Israel's former PM blames Netanyahu for Hamas capability build-uptext_fields
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed his concerns about the ongoing conflict with Hamas and emphasised the need to minimise collateral damage in the Gaza Strip.
Olmert, who has advocated for peace initiatives in the past, questioned the possibility of a diplomatic resolution with Hamas, emphasising the importance of avoiding civilian casualties in the ongoing conflict. "We should strive to minimise collateral damage, as this is not a competition of who inflicts more casualties. Our goal is not to harm innocent civilians," Olmert stated in his interview with NDTV.
However, Olmert maintained that since the October 8th attack by Hamas, Israel's stance has been clear: "We desire peace, but peace cannot be achieved while Hamas remains in power. We acknowledge that innocent lives have been lost, but Hamas does not allow civilians to leave the area. We must work together to dislodge Hamas from its position as an essential step towards achieving peace."
Moreover, Olmert squarely placed the blame on current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the situation.
He held Netanyahu responsible for the build-up of Hamas's capabilities, stating, "Netanyahu bears personal responsibility for the deal with Hamas. He is accountable for Hamas's rise and its capabilities." Olmert also cited public sentiment, noting that "80% of the population wants him out of office."
Olmert's criticisms extended to the policies and decisions of the current government, asserting that Netanyahu's policies had sidelined moderate Palestinian factions that Israel should have engaged with. Instead, these policies contributed to the empowerment of Hamas, as it was not seen as a negotiating partner.
He further criticised Netanyahu's role in the release of "1,000 Hamas prisoners in exchange for one Israeli soldier."
Regarding the government's unity, Olmert dismissed it as a genuine coalition. He explained that two distinguished former Chiefs of Staff had joined the government temporarily, solely to support the Israeli military's operations against Hamas. They did not consider themselves partners with Netanyahu and aimed to oust him, joined by other political forces.