Following are Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s remarks at the start of the special Cabinet meeting this morning:

"Today, Thursday, we are holding an extraordinary Cabinet meeting in light of the state of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s health.  At this time, we are all praying and full of hope for the Prime Minister’s quick recovery.  We are all closely monitoring developments in these difficult hours and our eyes, and those of the entire world, are directed towards the hospital in the hope of seeing the Prime Minister, who has been in so many previous battles, emerging from this battle as well and taking his seat here.

Throughout last night and this morning, I have been in contact with the people at Prime Minister’s Bureau and hospital staff and I have been updated on the situation at the hospital.  I also received the necessary security updates.  This is a difficult and unusual situation.  The strength of the State of Israel will know how to deal with it.

Naturally, this will be a short meeting.  Attorney-General Meni Mazuz will brief the Cabinet.  After the meeting we will all go back to running the affairs of state and we will continue praying and hoping for good news from the hospital.

On behalf of all ministers, I embrace Gilad and Omri, Arik’s beloved sons, and pray with them for their father’s recovery.  Arik is not only Prime Minister and a leader but is the good friend of all of us.  This is a difficult time and we – all of us – will be up to the task."