Netanyahu will nix peace deal signed by Olmert

Thursday, April 17, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that if early elections occur in Israel and he is returned to power, he will not honor any peace agreements signed between the current government and the Palestinian Authority.

Speaking to Israel's Makor Harishon newspaper, Netanyahu blasted the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for offering concessions to the Palestinians that he has no mandate from the Israeli people to offer, such as the division of Jerusalem and the surrender of strategic high ground in Judea and Samaria.

Netanyahu said that he will regard the next election as a referendum on Olmert's peace policies, meaning that a defeat for the prime minister will be seen as a clear mandate from the public to overturn any deals the current government has signed.

Public opinion polls conducted over the past 18 months have consistently showed that if there are early elections, Netanyahu and his Likud Party will score a comfortable victory over Olmert and his Kadima faction.

The chances of early elections of early elections seemed to peak last year when Olmert found himself embroiled in at least two different corruption scandals and as Israelis from across the political spectrum called for his resignation due to mismanagement of the Second Lebanon War.

Having weathered those storms, Olmert believed himself to be in the clear for the time being. But his popularity has continued to plummet amid mounting regional threats that few Israelis feel Olmert is capable of handling and planned concessions to the Palestinians that even fewer Israelis are ready to accept.

One of Olmert's coalition partners, Yisrael Beiteinu, has already left the government because of negotiations with the Palestinians over dividing Jerusalem. If those talks progress any further, the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party is expected to bolt as well, leaving Olmert with a minority government whose chief partner, Labor Party leader Ehud Barak, is himself eager for early elections in hopes of returning to the prime minister's chair.

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