[ Eyes on Israel ]

July 2007 Update

"On that day Yahweh made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.’" (Genesis 15:18; NASU)

The following is a report from Arutz Sheva news agency where Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is considering giving The Golan back to Syria.

The Following italicized quotes are from Arutz Sheva:

Nation Up in Arms at Olmert's Golan Offer

As polls continue to show overwhelming national opposition to giving up the Golan, opposition MKs [Members of Knesset] blast PM Olmert for offering it to Syria. Left-wing MKs, on the other hand, want him to act, not just talk.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's latest offer to give the Golan Heights to Syria flies in the face of polls showing public opposition to ceding the Golan, and has many MKs on both sides of the political spectrum up in arms.

Olmert reportedly informed Syria last month that he is willing to cede the Golan to Syrian sovereignty, but wishes to verify that Syria will, in turn, cut its ties with Iran, Hizbullah and Palestinian terrorist organizations.

From the Left: Give it Away Now

Left-wing MKs, on the other hand, attacked Olmert for only offering the Golan and not actually taking steps to actualize the offer. Meretz Party leader Yossi Beilin said the agreement to give back the Golan has been ready to sign "ever since 2000 when [then-PM] Ehud Barak became scared of himself and ended the meeting with the Syrians in Shepherdstown, West Virginia." Barak is currently running once again for leadership of Labor; the internal election will be held this Tuesday.

MK Zahava Gal'on of Meretz said that Olmert must not suffice with declarations, but initiated a meeting with Syria's Foreign Minister.”

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considered such an idea.

Again quoting from Arutz Sheva:

Netanyahu Talked with Assad the Father

Opposition leader and ex-Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told a radio station on Thursday that the previous Syrian dictator, Hafez Assad, had been willing to "cede" the strategically-critical Mt. Hermon to Israel. "In my contacts with Assad," Netanyahu said, "he agreed to give me the Hermon... I told him that I have a pre-condition [for giving him the Golan], and that is the Hermon, because there is a threat from Iran, and he gave it to me. I must say I was surprised, and I was happy."

Israel took control of the Golan Heights in the Six Day War of 1967, after the Syrians had used the area for years to shell Israeli kibbutzim below. Since then, the Syrian border has always been Israel's quietest.

Israel annexed the Golan in 1981. In early 1999, the Knesset voted that no part of the Golan or Jerusalem may be transferred to a foreign power without an absolute majority of 61 Knesset Members and a popular referendum in accordance with a to-be-legislated Referendum Law. Just last month, the Knesset voted, in a preliminary reading, to require the referendum even before such a Referendum Law is legislated.

Syrian Response

“ On Thursday, a Syrian official was quoted by the French press agency AFP as saying, "We are prepared to renew peace negotiations and we are interested in peace."

Former Negotiator: Talk of Ceding Golan Encourages Syrian Threat

At least there appears to be one person in Israel who sees the dangers of returning the Golan to Syria.

Former Israeli negotiator Cabinet Sec'y Yossi Ben-Aharon says that talk of giving away the Golan Heights merely encourages Syrian aggression.

Ben-Aharon, who led negotiations with Syria on behalf of Yitzchak Shamir's government over 20 years ago, said that talk of giving away the Golan - as reported in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's name over the weekend - is mere "folly and vanity."

"Every once in a while," Ben-Aharon told Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine, "a Prime Minister comes up with this idea of giving up the Golan Heights - as if he received the Golan as some kind of gift, when in fact it cost us much blood. Or as if he has some kind of guarantee - other than what is written on some piece of paper - that Syria will really cut off relations with Iran or stop supporting terrorism. Or as if he knows for sure that they will truly stop supplying terrorists in Lebanon with rockets and weapons. Its all folly and vanity.” If they threaten us, our response must be that if they even think of attacking us, we will respond with such force that it will send them back to the Middle Ages. This is a response that will keep the peace. (emphasis ours)

It was reported on Friday that Olmert had offered the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for Syria's termination of its alliance with Iran, Hizbullah and other terrorist organizations. Before Israel captured the area in the 1967 Six Day War, Syria used it to shell Jewish towns and kibbutzim in the Galilee below.

Arutz-7's Uzi Baruch told Ben-Aharon that it appears to be common knowledge that there would be no peace with Syria unless the Golan is given up. Ben-Aharon responded, "We naive Jews truly believe in peace, but actually, now that we have 'peace' with Egypt, we all know what it means to have peace with an Arab country. Egypt is right now mediating between Hamas and Fatah to have them point their guns at us, at Israel, instead of at each other. Egypt is also responsible for supervising the border with Gaza to ensure that no weapons or terrorists are smuggled in - and look how 'efficient' they have been. They just freed from prison some terrorists who built the tunnels... Egypt wages war against us in the United Nations and everywhere else..."

"And if, despite all, Egyptian peace could be considered good," Ben-Aharon said, "then peace with Syria would be even worse, because of Syria's long-time hostility towards us since even before 1948."

"It's time that we stop dreaming about peace," Ben-Aharon said, "and concentrate just on co-existence, meaning that we must be very strong and that our deterrence power must never, ever be perceived as weakness. Some may say that without offering the Golan , a war could break out this summer - but the best way to prevent war is not by running to give away the Golan; this is a show of weakness that will merely invite more aggression and empower the Syrians to threaten and attack us. If they threaten us, our response must be - via third parties - that if they even think of attacking us, we will respond with such force that it will send them back to the Middle Ages. This is a response that will keep the peace, and will find favor with the US to boot."

We wait for more information on this development as we continue to pray for the peace of Israel.