Ehud Olmert made a spirited, 11th-hour defense of his handling of the Second Lebanon War.
Israel’s prime minister, fighting for his political survival ahead of next week’s planned publication of the final report of the Winograd Commission into the war, used his keynote speech at the Herzliya Conference to present his case for why he should stay in office.
Olmert said he would not evade a “serious discussion” of the war’s execution and outcomes, but made it clear he would stay in office.
“I will listen and internalize, and then move on,” he said.
Olmert said a peace deal with the Palestinians was the only hope for Israel and that he was best situated to work for it.
“There is no other option to what I am offering,” Olmert said, referring to ongoing peace efforts with the Palestinian Authority.
The prime minister’s address at the conference has become a platform for Israeli leaders to present major policy initiatives.
Olmert also spoke about the situation in the Gaza Strip.
“We will not permit, under any circumstances or conditions, a humanitarian crisis to develop,” he said. “We will not harm the supply of food for children, medicine for those who need it and fuel for institutions that save lives.
“But there is no justification for demanding we allow residents of Gaza to live normal lives while shells and rockets are fired from their streets and courtyards at Sderot and other communities in the south.”