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Science, Sport and Culture Minister Ghaleb Majadele (Labor) yesterday asked Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to send him to Damascus as a goodwill emissary.

Majadele told Haaretz that he had urged Olmert to respond favorably to Assad's calls for peace in his speech Tuesday to the Syrian parliament.

He also asked Olmert to declare his government's willingness to "make significant and painful territorial concessions, as the late Yitzhak Rabin proposed, for the sake of a diplomatic arrangement that would lead to relations with Syria and to peace and stability in the entire region."

According to Majadele, "the Syrian president's speech obligates Israel to respond clearly according to the principle established by Rabin, that the extent of withdrawal would conform to the extent of peace."

Majadele added that "the price of war is always higher than the price of peace - as high as that can be." The minister also said that alongside painful territorial concessions, "which would give hope to the Syrian people, the security of the State of Israel must be ensured."

Majadele said he believes talks with the Syrians, and even more so a diplomatic arrangement with it, would have a positive impact on the Palestinian, Lebanese and Arab channels in general.