Golan waterfall.
Golan waterfall.Israel News photo (file)

Former Minister Dan Meridor said Thursday in a behind the scenes conversation at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv that he is "working very hard" and "making every effort" to convince Binyamin Netanyahu to "make history" by changing Israel's posture towards Syria and the idea of ceding the Golan Heights in return for a peace treaty.

Meridor, who chaired one of the sessions in Thursday's exclusive conference on Security Challenges of the 21st Century said this in a private – but not very quiet – conversation with one of Israel's top advertisers and strategic advisors, Moshe Teomim, after the session ended.

Teomim (left) talks to Meridor as tycoon Alfred Akirov listens.

Israel News photo / Gil Ronen

Another influential figure at the conference told confidantes that Meridor, who supported Kadima in the previous election but recently rejoined Likud, told him he was 'working hard' to put together a Likud coalition with Labor and Kadima.

Netanyahu has said that he is interested in creating a coalition with Kadima and Labor.

In his speech at the conference, Meridor said it was of the utmost importance for Israel to move 'very quickly' and make its diplomatic positions known to the new United States administration, before the window of opportunity closes. "President Obama has the world's trust and we should utilize this," he explained.

Teomim Says He Sold Bibi 'Economic Peace'

In the same conversation after the INSS conference, Teomim boasted to Meridor that it was he, Teomim, who sold Netanyahu on the idea of advocating an "economic peace" with the Palestinian Authority. "I gave [the idea] to him ten months ago," Teomim said. He added that in retrospect, however, he thinks the idea was not a very good one.

Netanyahu has made talk of an "economic peace" his staple answer when asked about diplomatic initiatives vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority.

Prime Minister Olmert with Prof. Itamar Rabinovich. Alfred Akirov is at center.

Israel News photo / Gil Ronen

Meridor also told Teomim that he agreed with nearly everything that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in his speech before the conference. He said that his only points of disagreement with Olmert were regarding the Second Lebanon War, which Meridor thinks Olmert bungled, and the "attack on the justice system" by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann. Olmert's speech was largely devoted to the prospects of peace with Syria.

Teomim owns the Gitam/BBDO advertising firm and soccer team Hapoel Tel Aviv. For many years, he served as Shimon Peres's close advisor. Peres, now Israel's President, is the former head of the Labor party and an architect of the Oslo accords.

Meridor has publicly voiced support for negotiations over the Golan with Syria.

From the People Who Brought Us the Disengagement

Meridor is considered very close to Supreme Court President Justice Dorit Beinisch. This matter came under journalistic debate when Merisor's name was floated as a possible Justice Minister in 2006. According to Attorney Yossi Dar, Meridor and Beinisch routinely go out with their families "to concerts, holiday trips etc."

Meridor's name has also been mentioned as a possible Minister of Justice in Binyamin Netanyahu's future government. Another candidate is Gideon Saar. Saar was an aide to both Beinisch and Arbel and is also considered very close to them. According to a Haaretz report, however, the post will probably be offered first to former Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin if the Likud forms the next government.

According to reports in Haaretz and other sources, Teomim and Meridor were both present at a series of meetings that were held at industrialist Dov Lautman's office in late 2003, which included former Shin Bet Israel Security Agency heads Ami Ayalon and Yaakov Perry; Dalia Rabin, daughter of slain Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin; and Labor strategic advisor Tal Zilberstein. The meetings were reportedly intended to "motivate Ariel Sharon to initiate a move to dismantle settlements" and led to the Disengagement from Gaza. Lautman was also present at the conference Thursday.

Sadat All Over Again?

Meridor's brother, Salai, compared the current Turkish moderated Syrian talks with former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's efforts to reach a peace agreement with Israel in the 1970s, which led to the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and the ceding of the Sinai Penninsula.

"If they choose to move à la Sadat, then we'll know that we have contributed to a significant change for the better, not only for us, but for the world," Meridor told The Washington Times.

"A peace treaty would lower the possibility of war, break the strategic ties between Damascus and Teheran, lead to the expulsion of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas headquarters from Syria and would stop the cash flow to Hizbullah," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the INSS conference Thursday.

Olmert said that a deal with Syria would cause it to break away from the "axis of evil," thus severing the connection between Iran and its proxies, Hizbullah and Hamas.