The Syrian option isn’t here to stay

In the past five months since the Israel-Hizballah war ended, Syria has been sending signals. They declare that they are willing to negotiate with Israel towards a peace treaty.

Their declarations aren’t always too straightforward, and they do permit arms to cross their border and reach Hizballah in Lebanon. And, many analysts here in Israel suggest that Bashar Al-Asad is bluffing. This may be true, but what can we lose? A few months of non fruitful negotiations?

Our Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, voluntarilly said that one of the main reasons for not giving it chance is the American refusal. I was already frustrated in the past by our lack of independency, especially when it seems so obvious that it is against our interests. If not peace, at least some more constraints on Hizballah. Time has already been wasted for quite stupid reasons.

So why am writing this again? Well, things have seriously changed.

The US mid-term elections, held in November, showed the American discontent from the current foreign policy. Donald Rumsfeld is gone. The Baker Hamilton study group also suggested a serious change in US policy, also towards Syria. Israeli head of intelligence said Syria is serious with negotiations. A shift in policy? No.

Olmert, currently in the news because of new allegations of corruption, doesn’t want to move the spotlight from his dirty business to a peace initiative. With an approval rate of 14%, he sticks his good friend Bush, and wastes precious time. The “window of opportunity” doesn’t stay open forever.

A new war next summer?