A sharp dispute broke out between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz over the issue of renewing talks with Syria.
Peretz, who spoke during a bar and bat mitzvah ceremony for 65 children of killed Israeli Army soldiers, said that conditions must be prepared for renewed talks with Syria. “I intend to do everything in my power to bring back the diplomatic momentum for negotiations. We need to renew the talks because today I am sure that every war creates an opportunity for a new diplomatic process and I am sure that our enemies understand that through force they cannot succeed, and so we need to renew negotiations with the Palestinians, create talks with Lebanon, and prepare the conditions to talk with the Syrians as well,” said Peretz.
The Prime Minister’s Office, however, did not like what they heard. PM Olmert thinks that there is no reason to begin diplomatic talks with Syria. Officials in the PM’s office said that “Syria is a part of the axis of evil and any recognition will only decrease the international pressure on them. They will not exactly sever their ties with Hizballah and Iran. We think that they need to pay a price for the rocket attacks. I don’t think anyone in Israel would like for the Syrians to sit on the Sea of Galilee and for us to be bombed again.”
Deputy PM Shimon Peres said in Washington yesterday that the Assad family, Hafez and Bashar, both missed the military and political trains. “In 1967 they lost the war, and since then they ignored opportunities from Kissinger, Barak, Rabin, and Netanyahu,” he said.