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Olmert on Mahmoud Abbas, Hezbollah and Syria

PM Olmert: "I am ready day and night, I am ready anytime, any place, without preconditions to sit down and talk with Mahmoud Abbas"

PM Ehud Olmert

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called for a meeting with chairman Mahmoud Abbas. "He will be surprised when he will sit with me of how far we are prepared to go. I can offer him a lot," Olmert said, without elaborating.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gave an interview to the British Sky News at the Conference for Export and International Cooperation in Tel Aviv.

He sent a message to the chairman of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas:

"Abbas is exposed to Hamas pressures, and I am willing to sit down with him with no predetermined conditions, he would be surprised to see how far I'm willing to go in the talks. I have great respect for Abu Mazen (Abbas). When we will sit around the negotiation table he will be very intransigent"

"He is a Palestinian patriot, not Israeli. He will fight for Palestinian interests like a lion. But he is a decent man, he opposes terror. He is under pressure from terror groups and has no power to oppose them and overpower them. I sent him the message 20 times."

Read an article from June 23, 2006

On the killing of Palestinian civilians in Beit Hanun:

"I express my great remorse for yesterday's accident in Beit Hanun, the IDF's mistake firing. That's not Israel's aim. We regret what happened. But, unfortunately that's what happened but I could have also happened from Qassam fire at Sderot and Ashkelon. These are missiles fired deliberately at Israel. What we need to do is to curb the firing of these missiles. But I believe Israel is strong enough to apologize." 

Concerning the issue of releasing Palestinian prisoners Olmert said:

"I will not release even one of the prisoners to Hamas, I am not prepared to reward them for their extremism. But to Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas], I am ready to release many. Even before Shalit's abduction, I met Jordan 's king Abdullah, Egyptian President Mubarak, and  Prime Minister Tony Blair and told them that I am ready to release prisoners. I tell the Palestinians today you don't know how many prisoners you can have if you were to release Shalit. I am ready to release for Abu Mazen but not for Hamas."

Olmert later talked about last summer's war between Israel and the Hezbollah:

"The day we decided to respond to Hezbollah's provocation, we set a target: the implementation of United Nations resolution 1559, which was never implemented, in order to have the Lebanese Army dispatched and to remove Hezbollah. Resolution 1701 was implemented and the Lebanese Army and an international army are deployed in southern Lebanon.

"I can say that Hezbollah lost the appetite to fight Israel for many years. You can ask Nasrallah. You ask Nasrallah if they want to return to this experience, they would say that they don't want to experience that for many, many, many years. I heard during the war that there is no more deterrence because of this war. Did we have deterrence against Hezbollah before July 12? There was zero deterrence.

"They tried to kidnap soldiers in January, in March and continued in June and in the end they succeeded in July. They fired rockets. Now ask them again. Now Hezbollah knows. He said that if he would have known about one percent of our response, he wouldn't have started a war. Today there is deterrence. Therefore I believe we won the war."

Olmert talked about the possibility of agreement with Syria:

"I am not opposed to an agreement with Syria. Bashar Assad cannot eat the cake and leave it whole. Someone who supports Hezbollah, Hamas, Haled Mashal in terror activities in the Middle East, and who is Iran's most loyal partner while it calls for the destruction of Israel, cannot be a partner in negotiations. It doesn't go together. I am not ready to tell you what he is supposed to get from me. Israel proved in the past that it is ready for serious business."

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