Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was considering declaring that abducted soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were dead, the German weekly Der Spiegel stated on its Web site yesterday. The article cited no source, and carried no byline.

The two soldiers were kidnapped in Hezbollah in June 2006, in an incident that sparked the Second Lebanon War. No sign of life has been received from them.

Sources in the Prime Minister's Office rejected the report, but Israeli military sources said the abductees' situation is being reappraised and that "difficult decisions" could be made within weeks.

The Der Spiegel report came just days after Olmert visited Germany, where he met with Chancellor Angela Merket. Germany is mediating between Israel and Hezbollah in negotiations over the kidnapped soldiers.

PMO sources said unequivocal evidence would be required before the soldiers could be declared dead, and that this evidence had not been obtained.