Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
TEL AVIV – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is attempting to distract from mounting domestic dissatisfaction regarding his government’s management of the war in Lebanon by resorting to “radical” moves, such as calling for peace talks with Syria, an official Egyptian report charges.
The report, an assessment sent this week to Cairo from the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv and obtained by WorldNetDaily, recommends a reassessment of Egyptian positions in light of Israeli overtures to Syria. It states the Egyptian embassy estimates as long as Olmert feels his government is in peril, he will take further radical moves aimed at galvanizing supporters.
Senior members of Olmert’s cabinet the past few days have sent mixed messages to Syria.
Last week, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told reporters a resumption of talks with Damascus over vacating the Golan Heights was possible.
He took back his remarks yesterday.
“At present, conditions are not ripe for it, but I certainly see dialogue with Syria in the future,” Peretz said during a meeting yesterday in Jerusalem with U.N. special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen.
Public Security Minister and senior Kadima member Avi Dichter said yesterday that in exchange for “real peace” with Syria, Israel could give up the Golan Heights.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni this week appointed a former Foreign Ministry official as “special project manager” for possible talks with Syria.
Olmert yesterday announced negotiations with Syria were “legitimate” but said Damascus must first stop supporting terrorism before talks can commence.
“When Syria stops supporting terrorism, when it stops giving missiles to terror organizations, then we will be happy to negotiate with them,” Olmert said.
Israel captured the Golan Heights, strategic mountainous territory, after Syria used the terrain to attack the Jewish state in 1967 and again in 1973. The Heights borders Israel, Syria and Lebanon and is claimed by Damascus.
The Egyptian report, sent to the Foreign Ministry in Cairo, recommends the Egyptian government review several of its “unpopular” policies, such as its restraint the past few months of expressing support for Hezbollah while many in the Arab street sided with the Lebanese militia. It pointed to Israel’s “coddling” of Syria – even though Damascus aided Hezbollah during its confrontation with the Jewish state – as an indication Egyptian policies can be changed.
The talk by Kadima leaders of negotiations with Damascus comes just days after Syrian President Bashar Assad spoke of destroying Israel.
“We tell them [Israelis] that after tasting humiliation in the latest battles, your weapons are not going to protect you – not your planes, or missiles or even your nuclear bombs. … The future generations in the Arab world will find a way to defeat Israel,” said Assad last week at a journalists’ convention.
Assad declared Hezbollah’s path of “resistance” achieved results during the last four weeks of fighting against Israel.
“The resistance is necessary as much as it is natural and legitimate,” said the Syrian president, claiming the war in Lebanon revealed the limitations of Israel’s military power.
In a WND report last week, a Baath Party official said on the heels of what Syria views as a Hezbollah victory against the Jewish state, his country is forming its own Hezbollah-like guerilla organization to fight Israel in hopes of “liberating” the Golan Heights.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Syria learned from Hezbollah’s military campaign against Israel the past month that “fighting” is more effective than peace negotiations with regard to gaining territory.
Hezbollah claims its goal is to liberate the Shebaa Farms, a small, 200-square-kilometer bloc situated between Syria, Lebanon and Israel. The Farms is the last post held by Israel after its withdrawal in 2000 from positions it took along the Lebanese border.
Most Western analysts agree Hezbollah uses the pretext of the Shebaa Farms to maintain its weapons to start conflicts with the Jewish state. Hezbollah is sponsored by Syria and Iran.
The cease-fire resolution accepted by Israel last week calls for negotiations leading to Israel’s relinquishing of the Shebaa Farms.
The Baath party official told WND the new Syrian “resistance” group is calling itself the Front for the Liberation of the Golan and is already in the process of being formed.
The official said the group currently consists of “hundreds” of Syrian volunteers, many from the Syrian border with Turkey. He said Syria held registration for volunteers to join the Front in June.
The official said most Front members will be Palestinian and not members of the Syrian army.
“We know from history guerilla resistance works against Israel,” said the official.
He pointed not only to Israel’s most recent confrontation with Hezbollah but also to what he said was a previous Syrian “victory” against the Israeli Defense Forces using guerilla tactics.
“After a cease-fire was imposed in 1973 (following the Yom Kippur War) for 100 days Syria led guerilla attacks against Israel in the Golan Heights and they were successful. The IDF withdrew nearly 100 kilometers from the original cease-fire lines.”
Indeed, after Syria accepted a U.N. cease-fire in October 1973, it waged a sporadic guerilla campaign against Israeli troops in the Golan until a disengagement agreement was reached March 31, 1974, that saw Israel withdraw from some sections of the territory.