Say what? Now, we’ve got to credit the fact that any politician can say something boneheaded on any given day considering how much bloviating they have to do. But Ehud Olmert achieved a truly Alice in Wonderland moment in this Haaretz story quoting his views on the potential for peace negotiations with Syria:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that he respects Syrian President Bashar Assad and is ready, given the right conditions, to launch peace talks with Damascus.
“I have a lot of respect for the Syrian leader and for Syria’s conduct. They have internal problems, but we have no reason to rule out dialogue with Syria,” Olmert said in a briefing for Russian-language media outlets in Israel.
“As I’ve said in the past, we want to make peace with everyone,” Olmert continued. “If the conditions ripen, we are ready to make peace with Syria, with no preconditions and no ultimate demands.”
At the risk of stating the obvious, if you are willing to negotiate without conditions, why would you need the right conditions in order to negotiate?? Methinks Mr. Olmert has just revealed the utter insincerity of his position.
Another interesting part of the story notes that unnamed Israeli academics told a U.S. official that Syria wishes to be invited to the regional peace conference and would be willing to modify its behavior to get an invitation. The answer: No deal:
The Israelis told the official that Syria was interested in attending the conference and was willing to meet American demands that it offer less support for Hamas and Hezbollah as part of a comprehensive peace deal with Israel.
The academics believe that Damascus’ continued diplomatic isolation could lead Syria to impede or ruin negotiations. They quote the official as saying that Syria “is allied to Iran strategically,” and “engaged in helping kill Americans in Iraq, helping the worst Palestinian terrorist forces, desperate to reassert its rule over Lebanon, and sponsoring not simply anti-Zionist but the most barbaric anti-Semitic views.”
According to the group of academics – who wish to remain anonymous – the high-ranking American official went on to say that Syria was intransigent in its approach, and would not comprehensively change its ways so as to participate in the peace process.
I italicized that comment about being intransigent just to emphasize precisely which side was being “intransigent.” The side that says it wants to attend a peace conference and is willing to mend its ways in order to get there? Or the side that refuses to allow Israel to negotiate with Syria and refuses to entertain the notion that a major Mideast power and key to Israeli-Arab peace should be invited to a peace conference called to advance precisely that purpose.
Can we conjecture who the anonymous U.S. official was? Do I hear Elliot Abrams? Bingo. Gotta be. Only someone like him or one of the Cheney crowd would speak in such rigid ideological terms.