Israelis Would Welcome Talks with Syria

June 25, 2007

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - Many people in Israel believe their government should actively engage in talks with a neighbouring nation, according to a poll by the Maagar Mochot released by Israel Radio. 62 per cent of respondents support starting diplomatic negotiations with Syria.

In August 2006, Israeli internal security minister Avi Dichter presented a proposal to negotiate for peace with Syria in return for the Golan Heights. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert dismissed the idea, saying, "So long as I am prime minister, the Golan Heights will remain in our hands, as it is an inseparable part of the State of Israel."

The area of the Golan Heights—approximately 1,860 square kilometres of land—was seized by Israel during the 1967 war, and annexed to its territory in 1981.

On Jun. 8, Israeli transport minister Shaul Mofaz discussed the current state of affairs, saying, "In light of the tensions in the current period, and considering the fact that in the past the Syrians sent messages that they want peace, I thought, and I still think today, that a secret channel is one of the channels for checking intentions and expectations. Such an approach, in a secret channel, was done. This was said clearly by the prime minister’s office. At this stage, there is no Syrian response, or any comment on this issue."

On Jun. 19, Olmert clarified the situation, declaring, "The Syrian leader said that he is against any preconditions from the Israeli side, but he’s certainly for preconditions from the Syrian side. One of the preconditions is that he wants (U.S. president George W.) Bush to work more than he does already in regional issues, and to be the mediator. (...) And I don’t think, if someone wants to speak directly, he needs the involvement of America in order to allow these negotiations to take place."

Polling Data
Do you support starting diplomatic negotiations with Syria today?

Yes 62%

No 29%

Other 9%