(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met yesterday (Wednesday), 27 December 2006, in his Jerusalem office, with Israeli ambassadors to European Union member states and senior Foreign Ministry officials, led by Foreign Ministry Director-General Aaron Abramovich. The Prime Minister briefed the ambassadors on the principles of Israeli foreign policy regarding the main issues on the agenda.

On the Syrian issue, Prime Minister Olmert made it clear that while Israel is certainly interested in peace negotiations, the actions of the Syrian regime, including its support for Hizbullah, undermining stability in Lebanon, the sanctuary it provides for Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders, and its deep ties with the Iranian President’s regime, which calls for the destruction of Israel, regrettably attest that there is nothing behind the statements. The Prime Minister said: "Today, the international community supports the Roadmap and the Quartet principles on the Palestinian track. These principles require the Palestinians to carry out their commitments, and to disavow terrorism and fight it, as basic conditions for conducting negotiations. Israel has no reason to concede these binding commitments regarding the President of Syria, who is up to his neck in activities in support of terrorism."

Regarding the Palestinian track, Prime Minister Olmert updated the ambassadors on the progress in the contacts that led to his meeting last week with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Abu Mazen and on the gestures that Israel is taking in order to strengthen moderate forces in the PA. The Prime Minister emphasized that today, there is broad international agreement that the Roadmap and the Quartet principles are the basis for negotiations on the Palestinian track and that this is the only way for moving forward. "The countries that support the peace process all understand that disavowing terrorism and fighting it are basic conditions for moving forward and we must stand on these principles," the Prime Minister said.