(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met yesterday afternoon (Sunday), 23 July 2006, with German Foreign Minister Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier and made the following remarks at the start of the meeting:

“Today has been another day in which murderers from Lebanon, who are operating at the behest of Iran and Syria, struck at Israeli citizens. I regret that the wickedness, the malice and the murderous brutality of Hizbullah are not fully shown on television screens outside Israel; there is a distorted picture in which the victim is portrayed as the aggressor. We are realizing our right of self-defense against a murderous terrorist organization that has fired over 2,000 rockets and mortar rounds with one objective – killing Israeli citizens, and we can neither countenance nor agree to this. We will fight against it. We will use all our force. We will avoid harming innocent civilians but we will look for Hizbullah members everywhere, we will strike at them and we will try to stop them.

I would like to thank German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel for their aggressive stand against terrorism, for the cooperation, for their concern and assistance and for their willingness to work with us in order stop murderous Hizbullah terrorism that is promoted by Iran and Syria.”

Prime Minister Olmert said during the meeting that, “Hizbullah is operated by Iran and Syria. The Iranian issue is one that will preoccupy the world in the coming months and what is happening now is a preparation. If the world does not form a united front against Hizbullah, which is operated by Iran, how will it persuade the Iranians that it is really against them?”

German Foreign Minister Steinmeier said that Germany supports the establishment of a properly composed multi-national force with teeth in order to assist the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution #1559.

Prime Minister Olmert said that Israel would agree to consider stationing a militarily capable and battle-tested force composed of soldiers from European Union member states after the formulation of its mandate, which will have to include control of the crossings between Lebanon and Syria, deployment in southern Lebanon and assistance to the Lebanese Army, and especially the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution #1559 and the disarming of Hizbullah.

On the Syrian issue, Prime Minister Olmert said: “Israel does not intend to attack Syria.  However, if Syria intervenes, we will respond sharply. We are not active in Syria at the moment and they have no reason to intervene.”

German Foreign Minister Steinmeier said that German television was showing the victims on both sides and the humanitarian situation. He offered assistance to the State of Israel for its citizens in shelters.

Prime Minister Olmert said that he wonders what Germany would do if 15% of its population (approximately 12,000,000 people) were in shelters for 11 days without work because somebody was shooting at its territory without provocation. The Prime Minister added that since he knows the answer to his question, Israel would continue pursuing Hizbullah until it lifts this threat over Israel.

German Foreign Minister Steinmeier asked about the situation in the Gaza Strip and the IDF soldier being held there. Prime Minister Olmert said that Israel has struck hard at Hamas and would continue to strike at all Kassam rocket and terrorist cells.

Prime Minister Olmert commended Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his efforts to assist in returning Gilad Shalit.

German Foreign Minister Steinmeier said that Israel had the right to defend itself and that everyone knew who was responsible for escalating the situation. He added that all of Germany’s actions were designed to contribute to Israel’s security.