Calling himself an optimist, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert shared an intimate lunch with Dartmouth College students Tuesday afternoon. Olmert is an advocate of a two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and says it's up to world leaders to make it happen.
"It's the inner strengths of the one who will be in that position to do that which needs to be done in spite of whatever the personal ramifications will be," Olmert said.
During his time as prime minister from 2006 to 2009, Olmert says no other Israeli leader in the last 60 years has made more progress toward peace than himself. But it was also a time of constant conflict. Freshman Reem Chamseddine, who is originally from Lebanon, lived through it.
"The whole city was shut down because of that, so it is weird that he would say it's not a war and it was exaggerated because for us, that was not the case," Chamseddine said.
Olmert's visit was made possible with help from Dartmouth's Dickey Center for International Understanding. Ongoing negotiations regarding nuclear proliferation in Iran and ending the war Syria were also addressed.
Reporter Adam Sullivan: Do you think President Obama is doing enough to lead?
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: Well, number one, I am not an American."
Olmert went on to say that the U.S. plays an important role in the road map for peace in the Middle East.
"The fact that he is so much involved through his secretary of state is something that I think is very important," Olmert said.
"It was definitely a tremendous opportunity to get to hear and ask my own questions to him personally," said Zachary Kamin, a senior.
The questions continued for more than an hour. And while ending war dominated the discussion, Olmert's colorful personality also shined through.
"If someone in Israel would ask me what have you achieved in life, I am going to say I spoke at Dartmouth," Olmert said.
As for his future political plans.
Adam Sullivan: Would you consider running again?
Ehud Olmert: I run three times a week, 12 kilometers each time. I enjoy it very much and I am going to continue.
A day dedicated to foreign policy that this campus experienced firsthand.