The Golan Heights - part of Israel forever?
The Golan Heights - part of Israel forever?Israel News Photo: (file photo)

Israel must give away the Golan Heights and most of eastern Jerusalem, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview with the Hebrew daily newspaper Yediot Acharonot on Friday.


Olmert has previously said he had not promised Syrian President Bashar Assad that Israel would end its sovereignty over the strategic Golan area, which was annexed to the Jewish State decades ago.


However, in the weekend interview the lame duck prime minister maintained, "One more hill, another 100 meters – this is not what is going to change the security of Israel." Olmert said that Damascus would be forced to end its ties with Iran in exchange for peace and Israel's relinquishing the Golan Heights.


In an address at the opening of the winter session of the Knesset in 2006, Olmert told lawmakers that negotiations with Syria would require some changes in Damascus: "One makes peace with those who eschew terrorism and not those who host the headquarters of terror organizations. You make peace with those who have made a strategic decision to advocate a moderate policy and not those who assist in the arming of a terror organization which threatens regional stability…


"Israel will consent to making peace with the President of Syria only if he makes a genuine strategic decision to renounce terrorism, and not with a leader who uses the language of peace as a tactic to divert the world's attention from other issues."


Olmert vowed exactly two years ago this week, "As long as I am prime minister, we shall not give up the Golan for all eternity!" 


His current statements, coming at the tail end of his reign while Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni tries to form a new government, now present the new Kadima party chairwoman with a policy she may have no choice but to accept.


If she does not, she risks a breakdown in the peace negotiations while running the danger of losing a coalition. 


However, a majority of Knesset Members already have stated they oppose any withdrawal from the Golan Heights.