Olmert: Clock ticking on Jewish state

Securing a peace deal with the Palestinians is crucial for preserving Israel as a democratic Jewish state, Ehud Olmert said.

The Israeli prime minister said in an interview published Thursday that despite the rocky prospects for peacemaking following this week’s summit in Annapolis, Md., there is no choice but to continue trying to arrange independence for Palestinians before they overwhelm the Jewish state demographically.

“If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, then as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished,” Olmert told Ha’aretz.

He added that American Jews would be the first to abandon an Israel that practices apartheid-like policies in a bid to maintain Jewish primacy.

“They will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents,” Olmert said.

The prime minister acknowledged that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose mandate was effectively reduced to the West Bank after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip last year, is a “weak partner.”

“But it is my job to do everything so that he receives the tools, and to reach an understanding on the guidelines for an agreement. Annapolis is not a historic turning point, but it is a point that can be of assistance,” Olmert said.

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