Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Sunday that he "wanted to pull his forces out of the Gaza Strip as soon as possible" following the ceasefire declarations made by Israel and Hamas earlier in the day.
Speaking on a platform in Jerusalem accompanied by a line of Europe's leaders, Olmert said: "We are interested in quitting the Gaza Strip at the greatest possible speed.
"We don't want to stay in Gaza and we intend to leave it as quickly as possible."
He met French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the British, Italian and Spanish prime ministers Gordon Brown, Silvio Berlusconi and Jose Luis Zapatero, and Czech premier Mirek Topolanek, representing the European Union.
The European visitors, who had earlier attended a summit with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to bolster arrangements for a peace around the Gaza Strip, said they were "showing a common front to promote a lasting peace in the region."
"Europe is 'here' in strength and that shows that we want to make our contribution," Merkel said, though adding like others that they were also looking to new U.S. President Barack Obama to play a key role in the Middle East.
Although most of the European public was against Israel's three-week offensive in Gaza that killed over 1,300 Palestinians, European governments failed to take a firm stance on Israel aggression and once again disappointed the Muslim world that often accuses West of double standards over them.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan questioned the sincerity of EU and some world leaders and asked why they did not act like in Georgia-Russia war.
Olmert said "If the truce is stable ... the state of Israel has 'no intention' of staying in the Gaza Strip."
Last Mod: 19 Ocak 2009, 11:41