Likud Chairman and former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says any agreement reached between PM Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is null and void.
Widely expected to be the next prime minister, Netanyahu said he would not honor an agreement reached between Fatah chief Abbas and Olmert – who are currently engaged in frantic negotiations on final status issues. The nature of the hurried negotiations with the questionably-sovereign head of a fractured PA is to reach a US-imposed deadline of at least a theoretical deal for a Palestinian state by the end of 2008.
"The agreement that Olmert will or will not achieve is no more than a cynical invalid deal - not in legal terms, but in terms of reality," Netanyahu is quoted saying in Friday’s Makor Rishon newspaper.
Israel’s main papers are carrying special holiday interviews with Prime Minister Olmert; Makor Rishon opted to interview Netanyahu instead.
Netanyahu acknowledged that Olmert would seek to present a US-backed deal as his election platform. "Then the public will be the judge," Netanyahu said. "If [Kadima] wins the election - fine. But if they don't, they can't force upon the public, in a cynical and manipulative manner, something the public is not interested in.”
On a different topic, Netanyahu says he regrets not establishing a unity government with Shimon Peres after beating him in the 1996 elections.
"I have since learned to appreciate Shimon Peres on a personal level in a different way than I did back then,” Netanyahu told Makor Rishon. “Today I think that we should have established a unity government, especially in light of the awful polarization that resulted from the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.”
The 1996 elections were seen as a referendum on the Oslo Accords. Bringing Peres, the accords’ architect, in as co-PM would have been a controversial move considering Netanyahu’s anti-Oslo campaign.
At the time, when Netanyahu continued to carry out the stages of the accords, including handing over the majority of Hevron to the PA, he claimed he had inherited the accords and was doing his best with the circumstances he had been given.