Olmert began his speech by offering condolences to families of the soldiers and civilians killed in the last six days of war: “I want to offer a big embrace to the families of the kidnapped and to the sons themselves.”
The prime minister went on to say that Israel has been threatened on its borders and though the Jewish State did not request these battles, it will not back down from fighting them. “We stand at a national moment of truth. Will we agree to live under this evil threat or will we fight…There is no more just struggle than that we are now engaged in,” Olmert said. He mentioned the grandmother and grandchild killed in a missile attack in Meiron, Andrea Zeidman of Nahariya, killed while eating breakfast on her balcony, and Ella Aboukasis, the teenage girl killed protecting her younger brother from a Kassam rocket on a Sderot street prior to the Gaza withdrawal.
“Our enemies were mistaken to think that our desire to show restraint was a sign of weakness,” Olmert boomed.
In a reiteration of his refusal to negotiate with Hizbullah or Hamas prior to the release of the kidnapped soldiers, Olmert said, “It is of regional and international interest to control and dismantle the terror organizations and remove this threat from the Middle East. We intend to do so.”
Olmert explicitly pointed the finger at Iran and Syria, saying Hizbullah and Hamas “are nothing but emissaries, sent and supplied by enemies of peace in Tehran and Damascus.”
He also said that even if Lebanon had no involvement in last Wednesday’s attack on an IDF patrol along the northern border, which killed eight soldiers and resulted in the kidnapping of two others, “it holds full responsibility for the attack launched from its sovereign territory, and the same goes for the PA with regard to the Kerem Shalom attack."
“Against the Palestinians we will fight until terrorism ceases, Gilad Shalit is brought home and the Kassam rockets stop,” Olmert said. "We will attack every terrorist staging area, destroy every terrorist base and liquidate members of the terror groups. Israel will not agree to live in the shadow of the threat of missiles and rockets on its citizens."
“Our position in the north was backed up by the G-8 yesterday,” he continued. “We demand a complete end to hostilities, the return of the two kidnapped soldiers and the compliance with the relevant UN resolutions… We withdrew to recognized borders according to the entire international community.”
Olmert recited the Mi Shebeirach, the prayer for Divine protection for the IDF during his speech from the Knesset podium, and quoted Biblical verses.
“I am more proud today than any other day in my life to be a citizen of the State of Israel,” Olmert concluded. “We will not surrender and we will not back down.”
Opposition leader and former Prime Minister MK Binyamin Netanyahu spoke afterwards, promising political support for the government for as long as it does not cave in to demands for a ceasefire.