Prime Minister Ehud Olmert denied Thursday that there was a humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but said that Israel would purchase medical equipment and medication for the Palestinians out of frozen tax funds it collected for the Palestinian Authority, in an interview with The New York Times.
Olmert said that the Palestinians "are the victims of their own extremist, fundamentalist, religious, inflexible and unyielding leadership, and we will do everything in our power to help these innocent people."
He stressed that Israel " wouldn't allow one baby to suffer one night because of a lack of dialysis - we care."
"We want to save their lives," he continued
Regarding his "convergence plan," which will cost an estimated $10 billion and likely require US support, Olmert said "What I can talk about at this point is the basic desire to set borders for Israel, to separate from the Palestinians, and to create a contiguous territory that will allow the Palestinians to fulfill their national dreams and establish their own independent state alongside the state of Israel."
He said that the plan "needed to be coordinated with a lot of sensitivity with our different partners, particularly the United States government and the president, and of course, the United Nations, the Europeans, the Russians."
"I don't believe that at any time in the future we will change things without talking to the Palestinians, without coordinating with the Palestinians, without checking with the Palestinians," he added.
During the interview, he emphasized his love and respect for the United States. He said that he woke up every morning and said to himself, "Thank God there is America, thank God there is George W. Bush, thank God there is Condi Rice, the most decent people that I can talk with and take counsel with them and get their advice and get their support."