OVIEDO, Spain (AA) – Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel’s “arrogance” allowed for the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.
“I am certain that Israel had all the intelligence it needed to know what was happening. There were even concrete warnings from friendly intelligence services,” Olmert told Spanish daily El Pais. “This was a psychological and intellectual failure, not an intelligence failure.”
Olmert asserted that Israel overlooked the Hamas threat because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was convinced he “could buy off Hamas with money.”
– ‘Netanyahu is the problem’ –
Olmert, who served as Israeli prime minister from 2006 to 2009, and has had past spats with Netanyahu, told El Pais that it seems like the country’s current leader has “lost touch with reality.”
“He lives in a bubble … He has got to go. There is growing distrust of Netanyahu. Every day, more Israelis understand that he is not the solution. He is the problem,” Olmert said.
The former Israeli leader added that he thinks Netanyahu is refusing to talk about Gaza’s post-war future because he is trapped between competing interests.
“If he says what he really believes, it will be rejected by the international community. If he says what the international community wants him to say, he’ll lose his government,” he added.
Olmert is calling for Israeli forces to withdraw from Gaza and ensure that all the remaining Israelis taken captive can return home safely. After that, he said Israel should talk to its allies to find partners who can take temporary control of Gaza to bring back stability and get ready for the Palestinian Authority to eventually take control.
He also questioned Israel’s goal of eliminating Hamas.
“It’s very difficult to destroy a terrorist organization. Hamas has between 20,000 and 30,000 terrorists,” he said. “You kill 10,000. That’s a big loss. But they have another 20,000 and they’ll recruit even more because if there is no political future, people will turn into terrorists.”
He added: “If Israel doesn’t offer a political horizon and thinks, as opposed to the international community, that it can continue fighting indefinitely, it will lose even more international support,” he said.