(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met today (Tuesday), 18 July 2006, with Israeli ambassadors and chiefs-of-mission prior to their taking up their new posts next month. He wished them success and briefed them on the diplomatic situation.

Prime Minister Olmert said the timing of the action in the north was not coincidental and had been coordinated with Iran in order to divert international attention away from the Iranian issue: “Unfortunately, Iran’s trick has succeeded. We all note that the recent G-8 decision on the Lebanese situation does not deal with Iran.”

Prime Minister Olmert noted that Israel was not ruling out diplomatic negotiations in order to resolve the crisis on the condition that the negotiations are based on the G-8 principles, i.e. the immediate and unconditional release of the abducted soldiers and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution #1559. The Prime Minister added: “Nobody in the international community is asking us to halt the operation before the implementation of the G-8 decision and in order to do so it is possible that we will have to hold diplomatic negotiations, not with Hizbullah, but in any case the start of negotiations will not halt the action, only the return of the abducted soldiers will.”

Regarding a multi-national force, Prime Minister Olmert said: “It is a good headline but our experience shows that there is nothing behind it. Even today there is a multi-national force in Lebanon and we see what they are doing. I want to be cautious on this issue and it seems to me that it is too early to discuss it.”

Prime Minister Olmert added that until it is certain that there is no threat of firing at Israel, the IDF would not halt its activity.