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NO ISRAELI ATTACK ON SYRIA

Prime Minister Olmert: 'I Have No Knowledge Of U.S. Military Operation Against Iran'

'Israel Has No Intention Of Attacking Syria'

'Latest Palestinian Prisoner List Is Disappointing'

PM Ehud Olmert

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has denied foreign reports that Israel will attack Syria during a U.S. military operation against Iran's nuclear facilities this summer. Briefing the Knesset's Foreign Affairs & & Defense Committee, the Israeli leader said there was no truth to the rumors - Israel had no intention of attacking Syria.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tried to ease mounting tension with Syria. today. Olmert declared: 'Israel has no intention of attacking Syria'. There have foreign reports that Israel would launch such an operation this summer during an American strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. Israeli military sources had warned that the Syrians have been beefing up their forces on the Golan Heights, apparently in advance of an Israeli offensive. Olmert warned there was a danger of a 'miscalculation' that could lead to a war between the two countries. He was taking every opportunity to clarify that Israel had no hostile attentions. At the same time, the IDF was taking its own defensive measures in case of Syrian attack. After visiting Damascus, a senior Russian official recently visited Israel warning of such a miscalculation. 

Olmert went to say he had no knowledge of an American attack on Iran. He said: 'The U.S. has not coordinated such an operation with us and we are not partners to any such plan'.

As for Syrian President Bashar Assad's peace overtures, Olmert said that three Israeli governments had contacts with Damascus  but they had all fell through. And he noted that Assad has again said that Israel must accept a total withdrawal from the Golan Heights as a condition for negotiations. This was unacceptable and conditions needed to ripen before engaging Syria. Syrian gunners continually shelled Israeli towns and villages in the Hula Valley before before IDF troops stormed the heights and silenced the Syrian guns in the Six-Day War of 1967. Syria hosts the Palestinian terror organizations including Hamas. Iranian rockets also pour through Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Syrians also arm and sponsor Hezbollah. 

Today Olmert indicated that the time is not ripe for peace talks with Syria - Assad has warned of war in the absence of peace talks. 

Palestinians: the good news is the terrorists have been firing fewer rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip. But Olmert could not guarantee how long this would continue. On the other hand, the Palestinian prisoner list was disappointing and unacceptable to Israel.

So, there is still no end in sight on a prisoner exchange to bring IDF soldier Gilad Shalit back home. 

What may be in the offing is a peace parley in Europe. An Arab quartet of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco may participate with Israel and the Palestinians and several European states. Olmert said he favored moves to build positive momentum to encourage direct peace talks with the  Palestinians. One sign of the thaw with the moderate Arab world is a Knesset delegation that is due to visit Jordan. 

David Essing

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