Under fire. Olmert
Photo: Flash 90
PM irresponsible. Steinitz
Photo: Yoav Galai
Cahoots. Solodkin
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Dramatic. Beilin
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Peace with Syria suicidal, MKs say

Syrian report suggesting Olmert will agree to pull out of Golan Heights for sake of peace with Damascus inflames political area: Likud blames him for thinking of nothing but political survival; Kadima MK says will push forward referendum on area's future

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert undoubtedly heard about the Syrian report saying he had agreed to cede Israeli control of the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria, while on vacation.


The report by the Damascus-based website Shams Press was joined by a report in the Syrian newspaper al-Watan, which claimed that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan telephoned Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday and informed him of Olmert's willingness to fully withdraw from the Golan Heights in exchange for a peace agreement.


According to the report, which quotes "knowledgeable sources" in Damascus, Erdogan is expected to visit the Syrian capital over the weekend and take part in a first-of-its-kind economic summit between Syria and Turkey.


The Syrian report's credibility may be questionable, but that did little to pacify the infuriated political arena.


Head of the Knesset's House Committee, Knesset Member David Tal of the prime minister's Kadima party, announced Wednesday that he would push forward the forming of the Golan Heights Act once the Knesset returns from its Passover hiatus. The bill will make a referendum on the region's future mandatory. 


Knesset Member Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said the report indicated "unprecedented irresponsibility on Olmert's part both political and defense-wise."


Without the Golan Heights, he added "Israel will have serious trouble defending itself and its water sources. I have no doubt the public is on the Golan's side, not the prime minister's."


The Likud party later issued a formal statement on the matter: "There is no limit to the dangerous concessions Olmert is willing to make for the sake of his political survival… Now he is willing to give way to Syria, an ally of Iran, which supports Hamas terror and supplies Hizbullah with weapons," said the statement.


False expectations

MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima) party, also criticized Olmert: "I am utterly against any withdrawal from the Golan, mainly because Syria is in cahoots with Iran and Hizbullah. Peace with Syria at this point in time is suicidal for Israel."


MK Ze'ev Elkin (Kadima) reiterated the sentiment, saying that in the last six months "Olmert has been fooling the Israeli public and the international community, making promises he can't keep… he has no support for this move, neither in the Knesset nor in Kadima.


"Creating false expectations like these will end up costing Israel dearly…a media spin is no way to make true peace," he added.


Knesset Member Effie Eitam of the National Union-NRP, said Olmert is sacrificing Israel's safety in a "desperate attempt to show his constituents some sort of a political achievement… He is willing to give up the one strategic asset which has kept the northern border quiet for the past 40 years."


The people, he added, "will not let him or anyone give the Golan Heights back to the Syrians."


Former Meretz Chairman MK Yossi Beilin, however, urged the prime minister to hold intensive and swift negotiations with the Syrians, saying "peace with Syria is a key part of regional peace and will lead to the implementation of the Arab peace initiative and to a dramatic change in Syria's relationship with the extreme elements in the region."


The Prime Minister's Office declined official comment on the report saying "we will not comment on the said report but we can refer everyone to the prime minister's holiday interviews saying that we know what the Syrians want of us, and they know what we want of them."


Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem linked the report to the upcoming US Congress hearing regarding the North Korean bid to distribute nuclear technology to Syria, among other nations.


Attila Somfalvi, Roee Nahmias and Roni Sofer contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 04.23.08, 13:33
 new comment
This will delete your current comment