(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today (Tuesday), 3 July 2007, met with a European Friends of Israel delegation that included MEPs from all EU member states. He briefed his guests on the development of the Israeli economy and the diplomatic situation.

Prime Minister Olmert said that the increase in growth of the Israeli economy in the past year attests to Israel’s strength even when the public coped with war, as it did last year. "According to all forecasts, additional investors will come, growth will continue and we will be enable to enjoy its benefits," he said.

Prime Minister Olmert said that Israel sees Europe in general, and the European Parliament in particular, as a true friend with whom ties are continuing to strengthen). He praised the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as President of France and commended his positions on Iran. The Prime Minister also praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s role in the struggle against Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Prime minister Olmert said that the Iranian nuclear issue must be a topic of concern not only for Jews in Israel but also for the entire Jewish People in particular and for the community of enlightened nations in general. "Europe is of great importance in the struggle against a nuclear Iran. The sanctions on Iran are doing their part but it is possible to impose other sanctions, not just economic, such as the denial of entry visas to Iranian passport holders."

The delegates thanked Prime Minister Olmert and said that they would do their utmost to strengthen ties with Israel and assist it.

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The delegation comprises 21 members of parliament from throughout Europe, from Portugal in the west to Romania in the east, from Denmark in the north to Italy in the south. All are actively engaged in the effort to create a more balanced picturd in the various European parliaments vis-a-vis Israel and the Middle East. During their visit, they will discuss issues on the Israel-Europe agenda, including the calls for a boycott against Israel, the Iranian nuclear threat, and upgrading bilateral relations in the areas of economy and science.