In a move that is sure to embarrass Ehud Olmert, the Knesset has invited the Syrian representative to recent secret Syria-Israel talks to address the body:
Dr. Ibrahim Suleiman, the man who represented Syria during the secret unofficial discussions held under the auspices of the Swiss government, has agreed to appear before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Suleiman, an American of Syrian descent, informed his Israeli counterpart in the talks in Switzerland, Dr. Alon Liel, of his decision to appear before to the Knesset committee. Liel, in turn, told the Meretz faction chairman, MK Zahava Gal-On, who initiated the invitation.
Both the committee’s chairman, MK Tzahi Hanegbi, and Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik agreed to the unusual decision of officially inviting a foreign national who has represented the positions of an Arab country that is still in a state of war with Israel.
The reason this has to be embarrassing to Olmert is that Alon Liel, the Israeli representative, met with Olmert’s staff and told them a Syria deal could be in the offing if Olmert would upgrade the talks by making them official. The latter refused and the talks died.
I don’t know how such invitations are made in terms of Knesset procedure, but I’m surprised that the Kadima Knesset faction would allow Suleiman to be invited. That being said, this is a very positive development and shows that some in the Knesset do not want the Syria-Israel negotiating track to die. Now that even the U.S. has announced a readiness to engage Syria, perhaps Olmert can get over his timidness and embrace the idea himself (despite the fact that Condi has expressly forbidden it).