'Israel cannot accept this situation'

PM: Crisis will change how Israel relates to the region; Livni promises action.

acting PM olmert 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
acting PM olmert 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the fighting in the north would have "far-reaching implications" on how Israel would relate in the future to the northern border and the entire region. Olmert, in his first public comments on the situation since Wednesday, opened Sunday's cabinet meeting saying this is a difficult morning for Israel, and by characterizing the situation as "a wicked war by Hizbullah against the people of Israel." "Israel cannot accept this situation," he said. "We have no interest in harming the Lebanese or Palestinian people. We want to live our lives quietly and as good neighbors. But unfortunately, there are those who interpreted our desire for peace in the wrong manner." Olmert said Israel had no "intention of surrendering in the face of these threats. We know that there will be many more tests, our enemies are trying to disrupt life in Israel, and they will fail." Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni briefed the cabinet on international reactions to the fighting on the northern front, and said that while there was understanding for Israel's actions, there was also criticism of lack of proportionality in the offensive. Livni said that according to international law, proportionality is a result of the size of effect, and that Israel's actions were based on 15,000 missiles arrayed against it. She also said that even in the Arab world, there is criticism of the Hizbullah. Livni related to Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's press conference, where he said the Lebanese government would deploy forces in the south; she said there was "lots of air, and little concrete content." Olmert reiterated that Israel's current military operation, both in Lebanon and in Gaza, was the result of unprovoked attack inside sovereign Israel. "The public is strong and unified in this struggle," he said. "In the north and the south, the steadfastness that the people are displaying is an important element of Israel's strength, and we are proud of that." Olmert directed his staff and the relevant ministries to prepare plans to give assistance to the communities in the line of fire. After his opening comments, the cabinet convened for a meeting on the current crisis. Livni promised that the Foreign Ministry would begin to place a greater emphasis on "suffering on the Israeli home front." In addition, the ministry has co-opted 15 ministry officials to beef up the spokesman unit to be available to the foreign press.