Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that Israel must withdraw from the West Bank and dismissed the thought of an Israeli attack on Iran, the New York Times reports. Olmert remains the interim prime minister after resigning to fight charges of corruption. “What I am saying to you now has not been said by any Israeli leader before me,” Olmert said in an interview with Yediot Aharanot. “The time has come to say these things.”
“We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians,” he said, “the meaning of which is that in practice we will withdraw from almost all the territories, if not all the territories. We will leave a percentage of these territories in our hands, but will have to give the Palestinians a similar percentage, because without that there will be no peace.”
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the “Six Day War” of 1967. The United Nations has repeatedly reiterated since then that the acquisition of territory by the use of force is prohibited under international law and called upon Israel to meet its obligations as a party to the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Charter and withdraw from the Palestinian territories.
Olmert also suggested that Israel should be prepared to return the Golan Heights to Syria.
With regard to Iran, he said, “Part of our megalomania and our loss of proportions is the things that are said here about Iran. We are a country that has lost a sense of proportion about itself.”
As the Times reports,
Palestinian negotiators said it was satisfying to hear Mr. Olmert’s words but they said the words did not match what he had offered them so far. Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official, told Palestinian Radio that it would have been better if Mr. Olmert had taken this position while in office rather than while leaving it and that Mr. Olmert had not yet presented a detailed plan for a border between Israel and a Palestinian state. In theory, Mr. Olmert will continue peace negotiations while awaiting the new government. But analysts generally say that having been forced to resign his post, he will not be able to close a deal.