(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today (Wednesday), 30 May 2007, met with European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pottering. The two men discussed at length the situation in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the continued firing from the Gaza Strip at Israeli residents in the communities adjacent to it.

Prime Minister Olmert emphasized that he would not transfer funds to the PA as long as there were concerns that the funds would be used for terrorism. "The idea that Israel will unfreeze funds that will be used for terrorist activity against us is unacceptable," the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Olmert referred to the continuing psychological trauma of the children in the area and noted that it was his responsibility to see to it that Israeli children do not live under the daily threat of rockets.

The two men also discussed ways to improve the situation of the residents of the Gaza Strip and the possibility of industrial development in the Gaza Strip. The Prime Minister emphasized his willingness but explained that investors will not invest in areas controlled by terrorists.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also met with four members of the US House of Representatives Democracy Assistance Commission (Rep. David Price, D-NC; Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-NE; Nick Rahall, D-WV; and Gwen Moore, D-WI) and with US Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones. The commission members have been visiting countries that aspire to have stable parliaments and democratic systems and to this end have visited Lebanon.

Prime Minister Olmert briefed his guests on the Palestinian situation and described in detail the resolve of the residents of Sderot and the other communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip in light of the continuing Kassam rocket fire.

The Prime Minister emphasized: "We cannot show restraint forever. Israel showed restraint for six months in the face of rocket fire but the Palestinians have not stopped the firing even for one day." The Prime Minister said that he intended to meet Palestinian Authority (PA) President Abu Mazen next week in order to stress the partnership with PA moderates. "We expect more responsibility from the Palestinian side and the creation of an environment that is conducive to dialogue with moderate Palestinians," the Prime Minister said.

On the Lebanese issue, Prime Minister Olmert emphasized that there was no territorial dispute between Israel and Lebanon and added that from Israel’s point-of-view, the situation was better than it has been previously. "The deployment of the Lebanese Army in the south and the activity of UN forces have led to quiet in the entire area. This is a tangible result of the fighting last summer," the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Olmert clarified Israel’s position regarding the Arab initiative: "We see a tangible change in the Arab position by virtue of the fact that 22 Arab countries are looking for a way to make peace with Israel, not war." However, the Prime Minister also emphasized that it was impossible to hold serious negotiations as long as rockets were falling on Israeli citizens on a daily basis.

On the Syrian issue, Prime Minister Olmert reiterated that while he was interested in making peace with Syria, it seems that the current Syrian regime, which supports terrorism, is uninterested in reaching an agreement.