"Syrian minister confirms: Olmert expressed willingness to cede Golan"
Is returning the Golan Heights to Syria a real issue or will it end in false expectations
Official confirmation from Syria: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has told Turkey that Israel is willing to cede the Golan Heights in return for peace with Damascus, a Syrian cabinet minister confirmed Wednesday.
"Olmert is ready for peace with Syria on the grounds of international conditions; on the grounds of the return of the Golan Heights in full to Syria," Expatriates Minister Buthaina Shaaban told al-Jazeera television.
Earlier, Damascus-based website Shams Press was joined by a report in Syrian newspaper al-Watan, which claimed that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday and informed him of Olmert's willingness to fully withdraw from the Golan Heights in exchange for a peace agreement.
Meanwhile it immediately stirs up the Israeli political arena.
Knesset Member Effie Eitam of the National Union-NRP, said Olmert is sacrificing Israel's safety in a "desperate attempt to show his constituents some sort of a political achievement… He is willing to give up the one strategic asset which has kept the northern border quiet for the past 40 years."
The people, he added, "will not let him or anyone give the Golan Heights back to the Syrians."
Former Meretz Chairman MK Yossi Beilin, however, urged the prime minister to hold intensive and swift negotiations with the Syrians, saying "peace with Syria is a key part of regional peace and will lead to the implementation of the Arab peace initiative and to a dramatic change in Syria's relationship with the extreme elements in the region."
Time will say..