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Olmert not serious Photo: Gil Yohanan
Olmert not serious Photo: Gil Yohanan

Olmert delaying peace negotiations, Syrian source says

Various Arab leaders dismiss prime minister's recent overtures of dialogue as 'empty'

Roee Nahmias
Published: 04.02.07, 11:08 / Israel News

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has indicated that he is uninterested in negotiations, the Saudi Arabian al-Watan newspaper quoted a Syrian source as saying. The source was responding to recent statements and overtures made by the prime minister to the Arab world, including Syria specifically.


Olmert's emphasis on the need to prepare well for peace negotiations with Syria indicates that they won't take place for several years and "this is actually a rejection of negotiation, in the guise of delay", the source said.


Other Arab sources displayed similar sentiments to Olmert's overtures. Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Ahmed Ben Hali said if Israel is serious about talks with Syria, the nation must declare its intentions to withdraw to the June 4, 1967 border (the armistice line after the 1948 War of Independence).


Barring such a move, Olmert is doing nothing more than moving between various channels of dialogue, the secretary-general indicated.  Ben Hali was also quoted by the paper as saying that Israel must decide upon its stance to the Arab peace initiative recently ratified in Riyadh.


Muhammad al Madhoun, head of the Palestinian Prime Minister's Office in Gaza, said that Olmert's declarations were "an attempt to empty the Arab initiative of substance, due to his lack of determination to maintain Palestinian rights, including the right of return."


Olmert recently invited "all Arab leaders, including the Saudi king" to Israel, in order to advance dialogue on the Arab-Israeli conflict.


At that time – a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he strongly denied the report on a planned war in the summer.


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