Photo: Ahiya Raved
Prime minister and education minister visit north
Photo: Ahiya Raved
Photo: Reuters
Lebanese PM Siniora
Photo: Reuters
Olmert: I told Siniora 'let's talk peace'
Prime minister reveals his appeal to Lebanese prime minister while talking to high school students in northern Israel. 'How simple and natural would it be for Lebanese prime minister to answer my appeals to sit together, shake hands and stop hatred,' he says
First day of school: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert revealed Sunday morning to high school students at the ORT school in Maalot that he had appealed to Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora several times, asking him to meet in order to discuss peace agreements.


"How simple and natural would it be for the Lebanese prime minister to answer my appeals to sit together, shake hands and stop this hatred which part of his nation has directed at us. I hope this day is not far," Olmert said during a school opening ceremony at the Maalot Tarshiha high school in northern Israel.


"There is no nation seeking peace more than us. We forgive easily and make amends easily. What we ask for is so simple, natural, normal and obvious: To enjoy life, to enjoy what other nations views as obvious – waking up in the morning with no need to worry," he said.


"For 60 years we have been fighting to achieve these simple things. But till them, we will do all that it takes in order to be ready for any surprise which may come, and invest huge efforts and resources so that the Galilee flourishes and is full of life," he added.

Olmert with first-graders (Photo: Ahiya Raved)


Addressing the fact that the school year opened on time, Olmert said that this was proof of the Israeli public's great power of vitality.


"Sometimes our abilities are doubted, particularly when we hear the sounds of wailing. But when the clouds above our life are dissolved, we encounter this power – the bursting power of creation – and then one says 'no one can stop us.'"


Maalot-Tarshiha Mayor Shlomo Buhbut, who also serves as chairman of the forum of confrontation line communities, told the students that the forum opposes the establishment of a state commission of inquiry into the war in Lebanon, due to the understanding that such a move would disrupt the Galilee's rehabilitation.


"We now need the government fighting for us and rehabilitating the north. We don’t need the leadership busy running with lawyers from one committee to another," he explained.

'Let us enjoy life.' Olmert in north (Photo: Reuters)


Earlier, Olmert met with elementary school students at Moshav Meona in the Galilee, where kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit studied.


"I look at the eyes of the children and see that you know how to cope," he told the students who had spent long weeks in bomb shelters. "I am not degrading what happened, but I admire your will, firmness, optimism, and love for this enchanting area where you live."


Olmert promised the children that "together we will make a real and serious joint effort so that our Galilee will become a place of joy, a place of pride and a place in which the life and future of the State of Israel flourish. Have a successful school year, good luck to everyone, and a happy new year to everyone."


According to Olmert, "education is the State's most important resource. It's the security and economy, it's all we can be."


Olmert told the children about his first day in school: "I wasn’t so nice and I wasn’t so smart. I didn’t know many things like you know before you even started studying. I asked the first-graders I visited home many of them were already working on a computer, and everyone raised their hands."


Olmert was met both in Moshav Meona and in Maalot by dozens of demonstrators from the Movement of Quality Government in Israel, who called on him to establish a state commission of inquiry. The protestors activated sirens and chanted slogans against the commissions of inquiry Olmert declared, calling them "cover up committees."


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