“Israel has no territorial dispute, neither on the southern or northern border,” Olmert added.
Olmert said Israel was interested in a stable and calm Lebanon, free of external powers.
“We hope that one of these days we will achieve a peace agreement, to the mutual benefit of both sides,” the prime minister said.
“The current fight is against terror organizations in Lebanon and Gaza. These organizations are subcontractors, acting under the authorization, encouragement and funding of terror supporting organizations and opponents of peace - the axis of evil that runs from Tehran to Damascus,” Olmert said.
'We have the right to our freedom'
The prime minister continued: “Israel will not be a hostage – not of terror organizations and not of sovereign states.”
“We are standing at a moment of national truth. Will we agree to live under the threat of the axis of evil, or will we hew our internal strength and show determination and level-headedness? Our answer is known to each and every Israel, and today it echoes in the entire region. We are not seeking war and confrontation, but when they are necessary we will not avoid them. We have the right to our freedom, and when we have to, we know how to fight for and defend that freedom,” Olmert said.
Olmert concluded by turning to the families of the kidnapped IDF soldiers.
Haifa under rocket attack (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
“I am constantly thinking of you,” he said, adding that he keeps photos of all three troops on his desk.
“I do not forget them for one moment; they were there on our behalf; we will do everything to get them back in a way that will not lead to more kidnappings."
Earlier on Monday the Knesset discussed three no-confidence motions submitted by the Arab parties against the government’s policy in Gaza and Lebanon. Most MKs chose not to take part in the discussion, with some saying their absence was an act of protest against the fact that the ‘Arab factions are not showing solidarity with northern Israel’s residents.’
The no-confidence motions were rejected by a large majority.
Coalition Chairman, MK Avigdor Itzchaky (Kadima) said regarding Meretz’s abstinence in the vote, "Meretz is the only Zionist party not to support the government at this time. This is a drastic move that represents the moral and ideological bankruptcy to which Meretz has deteriorated. It constitutes a troubling message to security forces and Israeli civilians. Meretz hasn't decided whose side it's on in this war."