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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Poor Shimon's 'New Middle East' still looks like the old one

For thirteen years now, Shimon Peres has been promoting a utopian idea called the "New Middle East." I'm being kind. "Delusional" is probably a more accurate description than "utopian." Today, Shimon got yet another slap in the face for his troubles.

On Tuesday, Peres suggested that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad the Chinless Ophthalmologist really wanted peace with Israel, all he had to do was pull an Anwar al-Sadat and come visit and ask for it. Peres was sure that Assad would be on the next plane (or tank) over here. But alas, it was not to be.

This morning, the Syrians responded:
The rejection came in a front page editorial in the ruling party's Al-Baath newspaper, which said: "Israel knows... that no Syrian citizen would ever accept this invitation."


Al-Baath wrote that Peres' move was an attempt to "evade peace and its requirements." It was also "proof of the Israeli government's weakness and failure to face recent changes stemming from the victory of the Lebanese resistance," the editorial said.

"Peace cannot be achieved through unacceptable protocol visits," the paper added.
Poor Shimon continues to look for 'peace in our time'. But he still cannot find any takers. Face reality Shimon: Assad will not visit here unless and until we sign the Golan over to him all the way down to the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). And even then, he will likely arrive here in a tank. That's why no Israeli government will ever agree to give the Golan to him.

What's more interesting though is just how little support there is in Israel for giving Syria anything. On Tuesday, I told you why the Golan is different from Judea and Samaria in the minds of many Israelis. A new poll out this morning shows just how different:
The warlike statements are apparently what caused a further decline in the already low support for giving the Golan to Syria, even in exchange for full peace, and also in the small number of those who believe such a peace is possible in the foreseeable future.


The prevailing view (48%) is that of the two kinds of messages heard recently from Assad, the real ones are the warlike ones, with only 19% assessing that his peace messages are genuine (the rest cannot decide which message is real). Not surprisingly, then, three-fourths of the Jewish public rate the chances of achieving peace with Syria peace in the next five years as very low or low (55% and 22%, respectively), 18% as medium, and only 5% as high or very high. That helps explain the negligible proportion of those who favor signing a full peace treaty with Syria in return for a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights - only 16% (70% oppose it and the rest do not have a clear opinion).

The Jewish public's level of support for a peace settlement with Syria in exchange for the Golan was higher in the past - about a third in most of the measurements, although opposition to this formula has always been in a majority.
By the way, those numbers come from the last version of something called the September 2006 Peace Index Poll, which also includes lots of numbers about our relations with the 'Palestinians' and Lebanon. You may want to read the whole thing.


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