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Int'l Media Is Portraying Victim As Aggressor, Olmert Says

Julie Stahl | Jerusalem Bureau Chief | Monday, July 24, 2006

Int'l Media Is Portraying Victim As Aggressor, Olmert Says

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Ahead of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's arrival in the volatile Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other senior Israeli officials met with the foreign ministers of France and Germany on Sunday.

Olmert asked both his German and French guests separately if their countries would tolerate rockets raining down on their cities.

About one million Israelis have been virtually living in bomb shelters and security rooms in northern Israel for almost two weeks now. That would be like 7 million French or 12 million Germans, Olmert said.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy had to duck into a residential building during a tour of Haifa on Sunday when an air raid siren sounded.

Ahead of his meeting with German Foreign Minister Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Olmert said Hizballah was operating at the behest of Iran and Syria and said the situation was not being portrayed fairly in the international media.

"I regret that the wickedness, the malice and the murderous brutality of Hizbullah are not fully shown on television screens outside Israel. There is a distorted picture in which the victim is portrayed as the aggressor," Olmert said.

Syria's information minister Mohsen Bilal said his country would not sit by if Israeli ground troops invaded Lebanon.

"If Israel invades Lebanon over the ground and comes near to us, Syria will not sit tight. She will join the conflict," Bilal said in an interview published in the Spanish newspaper ABC on Sunday.

Both Syrian- and Iranian-made missiles are being launched at Israeli communities. But Olmert said Israel had no intention of attacking Syria.

"Israel does not intend to attack Syria. However, if Syria intervenes, we will respond sharply. We are not active in Syria at the moment, and they have no reason to intervene," Olmert said.

Thousands of Lebanese have flooded over the border into Syria.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also made more inflammatory comments over the weekend.

"Israel pushed the button of its own destruction by attacking Lebanon," Ahmadinejad told education officials on Sunday.

He did not give details but said "the people of the region will respond" if Israel and its allies don't apologize for their policies.

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