Olmert courts foreign press ahead of UN Security Council vote

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert went on an international media offensive on Wednesday, giving at least eight interviews to foreign news outlets, in an attempt to explain Israel's positions to the world ahead of a key United Nation Security Council vote on Thursday. Olmert started off by giving television interviews to The Associated Press and Reuters wire services that were aired around the world. He later gave interviews to six top European newspapers: The British Financial Times and Times of London, the French Le Monde, the Italian Corriere della Sera and two German newspapers. The main messages that Olmert wanted to get across in the interviews were that the operations in Lebanon were justified and that Israel needed to be given the opportunity to complete its goal of eliminating the threat from Hizbullah. "We reached the conclusion that before the UN Security Council [vote], it was important to win over the international community," Olmert's media adviser Assaf Shariv said. Olmert also got his message across on Monday and Tuesday in two high-profile speeches, which were aired live on Israeli television and received significant coverage around the world. Olmert's advisers downplayed criticism that he gave too many or too few speeches since the conflict began, saying that three major addresses in three weeks was the appropriate amount. The speeches were written by a team that included his advisers Ovad Yehezkel and Shariv as well as external speech writers Shaul Shenhav and Ami Gluska, who are both academics. Gluska, who was former president Chaim Herzog's spokesman, also wrote speeches for Sharon. Olmert has not given any interviews to the Israeli press since the conflict began.