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President Bush’s last year in office will be of critical importance to Israel, Ehud Olmert said.

The Israeli prime minister, briefing his Cabinet on Bush’s visit last week, said Sunday that he was pleased by the U.S. president’s empathy for the Jewish state’s concerns regarding the Palestinians and Iran.

“Even though this is U.S. President Bush’s last year in office, I believe that there is great consideration, deep significance and unprecedented sensitivity for the positions that the United States will take this year, especially on matters that are especially sensitive vis-a-vis the security of the State of Israel,” Olmert said in broadcast remarks.

Many political analysts see Bush as a lame-duck president whose clout in the Middle East is increasingly limited.

Olmert said Bush had agreed with him on the need for the Palestinian Authority first to impose order in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip before statehood talks can progress.

Olmert and Bush further see eye to eye on the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program despite a U.S. intelligence report concluding Tehran shelved its quest for warheads in 2003.

“I reiterate what I told the U.S. president, despite the report by the American intelligence services, Iran was, and continues to be, dangerous, therefore, action must be taken to remove this danger and the U.S. is certainly aware of this,” Olmert said.

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