Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on his return from Russia on Friday morning that he had rejected Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's demand to free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners before the release of captured IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit.
Olmert said that there had been many direct contacts with representatives of the PA chairman until it became clear that Abbas was making unreasonable conditions for the release of the captured IDF soldier.
"The moment of truth for the Palestinians is closer than has ever been," said Olmert.
"But if Abu Mazen (Abbas) does not take courageous steps, we will lose any remnant of hope, "continued the prime minister.
Regarding the Iran nuclear issue, Olmert said that at this point there were no essential differences in the stance of Russia and the US and that he had got the impression during his trip to Moscow that Russia was opposed to a nuclear armed Iran.
Regarding Labor Chairman Amir Peretz'z attempts to bring Meretz into the coalition, Olmert said although that he was prepared to bring in Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin as well as Israel Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman, the move would not change the fundamentals of the government.
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