(Government Press Office)
Haaretz - http://www.haaretz.com
Yediot Aharonot - http://www.ynetnews.com
Globes - http://www.globes.co.il
Hazofeh - http://www.hazofe.co.il
Jerusalem Post - http://www.jpost.com
Haaretz comments: "Once again, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert turned down the offers yesterday of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his foreign minister, Walid Mualem, to renew the peace talks between the two countries. The relative softening heard in the Syrian stance, with its willingness to embark on negotiations without preconditions, did not affect Olmert's position. Nor did the timing of the call from Damascus, which was directed at the Western media, just when Iran was holding a conference on denial of the Holocaust. Assad was signaling that he does not share the call of his ally, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for the destruction of Israel... Sticking with a policy of refusal will not benefit Israel in any way. Israel will not receive greater international support with respect to the Iranian threat to destroy it, and will not be able to rely on the world's support if war breaks out with Syria. Such a war will be viewed as a war of choice over the annexation of the Golan Heights, a war that could have been avoided. It is therefore important to exhaust the diplomatic efforts with Syria instead of waiting for an outbreak of war."
The Jerusalem Post writes: "Our prime minister, it need hardly be stressed, should and would respond with alacrity were Syria's president to publicly signal a dramatic shift in mindset and declare a readiness to meet with him, in Jerusalem or Damascus. But what if what Syria really wants is to talk to Israel, at a lower and nonbinding level, while continuing to host Hamas and other terrorists dedicated to our destruction, and to funnel weapons to Hizbullah, which has the same goal? What if Syria has no intention of ending its attacks, let alone making a full peace, but is simply seeking to stave off UN sanctions in the wake of its assassination campaign against anti-Syrian Lebanese leaders, including Rafik Hariri and Pierre Gemayel? ...Our answer should be what it has been to the Palestinians: We do not negotiate under fire. If you want peace, stop making war... We should, indeed, be very careful not to miss an opportunity to negotiate peace. But if Assad is not willing to stop instigating terrorism against us even for a moment, what reason do we have to believe that he really is offering peace? What is the "opportunity" that we are missing? There is no point in coming to a 'peace' table when the other side arrives with his sword drawn.
We should, indeed, be very careful not to miss an opportunity to negotiate peace. But if Assad is not willing to stop instigating terrorism against us even for a moment, what reason do we have to believe that he really is offering peace? What is the "opportunity" that we are missing? There is no point in coming to a "peace" table when the other side arrives with his sword drawn.
Yediot Aharonot wonders what the government has to lose by agreeing to talks and testing Syrian intentions and suggests that while Prime Minister Olmert "presents himself as Ben-Gurion, he is following in the footsteps of Shamir, who preferred to maintain the status quo at any price." The editors venture that, in rebuffing Damascus's overtures, Olmert is currying favor with US President George Bush instead of promoting Israel's interests.
Hatzofeh also accuses Prime Minister Olmert of unduly deferring to US President Bush and suggests that this "weakens the State of Israel's position, erodes its security status, and turns into a party that is dragged along in the international arena."
Yediot Aharonot, in its second editorial, calls for greater professionalism in the IDF and says that, "The chief of General Staff must go home and the IDF needs urgent reforms in all its ranks."
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