PM: No deal with Syria on Golan

The "talk about retreating from the Golan Heights was a grave mistake."

sharon in disgust 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
sharon in disgust 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Monday reiterated that Israel would sign no peace agreement with Syria, regardless of the outcome. He added that "talk about retreating from the Golan Heights was a grave mistake." MK Yuval Steinitz quoted Sharon, who spoke to MKs of the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, as saying that no matter what Syria wanted, "I will not negotiate with Syria because I will never leave that area." Israel retreated slightly from its position on Hamas participation in the upcoming Palestinian Authority elections as Prime Sharon told the MKs that Israel would not interfere with elections, even if Hamas did run. However, the prime minister said that if Hamas were to contend, Israel would not assist in the elections, hinting that it would not lift military restrictions or open border crossings. Asi Shariv, Sharon's media advisor, attempted to clarify the prime minister's comments about the Hamas. He announced that Israel would not interfere with internal Palestinian affairs, but there would be no cooperation that could assist Hamas participation. Shariv added that there would be no joint Israeli-Palestinian committees if Hamas had a part in the Palestinian Authority government. Various MKs still seemed to interpret the prime minister's statements differently, despite Shariv's attempts. "Sharon said that the state of Israel will not help the PA to conduct such elections, but I believe that Israel should prevents such elections, which are such a clear violation of Oslo," said Steinitz. A senior intelligence officer at the Knesset meeting added to apprehensions about Hamas playing a political role in the PA, stating that the group was making tremendous efforts to transfer its technologies and means from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. The official Israeli stance on allowing Hamas to run in the elections has wavered back and forth; Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Israel would not interfere, but then Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom contradicted Mofaz, saying that Israel would not allow Hamas to take part in the PA elections.