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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Olmert agrees to withdraw completely from the Golan Heights? UPDATE - Syria confirms the offer

Al Shams, an independent Damascus-based website, reported Wednesday that Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert has informed Damascus via a third party that Israel is willing to conduct a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria. According to the report, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan informed President Bashar Assad of Israel's position. Erdogan is expected to visit Damascus on Saturday. In a recent interview, Olmert said he hoped his efforts concerning Syria would soon be realized but failed to reveal details. No Israeli Prime Minister has ever offered Syria the entire Golan Heights. In 2000, negotiations with Syria fell apart when then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak insisted on retaining a small strip of land around the Sea of Galilee.

Let's go to the videotape.

When the circus Knesset convenes after its spring break, legislation will be introduced to try to block Olmert.
House Committee chairman David Tal made the announcement in response to Syrian reports that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had relayed messages to Damascus via Turkey that he would be willing to give up the entire Golan in return for peace. The bill, originally sponsored by former Kadima MK Avigdor Yitzhaki, already passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum.

"We have to prevent political thievery that would result in abdicating the Golan," Tal said. "Withdrawing from the Golan would result in Hizbullah terrorists entering the area and embittering the lives of the residents of northern Israel."

Right-wing MKs reacted to the reports by bashing Olmert, who ironically is currently vacationing in the Golan with his family. The opposition started gathering signatures Wednesday to force Olmert to cut his vacation short and attend a special Knesset session on the Syrian issue during the recess.

National Union-National Religious Party MK Effi Eitam (NU-NRP), himself a resident of the Golan, urged Olmert to speak to residents and tourists in the area while he is there so he could hear from them that he would have no support to withdraw from the region.

"The people of Israel are with the Golan, and they will not let him return it to Syria," Eitam said. "Olmert is abandoning the security of Israel in an attempt to present voters with some kind of diplomatic achievement and for that, he is willing to concede our rights to security on the northern border, which we have enjoyed for more than 40 years."

A surprising reaction came from Ze'ev Elkin, Olmert's colleague in Kadima, who said "unfortunately the prime minister, as usual, is playing games with the Israeli public and the international community by releasing trial balloons and scattering promises that he cannot keep."

Elkin, who is one of Olmert's toughest critics inside Kadima, said "just like he did when he spoke of dividing Jerusalem, a haphazard withdrawal from the Golan is also something the PM doesn't have support for, either in the Knesset or within his party."

"It's very unfortunate that Olmert is raising expectations and the State of Israel will have to pay a heavy price in years to come, [a price] that will harm its security and not bring peace," Elkin added.
More reactions from the clowns Knesset members here.

Elkin is probably right. The problem is that these 'trial balloons' become the expectations of the 'international community' and leave Israel under pressure to carry them out.


Syria is now confirming that Olmert has offered to cede the entire Golan Heights to Syria in return for 'peace.'
Syria confirmed Wednesday that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had relayed messages to Damascus via Turkey that he would be willing to give up the entire Golan in return for peace.

"Olmert is ready for peace with Syria on the grounds of international conditions; on the grounds of the return of the Golan Heights in full to Syria," Expatriates Minister Buthaina Shaaban told Al Jazeera television.

The Prime Minister's office refused to respond to the report, neither confirming nor denying that such an offer was made. [In Olmert's case, that's a confirmation. CiJ]

Moments earlier, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said that if Israel is serious and wants peace, nothing will stop the renewal of peace talks.

Moallem was speaking at a press conference in Teheran after meeting his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki.

"If Israel is seriously committed to withdrawing to the June 4 lines and is interested in peace, there is nothing preventing a renewal of negotiations," said Moallem, stressing that such peace talks "must not negatively influence the peace process with the Palestinians." [Please note that in the case of Syria, the "June 4" (1967) lines are considerably less favorable to Israel than the 1949 armistice lines. CiJ]

He added that the proposed peace negotiations should not be exploited in order to tighten the blockade on the Gaza Strip or to continue attacks against Palestinians in Gaza.
Olmert is suicidal.


At 8:53 PM, Blogger Don P said...

I can remember a time when the Israeli leadership took more interest in what was best for the Israeli people than in what the world community thought. Any sane individual would look at the rise of anti-semitism world wide and realize that "those who speak ill of us do not necessarily love us". At the end of the day, Israel has to look out for herself; even the US has their own agenda. Witness the actions of Ms. Rice, during an administration that is friendly to Israel. Think about what will happen if Obama is elected, and someone like Zbigniew Brzezinski takes her place. I just wonder how much it is going to take to get rid of Olmert. Unfortunately I'm not sure anyone waiting in the wings is any better.

At 9:45 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Ehud Olmert wants a peace legacy to compensate for his failed tenure as Prime Minister. If Jews are evicted from their homes, its a small price to pay to obtain it. From his viewpoint, its just as well since he will never be re-elected. He is free to do what he wants.

At 7:01 AM, Blogger njoriole said...

Why isn't Netanyahu PM by now? Is there something about Israeli politics that I'm just not aware of, something that make Bibi unelectable? Because, frankly, Olmert seems positively insane; obsessed perhaps with that ever-illusive (and fatal) "legacy," that he thinks will cement his place in the pantheon of great leaders. In reality, Olmert makes Jimmy Carter look positively brilliant.

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