In his first public appearance since being released from prison in June, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wished Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday a "swift and honorable farewell" from office. "I deemed it proper and respectable to remain silent until now," added Olmert.
Olmert also said he had turned down a deal to ransom kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas at a price much lower than the one his successor ultimately paid.
The problem with the deal later approved by Netanyahu, under which Israel released 1,027 terrorists, “begins with the feeling that it was made to find favor at a certain point in time,” Olmert added, speaking at a conference in Tel Aviv to mark the fourth anniversary of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s death. “I told the parents they can demand 1,000 or 10,000 terrorists, and that’s understandable. But I, as prime minister, won’t release those terrorists.”
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who also addressed the conference, commented on the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. “A catastrophe is about to happen in Gaza, and we find ourselves discussing efforts to prevent it,” he said. “We can’t hold 2 million people in Gaza whom we’ve enclosed from all sides.”
Olmert was released on parole in June after serving 16 and a half months of a 27-month sentence for corruption and obstruction of justice. Last week, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan announced that he had decided to close a separate case against Olmert for allegedly divulging classified security information to unauthorized parties in the course of writing his memoirs in prison.