Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said Monday that "In exchange for peace with Syria, Israel
can leave the Golan Heights."
In an interview with Israel Army Radio, Dichter brought up: “We have paid similar territorial prices for peace with Jordan and Egypt." He added that the water question and the Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) is "an issue that I wouldn't give up on easily."
"Any political process is preferable to a military-fighting process, be it with Syria or with Lebanon,"
Dichter continued. He estimated that "in regards to Lebanon, the conditions will be determined in discussions of this sort, even before Syria. Lebanon is capable today to enter into such a process with Israel even without a parallel process with Syria."
"Syria is a very significant country for us in regards to the texture of life in the region," the minister said. "I think that a process of discussions with Syria is legitimate. If it turns out that there is someone to talk to, I think that the idea is very suitable. Israel can initiate it. Ultimately, initiatives of this kind are of a third party – and there is an abundance of third parties in the world. If a third party approaches us, we must reply in the positive."
On this point, Dichter is asked about the cost. He responded: "We know the costs. We are experienced in setting prices. We have gone before two countries, Jordan and Egypt, and arranged the issues. We attempted with the Palestinian Authority, but unfortunately it didn't succeed.
"But that doesn't mean that with other countries like Lebanon or Syria it won't succeed, and maybe this will make it clear to the Palestinians that there is no chance for any state to make achievements through war with us."
"The Golan Heights has tremendous significance for us," said Dichter. "I am not suggesting that we take it lightly whether or not we withdraw to the water line or not, because in the Middle East, without water, there are very difficult problems."
Despite everything, the internal security minister declared that if the relevant arrangements are ensured, he is prepared – in exchange for full peace – "even to return to the international border."
In the past days – especially since the shocking speech of Syrian President Bashar Assad,
in which he spoke of releasing the Golan Heights into Arab hands – voices calling to extend a hand to him have grown stronger. In this context, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was appointed to head the project. Ministers Amir Peretz and Shimon Peres have also spoken about renewing talks with Damascus, with one of the central objectives, taken her out of the "Axis of Evil" before the Iranian nuclear umbrella becomes a done deal.