Olmert: No peace without dividing Jerusalem
Significant part of Jerusalem must be turned over to Palestinians, be used as their future capital, Olmert says Friday; prime minister praises Rabin's, Barak's peace efforts, says concessions are inevitable
|No peace agreement can be secured with the Palestinians unless Israel is willing to divide Jerusalem, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Friday. "There will be no peace if a significant part of Jerusalem is not the capital of the Palestinian state," Olmert said during a public appearance before northern residents. Addressing the change in his political views over the years, the PM said: "When you sit on the chair of the prime minister, which isn't very comfortable, you have a panoramic view of everything, from end to end…when you see a panoramic image you have to reach different conclusions than the ones you reached when you only had a partial picture." "I had to ask myself whether I will be clinging to the positions I espouses for all those years, or whether I will be moving forward," Olmert said. "Rabin, may he rest in peace, was getting there, but the bullet of an assassin stopped him. I started seeing things a little differently ever since than."
The prime minister added that "we must not deceive ourselves; this move is inevitable," noting that "Ehud Barak almost understood it in Camp David in 2000."
"It is no secret that there are disagreements between us," Olmert said. "Yet he undertook a brave step. He was willing to renounce everything."
Turning his attention to abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, Olmert said that rallies aimed at pressuring the government to secure Shalit's release aren't helpful.
"Rallies of 20,000 people are unconstructive," he said. "They boost Hamas – the scum of the earth who are holding Shalit."
Netanyahu associates: New government within 2 weeks
Bibi's office denies reports that PM-designate agreed to make Lieberman Israel's next foreign minister
Mauritania expels Israeli ambassador and his staff
Mauritania has expelled the Israeli ambassador and his staff from the overwhelmingly Muslim West African nation, Foreign Ministry officials confirmed Friday afternoon.
|Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu intends to swear-in his new government in the third week of March, sources close to the Likud leader said Friday. Speaking at closed-door sessions, Netanyahu reportedly said that the task of forming the coalition will end by the end of next week, with all government portfolios being divided among the various coalition partners by then.
Sources familiar with coalition talks said the PM-designate will first hand out portfolios to his coalition partners, before designating ministers from among Likud's ranks. Meanwhile, Netanyahu's office denied reports that the Likud chairman and Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman agreed to make the latter Israel's next foreign minister and also grant the party the Justice Ministry.
Likud officials estimate that Lieberman will indeed ultimately become the next foreign minister, but some said that Netanyahu will prefer to keep the Justice portfolio in Likud's hands.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the Foreign Ministry had yet to release details. Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor would not immediately comment.
Army Radio quoted Jerusalem officials as saying that Mauritanian authorities on Friday morning had ordered the Israeli mission to dismantle the security apparatuses around the embassy and remove the Israeli guards, and that the embassy could therefore no longer operate.
A soldier stands guard outside an army barracks in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott.
An AP reporter in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott confirmed the embassy was closed.
Al-Arabiya reported that the Western African nation had given Israeli ambassador Miki Arbel 48 hours to leave the country.
Ties have been strained between Jerusalem and Mauritania - one of only three Arab League countries, along with Egypt and Jordan, to have full ties with Israel - since Operation Cast Lead.
In January, Mauritania suspended contacts with Israel to protest the IDF operation in Gaza, and earlier that month, the country recalled its ambassador from Israel for consultations amid street protests over the offensive.
Israel Slams UK's Hezbollah Talks
CBNNews.com March 6, 2009
- JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli officials condemned the British government's decision to open talks with the Lebanese-based Hezbollah terror group.
Britain's Middle East Foreign Minister Bill Rammell announced the government's position on Wednesday, citing "more positive developments in Lebanon and the formation of the national unity government in which Hezbollah is participating."
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor decried the decision.
"Hezbollah is a despicable terrorist organization whose leaders have no honor," Palmor said.
"It uses violence as a means to foist itself and the interest of the country IRAN that pulls its strings on Lebanon. All its activities are designed to undercut peace and stability in the Middle East," he said.
"Anyone looking to promote compromise, understanding and peace in the Middle East will not find a partner in Hezbollah," Palmor said.
Likud foreign policy advisor Zalman Shoval agreed with the Foreign Ministry's assessment.
"This is a very negative development that sends all the wrong signals to other terrorist organizations," Shoval said.
"The British justification for the move - the formation of a national unity government in which Hezbollah is participating - is weak," he said.
"They say they are doing this because of the growing role of Hezbollah in Lebanese politics, but is that growing role a good or a bad thing? Why do they want to encourage it?" Shoval queried.
Source: The Jerusalem Post
Israeli Ambassador to U.S. Resigns
CBNNews.com March 6, 2009
- JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Sallai Meridor announced his resignation earlier this week.
"In light of the sensitive nature of the position of ambassador to the most important country in the world and Israel's strongest ally in the international community, it is fitting and proper that the new government will have the opportunity to appoint, immediately upon its formation, the man or woman of its choosing as ambassador to Washington," Meriodor said.
Speaking with YNet news
on Thursday evening, Meridor explained his decision to resign.
"It's in the State's best interest that the new government appoint its own representative who will best reflect the state of mind, thoughts and internal conflicts in Israel. This is a fundamental condition for this role," he said.
Meridor believes Israel's relationship with the U.S. will remain strong during the Netanyahu administration.
"The relations between the two countries are very firm and stable," Meridor said. "They lean on deep ledges of values, of legacy," he said.
"People in Israel are not always aware of how deep the attitude toward Israel is in the U.S. I doubt there were ever such relations," he said.
"We are facing the same threats of a nuclear Iran and the fear of nuclear technology reaching terror organizations. We share the aspiration for stability and peace and the effort to become free from dependence on oil," he said.
Meridor told YNet that his decision was shaped during meetings in Jerusalem with outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister-designate Binymin Netanyahu, held the day before U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first visit to Israel on Monday.
Meridor, who wished Netanyahu "much luck in coping with the challenges facing Israel," will remain in his post until the incoming government appoints his successor.
Meridor replaced Danny Ayalon (Yisrael Beiteinu) as ambassador in October 2006 and is the brother to Likud Knesset member Dan Meridor.
As winter storms turn to clear blue skies and warm weather, Israelis return to the beaches. (LS)