Israeli ex-PM Olmert says to be "active" in upcoming elections

2012-12-02 21:35:29 GMT2012-12-03 05:35:29(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

JERUSALEM, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Israeli former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday confirmed his return to politics during the upcoming elections, though he did not clarify if he will be running in the elections or assisting one of the candidates.

In an interview with the New York Times, Olmert said his goal in January's elections will be to oust current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He criticized Netanyahu for the stagnant peace process with the Palestinians, saying that the current premier is "not dedicated to the process of peace in a realistic way that can bring peace."

Last week, Olmert said to favor Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas' diplomatic move at the United Nations, when the international body gave a non-member observer status to Palestine.

"It is time to give a hand to, and encourage, the moderate forces amongst the Palestinians. Abu-Mazen (Abbas) and ( Palestinian Prime Minister) Salam Fayyad need our help. It's time to give it," he was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying.

Olmert has said to be mulling a political comeback in January after being implicated in four cases of corruption and convicted on one of them, but will only make a final statement about it upon his return from Washington on Tuesday.

"If he is running independently that would not make a difference," Izthak Galnoor, a professor of political sciences at the Hebrew University, told Xinhua, "But if there was an alliance of the center-left, then there could be some kind of bloc that could compete with Netanyahu and (Foreign Minister Avigdor) Lieberman's right-wing bloc."

Given the stalemate in the peace process with the PNA and Israel's diplomatic failure to prevent Palestine from becoming a UN non-member observer state, Olmert would represent a more moderate side, Galnoor said.

"The failure at the UN, though I would call it much more than a failure, is only an expression of Israel's international isolation. Netanyahu's government lack of interest in negotiation with Abbas is to say the least, not beneficial at all for the state of Israel, " Galnoor said, "so in that concern I do think that Olmert would be a more moderate force in the government and would be more willing to renew the peace process."

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