Negotiating the Heights



The news that Israel is again negotiating with Syria via a Turkish mediator with the goal of achieving a peace treaty with its longtime antagonist set off a predictable noisy debate in Israel and elsewhere.

While proponents of trading the Golan Heights for an offer of peace with Syria are happy about the renewed contacts, opponents are dismayed about the possible surrender of the strategic plateau to a Syrian regime that is allied with both Iran and the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. And the fact that the diplomatic initiative was announced just as the latest corruption scandal involving Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was heating up has increased the level of cynicism about the move.

Many American Jews have been quick to speak up about all of this with opinions divided along the usual left/right lines. Given the stakes involved, this debate is appropriate. But, as is always the case whenever Israel's government considers such a plan, it is vital that Diaspora Jewry not confuse its role with that of Israeli voters.

While it is possible for any friend of Israel to have an informed opinion on security matters, the ultimate arbiter of any such issue must be left to those whom the voters of Israel have entrusted with that responsibility. Israeli leaders may be as fallible as any American, but as it has always been asserted whenever foreign pressure on the Jewish state is used, their democratically elected government has the sole right to make their own decisions.

In the end, this initiative may prove to be as much of a dead-end as every other attempt to make peace with Syria. Olmert's scandals may also soon force a change in government. But either way, Israel has but one government at a time. And as long as it commands a majority in the Knesset, this one deserves the same degree of deference from the Diaspora as its predecessors.


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