[Boycott - Other News]
Olmert filmed 'coaching' Prodi
Al-Jazeera, sourced from Reuters
14 December 2006
An Israeli television station has broadcast footage that appears to show Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, coaching Romano Prodi on what to say during a joint press conference.
The footage, broadcast on Israel's Channel 10 television station, was taken from Olmert's first offical trip to Rome where he met the Italian prime minister.
Channel 10 showed footage of Olmert apparently leading
Prodi into endorsing Israel's view
"It is important that you emphasise the three principles of the Quartet - that they are not negotiated [sic]. They are the basis for everything," Olmert says, referring to Western demands that Hamas, which runs the Palestinian government, recognise the state of Israel before peace talks can begin.
"Please say this?" Olmert asks his nodding counterpart in English.
Prodi then delivered words to that effect. He also endorsed Israel's vision of remaining a Jewish state, which rules out an influx of Palestinian refugees.
Channel 10 television suggested that Prodi's statement on the continued Jewish identity of Israel was also at Olmert's prodding.
"You said something about a Jewish state [in the past]. I know that," Olmert is shown telling Prodi.
Olmert and Prodi aides had no immediate comment on the Channel 10 footage.
Before his Rome visit, Olmert marked a Berlin trip by seeming to confirm that Israel has the Middle East's only nuclear weapons – a reversal of a Israel's previous policy of "strategic ambiguity" on nuclear arms.
An Olmert spokeswoman denied that he had changed this policy, but opposition politicians still asked for his resignation.
Also during the Rome trip, Olmert called on other countries to co-ordinate efforts to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons.
Western governments, including the US and Britain, have expressed concern that Iran's uranium enrichment programme is being used to produce material for a nuclear weapon. Iran insists its programme is for civilian use.
Olmert hopes to convince Italy to back sanctions against Iran's nuclear programme.
He said they both agreed that "co-ordinated efforts are needed to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power".
Olmert also asks Prodi to mention Israel’s status as a Jewish state, implying that he rules out a key Palestinian demand that millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants be allowed into Israel, changing its demographic balance and possibly making Jews a minority.
“I have heard you say something about the Jewish state,” Olmert prompts Prodi.
At the press conference, Prodi obliged. “Every peace process must go through a renouncing of violence, recognition of the state of Israel, recognition of past agreements and, I must add, also the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state,” Prodi said.
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