(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met today (12 June) with Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen and updated him on reports from the Gaza Strip on the latest violence – including acts of murder – between Fatah and Hamas. 

The Prime Minister said that the situation in the Gaza Strip was disturbing mainly regarding the ability of the pragmatic forces in the Palestinian Authority to prevail against the extremist forces and to prevent the smuggling of weapons into the area: "If the Gaza Strip ultimately falls to Hamas, this will have a great impact on the region. Israel will continue to defend itself against any aggression by the terrorist organizations, as needed. We cannot enter the Gaza Strip in order to fight the extremists on behalf of the Palestinian pragmatists."

Prime Minister Olmert told Foreign Minister Verhagen that the West must act quickly in order to change the situation in the Gaza Strip and added that serious consideration must be given to the introduction of a multi-national force, similar to UNIFIL, to the Philadelphi corridor area in order to halt the strengthening of the extremist forces.