Olmert Speech Urging Settlers to Prepare for Withdrawal Sparks Outrage

At Knesset session honoring Rabin, MK Eldad says 'we won't tolerate calls for destruction of Israel's Jewish settlement.'

A speech by Ehud Olmert at a special session of Knesset on Monday sparked a storm as the outgoing prime minister cautioned settlers in the West Bank to prepare for a withdrawal.

Speaking during a session in honor of slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Olmert said "we were wrong, we didn't see the long term," referring to the settlements, which were initially encouraged by the state. "The truth will force us to rip away many parts of our homeland in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights."

Olmert echoed the address he had given earlier at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem during a national ceremony commemorating Rabin, during which he said that Israel will have to cede land in order to achieve peace with its neighbors.

Chairman of the National Union-NRP faction Uri Ariel and party member MK Aryeh Eldad walked out of the Knesset hall in protest of Olmert's words, saying that the outgoing prime minister made use of a national event to promote his political views.

Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar accused Olmert of "cynically taking advantage of a state ceremony for a political speech in the spirit of the extreme left."

Ariel said that "this is an unseemly use of a memorial service to incite against certain parts of the population. It is disrespectful to Rabin, who was a man who knew how to take responsibility for his actions, while Olmert, who is suspected of corruption both personally and publicly, takes advantage of his memory."

Eldad echoed his colleague's sentiments, saying "Olmert took advantage of a national ceremony to give a speech from the school of the dazed left of the most extreme kind."

"We can't tolerate a failed prime minister, accused of corruption, using the little time he has left between police questionings to call for the destruction of the Jewish settlement in Israel."