May 28, 2008
U.S., Iran are obstacles in new Israel-Syria talks
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Yet during his recent visit to Israel, Bush agreed to lift his long-standing opposition to any Israeli engagement with Assad's Syria. Presumably, if the negotiations make progress and the United States needs to play a role, Bush or his successor in the Oval Office will be ready to make the necessary moves, given the huge geopolitical benefit of a pro-Western Syria.
For the embattled Olmert or his successor, getting the Syrians and the Americans on board for the type of region-changing agreement Israeli leaders envision will not be easy.
Achieving the domestic support they need might be even more difficult. Most of the Cabinet ministers in Olmert's Kadima Party oppose a deal with Syria that entails withdrawing from the Golan, making a Cabinet majority for a deal nearly impossible.
Moreover, in the Knesset, Likud hawks are moving to enact a law requiring a special two-thirds majority for ceding land. Polls show that most of the Israeli public remains opposed to a withdrawal from the Golan, which Israel annexed in 1981.
The hope of Israel's doves is that all this will change if and when Assad breaks with Iran and the United States comes through with strong backing for the new order. In other words, when Israelis see the results of peace with Syria, the Golan will seem a price worth paying.
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