The war made all the difference. Vice Premier Haim Ramon said Thursday during a meeting with prominent Tel Aviv executives that “Hizbullah
is wary of avenging the assassination of its commander Imad Mugniyah because
they discovered during the Second Lebanon War that
they cannot predict Israel’s
response to their actions.”
In addressing the looming "cold escalation" on Israel’s northern front, Ramon noted that “Israel’s ability to negotiate with Syria is very limited, if at all existent, at the moment. It is very difficult to withdraw Syria from
the axis of extremism, because the Golan Heights are not sufficient incentive for Syria to sacrifice its alliance with Iran and
the control that it harbors over Lebanon.”
“The (Golan) Heights are not a sufficient prize for Syria at the moment,” noted the vice premier. “Damascus has made a strategic choice and would much rather preserve its alliance with Hizbullah and with Iran than make peace with Israel. Syria and Iran share a very close political bond and not only at the regional level.”
Ramon also spoke of the peace process with the Palestinians, and stated that “Israel is running out of time in respect to the Palestinian problem. If we do not resolve this conflict soon—preferably via a two-state solution—then Israel will find itself struggling to preserve its legitimacy as a Jewish, democratic state during the next decade. We do not have much time left to reach a peace accord with the Palestinians.”
The vice premier maintained that he was “privy to public concerns that there is no real Palestinian leadership at the moment that can take charge at a grassroots level.” “For that reason,” maintained Ramon,” “ it in unwise to take any action at ground level vis-a-vie the Palestinians at the moment.”
Ramon noted that “Israel must first forge an outline for future negotiations by means of a declaration of principles, and only then sign a full-fledged peace accord once proper security provisions are put in place. If Israel does sign a declaration of principles, the state must also hold elections so that its citizens can approve this declaration and elect the political party that they deem most fit to spearhead negotiations with the Palestinians.”
Referring to the Evacuation-Compensation Law, Ramon stated that the State of Israel must compensate those settlers living west of the security fence and wish to move into Israeli territory. “Implementing this law will clearly indicate that we are fighting for those 8%-10% of settlers that live westward of the security fence and whom we want to return to Israeli sovereignty."
The vice premier also addressed the Palestinian refugee problem and noted that the right of return for Palestinian refugees would relate only to a future Palestinian state.