President George Bush, in his speech to the Knesset, warned of dangers posed by engaging in discussions with nations or groups which are in the forefront of terrorism and derided Democratic rivals who wanted such discusisons as believers in appeasement. A week after his pep talk to Israel, the government of Ehud Olmert acknowledged it has been involved in discussions with Syria, a state long identified as one supporting terrorism, and the two have agreed on an Israel withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moliem, told the press: “We have received commitments for a withdrawal from the Golan to the June 4, 1967 line.” The Olmert government said ‘Israel and Syria have begun indirect talks with the Syrians, under the auspices of Turkey. The two sides have declared their intention to conduct the negotiations in good faith and with openess.”
President Bush, who opposes negotiations with terrorist regimes like Syria and Iran, is now claiming he doesn’t oppose Israel negotiating with Syria, but he will not allow his administration to negotiate with Syria. The Omert government will use these discussions in order to persuade Syria to end military support for Hamas and Hizbullah. This issue, undoubtedly, will be the central one in any compromise agreement. Of course, one might suggest the possibility of involving Hamas and Hizbullah in discussions with Syria in order to create a regional peace agreement. But, that would be appeasement and we know how George Bush doesn’t believe in appeasing agressors. He only believes in discussions with terorrist nations if they fit into his definition as to what constitutes appeasement.
Hopefully, future historians will be able to make sense of the Bush program of discussions with terrorist nations.