Page last updated at 19:42 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 20:42 UK

Olmert hails peace talks progress

Ehud Olmert speaking in an interview with the BBC Arabic service

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has insisted that his government's peace talks with the Palestinian Authority are making progress.

In an interview with the BBC Arabic service, he said serious progress had been made on issues such as the borders of a future Palestinian state.

He said Israel was ready to compromise dramatically on territorial issues but that the process had to be "two-way".

He said that his agenda was "to make peace with the Arab people".

"I want to make peace with Palestinians, I want to make peace with the Syrians, I want to make peace with Lebanon," he said.

Peace talks

Mr Olmert was speaking on the day a truce came into effect between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip.

The truce aims to stop Israeli incursions and air attacks on Gaza, and halt cross-border rocket fire by Palestinian militants.

But Mr Olmert expressed his scepticism about the prospects of long-term peace.

He told the BBC: "Quite frankly I don't think that in the essence of what Hamas is all about, that they are likely to change their attitude. They are set to destroy Israel. That is what they say."

In other comments, the Israeli prime minister dismissed recent corruption allegations as an attempt by political opponents to undermine him.

Mr Olmert denies he accepted up to $500,000 (250,000) in bribes or illegal campaign donations.

During the BBC interview, he vowed to continue in his job, and said early elections were unnecessary.

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