Bush: Iran behind Lebanon instability

Olmert: Israel has not yet unleashed its military might to stop rocket fire from Gaza, may be forced to.

olmert bush jlem 224 (photo credit: AP)
olmert bush jlem 224
(photo credit: AP)
US President George W. Bush, following a nearly two-hour meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said it was clear that Iran was behind the current instability and violence in Lebanon and that the United States would stand with the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora. Lebanon, more so than the negotiations with the Palestinians and the situation in the Gaza Strip, was the focus of the meeting, which was also attended by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Barak. Following the meeting, the two leaders made short statements in a room in the prime minister's residence designed by a White House team to resemble in some way the setting in the White House where Bush receives visitors. Olmert, who described Bush as a "great person, great leader and great friend," said that in addition discussing Lebanon, the talk also dealt with Iran, the situation in Gaza and negotiations with Palestinians. He warned that Israel has not yet unleashed its military might to stop the rocket fire in Gaza, but may be forced to do so if the rocket attacks don't cease, and Hamas does not accept Israel's conditions for a cease-fire. The prime minister's comments came immediately before Wednesday evening's rocket attack on Ashkelon. Though Olmert didn't spell out the conditions, they are: return of Schalit, and end to arms smuggling into Gaza, and an end to rocket attacks and all terrorist actions from Gaza. Regarding negotiations with the Palestinians, Olmert said that the hope was to reach an understanding by the end of the year that would define accurately the parameters for a two-state solution, covering borders refugees and security issues. As far as Jerusalem is concerned, he said the hope was that to set up a framework on how to deal with the issue. Bush reaffirmed the United States' commitment to Israel's security and to the peace process. "Hamas's stated objective is the destruction of the State of Israel, and therefore the United States will stand strongly with Israel, as well as stand strongly with the Palestinians who don't share that vision," said Bush.