Australia: Ehud Olmert press conference in Sidney

Mayor Ehud Olmert has made a thinly veiled call for an all out military offensive against the Palestinian Authority following Saturday night's terrorist attack in the heart of the Israeli capital. A sombre Mr Olmert gave a press conference in Double Bay shortly before flying home, cutting short his stay in Australia in order to "be with my people and families of the victims" and help arrange further security measures in the wake of what has been described as the worst attack ever on Jerusalem. "The international community must organise itself in a similar manner to the war against the Taliban and Bin Laden -- it's the same war, it's the same danger and it's the same enemy," he told the Australian Jewish News. "No promises, no understanding, no excuses, no explanations – an all out war up to the very end to those who are members of these [terrorist] organisations and those who sponsor them, equip and protect them, whoever he or she may be." He told journalists: "Sooner or later, America will have to address itself to the danger that [Hamas, Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad] pose towards Israel and the stability of the rest of our region and they will have to join in our efforts to stop them." But in an interview with SBS television, the Mayor added: "We have no war with the [Palestinian] people. We have war with terrorists. No-one can expect Israel not to respond to the terrorists." He dismissed journalists' attempts to portray the murder of young people in and around Ben Yehuda as a tit-for-tat attack by "militants" in response to Israel's killing of a Hamas leader last month. "Tit for tat for what? For killing an Israeli government minister? For killing 15 innocent people in the heart of Jerusalem, destroying five members of the same family? Tit for tat for killing a 10-month-old baby being held in her mother's hands and being shot by a sniper right through the head? All these attempts to excuse or explain or to find a certain logic or pattern is a total misconception of what these [terrorist] organisations are doing. They have an ideology which they don't hide -- they spell out their principles, desires and ambitions. They are aiming at the very destruction of the State of Israel, and they believe by continuing these attacks they eventually will drain the spirit and perseverance of our people and will force the Israeli government to make concessions to the detriment of the country." At the time of giving the press conference at the Stamford Plaza hotel, no organisation had claimed responsibility for the two suicide bombings and car bomb that targeted young people enjoying a night out after Shabbat. All but two of the victims were teenagers. But Mr Olmert was in no doubt who was ultimately to blame. "Whether this is Hamas or Islamic Jihad, it was possible only because of the continuous support that these organisation have from the Palestinian Authority. Nothing could happen unless it was assisted, encouraged and inspired by the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of Arafat." They were not "militants acting independently" as one journalist suggested. "They are assisted directly by the different branches of the Palestinian Authority. The names of the operators of many of these suicide attackers are routinely submitted to the Palestinian Authority by Israeli security services. They refuse to arrest them and refuse to stop them. Then they allow them the freedom to equip themselves and move with relative freedom in the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas." Mr Olmert said he "appreciated very much" a telephone call from Alexander Downer in which the Foreign Minister "expressed his sympathy from the Australian government". But he dismissed a statement by the Palestinian Authority condemning the bombings as a "PR game". "It's a well-known, practiced pattern: you send the killer and then you apologise so you won't be held directly responsible for it. But Arafat has not only consistently refused to take the necessary measures to stop them but also has released many of those named by us to be involved in operating these activities." The Mayor noted that while US President George W Bush had insisted on a total ceasefire before negotiations could start, there had been an intensification of Palestinian terrorism since the arrival in Israel of American envoy retired Marine General Anthony Zinni. "The response of the Palestinian Authority has been more terror, more attacks and more innocent victims." On the other hand, the people of Jerusalem wanted to live in peace, he said. "But they are prepared to face the dangers and challenges of this situation because they know it's not a political dispute. There are political differences that must be resolved and Israeli governments are always ready to sort out these differences. But no political dispute can justify the killing of innocent people in the heart of our cities and that it what they are doing to the people of Jerusalem. It is not the result of the failure to address ourselves to problems that could be negotiated in a friendly manner; this is a decision to break the spirit and resolve of our people and they are not prepared to be broken."

Henry L. Marconi PRAVDA.Ru Sydney

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