Former Israeli PM warns Netanyahu's policy may lead to third intifada

2012-12-09 15:22:22 GMT2012-12-09 23:22:22(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

JERUSALEM, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert criticized on Sunday current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's diplomatic policy which he said may lead to a third intifada (armed uprising) in the Palestinian territories.

"The state of Israel is treading on a very risky diplomatic path," Olmert said during a business convention held at the Tel Aviv David Intercontinental Hotel, adding that its policy may prompt another intifada.

The Palestinians orchestrated two intifadas: the first took place between 1987 and 1991 and the other started in September 2000. According to the Betzelem Human Rights group, 1,593 Palestinians and 84 Israelis were killed in the first intifada; and 4,944 Palestinians and 1,011 Israelis were killed during the second one.

"The current government's policy essentially contradicts the existential interests of the State of Israel," Olmert added, "we' re standing in front of a decision whether to pursue a peaceful policy or one that ignores the Israeli state needs of coming to terms with our neighbors," Olmert said.

He added that it's an "illusion" to claim that Israel can run its national, security and economic issues as if it is neutralized from the international community.

Olmert's criticism addresses the Israeli cabinet's announcement last Friday, according to which it would build more than 3,000 housing units in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the E1 territorial stretch connecting them.

The announcement came less than 24 hours after the Palestinian Authority won its bid to the UN of upgrading its status to that of a non-member observer state in the UN's General Assembly.

The move was condemned harshly by the international community, such as France, England, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Canada and Brazil. And some countries summoned Israeli ambassadors for clarifications.

And some countries are also contemplating other punitive measures due to the settlements' construction.

In his speech, Olmert also took notice of the recent Operation Pillar of Defense which took place in November in the Gaza Strip, which critics claimed the ceasefire terms strengthened Hamas.

"Israel is intensifying the radical forces within the Palestinians, headed by the Hamas and Jihad, and is working against the moderate forces within them who can achieve peace," Olmert added.

This is not the first time Olmert goes against Netanyahu's policy in the past two weeks.

During the Saban Forum in Washington last week, Olmert said that Israel's decision to expand the settlements is a "slap in the face" of the U.S. President Barack Obama.

He also called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a "genuine partner for peace" and accused the Israeli Prime Minister of "not being dedicated to the peace process."

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