Former Israeli PM Olmert blames Netanyahu for Hamas build-up in Gaza Strip | World News

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has accused current premier Benjamin Netanyahu of being responsible for the build-up of Hamas capabilities in the Gaza Strip. Olmert, who served as Israel’s leader from 2006 to 2009, made the claims during an interview with NDTV, asserting that “Netanyahu is personally and directly responsible for the deal with Hamas” which led to the release of “1,000 murderers of Hamas in exchange for one Israeli soldier”. He further claimed that “80 per cent of the people want him out.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023.(via Reuters)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023.(via Reuters)

He also held Netanyahu accountable for the policy that allegedly marginalized moderate Palestinians, with whom he said negotiations should have taken place. Olmert claimed that this policy inadvertently contributed to the rise of Hamas because it was considered a non-negotiating party, allowing Netanyahu to avoid making concessions to them.

Olmert also expressed his doubt that a diplomatic compromise could be reached with Hamas, citing US President Joe Biden’s remarks about Israel’s right to retaliate.

“I don’t think a diplomatic compromise is aimed at with Hamas,” he told NDTV.

The former Israeli PM emphasized the importance of minimizing collateral damage, stating, “This is not a competition of who kills more. We are not interested in killing civilians.”

He, however, also underscored the stance Israel has taken since the Hamas attack .

“We want peace but there will be no peace if Hamas is there. We know innocent people have died but Hamas is not letting them go”.

“We must make a concerted effort to try and remove Hamas from its position. This is an essential step to achieve peace but there will never be peace if Hamas is there,” he said.

Olmert began his political career with the ruling Likud party but shifted to Kadima, formed by moderates led by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in 2006. When Sharon was declared unfit for office following his hospitalisation, his then-deputy Ehud Olmert took over the mantle.

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