of any point in the Jewish State, Olmert pointed out that Israel had not engaged in a military conflict with Jordan since the Yom Kippur War while the Kingdom's forces were "situated across the Jordan River, and there had long been quiet along the Eastern border."

The former premier went on to state that "…the claim that we need the Jordan Valley…is nonsense…" "I’m saying that as the former prime minister…No one [can make the claim] I’m not a patriot of the country," he continued.

Regarding the peace plan he offered PA head Mahmoud Abbas, according to which 93% of Judea and Samaria would have gone towards the creation of a Palestinian State, Olmert claimed his plan would have ensured that "a foreign army would [be prevented from attacking from the East]."

He said in case of attack, the IDF "would not be forced to meet the attacking force at its 1967 borders, but rather on the Jordanian border" to avoid an existential threat. He said that there "was a consensus at the time that Israeli forces would be allowed to enter [territory given up within the framework of a peace plan] and prevent the advance of an enemy force. "I didn't…abandon Israeli security concerns—I provided a solution that did not require unilateral annexation."

'State of Israel cannot continue holding on to all of Judea and Samaria'

Olmert had strong words when asked about Prime Minister Netanyahu, claiming that Netanyahu "has completely failed, allowing the Iranians to enter Syria." "The geo-political reality in Syria is also different than it was in years past, and this led to apathy on the part of Netanyahu when it came to allowing Iran into the country," he continued. "Now he keeps [trying to make an impression] by bombing the Iranians, but he's the one who allowed them in in the first place."

Returning to the topic of annexation of the Jordan Valley, Olmert said the entirety of IDF brass were opposed to unilateral annexation, all warning of the "disastrous results" such a step would bring. "We know what security officials, who know how things work from the legal perspective and are in constant contact with the Palestinian Authority, think...," he stated.

'Far-reaching diplomatic implications'

One of the interviewers attacked Olmert, accusing him of "misleading the public." Olmert replied that he was the one doing the misleading since, "when it comes to unilateral annexation, everyone is opposed due the far-reaching implications for Israel's security in case the situation in Jordan deteriorates and there is very serious danger to Israel's security."

"Israel must maintain a constant military presence on the Jordanian border and the solution must come within the framework of an agreement with the PA, Jordan and the international community. This is a show that doesn't leave us many options," he posited.

Olmert concluded: "In such circumstances, in the context of an international agreement, international guarantees and the military presence of an allied coalition from friendly countries, [would it be] essential for the State of Israel to unilaterally annex the Jordan Valley? I've said it before—it's not and the only reason [Netanyahu] wants to do this has nothing to do with our security or political concerns.

Netanyahu replies

Likud party spokesmen denounced Olmert’s statements, referring to his 2007 offer to Abbas. "After Olmert was willing to give up the Western Wall, is it any surprise that he’s willing to give up the Jordan Valley, which is critical to the security of the State of Israel? Olmert’s comments are irresponsibility and irrelevant," read the statement.