« Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asks Syria to talk peace. (Getty Images)

Olmert Begs Assad for Direct Talks

“Bashar al-Assad, you know that I am ready for direct talks with you,” Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a broadcast aired on Tuesday. “I will be happy if I could make peace with Syria. I do not want to wage war against Syria.”The remarks came in a television broadcast by Dubai-based Al-Arabiya, and are seen by some as a desperate plea by the leader.Relations between Israel and Syria are tense.

Damascus has indicated it would consider offering peace in exchange for the Golan Heights, but has also threatened to seize the area using terrorism and/or conventional warfare. The terrorist-sponsoring state has also ordered additional weaponry, including Iranian and Russian missiles and fighter jets. Sources indicate Syria may also have large amounts of Sarin and mustard gas, as well as VX neurotoxin, a weapon of mass destruction with which it might arm its missiles.Israel just ended a war last summer with Hezbollah terrorists in south Lebanon. The surprisingly well-armed fighters took a toll both on Israel Defense Forces and on Israel’s international reputation, and plunged the prime minister deeper into unpopularity.Under constant threat of attack from a range of terrorist groups as well as from Damascus, Tehran and other governments, Olmert appears to be desperate enough for a solution to Syrian aggression that his is willing to slight Washington.

“You have been saying that you want the negotiations through the Americans,” Olmert told Assad. “But they do not want to sit with you. I am ready to sit with you and talk about peace, not war.”

Despite such pains, Olmert’s invitation was snubbed by Syrian MP Muhammad Habash, who said he doubted it was serious.

However, Damascus is set to receive Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad this weekend. Ahmadinejad has vowed more than once in the past to destroy Israel.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said Olmert’s comments were genuine, but was skeptical that Assad would respond. Assad has indicated he is willing to engage in talks with Israel involving a third party, possibly the U.S, and has dangled changing his relationship with Iran and curtailing insurgent activity in Iraq in return for the developed and strategically critical Golan.

Before becoming prime minister, Olmert publicly stated “

We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies.” Petitioning the Syrian dictator appears to be the latest and thinnest hope that some form of the land-for-promises of peace process might stall war for a while longer.To find out and why Israel’s options are growing scarce and where it will ultimately turn for peace, read the Trumpet’s March 2006 cover story, “ Israel’s Final Chapter” and Jerusalem in Prophecy, by editor in chief Gerald Flurry.


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