Following are excerpts from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today:
"US President George Bush concluded his visit to Israel last Friday. Although President Bush is in close and frequent contact with the Government of Israel throughout the year, we have visited with him several times in the US. He was in close touch with my predecessor, Ariel Sharon, but he had not visited Israel during his seven years in office until last week. This was his first visit. In a few months, ahead of Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations, he will pay another official visit in order to attend the festivities marking 60 years of Israel's independence, which is so significant for us.
Many issues could top the agenda of meetings with the US President given the very special, perhaps unprecedented, state of bilateral relations. Naturally, two main issues topped this visit's agenda. One was the negotiations between us and the Palestinian Authority. The President was briefed, made his views known and reiterated the US's absolute commitment that no agreement between us and the Palestinians can be carried out on the ground before the Roadmap is implemented in full, including all of its commitments regarding the security of the State of Israel both in the Gaza Strip and in Judea and Samaria. There is no separation between the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria regarding the Palestinians' commitments. The US President said that we are discussing the establishment of two states for two peoples and not three states for two peoples. The emphasis on this is very important.
The second issue that topped the agenda was dealing with the Iranian threat and challenge. I reiterate what I told the US President, despite the report by the American intelligence services, Iran was – and continues to be – dangerous; therefore, action must be taken to remove this danger and the US is certainly aware of this. Even though this is US President Bush's last year in office, I believe that there is great consideration, deep significance and unprecedented sensitivity for the positions that the US will take this year, especially on matters that are especially sensitive vis-à-vis the security of the State of Israel. I am pleased that I did not hear any serious suggestion that we sever ties with this President until his successor takes office because this is a decisive year and it is clear that there is a great friend of Israel in the White House.
Today, we will also discuss an additional section of the aid program for adult and elderly Holocaust survivors in Israel. We have approved a plan, which no previous Israeli Government has done, for the first circle of Holocaust, concentration camp and ghetto survivors, and for the second circle as well. We promised to do this and we did it. I can inform that you that over the weekend, hundreds of first circle Holocaust survivors received their first funds retroactive to the beginning of October. This is very significant, encouraging and important for them."
Prime Minister Olmert also discussed green taxation and the ongoing university lecturers' strike.
Sources: Prime Minister's Office