Beginning to Bid Farewell to Olmert

At the time of writing this, Ehud Olmert had just congratulated Tzipi Livni on her victory in the Kadima leadership primary.  The final results aren’t yet in, but it now seems that she will be the next party leader and be tasked with trying to form a new governing coalition.  I will be writing more about the next steps and what to expect in the coming days, but in the meantime Ehud Olmert is becoming a caretaker Prime Minister and transitioning out of his post.  As I wrote several months ago, the immediate punditry may well be unflattering to Olmert—history, however, may record him as being one of the more frank Prime Ministers and refreshingly so when it came to some of his descriptions of Israel’s predicament.

As his term neared its end, Olmert’s propensity for straight talk became ever more pronounced.  So on this night of choosing a new Kadima leader, rather than jump right into more speculation, I thought it might be fitting to do a little farewell to Olmert, and list some of the more powerful quotes from his time in the Premier seat.  I may be wrong, but I have a feeling that Olmert will continue to be, and perhaps even more out of office, a voice for Israel to finally implement the two-state solution.  For this at least he should be thanked and acknowledged.  Here, then, are some choice Olmert lines which we can use long into the future (it’s not exhaustive and there may be more to follow):

Every day that goes by without an agreement with the Palestinians is a day we may regret in the future…If we do not achieve an agreement quickly we will miss the opportunity, and the price for missing that opportunity may be intolerable. There is no magic formula for reaching an agreement, and the price will be very high. –Ma’ariv, September 15th 2008

Greater Israel is over. There is no such thing. Anyone who talks that way is deluding himself. –Haaretz, September 16th, 2008


If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished…The Jewish organizations, which were our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us…because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents. –Haaretz, November, 29th, 2007

I join in expressing sorrow for what happened
to the Palestinians and also for what happened to the Jews who were expelled from Arab states [referring to the refugee crisis that accompanied Israel’s establishment]. –Haaretz, September 15, 2008

I thought that the land from the Jordan River to the [Mediterranean] Sea was all ours. But ultimately, after a long and tortured process, I arrived at the conclusion that we must share with those we live with if we don’t want to be a binational state. –Haaretz, September 16th, 2008

We are closer than ever to concrete understandings that will likely serve as a basis for agreements in our dialogues with both the Palestinians and the Syrians. On the day the dream of peace comes true we will all stand and wonder: How did we not achieve this sooner?” –Haaretz, August 1st, 2008

Some day soon, sooner than we think, we will long for the solutions that some of us reject today. –Haaretz, September 16th, 2008


I am not hiding or obscuring anything. If we want a territorial compromise it will be close to a one-for-one formula…There are various ways of reaching that formula, by means of exchanges of territory. I think it is not impossible to reach an agreement, but the more time passes, the higher the price that we will pay will be. –Ma’ariv, September 15th 2008