Nation Up in Arms at Olmert's Golan Offer
As polls continue to show overwhelming national opposition to giving up the Golan, opposition MKs 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.
Likud MK Calls on Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu to Quit Government
MKs from the Likud and National Union/National Religious Party came out vehemently against Olmert. Likud faction head Gideon Saar called upon Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu - two coalition parties whose voters are nearly all right-wing - to immediately quit the government. "Olmert has no public legitimacy for a withdrawal from the Golan," Saar said. "Far from our eyes, processes are taking place that will be hard to stop in the future. The responsibility for this lies upon all the members of the government and coalition."
Likud MK Yisrael Katz was more succinct, saying, "It would be better to replace Olmert than to give up the Golan Heights."
MK Effie Eitam (National Union), a former IDF Galilee Formation Commander and a resident of the Golan, told Ynet that the initiative is merely an attempt by the government to cover up its responsibility for its failures in the Second Lebanon War.
Along the same lines, National Religious Party leader Zevulun Orlev said, "Olmert is willing to sell the Golan to save his seat... This is his last-gasp effort to survive."
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.
Polls Show Support for Golan
A poll commissioned last summer by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University found that 56% of the Israelis oppose full evacuation of the Golan Heights in return for a full peace agreement with Syria.
A more recent poll, carried out this week by Teleseker for Maariv, shows that a full 84% of the public opposes a full withdrawal from the Golan. Some 44% oppose a withdrawal from any part of the Golan Heights, and 40% said they support only a partial withdrawal. In addition, 74% of the public do not believe that Assad is interested in peace.