December 28, 2006

Whisper of Peace

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From AP: Israel ready for any 'whisper of peace'.

In an apparent gesture to Syria, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday he is open to "any whisper of peace" from Israel's enemies.

Syria has recently signaled it would like to reopen peace talks with Israel, which broke down seven years ago. Olmert has rejected the offers, citing Syria's support for anti-Israel militant groups in Lebanon and the Palestinian areas.

In a speech to graduates of an air force pilot's course, Olmert indicated he is softening his opposition.

"The state of Israel is open to any whisper of peace from our neighbors and across our borders," he said.

This is another in a series of recent capitulations by Olmert. As Charles Johnson put it, the Olmert cave-in is nearly complete. There's not much left, short of giving Ahmadinejad some GPS coordinates as a good-faith measure.

From Reuters: Olmert suggests Palestinian prisoner release.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert suggested on Sunday he could release some Palestinian prisoners this week, even though Gaza militants have yet to free a captured Israeli soldier. ...

Israel has also recently hinted at more flexibility over the release of Palestinians responsible for violence against Jews -- those who it says have "blood on their hands."

From AP: Israel to remove West Bank roadblocks.

Israel agreed Monday to remove some of the military roadblocks that have hindered Palestinian travel in the West Bank, one of several gestures aimed at boosting moderate President Mahmoud Abbas in his bitter struggle with the militant Islamic Hamas.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert approved streamlining checkpoints and removing roadblocks "to strengthen moderate (Palestinian) elements," according to a statement from his office. Olmert has already offered $100 million in frozen tax income to Abbas and indicated he might release some Palestinian prisoners. ...

Removing roadblocks has also stirred opposition. Only a fraction of the more than 400 permanent barriers in the West Bank would be taken down, but the Israeli army commander in the West Bank, Brig. Gen. Yair Naveh, warned in a closed meeting that even that would aid Palestinian militants in attacking Israelis, according to security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private.

UPDATE -- Dec. 29: A welcome reversal on the prison exchange issue ... for now. AP reports: Israel won't free Palestinian prisoners. (via LGF)

Israel rejected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' request for a quick release of prisoners to bolster nascent peace moves, saying Friday that Palestinian militants must first free a captured Israeli soldier.

The decision was a setback for the moderate Palestinian leader as he jockeyed with the radical Islamic Hamas group for popular support in the increasingly turbulent West Bank and Gaza. Abbas had hoped Israeli concessions would strengthen his argument that talks not violence are the Palestinians' best hope for achieving a state.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, himself fighting low approval ratings, has sought in recent weeks to re-energize his government with a push to revive long-stalled peace efforts with the Palestinians.

The Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported Friday that Olmert was prepared to hold back-channel talks to resolve the intractable disputes that derailed previous peace efforts, including the final borders of a Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees. Olmert spokeswoman Miri Eisin declined to comment on the report.

Posted by Forkum at December 28, 2006 04:31 PM
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