Mark Regev, a spokesman for Ehud Olmert, said the Israeli leader stood by his remarks.

Telephone influence

The Israeli prime minister said on Monday that he demanded to talk to Bush last Thursday, minutes before a vote in the UN Security Council on a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

"He [Bush] gave an order to the secretary of state and she did not vote in favour of it, a resolution she cooked up, phrased, organised and manoeuvred for"

Ehud Olmert

"When we saw that Rice, for reasons we did not really understand, wanted to vote in favour of the resolution ... I looked for President Bush," Olmert said.

Bush, who Olmert said was taken off a stage in Philadelphia where he was making a speech, said he was not informed on the resolution and was "not familiar with the phrasing".

"I'm familiar with it. You can't vote in favour." Olmert claimed telling the US president.

"He [Bush] gave an order to the secretary of state and she did not vote in favour of it, a resolution she cooked up, phrased, organised and manoeuvred for," Olmert said.

Bush was in Philadelphia on Thursday morning and gave a 27-minute speech on education policy that ended about 10 hours before the UN vote and there was no interruption of the public event.

The Israeli prime minister described Bush as an "unparalleled friend" of Israel.

UN call

Fourteen of the security council's 15 members supported the legally binding resolution, which has until now failed to stop Israel's offensive in Gaza.

Olmert criticised the UN resolution, saying that "no decision, present or future, will deny us our basic right to defend the residents of Israel".

Israel launched its offensive on December 27, in what it said was an attempt to stop Hamas firing rockets into southern Israel from Gaza.
 
After an intensive air campaign in the first week, Israel sent ground forces into Gaza in the second week of fighting and continues to push deeper into the strip.