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Olmert claims he told Bush to backtrack on UN ceasefire deal

By Kim Sengupta in Tel Aviv

Published 14/01/2009

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

Israel's prime minister Ehud Olmert boasted that he in effect instructed George Bush not to vote for the UN resolution on a Gaza ceasefire, leaving Condoleezza Rice, who had, "cooked it up... pretty shamed".

In an extraordinary speech, Mr Olmert also claimed yesterday that the US President confessed to him that he did not even know the wording of last week's crucial resolution, the most important international diplomatic step at the time in an attempt to end the conflict. The US was the only Security Council member to abstain.

Mr Olmert said: "Mr Bush gave an order to the Secretary of State Rice and she did not vote in favour of it – a resolution she cooked up, phrased, organised and manoeuvred for. She was left pretty shamed and abstained on a resolution she arranged."

The Israeli Premier described how he had telephoned the White House and demanded to talk to the President after learning, with just 10 minutes to go before the vote, that Ms Rice intended to support the resolution.

"I looked for President Bush and they told me he was in Philadelphia making a speech," said Mr Olmert. "I said, 'I don't care. I have to talk to him now'. They got him off the podium, brought him to another room and I spoke to him. I told him, 'You can't vote in favour of this resolution'. He said, 'Listen, I don't know about it, I didn't see it, I'm not familiar with the phrasing'."

Mr Olmert then apparently brusquely told President Bush: "I'm familiar with it. You can't vote in favour."

A White House spokesman said: "I've seen these press reports, they are inaccurate."

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