Peres made the offer during Sunday’s cabinet meeting, saying he thought Israel had nothing to lose in making such a move. But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert categorically rejected the proposal, saying, “There is nothing to talk about the moment.”
Peres, who heard Siniora’s calls for a ceasefire last week, contingent on the redeployment of Lebanon’s army to the southern border with the aid of international forces, said the offer shouldn’t be rejected outright.
“It could be me, or any other minister who would meet with him,” Peres proposed at the Cabinet session. “The world will value the move, and we have nothing to lose. Suggest negotiations – it can’t hurt,” he argued.
Olmert, however, remained decisive in his refusal. “We are morally justified to act in Lebanon. We have international support. The goals we defined have not yet been achieved,” he replied curtly.
Environmental Minister Gideon Ezra told Ynet Monday, “I’m for talking with Fouad Siniora. Why not? But we need to establish preconditions – the release of the kidnapped soldiers, disarmament of Hizbullah, and redeployment of the Lebanese army to the Israeli border as obligated by the UN resolution. Under these conditions I’m not opposed to negotiations.”
The Prime Minister’s Office reiterated Monday that Olmert believed the time was not right for negotiations with the Lebanese premier.
“The vice prime minister did in fact propose such a move, but it was directly rejected. The answer can be found in the Katyusha barrage that pounded Haifa and the Jezreel Valley. Right now we are at war against Hizbullah,” sources in the PMO said.