According to the former prime minister, Netanyahu is in a state of “nervous breakdown” as he tries to avoid losing his job as a result of his failure to keep the nation safe during the murderous attacks by Hamas on October 7. As a result, Israel is now strategically off course, Olmert believes.
He insists that Tel Aviv’s priority should be to negotiate a final post-conflict settlement in Gaza – including the resumption of talks on the creation of a Palestinian state – rather than a return to full military control of Gaza.
It is in our interest to be able to defend ourselves in a different way than before the attack of 7 October. But to control Gaza again? No
“(Netanyahu) has collapsed. He’s emotionally wrecked, no doubt about it. I mean something terrible happened to him. Bibi (the Prime Minister’s nickname) spends his whole life trying to pretend that he is Mr. Security. It is Mr. Kecal,” Olmert said in the interview.
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“He poses a danger to Israel”
“Every minute he is prime minister is a danger to Israel. I’m totally serious. I’m sure the Americans understand that it’s in bad shape,” added Olmert, who headed Israel’s government from 2006 to 2009 as chairman of the liberal Kadima party.
As an example of Netanyahu’s flawed approach, Olmert considers the strategic plan to maintain security control over the post-war Gaza Strip, which the prime minister mentioned in an interview with the ABC station on Monday. Olmert warned that such a move would practically amount to a return to pre-2005, when Israel exercised military rule over the coastal territory.
“It is not in Israel’s interest to oversee the security of Gaza,” Olmert said. “It is in our interest to be able to defend ourselves in a different way than before the October 7 attack. But to control Gaza again? No.”
Olmert also warned that Israel’s Western allies are slowly running out of patience with Netanyahu and his ministers unable to outline a realistic plan for who will rule Gaza after Hamas is removed. At the same time, the ex-prime minister blames the Israeli war cabinet for a lack of sober judgment.
Biden called on Israel to agree to a pause in the fighting
US President Joe Biden has previously stated that it would be a mistake for Israel to reoccupy Gaza. While Netanyahu’s plan would likely not involve a return to the full occupation that the United States and Israel’s other allies have warned against, it would likely not come without substantial control of the territory and a permanent presence of Israeli troops.
Crucially, Politico writes, it would likely dash the United States’ hopes of convincing the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority (PA) to return to the Gaza Strip. Its Fatah movement ruled Gaza until 2006, when it was defeated in elections by Hamas, which took complete control of the territory after a year of fighting. Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas has previously rejected the idea that the PA could return to power in Gaza by force of Israeli arms.
What will we do then?
“There is a complete lack of planning for the next phase,” Olmert complained in an interview. “What do we do? Well, according to Netanyahu, we will crush and dismantle Hamas. And I think we can do it, by the way. But what is the next step? What will we do then? Anyone thinking about it? We have to present our idea of the final arrangement to the international community,” said the former prime minister.
“If Israel were to come up with a serious proposal for two-state negotiations, it would have a dramatic impact on the international community. It would give us more time and space to achieve the objectives of military operations – and it would influence public opinion in Western countries and in the media. It would show that Israel is determined to do something it has not wanted to do for the past 15 years. So something positive could come out of all this. But we don’t and nobody wants to think about it. No one wants to say it. No one wants to say it,” says the ex-prime minister.