Israel Should Respond to Iran Attack in a ‘Smart,’ ‘Responsible Manner, Which We Haven’t Done Lately,’ Former PM Says | Video SuperNayr

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Fox News on Saturday that with an attack against the country expected from Iran, Israel should respond in a “smart” and “responsible manner, which we haven’t done lately.” Olmert made the comments ahead of news that Iran had launched drones headed toward Israel, but after it was known an attack was expected imminently.

“What is the merit of killing another 200, 300 Palestinian terrorists, many casualties possible amongst civilians, many Israeli soldiers will be killed, and we will lose the hostages altogether?” Olmert asked. “So the first priority of Israel now is to bring back the hostages. And if we need to stop the war, we should stop the war.”

He continued, sharing thoughts on Gaza and describing it as “a long story.”

“We will have, some time in the future, a way to somehow settle the account with the Gazans — if we will have to at this point now, there is not any advantage in continuing this military campaign in invading Rafah, in killing so many more terrorists, in causing the death of so many non-involved civilians, of losing so many Israeli soldiers,” Olmert said. “And first and foremost of losing the hostages, which I think is the first and most fundamental moral obligation of the State of Israel to save.”

When asked about comments from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office that any potential counter-attack from Israel could include a situation “where we seek out facilities, nuclear and otherwise,” Olmert, who has been critical of Netanyahu, was calculated in his response.

“Obviously there will be an Iranian attack, and then depending on how, and what, and where, and then there will be an Israeli reaction. Then, of course, it can start at a certain exchange, which can get out of control,” he said.

“Therefore, I hope, I pray, that all of the sides will be responsible and will be restrained,” Olmert added. “I know it’s not easy for the Iranians, but they have manifested in the past that they know how to keep a certain restraint. And they hope that after their attack, we will think before we act.”

Observers have also noted that, following the war, Netanyahu is at risk both politically and legally.

In November, Olmert told Politico that the Oct. 7 attacks had broken Netanyahu. He explained, “[Netanyahu] has shrunk. He’s destroyed emotionally, that’s for sure. I mean, something terrible happened to him. Bibi has been working all his life on the false pretense that he is Mr. Security. He’s Mr. Bulls–t. Every minute he is prime minister he is a danger to Israel. I seriously mean it. I am certain the Americans understand he is in bad shape.”

When asked if he still stands by those and other comments Olmert has made that suggest Netanyahu’s “overconfidence” led to the attacks on Oct. 7, and if he would be critical of a response from the Israel Defense Forces to attacks from Iran, Olmert said the two issues are separate.

“I hope that they will show a certain restraint, and I hope that they listen carefully to President Biden and to the prime ministers of Europe that cautioned them and warned them to be very careful,” he explained.

“As to Netanyahu, I think yes, he is largely responsible, perhaps more than any person, in creating the circumstances which made the October 7th possible. He downgraded the Palestinian Authority, which was a potential partner for peace negotiations with Israel,” Olmert continued.

“And he explicitly, openly, and publicly said that financing Hamas through Qatar is a reasonable, responsible way of dealing with Hamas,” the former prime minister added. “He is the one that provided them with hundreds of millions of dollars that enabled them to build a military power, the underground city in Gaza, which made them… providing the facilities and the power and the strength to carry on the attack. There is no question about it.”

“And he kept saying all the time, Hamas is deterred. We have frightened them. We have deterred them. They will not dare do any attack on Israel,” Olmert continued. “And you know, you can’t help. He is responsible. He was the chief executive. And in a normal society, when the chief executive fails explicitly, openly, and publicly in this manner, he’s got to leave, that’s all. He failed.”

Olmert’s interview aired an hour before Israel announced Iran had launched dozens of unmanned drones toward the country. IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the drones would take several hours to arrive.

Iran had threatened to retaliate against Israel in the wake of an Israeli airstrike that killed two Iranian generals in Syria. Israel has not commented on the attack.

Saturday’s drone attack is the first time Iran has launched a military assault against Israel. The Associated Press reported that the country’s paramilitary guard announced only that Iran had sent “dozens of drones and missiles towards the occupied territories and positions of the Zionist regime.”

For years, Olmert was seen as a conservative political figure in Israel, but he broadened his stance toward the Palestinians in more recent years. He was credited with playing a major role in Israel’s decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and was elected prime minister the following year. While in office, he often warned that Israel’s continued occupation of Gaza would cause the country to become an apartheid similar to South Africa and spoke in favor of allowing Palestinians to control parts of Jerusalem.

In 2014, Olmert was convicted of charges of accepting bribes to promote a real estate project and obstructing justice. The charges dated back to when he was the mayor of Jerusalem.

Jon Stewart

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