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Olmert apologizes for incident with Germany

PM promises German chancellor Israel will do everything to ensure that misunderstanding which took place last week with German naval forces off Lebanon's coast will not recur. Earlier, German Defense Ministry says another incident occurred on Thursday, involved German navy helicopter, Israeli F-16 fighters. Bild am Sonntag newspaper reports Israeli planes had 'dangerously badgered' helicopter

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday evening called German Chancellor Angela Merkel and expressed his regret over the incident that took place between the Israel Defense Forces and the German navy in Lebanon last week.

 

He promised that Israel would do everything in order to prevent such incidents from recurring. Olmert updated Merkel on developments in the region and said he would accept her invitation to visit her country in the coming weeks.

 

Earlier Sunday, Olmert apologizes to a German parliamentary delegation for the misunderstandings between the IDF and German naval forces off the Lebanon coast.

 

Olmert spoke during a 40-minute meeting in Jerusalem with a senior parliamentary delegation from the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

 

Earlier Sunday, Germany said on its navy, which is patrolling the Lebanese coast as part of an international peacekeeping force, had been involved in a second incident involving Israeli fighter planes.

 

The Defense Ministry said it occurred on Thursday and involved a German navy helicopter and Israeli F-16 fighters.

 

"We are aware of the episode, but it was not menacing," The spokesman said, after the Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported the Israeli planes had "dangerously badgered" The helicopter.

 

The spokesman said the area was used by the Israeli air force for training, adding: "Perhaps other standards apply for them than for us."

 

On Wednesday, Israel denied a German newspaper report that two of its air force planes had fired twice as they flew over a German navy ship patrolling the Lebanon coast. But it did say jets had been scrambled when a helicopter took off from a German aircraft carrier without identifying itself.

 

Germany confirmed at the time that that an incident had occurred, but gave no details. It subsequently received assurances from Defense Minister Amir Peretz that the air force would not carry out any hostile fire or maneuvers around German vessels.

 

German defense minister to visit Israel, Lebanon

Germany assumed command of a UN naval force off Lebanon this month, and has sent eight ships and 1,000 service personnel to join the international peace operation in the region.

 

The naval force is charged with preventing weapons smuggling and helping maintain a ceasefire between Israel and Lebanese Hizbullah guerrillas.

 

Meanwhile, the German Defense Minister said Sunday that Germany's Defense Minister Franz Joseph Jung will go to Israel and Lebanon this week, a trip that follows last week's incident involving a German ship off the Lebanese coast and Israeli fighter jets.

 

German officials said the Israeli jets fired in the air over a German intelligence-gathering ship in international waters. Israel denies that shots were fired and said the planes approached a helicopter after it took off Tuesday from a German ship without notifying Israeli forces.

 

News agencies contributed to the report

 


פרסום ראשון: 10.29.06, 18:51
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