dinsdag 10 juli 2007

Olmert bereid tot directe gesprekken met Assad

Toeval? Een dag eerder stond in World Net Daily een artikel waarin een hoge Syrische ambtenaar onthulde dat Syrië zich niet alleen op oorlog met Israël voorbereid, maar deze ook wil starten als het voor september de Golan hoogvlakte niet terug heeft.

"If Israel doesn't vacate the strategic Golan Heights before September, Syrian guerrillas will immediately launch "resistance operations" against the Golan's Jewish communities, a top official from Syrian President Bashar Assad's Baath party told WND.

The Baath official, who spoke on condition his name be withheld, said Damascus is preparing for anticipated Israeli retaliation following Syrian guerrilla attacks and for a larger war with the Jewish state in August or September. He said in the opening salvo of any conflict, Syria has the capabilities of firing "hundreds" of missiles at Tel Aviv.

"Syria passed repeated messages to the U.S. that we demand the return of the Golan either through negotiations or through war. If the Golan is not in our hands by August or September, we will be poised to launch resistance, including raids and attacks against Jewish positions (in the Golan Heights)," the Baath official said.

The Baath official said a new purported guerrilla group called the Committees for the Liberation of the Golan Heights has been training and is ready to attacks against Jewish communities in the Golan in August or September."

Het is niet de eerste keer dat Syrië met oorlog dreigt, en ook niet de eerste keer dat dit door zowat iedereen behalve Israël wordt genegeerd. Volgens Israëlische experts moet de dreiging serieus genomen worden. Zou dat de oproep van Olmert aan Assad een dag later, in een interview op het Saoedische TV station Al Arabiya, hebben gemotiveerd? "Talking softly while carrying a big stick" is wellicht de beste strategie om erachter te komen of Syrië bereid is vrede in ruil voor de Golan te geven, en zo niet, goed voorbereid te zijn.

   Jul. 9, 2007 20:26 | Updated Jul. 10, 2007 1:37

Olmert to Assad: 'I am ready to hold direct talks with you'

'Come to Jerusalem to talk' was the message of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Syrian President Bashar Assad, in an historic interview to Saudi satellite station Al Arabiya, aired by Channel 10 Monday evening.

In his first appearance on a major Arabic news station in over six years, Olmert, speaking in an office adorned with the blue and white Israeli flag, told his Hebrew-speaking interviewer: "Bashar Assad, you know … You know I am ready to hold direct negotiations with you and you also know that it's you who insists on speaking to the Americans. The American president says: 'I don't want to stand between Bashar Assad and Ehud Olmert. If you want to talk, sit down and talk."
Assad has "heard many things from me already," Olmert added.

When asked where he would hold such talks with Assad, Olmert said "any place he [Assad] would agree to meet," hinting that Assad would even be welcome in Jerusalem.

Channel 10 analyst Zvi Yehezkeli remarked that Al Arabiya's broadcasts are transmitted following approval from the Saudi government. He added the network was planning to follow up on Olmert's interview with interviews with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas Damascus-based leader Khaled Mashaal and eventually, Assad himself.

Several weeks ago, during Olmert's visit to the US, American President George W. Bush, in Olmert's presence, was asked if he would mediate between Israel and Syria in an attempt to warm the truce the two countries observe since 1973 into a full-blooded peace treaty. Bush's response was that Olmert "is plenty capable" of achieving such a goal without US help. The Syria Accountability Act, isolating Syria as a state sponsor of terrorism, was passed during Bush's tenure. Despite visits to Damascus by house speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressmen earlier this year, Bush keeps contacts with Syria cool. However, the US still keeps an embassy in Damascus.
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