Olmert Puts Roadmap at Forefront of Israeli Policy

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reiterated Israel’s support for the U.S. backed Road Map initiative for the Arab-Israeli dispute at a meeting Tuesday with President Moshe Katzav.

Scott Shiloh , | updated: 5:16 PM

Olmert said that while he was prime minister, his government would “stick to the Road Map.” “It would be a mistake to release somebody from a responsibility whose framework he is obligated to,” he said.

Olmert said he hoped Israel will start negotiating a permanent status agreement with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, after elections are held both in Israel and the PA. He said, however, that this would happen “only if he commits himself to disarming the terrorist organizations” that work out of the PA.

Abbas, however, has threatened to resign if his Fatah party loses to the Hamas in parliamentary elections scheduled for January 25.

Regarding the possibility of negotiating with the Hamas, Katzav said, after meeting with Olmert that “there is no basis or capacity to negotiate with one who does not recognize our right to exist, even if he sits in the Palestinian parliament.”

On the issue of Iran, Olmert said, “I believe that there is a way to ensure that non-conventional weapons don’t wind up in irresponsible hands which can threaten world peace.”

He added that Israel will continue to cooperate with European and American policymakers regarding Iran. “In any event, Israel will not accept a situation in which it is threatened,” said Olmert.

Olmert, formerly of the Likud, now heads the Kadima party, founded a few months ago by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, before he was incapacitated with a debilitating stroke.

Regarding demonstrations by Jewish residents in Hevron, Olmert said he will act the way he believes Sharon would have. “I’ll do what I think Arik Sharon would have done…so there will be no hesitation,” he said.

“Whoever raises a hand against security personnel, a soldier or policeman, will be punished with all available force, and will be expelled from any place he illegally occupies. This is right regarding Hevron, right regarding Amona (a Jewish community near Ofra), and it’s right in relation to other places.”