Outgoing PM's message
by: JTA - Last updated: 2008-09-29
Israel will have to leave the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, and compensate Palestinians for settlement blocs in a peace deal, Ehud Olmert said.
"In the end of the day, we will have to withdraw from the most decisive areas of the territories. In exchange for the same territories left in our hands, we will have to give compensation in the form of territories within the State of Israel," Israel's prime minister said in an interview published Monday in Yediot Achronot.
It is the first time Olmert has been so specific about what he believes a peace with the Palestinians will look like. Yediot pointed out in the article that Olmert did not go so far in his statements when he was firmly in office and not the caretaker head of a government in transition.
Olmert said in the same interview that a peace with Syria will require leaving the Golan Heights. "First and foremost, we must make a decision. I'd like see if there is one serious person in the State of Israel who believes it is possible to make peace with the Syrians without eventually giving up the Golan Heights," he said.
Meanwhile, in an interview Sunday with the popular Israeli Web site Walla!, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said he would allow building in existing West Bank settlements to accommodate natural growth. He spoke proudly of the construction of Jerusalem neighborhoods he oversaw during his tenure as prime minister. Netanyahu said he would not join a coalition government under Tzipi Livni and called for new elections.