PMO: Meeting Between Olmert, Barak Not Political

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met on Friday morning with former prime minister Ehud Barak at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem. Barak's staff refused to comment on the meeting, while a statement from the Prime Minister's Bureau said it was held to discuss the war and did not address political subjects.

Olmert's staff said he did not offer Barak a position in his government.

Olmert and Barak, whose political and personal rivalry has been fierce in the past, speak on the phone occasionally and meet from time to time, usually at social functions. During the war, however, Olmert often phoned Barak to consult with him.

Their most recent encounter provoked interest, coming four days after the end of the war and after various initiatives were proposed, aimed at forming an emergency government coalition that some felt that Barak could join.

Political sources say the men may also have discussed the creation of a government commission of inquiry into the war.

When Barak was prime minister, he gave in to political and public pressure and ordered such an investigation of the October 2000 killing by police of Arab Israelis.

Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, who called for an emergency government in her Knesset speech last week, also met with Olmert over the weekend and urged him to take action in that direction.

Itzik supports bringing her party colleague, Barak, into such a coalition.