JERUSALEM (JTA) — Ehud Olmert said his government went further than any other in negotiations with the Palestinians.
Opening what will likely be his last Cabinet meeting with a look at his government’s highlights, the prime minister also referred Sunday to "two open and well-known war efforts, one in the North and one in the South" — the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and the recent Operation Cast Lead military operation in Gaza.
"The one in the North ended in an unprecedented achievement. The North is quiet. There is no firing. There is no threat. Many people are living quietly. The North is prospering," Olmert told the Cabinet.
"We made an important and successful effort in the South. It has yet to be finished. I hope that it will be finished. It has yet to reach full fruition vis-a-vis the achievements that we expected, but we reached significant, very significant achievements and restored the international awareness of the strength of the IDF and of the deterrent power of the State of Israel."
Olmert said his contacts with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will lead to the signing of a peace agreement.
"I have said previously and I do not hesitate to reiterate: The State of Israel will need to make unprecedented dramatic and painful concessions in order to reach peace," Olmert said. "But if we have not reached it by now, this is — first and foremost — the result of the Palestinian leaders’ weakness, lack of will and lack of courage in reaching an agreement. Everything else is excuses and attempts to divert attention from the main issue. We were ready to sign a peace agreement; the Palestinians, to my regret, did not have the courage to do so."
Olmert also reviewed the government’s achievements in the education and social welfare spheres, and commended the efforts of Education Minister Yuli Tamir and Social Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog.