From Ynet News, 25/9/06, by Yon Feder ...
In special Ynet interview, Olmert denies report on secret meeting with senior Saudi official, says he is unimpressed by Syrian president's declarations, and rejects possibility of releasing Barghouti in exchange for kidnapped IDF soldiers
... Prime Minister Ehud Olmert .... says that he was stunned to read Yedioth Ahronoth's leading story heralding that he had met a senior Saudi official – perhaps King Abdullah himself....In a special interview with Ynet on Monday, Olmert systematically denied the report, charging that the Israeli press has "a speculative imagination."
While he denied having held talks with Saudi officials, Olmert expressed a crystal clear position on Syria . President Bashar Assad , he says, is not a partner in peace for the time being.
The prime minister brushed aside Syria overtures towards Israel as political maneuvers to ease mounting international pressure on Syria to play a more constructive role in the Middle East.
As for Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah , Olmert believes the fiery Shiite cleric is in no better situation than his Syrian patron, despite a high turnout for his 'victory' speech on Friday.
...[on] post-war Lebanon....
.... in southern Lebanon not one Hizbullah member is seen carrying weapons. One cannot crush all the weapons they have, but it cannot be activated and sent, with the reality of 3,000 multinational force soldiers and 15,000 Lebanese army soldiers….
"For two months or a month and a half since the end of the war there has been no smuggling. Something happened, gentlemen, we must open our eyes, something happened that today Hizbullah and Nasrallah are outcast inside Lebanon. Something happened, that today the moderate Arab states are coming out against this radical Shiite extremism."
... Is Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese Prime Minister, a potential peace partner?
"I can't point to contacts being held with Fouad Siniora. In principle I don't rule out that option, to the contrary. I would have viewed the matter positively if Siniora would hold direct contacts with me if only regarding UN decisions on future relations between Israel and Lebanon. There are plenty of international officials interested in this meeting, I listen to them, but I see no development at the moment."
Can Assad be Israel's peace partner?
....What I understand from that is that the Syrians … continue to sponsor terrorists, including Palestinian terror groups working against us in the territories. I don't see in their behavior a sign that could encourage Israel to start a process.
"The United States is opposed to talks with Syria not because it opposes peace. It, like many others, doesn't believe that Syria wants peace, but that Syria's face is turned towards lessening pressure on it, which is the result of its support for terror – Terror against the United States in Iraq and terror against Israel in the territories.
"This explains America's suspicion over talks with the Syrians, because they believe the Syrians do not truly mean what they say, and there is no reason we should give Syria rewards it doesn't deserve. I didn't say Assad is no partner. At this moment in time … I don't see in him a partner to steps that could lead to negotiations."
...Iran's nuclear ambitions
...Olmert doesn't rule out the possibility of Israel accepting an UN-monitored peaceful nuclear program, despite suspicions over Iran's intensions. "If Iran in fact develops nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and accepts international monitoring in a manner that clearly proves there is no real danger, the situation will be different. We need to remember that the process of nuclearization for peaceful purposes is completely different from military nuclearization and the use of nuclear arms The differences are easily identified.
The question of whether we believe the Iranians are serious – I am not sure. "I don't believe the United States takes seriously Iran's excuses … I estimate that for the sake of creating the right atmosphere for negotiations, the United States doesn't want to give the impression that it is coming to the table with the belief that nothing helps."
[on Arab members of Knesset]
The prime minister lashed out at pro-Hizbullah comments voiced by some Israeli Arab MKs ..... The behavior of Israeli Arab MKs is of great concern … the Attorney-General has justly initiated a criminal probe into a behavior that is very, very problematic.
"Israeli Arab MKs are toeing a very extremist line and it is difficult not to see in their remarks an anti-Israel feeling of the first order … MKs are exhibiting political radicalism which calls for concern, which sometimes goes beyond what a democratic country can tolerate."........
Follow the link for the full interview.