Former P.M. Ehud Olmert Speaks at the Hebrew University | האוניברסיטה העברית בירושלים | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Former P.M. Ehud Olmert Speaks at the Hebrew University

06/01/2014

"Assad knows he missed the opportunity of his life when he didn't grab my offer"

"Nothing more important than a peace agreement between us and the Palestinians"

Describing relations between prime minsters and the press, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert said today that "Even a foolish prime minister would be portrayed positively" if he signed a peace agreement, adding that "A foolish Prime Minister doesn't make peace, and a prime minister who makes peace is no fool." 

Olmert delivered the keynote address at a Hebrew University of Jerusalem conference to mark the publication of a book by Dr. Zohar Kampf and Prof. Tamar Liebes at the Hebrew University's Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace.

Olmert expressed his hope that the current negotiations with the Palestinians will ripen into an agreement: "There is nothing more important, nothing that will change our lives so substantially, nothing that could negatively impact our lives, more than the existence or absence of a peace agreement between us and the Palestinians, as soon as possible. The benefit for the State of Israel would be greater than on any other issue, and in all other areas combined, in the foreseeable future.”

He added, "Peace with the Palestinians would alter the relations between Israel and most Muslim countries, and turn the Middle East into a more stable, powerful, rich and successful region." 

Regarding the possibility of achieving an agreement, Olmert said: "It's possible to reach peace now, a peace that will secure Israel’s security, Jewishness and Zionism, the security of its residents, and its democratic nature, and also establish a Palestinian state as the national homeland of the Palestinian people. It’s possible to do that; you just need to reach decisions. that’s the job of leaders.”

Referring to his contacts as prime minister with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Olmert said : "I tried to make peace with Syria. In my opinion, Assad understands today that he missed the opportunity of a lifetime, when he didn't seize the opportunity that I offered him. And I must say I offered him an extraordinary opportunity. He made a dramatic mistake, as he could have saved himself all the rebellion and all that has happened in Syria since then."

Describing his achievements during his tenure as prime minister, Olmert said: "Without going into details that you can read in foreign press reports, I think I was the prime minister during whose term of office more dramatic actions were taken concerning the most sensitive existential issues for the State Israel, without us whispering a word about them. We did not we threaten beforehand or boast afterward; we simply did these things."

Olmert also humorously addressed claims attributed to Edward Snowden that the United States intercepted Olmert's communications during his tenure as prime minister: "The only email in my office was for handling requests from the public, so I very much wish that the Americans had eavesdropped on this email, received all the messages and responded to all the public inquiries, which would have saved me a great deal of time." 

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Former P.M. Ehud Olmert Speaks at the Hebrew University