Israeli television broadcast footage that appeared to show Ehud Olmert coaching his Italian counterpart on what to tell reporters about the Palestinians.
Channel 10 on Wednesday aired footage of the Israeli prime minister, who visited Rome earlier in the day, quietly conferring with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi ahead of their joint press conference.

“It is important that you emphasize the three principles of `the Quartet’ — that they are not negotiated.

They are the basis for everything. Please say this?” Olmert tells his counterpart, referring to Western demands that the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority renounce terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist and honor past Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

Addressing reporters later, Prodi did make such a statement, and also endorsed Israel’s character as a Jewish state.

This, Channel 10 suggested, was another result of Olmert’s back-room lobbying.

The footage, apparently taken without Olmert’s knowledge, was another embarrassment to a prime minister who has seen his popularity plummet since the Lebanon war this summer.