Olmert and Netanyahu quibble over Golan Heights issue

PM: "Netanyahu is not the right person to teach the gov't about responsibility;" Opposition leader: "Olmert is behaving like an amateur."

The offices of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu flung accusations back and forth Sunday, following reports of the verity of the government's offer to give up the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria. Responding to these reports, Netanyahu attacked the prime minister, saying he was "very surprised that the prime minister has agreed to give up all of the Golan Heights in this hasty manner, before negotiations have even begun." He asserted that "the Golan Heights must stay in Israeli hands else we will have Iran on Israel's northern border." The Likud chairman also said the prime minister is "behaving like an amateur." In response, sources from the Prime Minister's Office said that "Netanyahu is not the right person to teach the Israeli government about responsibility and discretion." Referring to Netanyahu's failed attempts at making peace with Syria during his term as prime minister in the late nineties, the Prime Minister's Office retorted: "To refresh Netanyahu's memory, it was he who sent Assad an American businessman in order to give up the Golan Heights." "Even before the negotiations began, Netanyahu also gave up the city of Hebron, as well as large parts of Judea and Samaria," the statement continued. Going on to defend Olmert, his office stated that "the prime minister will persist in trying to achieve peace, and will do so in a reasonable and responsible manner, taking a stance that will ensure Israel's security." Netanyahu's office hastened to respond to these claims. "In absolute opposition to Olmert's attempts to deceive the public, Netanyahu insisted on staying in the Golan Heights, and for this reason the talks broke down," the office replied. "It is ridiculous to hear the preaching coming from Olmert, the serial conceder, who's one-sided concessions are threatening Israel's security," the statement continued. In contrast to Olmert, according to sources in Netanyahu's office, "Netanyahu stood for security, for lowering terror levels, and for returning security to the citizens of Israel."