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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Olmert’

Plagued by Charges of Ineptness and Corruption, Olmert to Keynote at J Street Conference

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

JTA reports that Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister who was a key figure in the removal of close to 10,000 Jews from their homes in Gaza, and then blundered the Second Lebanon War, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the annual J Street conference.

Olmert will speak at the pro-Palestinian state group’s gala dinner on March 26, according to an invitation sent Thursday morning to members of the US Congress. JTA obtained an invitation, and a J Street official confirmed its authenticity.

As of early Friday morning, the J Street website has made no mention of Olmert’s participation in the event, to be held in the Washington DC Convention Center from March 24-27 .

Olmert, who was forced to step down as prime minister in 2008 to face criminal investigations, is still facing corruption trials in Israeli court. But corrupt or not, J Street has found the one Israeli ‘right-wing’ politician (Olmert started his political career in the Likud Party) with whom it has a true understanding.

Although J Street describes itself as a pro-Israel organization that supports peace between Israel and its neighbors, many Israelis and US Jews, including many public figures, have said that J Street is anti-Israel, particularly in relation to the security challenges facing the Jewish state. Several US Jewish leaders have objected to J Street’s position on Israel, and have publicly disassociated themselves from the organization.

J Street has had tense relations with Olmert’s replacement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government has sought to marginalize the group for failing to support Israel’s efforts to push back against investigations of Israel’s conduct in the 2009 Gaza war, and for equivocating on Iran sanctions until late 2009.

Following Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke in 2006, Olmert became prime minister and led their Kadima party to a decisive victory in elections that year. He then led negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, and now says he was prepared to make the most far-reaching compromises with the Palestinian leader in 2008, only to be turned down.

Palestinian officials say Olmert by that time was too damaged by corruption scandals for the offer to be credible.

As a member of Sharon’s government, Olmert participated in forging Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan to evict all Israelis  from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the Samaria. Israeli citizens who refused to accept government compensation packages and voluntarily vacate their homes prior to the August 15, 2005 deadline were evicted by Israeli security forces over a period of several days. The eviction of all residents, demolition of the residential buildings, and evacuation of associated security personnel from the Gaza Strip was completed by September 12, 2005. The eviction and dismantling of the four settlements in Samaria was completed ten days later.

Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

  Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s attempts to negotiate with Syria collapsed this past week when Israel received a private message from Damascus that the Jewish state must first agree to relinquish the entire strategic Golan Heights as a starting point to commence talks, according to informed diplomatic sources speaking to WorldNetDaily.

  Olmert went to Turkey on Monday for a meeting with the country’s prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, to discuss Israel’s indirect negotiations with Syria aimed at an Israeli retreat from part or most of the Golan.

  Olmert said last week that negotiating a peace treaty between Israel and Syria is possible, adding that it would require “tough sacrifices” – alluding to some sort of Israeli retreat from the Golan.

  According to the informed diplomatic sources, Turkey passed a Syrian message to Olmert requiring Israel to first pledge to a complete retreat from the Golan Heights as a starting point for Israel-Syrian talks. Olmert apparently refused to do so.

  Olmert wanted to open direct negotiations with Syria and favors fast-tracking talks to reach understandings on some key issues before he leaves office in February.  According to a top Syrian government source speaking last May, Olmert did not ask Syria to curb its relationship with Iran or its support of the Hizbullah or Hamas terrorist organizations as a condition for the talks.
 
Israel, PA Won’t Reach Agreement
During Olmert’s Tenure

  It is extremely unlikely that Israel and the Palestinian Authority will reach any final understandings regarding the creation of a Palestinian state before Prime Minister Ehud Olmert leaves office in February, according to senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

  Erekat told this column that the PA is set to refuse Olmert’s request to reach understandings on some key issues but to postpone until a later date a final-status agreement on Jerusalem or so-called refugees.

  Israel and the PA were quietly working to conclude a major agreement before President Bush leaves office, according to informed Israeli and Palestinian sources. The agreement was to seek an eventual major West Bank withdrawal and would have granted the PA permission to open official institutions in Jerusalem. But it was to postpone talks on the future status of the capital city until new Israeli and U.S. governments were installed.
 
Carter Writes Kindly Of Hamas, Hizbullah

  Hamas is putting all its eggs in the basket of President-elect Barack Obama, according to former president Jimmy Carter, who met with the chiefs of the terror group in Syria last week.

  ”Like the Syrians, they [Hamas] are patient, relatively satisfied with the status quo, and putting all their eggs in Obama’s basket. We had to caution them about expecting too much of an immediate change in U.S. Middle East policy,” Carter wrote in a first-person report posted on his Carter Center website.

  Carter recounted how on the anniversary of Hamas’s founding, he met last week in Damascus with Hamas chieftain Khaled Meshaal “and his fellow Hamas politburo members, all of whom are scientists, medical doctors, or engineers – none trained in religion.”

  A senior Israeli security official who was made aware of Carter’s description of Meshaal and other top Hamas members as “scientists, medical doctors, or engineers,” said such descriptions were “simply outrageous apologies for evil.”

  The official pointed out there is strong evidence that Meshaal, who heads an active terrorist organization, directly ordered numerous Hamas terror attacks over the years, and, until Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007, controlled the flow of money for all Hamas activities, including terrorism and the group’s vast civilian infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank.

  Carter continued by stating that he discussed with Meshaal “items on my agenda that included an extension of the cease-fire in Gaza.” About an hour after he met with Carter last Sunday, Meshaal announced at a press conference that Hamas would not renew the cease-fire, although spokesmen for the terror group later clarified that a decision had not yet been made.

  Aside from Hamas, Carter, who visited Lebanon, also lamented that the Lebanese Hizbullah terrorist organization lacks missiles to “defend” itself from Israeli aircraft.

  ”The general showed us a graph of the many flights of Israeli planes over all parts of Lebanon, averaging about a dozen each day. Neither Hizbullah nor the Lebanese Armed Forces have any anti-aircraft weapons for defense,” wrote Carter.

  Carter’s information may not be accurate. Israel has some intelligence indicating that Hizbullah may have smuggled anti-aircraft missile batteries along the Syrian-Lebanese border. Regardless of whether Hizbullah possesses anti-aircraft missiles, Israeli overflights, which have been ongoing since the end of the Second Lebanon War, have not targeted or endangered Hizbullah operatives.

  Israel says the overflights are crucial to collect intelligence on the continued smuggling of mass quantities of weaponry to Hizbullah across the Syria-Lebanon border – an area that is supposed to be patrolled by UNIFIL. Israeli security officials complain that the Israel Air Force routinely provides UNIFIL with exact smuggling routes backed up with photographic evidence but the international force does almost nothing to stop the smuggling.

  Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the book “Schmoozing with Terrorists.”

Whoops, Missed!

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

      Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy for the Four Great Powers, told an interviewer that PM Olmert has already made a deal with Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Arab Authority. While Olmert, the lame-duck prime minister, has no authority to sign agreements, he still can cause a great deal of trouble for Israel and for the next prime minister by making verbal agreements.  

           Many wonder exactly what Olmert is attempting to do. Maybe his actions are a form of revenge against Israel for rejecting him and forcing him to resign over his alleged criminal activities. How sad that the police do not arrest and incarcerate him to stop him from selling Israel down the river in his last month as prime minister.

      At the same time, Defense Minister Barak, for his own political reasons, has been allowing Hamas terrorists to carry out daily rocket attacks against Israeli towns with impunity. No serious response is made by Israel, except for daily statements of, “Nu, Nu, Nu, you had better stop.” Hundreds of rocket shells have been fired by Hamas, but little has been done to stop the terror.

     With elections in the offing, Barak seems to want to prove that he is a liberal and a “man of peace.” He has even agreed to send a million shekels to Gaza banks without first demanding a stop to the shelling and the release of Gilad Shalit. How dumb does Barak think the Israeli electorate is, and how much damage can he cause before the coming election?

      The latest Olmert action is the freeing of Arab terrorists as a “confidence-building” measure. Why we want to give more confidence to Arab terrorists is unclear. Abbas has clearly stated that there will be no peace until all Palestinian prisoners are released. What is Israel receiving for the released prisoners?

      I checked the website to see the identity of these 288 Arab prisoners “without blood on their hands.”  Sadly, their only reason for being released is that they failed to murder Jews the first time around. The list is available and here are some of the crimes they committed:  

     “Attempted murder of civilians” – he failed. 

     “Setting explosives without a permit” – he missed.

     “Throwing firebombs, shooting at civilians” – and missing them.

     “Throwing firebombs, attempted murder” – he only maimed children.

       “Setting explosives to murder” – but failing.

       “Selling weapons and setting explosives” – it seems that he missed.

       “Shooting a weapon illegally, attempted murder” – but he only wounded civilians.  

       The crimes are similar for every one of the terrorist prisoners to be released as a “good will gesture.” It seems that Olmert is saying, “Let’s give them a second chance!”

      A second chance to do what?  

      Where are our modern Maccabees?

      Happy Chanukah to all!                                       

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com.

Olmert’s Closing Act

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Ehud Olmert, facing criminal prosecution for corruption, is using his final days in office to subvert Israeli security and impose his own policy notions on the country – notions rejected by the overwhelming majority of Israeli citizens.

Olmert has agreed to release scores of Hamas officials, including Hamas members of the Palestinian “parliament” and Hamas “cabinet ministers,” as a reward for Hamas’s refusal to release kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. When Shalit was first kidnapped, Israel grabbed some Hamas leaders and tossed them into the clink, promising to keep them locked up until Shalit was released.

Shalit has not been released, but since the Hamas terrorists were jailed under an initial sentence that is set to run out in 2009, the Olmert people want to let them go early as a goodwill gesture.

Now, regardless of what the original sentence was for these people, they could always be retried and given an additional sentence, and this can be done over and over until Shalit is released. Once released, these terrorists will return to bombing and rocketing Israeli civilians. Holding them in jail is also a way to pressure Hamas to stop shooting rockets at Sderot. But Olmert does not want to be bothered with such arguments. He wants the history books to remember him as something other than a petty crook.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the atrocities in Mumbai, the Olmert clique is still pushing for withdrawal from even more territory – including turning the Golan Heights over to Syria. Israeli law happens to make that illegal, but if the lawyer Olmert were careful about obeying the law, he would not now be facing criminal prosecution for bribery.

Even President Bush dressed down Olmert for his Golan proposal. Here we had the spectacle of an American president lecturing an Israeli prime minister for being too lax on Israeli security.

It is amusing to imagine what was going through the minds of Israel’s leaders as they watched the news coverage of the Mumbai barbarism. Were they thinking how primitive those Indian politicians and military leaders are?

After all, the Indians dealt with the terrorists by shooting them down like dogs. The terrorists were not read their rights before being arrested, assigned public defenders, and granted long drawn-out trials. The family members of the terrorists were not granted survivor benefits from India’s social security system, such as those granted by Israel to families of murderers.

The Indian press did not lecture the country about how the terrorism was their comeuppance for being insensitive and selfish. Indian politicians did not pontificate about how one can only make peace with one’s enemies, and that there is no military solution to the problems of terrorism. They did not issue calls for talks with the terrorists or for granting them funds and arms so that they can suppress the “real” extremists.

Indian professors did not lead marches of solidarity with the terrorists. Indian poets and writers did not take out ads in the papers endorsing the demands of the terrorists. Conferences were not held on Indian campuses demanding that Punjabi Muslims be granted a “right of return” to homes they once had on Indian soil.

Hindu academics did not insist that Muslims inside India be granted the right to set up their own new sovereign Muslim state on Indian land, nor did they demand that all Hindus be expelled from Muslim areas. In the land of Ghandi, no one was demanding that India respond to the atrocities by turning the other cheek because retaliation would escalate the cycle of violence.

In short, Israeli politicians were no doubt wondering why the leaders of India had not chosen to emulate Israel’s Oslo strategy of seeking peace with Islamofascism through endless appeasements and goodwill concessions.

On another front, Olmert has had much to say recently about domestic law and order. He is all in favor of it – but only when it comes to settler protesters.

One of the more amusing pastimes in Israel these days is watching the government suddenly get indignant when it comes to lawbreaking. The Left in Israel has never believed the obligation to obey the law applies to itself. For decades it has promoted mutiny and insurrection among soldiers, urging them not to serve in the army until Israel adopts policies advocated by the Israeli Communist Party. Leftists were never prosecuted for this. The Israeli press hails the mutineers as great ethical role models and people of conscience.

Similarly, many in the Israeli media cheer on the “heroic” thugs and hooligans who attack Israeli police and soldiers every week next to the security fence. Those leftists try to vandalize the fence so it will be easier for the suicide bombers to get through to murder Jews. They also do not get prosecuted.

So why is the Israeli political establishment all of a sudden so righteous in denouncing lawbreaking? Because the lawbreaking in question involves some West Bank settlers.
All the ruckus has to do with efforts by the Olmert people to evict Jews from a house in Hebron they bought and legally own. The fundamental operating axiom of the cult of Oslo has always been that peace with the Palestinians can only be based on creating a judenrein lebensraum for the Palestinians, areas in which no Jew pollutes the place with his presence.
Some of the hotter young Jewish heads in Judea have reacted with non-non-violence. In part, they were responding to the ease with which the police themselves have used force against settlers. Some hotheads threw rocks at soldiers trying to evict Jews, others cursed or threw punches. It was not pretty and it discredits the Right.

If anyone were to suggest that a black American family be denied the right to live in a neighborhood of white Americans, liberals and Israeli intellectuals would be taking to the barricades in conniptions of outrage and indignation.

But when Jews take to the streets to defend the Jewish right to settle in Hebron, the outrage and indignation are turned inside out. Heavens, scream the Olmert people and the Israeli leftist media, such bad behavior! Don’t they realize they are violating the rule of law?

Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama is considering appointing his top Mideast adviser, Daniel Kurtzer, as U.S. envoy to the Middle East, a senior Israeli diplomatic source told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. Officials in Jerusalem previously told this column Kurtzer was likely to become Obama’s envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

  Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel under George W. Bush, has been viewed by a number of Jewish and Israeli leaders as being biased against Israel. “With Jews like Kurtzer, it is impossible to build a healthy relationship between Israel and the United States,” Benjamin Nentanyahu was quoted as saying in 2001 by Haaretz.

  Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said Kurtzer “frequently pressured Israel to make one-sided concessions to the Arabs; he constantly blamed Israel for the absence of Mideast peace and paid little or no attention to the fact that the Palestinians were carrying out terrorist attacks and openly calling for the destruction of Israel.”

  Morris Amitay, former executive director of the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2001, “Kurtzer … will use his Jewishness as a protective cover for his anti-Israel views.”

  Kurtzer came under fire last summer when he traveled to Damascus where he reportedly urged Syrian officials to fast-track negotiations with Israel aiming at an Israeli withdrawal from the strategic Golan Heights. Kurtzer at the time stressed he was not in Damascus as part of Obama’s campaign but instead visiting as a private expert attending an international lawyers conference.

  Neither Kurtzer’s office nor Obama’s transition team responded to requests for comment.
 
Terrorists Granted Amnesty Planned Foiled Attack

  Members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization were involved in planning a foiled suicide attack targeting Tel Aviv’s central bus station last week, terrorist and security sources told WorldNetDaily. Information obtained also indicates that specific Fatah terrorists granted amnesty in recent months by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert plotted the attack.

  Last Tuesday, Israeli police, acting on specific intelligence, thwarted what they said would have been a large-scale terrorist bombing of Tel Aviv’s bus station, arresting a Palestinian resident of the West Bank city of Jenin who had infiltrated Israel with explosives.

  This column has learned that the original intelligence alerting security forces to the planned bombing came with the arrest – just hours before the plot was halted – of Ahmed Amire, a Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade member in Jenin who had been pardoned by Olmert last June.  

  A leader of the Brigades took credit for the foiled attack along with the Islamic Jihad terror group. Nevertheless, the Israeli media and official Israeli government spokesmen declared that the thwarted bombing was an Islamic Jihad operation, omitting mention of Fatah and its Brigades.
 
Olmert Grants More Terrorists Amnesty

  In a gesture to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Sunday granted full amnesty to 45 terrorists from Abbas’s Fatah organization, Palestinian security officials told this column.

  Last June, Olmert granted temporary amnesty to 178 terrorists on condition they disarm, refrain from attacks and spend three months in PA detention facilities and another three months confined to the West Bank city in which they reside. According to the terms of the amnesty, if the terrorists fulfilled their end of the deal, Olmert’s office would grant permanent amnesty, allowing them freedom of movement in the West Bank and taking them off Israel’s most wanted list of terrorists to ensure they are not arrested.

  In spite of rampant Israeli media reports that many of the 178 pardoned terrorists refused to disarm and continued carrying out attacks, Olmert last October pardoned 48 more Al Aqsa Brigades members and earlier this year pardoned at least 80 more. About 45 percent of the temporarily-pardoned terrorists received permanent Israeli amnesty in coordination with Olmert’s office and Israel’s Shin Bet Security Services.
 
Muslim Cleric Calls On Obama To Convert

  Claiming Obama has roots in the Islamic religion, an Egyptian cleric has broadcast a plea urging the president-elect to convert to Islam while warning that if the U.S. doesn’t withdraw its troops from the Middle East and provide aid to Muslims, those “eager for [death]” will attack America.

  Egyptian cleric Hassan Abu Al-Ashbal, speaking last week on the state-funded Al Nas religious television network, declared, “You, Obama, are among those who have pledged before Allah – Allah who created you, sustained you, and brought you to this position – to be a Muslim who believes that Allah is the one God, especially since you have some kind of roots in Islam.”

  He added, “Convert to Islam, and you will be saved. All glory and honor lie in following Allah and his messenger, Muhammad. Know that the true religion is the religion of Islam, and all other religions are fabricated religions, which are null and void – religions that were abrogated by the shari’a of Muhammad.”

  Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the book “Schmoozing with Terrorists.”

Olmert Bids Adieu To U.S. Jews, Says ‘Peace Within Reach’

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

JERUSALEM – In a normal year, an address by the Israeli prime minster would be treated as the centerpiece of a gathering of American Jews, especially one being held in Jerusalem. But the context of Ehud Olmert’s appearance at the opening plenary of the United Jewish Communities General Assembly on Sunday was anything but normal.

Olmert, who will leave office after his successor is elected Feb. 10, is stepping down in disgrace.

The subject of intense scrutiny over his financial dealings during his term in office, he announced his resignation this summer after American businessman and philanthropist Morris Talansky agreed to testify in a case involving allegations that Olmert accepted bribes from foreign donors and mishandled nonprofit money.

So on Sunday night, an Israeli prime minister forced to resign over money received from a wealthy American donor was delivering a farewell address of sorts to thousands of wealthy American donors.

For his part, Olmert treated the speech to more than 3,000 lay leaders and professional staff of the North American Jewish federation system as if it was a typical goodbye.

“Although this is, most likely, my last appearance before this distinguished crowd as prime minister of Israel, this is by no means a goodbye,” Olmert said. “I am certain we will continue to meet and discuss all the important issues that affect Israel’s future, that affect our joint future, the future of the Jews across the world and the future of us here in the State of Israel.”

Olmert went on to say that the world cannot allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons and that he would continue to push for peace with the Palestinians and Syria in his remaining days as prime minister.

“Peace with our neighbors we leave to our children,” he said. “It is within reach.”

Though Olmert appeared committed to leaving on a positive note, he clearly was not at his best Sunday.

The departing prime minister mistakenly referred to the yearly General Assembly as “the biannual General Assembly meeting.” Olmert also flubbed the G.A.’s tag line, “One People, One Destiny,” saying, “This year the G.A. is focused on the young generation of the Jewish people under the title ‘One People, One Destination.’ I cannot imagine a more important issue confronting our people at this time.”

And he committed something of a nonprofit faux pas, offering up what seemed to be veiled endorsements for two top federation system officials who reportedly are planning to run for office with Olmert’s Kadima Party: Ze’ev Bielski, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel and World Zionist Organization executive, and Nachman Shai, the head of UJC operations in Israel.

In his opening remarks, Olmert thanked several officials at UJC and its overseas partners, the Jewish Agency and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, before singling out Bielski and Shai for added praise. Shai is leaving the UJC after the General Assembly, and it has been reported that Bielski is not far behind.

Olmert, who according to several sources received a cool reception from top federation donors at a banquet before his speech, led off the assembly, but the candidates vying to succeed him were scheduled to speak later in the conference. Defense Minister Ehud Barak of the Labor Party spoke at a plenary Monday, and Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of Kadima were scheduled to speak Wednesday. Livni was to be the last of the three to speak on the G.A.’s final day.

Following his remarks, Olmert received respectful applause.

“One of the great things about democracy is that leaders come and go, or their terms end or they get voted out of office, so it is not unusual for a political leader to speak to a Jewish audience or any audience as a lame duck on their way out,” said William Daroff, the director of the UJC’s Washington office. “It is part of the dynamic. You want to walk with people as they are building up their careers and you want to walk with them as they flourish or as they don’t flourish.”

Steve Morrison, a delegate who made the trip from Madison, Wis., agreed.

“This will be the last time he speaks to a G.A. as a prime minister, so it is an historic moment,” Morrison said. “He won’t be the PM when we meet next time in Jerusalem in five years. He is the prime minister of Israel, so you give him respect.

“I remember when I was one of these young people here in attendance tonight, I was able to be in an audience to hear Lyndon Johnson speak, who I detested. It was the end of his presidency and he announced he wouldn’t seek office. But even in my young 20s, and I disagreed with him, he was still the president.”

(JTA)

Olmert Bids Adieu To U.S. Jews, Says ‘Peace Within Reach’

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008


JERUSALEM – In a normal year, an address by the Israeli prime minster would be treated as the centerpiece of a gathering of American Jews, especially one being held in Jerusalem. But the context of Ehud Olmert’s appearance at the opening plenary of the United Jewish Communities General Assembly on Sunday was anything but normal.


Olmert, who will leave office after his successor is elected Feb. 10, is stepping down in disgrace.


The subject of intense scrutiny over his financial dealings during his term in office, he announced his resignation this summer after American businessman and philanthropist Morris Talansky agreed to testify in a case involving allegations that Olmert accepted bribes from foreign donors and mishandled nonprofit money.


So on Sunday night, an Israeli prime minister forced to resign over money received from a wealthy American donor was delivering a farewell address of sorts to thousands of wealthy American donors.


For his part, Olmert treated the speech to more than 3,000 lay leaders and professional staff of the North American Jewish federation system as if it was a typical goodbye.


“Although this is, most likely, my last appearance before this distinguished crowd as prime minister of Israel, this is by no means a goodbye,” Olmert said. “I am certain we will continue to meet and discuss all the important issues that affect Israel’s future, that affect our joint future, the future of the Jews across the world and the future of us here in the State of Israel.”


Olmert went on to say that the world cannot allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons and that he would continue to push for peace with the Palestinians and Syria in his remaining days as prime minister.


“Peace with our neighbors we leave to our children,” he said. “It is within reach.”


Though Olmert appeared committed to leaving on a positive note, he clearly was not at his best Sunday.


The departing prime minister mistakenly referred to the yearly General Assembly as “the biannual General Assembly meeting.” Olmert also flubbed the G.A.’s tag line, “One People, One Destiny,” saying, “This year the G.A. is focused on the young generation of the Jewish people under the title ‘One People, One Destination.’ I cannot imagine a more important issue confronting our people at this time.”


And he committed something of a nonprofit faux pas, offering up what seemed to be veiled endorsements for two top federation system officials who reportedly are planning to run for office with Olmert’s Kadima Party: Ze’ev Bielski, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel and World Zionist Organization executive, and Nachman Shai, the head of UJC operations in Israel.

In his opening remarks, Olmert thanked several officials at UJC and its overseas partners, the Jewish Agency and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, before singling out Bielski and Shai for added praise. Shai is leaving the UJC after the General Assembly, and it has been reported that Bielski is not far behind.


Olmert, who according to several sources received a cool reception from top federation donors at a banquet before his speech, led off the assembly, but the candidates vying to succeed him were scheduled to speak later in the conference. Defense Minister Ehud Barak of the Labor Party spoke at a plenary Monday, and Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of Kadima were scheduled to speak Wednesday. Livni was to be the last of the three to speak on the G.A.’s final day.


Following his remarks, Olmert received respectful applause.


“One of the great things about democracy is that leaders come and go, or their terms end or they get voted out of office, so it is not unusual for a political leader to speak to a Jewish audience or any audience as a lame duck on their way out,” said William Daroff, the director of the UJC’s Washington office. “It is part of the dynamic. You want to walk with people as they are building up their careers and you want to walk with them as they flourish or as they don’t flourish.”


Steve Morrison, a delegate who made the trip from Madison, Wis., agreed.


“This will be the last time he speaks to a G.A. as a prime minister, so it is an historic moment,” Morrison said. “He won’t be the PM when we meet next time in Jerusalem in five years. He is the prime minister of Israel, so you give him respect.


“I remember when I was one of these young people here in attendance tonight, I was able to be in an audience to hear Lyndon Johnson speak, who I detested. It was the end of his presidency and he announced he wouldn’t seek office. But even in my young 20s, and I disagreed with him, he was still the president.”

(JTA)

Confirmed: Jerusalem On The Negotiating Table

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

JERUSALEM – After months of denials, the status of Jerusalem is on the table in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office has confirmed to The Jewish Press that a mechanism has been created to deal with the issue of the holy city in U.S.-backed Israeli-Palestinian talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state by the end of the year.

  ”Of all the final status core issues, the issue of Jerusalem is probably the most difficult, and unlike some of the other issues, we have yet to start negotiating the future of Jerusalem. Therefore, in order to not let the process fall victim to its weakest link, we have the establishment of an agreed-upon mechanism that would continue to deal with Jerusalem. That mechanism was created in such a way that it would address the concern of both sides,” said Olmert spokesman Mark Regev.

  Regev would not explain in detail the mechanism  that has been created to discuss Jerusalem.

  Regev’s comments came amid Israeli news reports last week that Olmert had presented Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with a plan for international parties to contribute proposals for negotiating the status of Jerusalem. Olmert and Abbas met for a round of advanced talks last week.

  According to Olmert’s purported proposal, a five-year timetable will be set out for completing a settlement on Jerusalem.

  Regev would neither confirm nor deny the reports, which state that Olmert’s plan is for Jerusalem talks to be held under an international umbrella, where governments and other interested parties, including the Vatican, will be able to contribute their views.

  Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that the proposed Jerusalem negotiations would be held directly between Israel and the Palestinians, with international parties providing suggestions only. 

  Haaretz reported that Olmert was planning to include in the negotiations the members of the Mideast Quartet – the UN, U.S., EU and Russia – as well as Jordan, Egypt, the Vatican and possibly the king of Morocco.

  Both senior Israeli and Palestinian diplomatic sources confirmed to The Jewish Press that both sides are already negotiating Jerusalem, with Palestinian officials claiming the talks are in advance stages.

  According to Palestinian sources directly involved in the negotiations, the Haaretz report on Olmert’s “international proposal” is specific to a U.S. plan – first reported by this newspaper’s Quick Takes column last week – that has been floated amongst the parties to deal with dividing Jerusalem in five years.

  Informed sources said officials from the State Department this year presented both sides with several proposals for consideration regarding the future status of Jerusalem. It was unclear whether the U.S. proposals were accepted.

  One U.S. plan for Jerusalem featured several timed phases, and among other things called for Israel eventually to consider forfeiting parts of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

  According to the first stage of the U.S. proposal, Israel would initially give the PA some municipal and security sovereignty over key Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem. The PA would be allowed to open some official institutions in Jerusalem, elect a mayor for the Palestinian side of the city and deploy some kind of basic security force to maintain law and order. The specifics of the force were not detailed in the plan.

  The initial stage also calls for the PA to operate Jerusalem municipal institutions, such as offices to oversee trash collection and road maintenance.

  After five years, if both sides keep specific commitments called for in a larger principal agreement, according to the U.S. plan, the PA would be given full sovereignty over agreed-upon eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods, and discussions would be held regarding an arrangement for the Temple Mount.

  The plan doesn’t specify which parts of the Temple Mount could be forfeited to the Palestinians or whether an international force may be involved.

  The PA also could deploy official security forces in Jerusalem separate from a non-defined basic force after the five-year period, and could also open major governmental institutions, such as a president’s office and offices for finance and foreign ministries.

  The U.S. plan leaves Israel and the PA to negotiate which Jerusalem neighborhoods would become Palestinian.

  Standing alongside Abbas at a press conference last week, Olmert announced in English that “We have to complete the Annapolis process this year – this year.”

  The Israeli leader was referring to talks begun at last November’s U.S.-backed Annapolis conference. The Annapolis talks pushed for an agenda involving the creation of a Palestinian state – at least on paper – before President Bush leaves office in January.

  According to top diplomatic sources, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who visited the region last week, pressed Israel to sign a document by the end of the year that would include Jerusalem by offering the Palestinians a state in Israel’s capital city as well as in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

  The Israeli team would rather conclude an agreement on paper by the end of the year that would give the Palestinians a state in the West Bank, Gaza and some Israeli territory, leaving conclusions on Jerusalem for a later date, the informed diplomatic sources said.

  The sources said the Palestinian team has been pushing to conclude a deal by January on all core issues, including Jerusalem, and has been petitioning the U.S. to pressure Israel into signing an agreement on paper that offers the Palestinians eastern Jerusalem.

  Rice, the sources said, has asked Israeli leaders to bend to what the U.S. refers to as a “compromise position,” concluding an Israeli-Palestinian agreement by the end of the year that guarantees sections of Jerusalem to the Palestinians.

  Israel would not be required to withdraw from Jerusalem for a period of one to five years.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/confirmed-jerusalem-on-the-negotiating-table/2008/09/03/

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