LONDON (JTA) – Ehud Olmert told leaders of the London Jewish community that Israel must make "painful compromises" or risk one state for two people.
Speaking here Tuesday night, the Israeli prime minister admitted that he was one of the "dreamers" of greater Israel. But now, he said, "the real choice we have is peace that will require most painful compromises or one state for the two people."
Olmert added that "if we do not have peace now it is not because of the lack of will by the Israeli government. It is the lack of courage by the Palestinian leadership to take the last step that can be seen in the not far distance."
Olmert, who is leaving office because of investigations into several scandals, emphasized that for as long as he is prime minister he will work for a Jewish state with recognized borders.
"This is the only way to have a Jewish state," he said.
Olmert also told the Jewish leaders that history teaches there is no future to the Jewish people if there is no Jewish state. He rejected the idea of economic peace leading to political peace, saying he believes in achieving political peace and only then economic peace.
The prime minister said that even when the Israelis and Palestinians reach a formal agreement, it still will likely take years to reach a complete end to terror.
On the Syrian track, Olmert said he believes it is time for direct talks with Damascus, following the indirect talks that have been held with Turkey as the middleman.