Israel should cede parts of eastern Jerusalem and retreat to near its pre-1967 borders, Ehud Olmert said.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist, the current Israeli prime minister said Rabin "understood that if we want to maintain Israel as a democratic Jewish state, we must concede to a lack of choice and to our great torments and give up parts of our homeland for which we dreamt for generations of yearning and prayers."
By returning to its pre-1967 borders, Olmert said, Israel will be able to "cultivate a new Zionism that is practical, realistic, responsible and courageous." But, he added, "If, God forbid, we procrastinate, we could lose support for a two-state solution," with an eventual Palestinian majority overwhelming the Jewish state.
Olmert was among several dignitaries who spoke at Rabin’s gravesite on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl. Israeli President Shimon Peres used the opportunity to slam Jewish extremism. In recent months, extremists from Israel’s far right have stepped up violent attacks against Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. Several weeks ago, a prominent left-wing professor, Zeev Sternhell, was bombed at his home, sustaining light injuries. He blamed Jewish extremists for the attack.
"Now, just like back then," Peres said, referring to Rabin’s assassination by Yigal Amir, "there is a small minority of reckless, unrestrained people who boldly defy the state’s authority, attack Palestinians just for being Palestinian and challenge the law enforcement mechanisms which, among others, protect them, too."