JERUSALEM—Following a weekend bus bombing in Tel Aviv that left six dead and dozens more critically injured, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday issued an ultimatum to Palestinian extremists: "Either put an end to your deadly, mindless attacks, or we will have no choice but to dissolve the state of Israel as we know it."
In a televised address Olmert, who characterized the latest bombing as "one short of permanently ending our century-long Zionist experiment," warned Islamic radicals that Israel would not stand any further "methodical and deeply intimidating" acts of terror, "whether outside a popular nightclub in Haifa or in a crowded marketplace in Be'er Sheva, as just one more of these atrocities will surely crush the once-resolute spirit of the Israeli people."
"Even a loud explosion in a vacant lot could shatter our solidarity at this point," Olmert added.
The prime minister, whose term has seen a surge in violence after a period of relative calm, advised those thinking of inflicting further damage upon Israel not to follow through with their "surefire plans," claiming that such a strategy would undoubtedly result in "the realization of their fondest, most cherished hopes and dreams."
"We are past the point of negotiating with these killers," Olmert said. "One more deadly, or not so deadly, attack, regardless of what form it takes—suicide bombing, school-bus shooting, car bombing—or who is behind it, will be the last straw for us."
Added Olmert: "For years we have stood defiant in the face of these cowardly attacks. But they have finally managed to completely break down our very will to exist."
Olmert urged organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the Armed Islamic Group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and al-Qaeda not to test his conviction.
Said Olmert: "Even as I speak, the full might of the Israeli military is standing by to surrender should another suicide bombing occur."
Olmert added that he hoped Israel's "strong and decisive stance" would make would-be martyrs "think twice before wiping the state of Israel off the face of the earth." He also assured militant Palestinians that there would be "no going back" after the next attack, and that if they chose violence, "they would be forced to live with the consequences of their actions."
"Mark my words, we are prepared to give in," he added. "All of Israel is poised to jump into the sea."
Olmert concluded with the threat that, should Israel endure one more act of terror, he would "respond quickly and forcefully with complete acquiescence to every one of these extremists' demands."
"This is your final warning," Olmert said.
International observers called Olmert's remarks part of a larger trend.
"This proves once and for all that terrorism, in all its forms, works," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said. "Israel may very well be the first of many powerful, well-armed nations that will have to succumb to the foolproof tactics of these murderous fiends."
"Terrorists are very dedicated," said Netanya, Israel resident Gavriel Meltzer. "To be willing to give your life for what you believe in—it's a powerful statement. I've got to say, they've got me convinced. Maybe they're right."