Olmert: Stop Obsessing Over Settlements

Obama should take 'non-priority issue' off the table, writes ex-PM
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2009 6:27 AM CDT
Olmert: Stop Obsessing Over Settlements
Ehud Olmert, left, shakes hands with his successor Benjamin Netanyahu following his speech during a handover ceremony at the president's residence in Jerusalem Wedensday, April 1, 2009.   (AP Photo/Menahem Kahana, Pool)

It's fine for Barack Obama to make overtures to the Arab world, but Ehud Olmert, reminding him in a Washington Post op-ed that Israel is "the only real Middle Eastern democracy," complains that he has focused too much of his attentions on Israel's settlements in the West Bank. Olmert says the two-state solution agreed to by George W. Bush—with whom his administration had "deep and candid understandings, both written and oral"—and codified in Annapolis, set out clear limits to Israeli settlements, but did not halt all future building.

"The insistence now on a complete freeze on settlement construction—impossible to completely enforce—will not promote Palestinian efforts to enhance security measures; the institution building that is so crucial for the development of a Palestinian state; better movement and access to the Palestinians; nor an improved economy in the West Bank."
Obama should take the settlement question off the agenda, Olmert writes, and focus on more critical political concerns: halting Iran's nuclear program, eliminating terrorism, and "normalizing relations between Israel and the Arab world." (Read more Ehud Olmert stories.)

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