Olmert says Netanyahu unworthy of leading country

In interview, former PM slams current PM’s handling of Iran issue; predicts coalition government will fall apart

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90/File)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90/File)

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert launched a bitter critique of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his policies in a taped interview published Thursday, in the midst of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel.

Olmert told Globes that Netanyahu does not deserve to lead the country, and he predicted that the prime minister’s coalition would not enjoy longevity.

The former prime minister criticized, in particular, Netanyahu’s handling of the Iran issue vis-à-vis the Americans.

“What is this supposed to be? Coming to the US president, waving your finger in front of his face live on national TV, lecturing him on morals and teaching him a lesson in history?” Olmert asked, referring to a particularly uncomfortable joint press conference in May 2011, at the White House.

“With all due respect to the prime minister, this president has learned a thing or two in his lifetime. He graduated from universities every bit as good as those [Netanyahu] graduated from. He’s an educated, cultured man. You are trying to make him out a silly schoolboy before the whole world, live from the purple room of the White House?”

Speaking of the prime minister’s newly minted coalition government, Olmert said it would break apart sooner or later as a result of Netanyahu’s leadership.

“This government’s problem is neither [Jewish Home head Naftali] Bennett nor [Yesh Atid chief Yair] Lapid, but the man who presides over it. This is why this government will not go the full term, because the man who leads it is unworthy of being a PM,” he said.

Olmert added that he considers Netanyahu and his Likud-Beytenu alliance partner Avigdor Liberman to be the “losers” of the general election. According to the former prime minister, the “predictable, nevertheless impressive” victor is Lapid.

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