Olmert-Merkel meeting
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Merkel in Yad Vashem
Photo: Haim Zach

Olmert invites Arab leaders to Israel

Prime minister invites Arab leaders to meet with Israeli officials, declares Israel will attend Arab summit if invited. 'If the Saudi king initiates a meeting of the moderate states, I'll gladly arrive,' he says in meeting with German chancellor. Referring to statements on US plan to attack Iran in summer, he says 'it's a false rumor'

Israel will show up for a peace summit with Arab leaders if invited, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday evening.


During a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the prime minister said, "I want to take this opportunity of being here with the European Union president in order to invite all Arab leaders, including the Saudi king.


"I am telling the heads of Arab countries that if the Saudi king initiates a meeting of the moderate states' leaders and invites both me and the Palestinian Authority president, I would gladly come there and speak our mind."


The prime minister also responded to remarks made by IDF intelligence chief during the cabinet meeting, that Iran and Hizbullah were preparing for a US strike in the summer.

Olmert and Merkel (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


According to Olmert, the report that there was an American plan, coordinated with Israe, to strike in Iran in the summer, was "a false and baseless rumor.


"I hope that no one operates on the basis of unfounded rumors in order to create a move which could drag us to a violent conflict without any reason," the prime minister said.


He strongly denied the report on a planned war in the summer.


"I am well aware of the reports, as well as the declarations made recently by different elements in Iran, in terms of what is expected or may happen in the summer. As the intelligence chief said, we do not expect an offensive by anyone, including Syria, and we hope nothing like that will happen.


"The declarations that there is an American plan to strike in Iran coordinated with Israel, and that Israel will allegedly simultaneously attack Syria and Hizbullah in Lebanon, is a plan we are not familiar with, which is unfounded.


"Israel," he clarified, "Is not planning an attack and does not want an attack, as it did not want one in the past, and I hope no one gets the wrong idea due to baseless claims."


Turning to the Merkel, Olmert said he was convinced that with her leadership "the relations between us will continue to tighten and strengthen, and the efforts were are both exerting, to maintain the memory and to guarantee that there will never be conditions which will place the Jews and the people of Israel in a situation from which we were barely rescued in the past, will continue by both of us and by both of our countries."


Merkel: We will do everything to release captives

The German chancellor promised to do everything for the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers.


You know that Germany is trying to do everything in order to contribute to finding out the fate of the soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah, she told Olmert.


Merkel said she could not report progress at the moment, but promised the people of Israel that Germany and the EU would do everything to help because kidnappings were unacceptable.


Addressing the negotiations with the Palestinians, Merkel said that Germany would work to take advantage of the window of opportunity, but added that the conditions did not exist in the Palestinian unity government as Hamas representatives did not recognize the Quaret conditions.


The chancellor said that without the Arab states' support in the process a solution would not be achieved. We have not alternative, she said, adding that she was encouraged by the talks she held Sunday.


Olmert expressed his appreciation for Merkel, "Who does not accept those who do not accept the Quartet conditions."


He added that during his conversation with Abbas on Sunday, the Palestinian president promised to exert every effort in order to bring about the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.


"I did not hide the fact that I experienced a number of disappointments recently, but I believe it would be a mistake not to take advantage of the momentum in order to reach achievement," the prime minister said, adding that he would continue to talk to Abbas on a regular basis.


Earlier, Merkel met with Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu. She said that a drop had been noted last year in the investments of German companies in Iran.


Netanyahu said that "the Passover holiday marks the freedom of the Jewish people, but our three kidnapped soldiers will not be part of the freedom this year."


Addressing the Iranian issue, Netanyahu said that an Iran developing nuclear weapons was a danger for world peace, and suggested that Merkel promote laws prohibiting investments in Iranian companies, similar to laws adopted in the United States and Israel.


Following her meeting with Prime Minister Olmert on Sunday morning, Merkel said that Germany and the European Union were committed to the safety of Israel's citizens.


The German chancellor added that endorsing the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict necessitated recognition of Israel's right to exist, and renouncing violence.


פרסום ראשון: 04.01.07, 20:56
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