Netanyahu: Golan pullout would put Iran on Israel's doorstep
Likud chairman accuses Olmert of using Syria talks to divert attention from probe, urges fresh elections.
Opposition leader and Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu warned Thursday that a withdrawal from the Golan Heights would put Israel on Iran's front lines.
Netanyahu convened the Likud for a special party session in Tel Aviv, in light of Syria's declaration that Israel has committed to pull out of the Golan Heights and return to the 1967 borders as part of its renewed negotiations for peace.
"Giving of the Golan Heights will turn the Golan into Iran's front lines which will threaten the whole state of Israel," Netanyahu told party members.
"If the words of Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem are correct, Mr. Olmert has committed to pull back from the Golan up to the shores of Lake Galilee, even before negotiations have begun. Indeed, this would mean unprecedented anarchy of politics and defense," he added.
"This irresponsibility can be added to the failed conduct of the Second Lebanon War, the failure to prevent Hezbollah's new and heightened rearmament, the failure to prevent Qassam fire on southern Israel. We must not let the Kadima government continue its chain of failures," he said.
On Wednesday night, hours after news of the renewed indirect negotiations broke, the Syrian foreign minister said Israel had committeed to return to its 1967 borders as part of peace negotiations.
Syrian Information Minister Muhsin Bilal then told Al Jazeera television on Thursday that Damascus had received guarantees from Israel via Turkey for a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights and rejected conditions put forth for concluding a peace deal.
In his address to Likud members, Netanyahu accused Olmert of using the renewed negotiations with Syria as a pretext for diverting attention from the criminal investigation in which is currently mired.
He called on party members and all government factions to demand fresh elections to replace Olmert.
"Today there is a wide agreement between left and right that the political process cannot serve as a refuge for politicians in crisis. The majority of the public understands that Olmert is up to his neck in these investigations," Netanyahu said.
"Olmert has no moral or public mandate to administrate fateful negotiations on the future of the State of Israel because there is a real concern that he would put his own personal survival over national interests," the opposition leader added.