Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert believes there's still time for a peaceful resolution of the crisis over Iran's nuclear program. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, he also defended last year's war in Lebanon and rejected resuming peace talks with Syria.
Prime Minister Olmert says without taking military action international sanctions could stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
In a wide-ranging interview on Israel Radio, he said Iran is far from crossing the nuclear threshold.
Israel has grown increasingly alarmed about Iran's nuclear program since late 2005, when the Iranian president said the Jewish state should be "wiped off the map." Israel has not ruled out a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, but Mr. Olmert said he wants to give diplomacy a chance.
Turning to the northern front, the Prime Minister defended last year's war in Lebanon, which is widely seen as a failure. Despite a 34-day air and ground assault, the well-equipped Israeli army failed to deal a knockout blow to Hezbollah guerillas, who fired more than four-thousand rockets across the border. But Mr. Olmert said there were achievements.
He said the situation on the northern border is better that it has been in years and the area "is totally quiet." He added that Israel changed "the rules of the game" in the region though it paid a very heavy price.
Since the war, Syrian President Bashar Assad has expressed interest in renewing peace talks with Israel. But Mr. Olmert ruled that out.
"We want peace with every Arab state, including Syria," he said. But that will not be possible, he said, until Syria stops supporting Hezbollah and Palestinian terror groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.