Monday, September 15, 2008

Olmert 'sorry' for Palestinian and Jewish refugees

Ehud Olmert has made his first (and almost certainly last as Prime Minister) public reference to Jewish refugees from Arab Countries in remarks to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee: (With thanks: Edwin)

Update: according to this AP report in the Jerusalem Post we learn that Olmert's statement was not meant to be public at all, but made behind closed doors. What a disappointment !

"Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday said he was sorry for the plight of Palestinians and Jews who became refugees as a result of Israel's establishment.

"I join in expressing sorrow for what happened to the Palestinians and also for what happened to the Jews who were expelled from Arab states," the prime minister said.

Olmert made the comments before a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, apparently in his last such session as prime minister. He was speaking in reference to the key Palestinian demand for a "right of return" in peace negotiations with Israel.

"Under absolutely no circumstances will there be a right of return," Olmert declared, "but we are prepared to be part of an international mechanism that will work to solve the problem."

Palestinians have demanded that Israel accept responsibility for the suffering of Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes in the War of Independence that followed Israel's 1948 creation.

Olmert's remark Monday fell far short of meeting this demand. But it was unusual for an Israeli prime minister to say Israel will participate in expressing sorrow for what happened to them."

Read article in full


Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

olmert's simplistic, poorly informed comments show once again that he should never have been prime minister. The Arabs did not become refugees because of Israel's establishment but because the Arab states and the Palestinian Arab leadership went to war against the UN General Assembly partition recommendation. The first people in the country driven out of their homes were Jews in south Tel Aviv, parts of Jerusalem, etc. The Jews living around the tomb of Simon the Just in Jerusalem, north of the American Colony Hotel and the Orient House, were driven out in two waves in December 1947 & January 1948, before any Arabs became refugees. So the fault for the Arab refugees lies on the Arabs.

As to Jews in Arab countries, they had already gone through experiences in the 1930s and 1940s which must have terrified them greatly, not only the Baghdad Farhud but massacres/pogroms in Libya, Egypt, Syria, not to mention the historical memories of subjugation as dhimmis.

olmert is a clever --too clever-- lawyer and manipulator at best. But he is not a wise man. His term as prime minister has been a long disgrace.

bataween said...

Of course you are right - I did not want to go into the facts, but a mere public mention of Jewish refugees would have been a seachange in Israeli foreign policy - but even that was not intended.