The Sham Press Syrian News Agency reported on Thursday that the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, informed Damascus that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, agreed to withdraw from the occupied Golan Heights in return for peace with Syria. The decision caused uproar among several members of the Israeli Knesset.Yet, Israel analysts said that they doubt that Olmert will be capable to make such a statement and stand by it.
Olmert always conditioned peace talks with Syria with a Syrian halt of supporting Palestinian factions and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party, but recently he started talking about readiness to hold talks with Syria which will eventually lead to fulfilling these demands, Israeli sources reported.
He stated that “Israel is interested in talks with Syria in order to lead Damascus away from the axis of evil”.
Meanwhile, Syrian president, Bashar Asad, said two days ago that “some friends of Syria are carrying efforts which would lead to the resumption of peace talks between Israel and Syria” but added that “Syria did not, and will not, hold any secret peace talks with Israel”.
He said that Syria will hold talks in front of the public and will always inform its people of the developments.
Asad also said that the criteria of the talks should be a commitment to implement all related Security Council resolutions.
The office of Olmert did not deny the report but stated that it cannot comment on the issue.
The statements of Olmert were slammed by several right wing members of the Knesset, including by members of his party
Member of Knesset Marina Solodkin from Kadima party, headed by Olmert, said that she rejects a withdrawal from the Golan Heights because “Syria cooperates with Iran and Hezbollah” and that at this stage “peace with Syria is collective suicide in Israel”.
Kamdima MK Ze’ev Elkin said that Olmert is underestimating the Israeli public and is voicing vows which he can’t implement “such as his statements to divide Jerusalem, and now he is talking about a withdrawal from the Golan Heights”.
“Soon it will be clearly apparent that Olmert will not receive Knesset approval regarding this issue”, Elkin added, “He would not be even supported by members of his own party”.
Effie Eitam of the Ichud Leumi – Mafdal party said that Olmert is compromising Israel’s Security and is willing to give away “security and national achievements which kept the northern borders with Syria safe for forty years”.
“I want to remind Olmert that the Israeli people will not allow anyone to give the Golan Heights back to Syria”.