Former MI officer: Israel must sit down for talks with Syria
Survey: 57% of Israelis support negotiations with Syria but 54% say they don't want Golan pullout.
Former senior Military Intelligence officer Dr. Yossi Ben Ari said this week he believes Israel should try to reach a rapid peace agreement with Syria.
Ben Ari argues that Syrian president Bashar Assad and the Syrian military exploited the war in Lebanon to draw the conclusion that rocket and missile arsenals are the most important component in a conflict with Israel.
"If war breaks out, the sides will come to the negotiating table at the end, where they can already sit now," he said.
Ben Ari will speak about his conclusions at a conference Sunday, when the complete results of a Market Watch poll on Israeli opinion about talks with Syria will also be released.
Partial survey results released Wednesday indicate that more than half of Israelis would like to see Israel engage in negotiations with Syria, but are unprepared to withdraw from the Golan Heights as a price for peace.
Fifty-seven percent of 499 respondents said they supported negotiations, while 54 percent said they could not agree to a Golan withdrawal. Fifty-nine percent said they feared another war would break out in the north unless talks were held.
Seventy percent of respondents agree with the assertion that Israel cannot handle holding negotiations with both Syria and the Palestinians at the same time. Fifty-eight percent said they would prefer Israel begin talks with Palestinians before moving on to the Syrian front, according to the poll, which was conducted by Dr. Avinoam Brog.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has called on Israel numerous times to renew negotiations, but has simultaneously hinted that Syria would be willing to take military steps if talks did not succeed. Syria seeks the return of the Golan Heights, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967. But peace talks between the two countries broke down in 2000.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has rejected the Syrian president's invitations for negotiations. The official Israeli position is that Syria must cease support of Palestinian terror organizations and Hezbollah guerillas before renewed negotiations can be considered.