Olmert apologizes for Lebanese coast incident

Monday, October 30, 2006 |  by Staff Writer  

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert apologized to Germany for the incident that took place between the Israel Defense Forces and the German navy off the Lebanese coast last week.

Olmert spoke during a 40-minute meeting in Jerusalem with a senior parliamentary delegation from the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two sides stressed the special relationship between Israel and Germany.

The focus of the meeting was the subject of the German naval forces in the past week.

Israel denied a German newspaper report that two of its air force planes fired twice as they flew over a German navy ship patrolling the Lebanese coast.

Germany confirmed at the time that that an incident had occurred, but gave no details. Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz assured that the air force would not carry out any hostile acts or maneuvers around German vessels.

There are currently eight ships and 1,000 service personnel who have joined the international peace operation in the region.

The naval force is charged with preventing weapons smuggling and helping maintain a cease-fire between Israel and Lebanese Hizballah guerrillas.

Olmert stressed the importance of German forces participating with international forces in Lebanon and indicated that direct lines of communication will be carried out between German and Israeli forces so that similar incidents will not occur.

Olmert phoned Merkel and expressed his regret over the incident and stressed that Israel sees the importance of the presence of German naval forces in the region. He also thanked her for the continual support of the German forces.

The Prime Minister updated Merkel on the political development in Israel and the two spoke also of the Palestinian situation. Olmert thanked Merkel for the invitation to Germany and hopes to visit in the coming weeks.

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