Israel's acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert on Tuesday warned that Israel will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran. Mr. Olmert also says he hopes to get Israeli-Palestinian peace talks back on track after Palestinian and Israeli elections take place.
In his first news conference since taking the reins of power following Ariel Sharon's stroke and cerebral hemorrhage, Ehud Olmert said that Israel regards Iran's nuclear program as its top priority.
Israel's acting prime minister says Israel cannot allow what he described as "countries with hostile intentions" to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Olmert says Israel, European Union and U.S. negotiators are in direct contact with each other, and are trying to find a solution. He says he promises Israelis that weapons of mass destruction will not be in the hands of countries that can threaten the world.
A team of Israeli security experts traveled to Russia on Tuesday in a bid to secure Russian backing for referring Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council. Israeli officials say Iran is their greatest security threat.
They cite recent comments by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that have called for Israel's destruction, as proof of the danger that Iran poses to the region. Iranian officials say their nuclear program is intended only for peaceful energy production.
Last week Iran resumed nuclear research at three sites, sparking the latest crisis over its nuclear program.
Mr. Olmert also says that he hopes to resume talks with Palestinians after both Israelis and Palestinians go to the polls over the next few weeks. Mr. Olmert and the centrist Kadima Party he heads are heavily favored to win Israeli elections on March 28th.
Palestinians go to the polls on January 25th to vote in legislative elections.
Mr. Olmert says he believes that he and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, could start final status negotiations towards a peace settlement once Israelis and Palestinians emerge from the polls.
Mr. Olmert says however that a condition to begin such talks would be for the Palestinian Authority to disarm militants in the Palestinian territories, as stipulated by the U.S - backed "road-map peace plan."
Under the plan, which was supposed to result in the establishment of a Palestinian state last year, Israelis are to halt settlement activity in the West Bank, and Palestinians are to disarm militants and end attacks against Israelis.