PM Olmert to US Secy of State Rice: We will not release prisoners before Gilad Shalit is freed

 PM Olmert meets with US Secy Rice

 

Photo: GPO

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this evening (Wednesday), 4 October 2006, met with US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleeza Rice.  Prime Minister Olmert’s Chief-of-Staff Yoram Turbovitz, Israeli Ambassador to the US Danny Ayalon, Prime Minister Olmert’s Diplomatic Adviser Shalom Turgeman, Prime Minister Olmert’s Military Secretary Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni and Prime Minister Olmert’s Media Adviser Asaf Shariv also attended the meeting for the Israeli side. US Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones, US Asst. Secy. of State for Near Eastern Affairs C. David Welch, US State Department Counselor Dr. Philip D. Zelikow and US National Security Council Senior Director for Near East and North African Affairs Michael Doran attended the meeting for the US side.

Prime Minister Olmert and US Secy. of State Rice discussed Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Abu Mazen’s public remarks today that he would not return to contacts on forming a unity government and that any PA government would be obligated to accept the Quartet conditions.

Prime Minister Olmert said that he is willing to assist Abu Mazen in implementing the Roadmap and in creating a better atmosphere. The Prime Minister said that the Karni crossing would be reopened soon and added that Defense Minister Amir Peretz would discuss this with US Secy. of State Rice in detail tomorrow. However, the Prime Minister said that despite the desire to render assistance, he would not agree to the release of Palestinian prisoners before Gilad Shalit is returned to Israel since such a release would embolden Hamas to increase its demands for returning Gilad.

Prime Minister Olmert and US Secy. of State Rice discussed the issue of tax revenues. The former said that Israel would present ideas on humanitarian assistance, such as aid to hospitals, medicines, etc. The Prime Minister noted that he and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair had discussed various ideas for improving the Palestinians’ quality of life but added that while Israel had an interest in this issue, it would not be correct for Israel to take the lead in its regard.

On the Lebanese issue, Prime Minister Olmert and US Secy. of State Rice discussed the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution #1701, especially vis-a-vis UNIFIL and the embargo. The Prime Minister stressed that it was very important to continue to prevent Iran and Syria from arming Hizbullah.

After dinner, Prime Minister Olmert and US Secy. of State Rice held a private meeting.