Israeli prime ministerial frontrunner Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday insisted that a government led by his Likud Party will never surrender the Golan Heights in exchange for a peace agreement with Syria.
"We are here to state unequivocally: A Likud-led government will stay on the Golan Heights and keep them as a strategic asset," Netanyahu said while touring the Golan with other Likud Knesset hopefuls.
The visit was scheduled in response to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's ongoing secretive land-for-peace talks with Syria via Turkish mediators. Despite having been reduced to head of a caretaker government, Olmert continues to push for a diplomatic breakthrough that would have far-reaching consequences for the Jewish state.
The results of a public opinion poll released a day later revealed that a strong majority of Israelis back Netanyahu in his refusal to part with the Golan under any circumstances.
Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said Israel should not agree to a full withdrawal from the Golan, even in exchang efor comprehensive peace with Syria. Forty-six percent said Israel should not hand over even one inch of the strategic plateau.
The poll was conducted by Ma'agar Mohot on behalf of the Kinneret College in northern Israel.