Monday, November 05, 2007

Olmert slams right-wing displays of hatred

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has launched a vitriolic attack on extreme right-wingers, responding to a campaign to release a political assassin and incitement against talks with the Palestinians.

Olmert, who yesterday said he may be able to conclude a peace deal with the Palestinians by the end of George Bush's term, vowed that such antics would not dissuade him from persevering with negotiations.

"We are prepared to make compromises because security is based on peace and peace requires painful compromises," he said in a speech to a managers' conference in Israel's commercial capital Tel Aviv.

"We will combat extremist phenomena with zero tolerance.

"I am convinced that most people in Israel, be they Jewish or Arab, secular or religious, do not accept the flood of hatred eating away at the democratic foundations of our society," Olmert added.

Extreme right-wingers are campaigning for the release of Yigal Amir, the extremist Jewish assassin who gunned down former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin 12 years ago for his policy of reconciliation with the Palestinians.

Olmert also slammed protests from Jerusalem football fans, who booed and cat-called through a minute's silence to honour Rabin at the start of a game late on Sunday, as "intolerable" behaviour from a "handful of people."

Around 2,000 extreme-right Israelis, many of them Jewish settlers from the occupied West Bank, on Sunday staged the first significant protest against Israeli-Palestinian negotiations ahead of a US-sponsored peace conference.

Olmert also condemned posters put up by right-wing activists that depict Israeli President Shimon Peres in the black and white keffiyeh headdress that was a trademark of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

"What do such posters mean? That you think the president of Israel does not defend the interests of Israel but of Arabs?" he hammered.

Posters depicted Rabin in the same way during a campaign of right-wing incitement that preceded his assassination in 1995.
(AFP report)

No comments: