The October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas in southern Israel has changed the country. This was the largest terrorist attack on Israeli soil. Hamas fighters killed over 1,400 people and took nearly 200 prisoners.
Professor Josef Olmert spared time on a very busy day to speak with Editor-in-Chief Atul Singh about what is going on and what may happen going forward. Olmert is the son of former Knesset member Mordechai Olmert and a brother of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In 1999, he served as policy advisor to the then Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens. Olmert fought on the Golan Heights in the 1973 Yom Kippur War and gives a centrist Israeli view of this crisis.
Olmert compares Hamas to the Nazis. He argues that Hamas has genocidal plans and aims to destroy Israel. The Israeli political and military leadership has no option but to weaken, if not destroy, Hamas. Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s policy of containment has failed. The country needs a new direction.
Olmert makes a bold prediction. He explains how the Yom Kippur War led to the fall of the Labour Party and the rise of the Likud Party. He says the second Israeli republic emerged after the Yom Kippur War. The Hamas attack is going to hurt Likud. The center will make a comeback. A third Israeli republic will emerge after these attacks, which have shaken Israel to the core.
In a candid conversation, Olmert admits that Israel got it wrong in sidelining the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Fatah. Now, there may be a new role for PA in administering Gaza. Olmert admits there were bad apples in Bibi’s right-wing coalition. He points out though that the talk of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is nonsense.
Olmert points out the population of Gaza was 350,000 in 1967. Today, Gaza’s population is over two million. Olmert says that Arab countries have conducted ethnic cleansing of Jews instead. There are hardly any Jews left after 1948 because of Arab persecution.
Olmert says that the PA will become relevant again. It might take control of Gaza again. The PA will need an injection of money, Gaza would have to be demilitarized and supervisory/audit mechanisms of how the money is used will be essential. Both Egypt and Jordan would have key roles to play and will need to be compensated for their efforts.
In a nutshell, Olmert presents an Israeli point of view powerfully and compellingly. To make sense of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, to make sense of what is going on in Gaza and to make sense of the Middle East, watch this video.
You can also read Atul Singh’s 2012 piece on the history of this conflict, Professor Avi Shlaim’s 2021 interview on the cause of this conflict and watch this FO° Exclusive discussion by Singh and Carle about Bibi’s deeply divisive judicial reforms.
The views expressed in this article/video are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.