Olmert vows 'iron fist' against terror

"There are no limits to the measures that our defense forces will take."

acting PM olmert 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
acting PM olmert 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Acting prime minister Ehud Olmert has instructed the IDF to act "with an iron fist and with no restrictions" in Israel's ongoing battle against terrorist organizations. After emerging on Thursday from a breakfast meeting with President Moshe Katsav that went more than half an hour beyond schedule, Olmert reiterated several times to reporters that Israel will do everything in its power to prevent the penetration of international terrorist forces and to halt the activities of terrorist elements in the region. "We are escalating our war against terrorism," he said. "There are no limits to the measures that our defense forces will take to prevent any outbreak of terrorism in any place. We will use all the means at our disposal to stop terrorists from harming the citizens of Israel. We will do everything that has to be done without hesitation." There was not a day, said Olmert, in which the defense forces were not engaged in nipping terrorism in the bud. This included preventing the launching of Kassam rockets. Asked whether he thought that there would be an intensification of terrorist operations related to Israel's upcoming national elections, Olmert replied that there were terrorists who wanted to influence the outcome of the elections. While Olmert expressed willingness to conduct talks with Palestinians who were genuinely seeking peace, he made it clear that Israel would not talk to a Hamas-led Palestinian government unless it met three conditions: the cessation of terror and laying down of arms; the amendment of its covenant and acknowledgement of Israel's right to exist; and the honoring of all previous agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Olmert emphasized that there was no chance at this time of a meeting between him and Hamas prime minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh. "I will not meet with Ismail Haniyeh," he said, "but I will continue to fight any terror organization with which he is involved." While observers from many countries commended the democratic manner in which the recent Palestinian Legislative Assembly elections were conducted, neither Katsav nor Olmert viewed these elections as democratic if the central force was a terrorist body. Noting the link between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, Katsav stated, "I'm sure that the Muslim Brotherhood does not advocate democracy, and this poses a danger to world stability." Katsav, who has met in recent days with Labor leader Amir Peretz, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu, Shas leader Eli Yishai and former Shinui leader Tommy Lapid, said there was consensus among all political parties that there would be no talks with a Hamas-led government unless it modified its covenant and recognized Israel's right to exist.