'North better off today than 4 yrs ago'

Olmert: War last summer justified; says Israel wants talks with Syria.

ashkenazi olmert 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
ashkenazi olmert 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
The decision to go to war last summer was justified, and northern Israel was better for it, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said during a tour in the North on Thursday morning. "Today, a year after the Second War in Lebanon, the North of Israel enjoys a calm security that it hasn't known for four years" Olmert said. "Even today I am convinced that we made the right decision when we decided to remove the threat from our northern border." The prime minister's tour was meant to mark the first anniversary of Israel's war with Hizbullah one year ago. Olmert said that the defense establishment was making great efforts to overcome the weaknesses that were revealed during the war. Later during the tour, Olmert commented briefly on the diplomatic situation with Syria, saying that while there was nothing new to report on the matter, he did not believe a war would erupt this summer. "We are very much hoping that a conditions for dialogue will be created," the prime minister said. "We have no interest in war with Syria and we are hoping that they have no interest in fighting us." Meanwhile, former defense minister Amir Peretz told Israel radio Thursday afternoon that a year after the war, Israel is "better prepared and knows how to operate on all fronts." "The Second Lebanon War was Israel's 'wake up' war," Peretz said. "The war changed the order of things in the north. IDF deterrence has increased."