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Making History?

Eitan Haber Photo: Shalom Bar Tal
Eitan Haber Photo: Shalom Bar Tal
 
 

Assad is waiting

Netanyahu, Barak may be ready and willing to return Golan, make peace with Syria

Eitan Haber
Published: 04.01.09, 11:23 / Israel Opinion

About 16 years ago, at the height of the public campaign in support of keeping the Golan Heights, I told my friend Yehuda Walman that Golan residents are needlessly wasting energy and millions of shekels. A combination of personal knowledge and dubious intuition prompted me to whisper in his ear: “Your grandchildren (which were not born yet at the time) will be born on the Golan Heights.”

 

Walman, who back then was already torn between his leftist political views and his home in the Golan, could not, and perhaps did not want to, stop the well-oiled campaign machine that roared through the country en route to the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. The money wasted on rallies at the time could have been used to establish another Golan community.

 

However, had I encountered Walman these days, I would tell him: Yehuda, you should start worrying. It may indeed seem distant and unrealistic, but never forget the ancient Air Force slogan: “The one you don’t see is the one that will bring you down.”

 

The second Netanyahu government includes two figures who were given a second and last chance by God, luck, and their political talents. Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, justifiably or not, have entered the annals of the State of Israel as great political failures. They cannot afford to keep their names on the failure list forever.

 

Governments, and certainly prime ministers, make history mostly in the wake of one or two historical deeds: Establishing a state, embarking on war, or making peace. We had prime ministers and governments that were erased from Israel’s collective memory because there was “nothing to write home about” in respect to their term in office.

 

Netanyahu and Barak are aware of their special situation, and as one who is well familiar with them, with their ambitions, and with the political ideas that guide them, I’m guessing that they won’t let the second historical chance pass them by. They face mostly two possibilities: War or peace; or both.

 

2 for the price of 1

In the framework of these two possibilities, when we talk about the possibility of war, the objective would be to eliminate the Iranian nuclear option. Both of them are aware of the growing danger, yet both of them also know what such military operation entails, assuming it is even possible. At this time, the State of Israel can scream plenty but do little. At this time, Bibi and Barak know their glory won’t come from this issue. History may hit them hard on this front.

 

So we’re left with the possibility of peace. For a long time now, Syria’s president has been calling for peace openly. Olmert apparently went a long way towards Assad, and most importantly for Netanyahu and Barak: Both of them, during their tenure as PM, engaged in talks with the Syrians regarding the Golan and expressed willingness to pay the price, as Rabin and Peres did before them. What’s the price? Everyone knows.

 

Today, Netanyahu and Barak are allowed to think that by making peace with Syria they get two things for the price of one, as is the custom today at supermarkets: Peace with Syria, as well as removing it from the Iranian axis of evil.

 

As of Tuesday morning, the Netanyahu-Barak duo is called on to resolve several critical and urgent problems. Yet the moment shall come, and it isn’t far off, where they will start thinking about the coming years and about history. For Golan Heights residents, the sand in the hourglass has started to slowly pour down.

 

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