In a wide-ranging interview in Tel Aviv, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert discussed the country’s ongoing formation of a government and openly criticised his successor and rival Benjamin Netanyahu who, he says, is “not capable of continuing”. He also addressed the issue of Iran, which regularly threatens Israel.
Speaking to FRANCE 24’s Jerusalem correspondent Antoine Mariotti, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert expressed hope that Benny Gantz, the centrist former army chief who was this week tasked with forming a government, would succeed and change the Israeli political landscape.
Olmert claimed it was “obvious” that his successor and rival Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he accused of wanting to stay in power “at almost any cost”, had to go: “A prime minister that failed three times, consecutive times, in one year to have enough support to form a government, he’s not capable of continuing. He has to go home.” Netanyahu’s Likoud party won the most seats in the March 2 election but fell short of a majority and he has since not managed to form a government.
The former Israeli premier also addressed the corruption charges against Netanyahu. Olmert himself resigned over corruption allegations back in 2008 and later spent 16 months in jail, which he contrasted with Netanyahu’s stance: “No one is above the law. I suffered from this but I bowed my head and I said the courts are above me. Netanyahu thinks that he is not only above the courts, but that he is above the country and this will not work.”
‘Iran is not an existential threat to the state of Israel’
Finally, Olmert addressed the issue of Iran – which regularly threatens Israel – calling it “a problem”. “But we have to deal with Iran,” he says. “I dealt with Iran for many years and I think that we can handle the threat of Iran. It is not an existential threat to the state of Israel.”
Olmert also accused Netanyahu of using “rhetoric” to exaggerate the threat posed by Iran to Israel.