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Sunday, January 18, 2009
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's 18.1.09 Statement at the Summit With European Leaders

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's 18.1.09 Statement at the Summit With European

Honorable President of the European Council, Prime Minister of the Czech
Republic, my friend Mr. Mirek Topolanek,
Honorable President of France, my friend Mr. Nicholas Sarkozy,
Honorable Chancellor of Germany, my friend Ms. Angela Merkel,
Honorable Prime Minister of Great Britain, my friend Mr. Gordon Brown,
Honorable Prime Minister of Italy, my friend Mr. Silvio Berlusconi,
Honorable Prime Minister of Spain, my friend Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero,
Distinguished Guests,

I wish to express my personal appreciation and the appreciation of the
people of Israel to you, leaders of the European countries, for
demonstrating your impressive support for the State of Israel and your
concern for its safety. The united front which you represent and your
uncompromising stand with regard to the security of the State of Israel
warms our hearts and strengthens us at this sensitive time.

Distinguished Guests,
More than three weeks ago, the Government of Israel decided to launch a
military operation in order to thoroughly change the reality in the southern
communities with regard to security. The reality in which the residents of
Sderot, the Gaza Envelope and other communities lived for many years was an
impossible one - intolerable for our citizens and impossible for us all as a
nation. No sovereign nation would allow its civilians to be harmed; no
enlightened regime suffers indiscriminate fire directed at its residents.

I take this opportunity to express my condolences to the bereaved families
who lost their sons in battle, and to the families of the victims of terror
whose pain is an inseparable part of all our personal and national agendas.
Their courage and bravery are a source of inspiration and pride.

Today, after three weeks in which the IDF and security services conducted an
outstanding military operation and struck a serious blow to the Hamas
organization, and after we realized the goals we determined as we launched
the campaign - we decided on a ceasefire. We did so to comply with the
request of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak.

I would like to add that if the ceasefire is stable, especially in light of
the statements we heard today, the State of Israel has no intention of
staying in the Gaza Strip. We are interested in withdrawing from the Gaza
Strip as quickly as possible the moment we are assured that the ceasefire is
being respected and is stable, and that there is no threat to the security
of Southern Israel. Our intention is not to conquer or control Gaza. We do
not wish to remain in Gaza. We intend to withdraw as soon as possible.

You all just arrived here from Egypt where you expressed your support of the
Egyptian president's sincere efforts and commitment to advance a solution
and assist in achieving a long-lasting and stable ceasefire.

Today it is clear to everyone that in order to achieve a stable ceasefire,
Hamas must be prevented from building up its military capabilities through
massive weapons smuggling from Iran and Syria to the Gaza Strip.

My friends, leaders of Europe,
In the letter I received from you yesterday: Prime Minister of Great Britain
Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi, Chancellor of
Germany Angela Merkel and President of France Nicolas Sarkozy - and I am
certain this letter also represents the positions of the other leaders here
today, as well of those of the European Union countries - you expressed
profound commitment to assisting in every way possible in order to ensure
that weapons will not succeed in reaching the murderous organizations in

Now we must translate that commitment, together with Egypt and the United
States, with whom we signed a memorandum of understanding on this matter,
into actions which will prevent the terrorist organization, Hamas, from
rearmament. This is in the supreme interest of all those who fight the
forces of evil. It is also in the interest of all those who believe
wholeheartedly in and wish to advance the peace process between ourselves
and the Palestinians.

It is no secret that my Government, with the full participation of the Vice
Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tzipi Livni, and the
Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, together with all our friends, placed the
matter of negotiations with the Palestinians at the top of our agenda
alongside our concern for the security of Israel. We hope that stability in
Gaza, the ceasefire and the undermining of the Hamas regime that is the
inevitable result of the strengthening of President Abu Mazen, will allow us
to advance the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians as rapidly
as possible. We will all make every effort as we have over the past two
years to do so.

For our part, out of the most basic human values, we have done and will
continue to do all that is necessary to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the
Gaza Strip and so that we can help the innocent civilians who fell victim to
the terrorist organization.

We are interested in working in conjunction with you in order to create
better conditions for a peaceful and better life for the Palestinian
population in the Gaza Strip. Through a joint, educated effort which will
lessen the Hamas's dominance, I believe we will succeed.

I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to reiterate the pain of
the State of Israel and its sorrow and that of its soldiers for the loss of
civilian life among the citizens of Gaza who were not involved in terror and
served as hostages for the murders of Hamas. We did not fight against them;
we did not wish to harm them or their children or their parents or their
siblings. On behalf of the State and Government of Israel, I convey our
profound regret for these victims.

In conclusion, I must mention our kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit, who is
also a French citizen. We will continue working - together with you and with
your help - to do all that is necessary to bring about his longed-for

My friends,
Our personal friendships may at times exceed that which is accepted in the
recognized diplomatic protocol, but they are friendships which are beyond
price. I feel a pleasant obligation to thank each and every one of you, both
for your personal friendship and for your friendship towards the people and
State of Israel.

Thank you very much.

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