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Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 15:44 UK

Little Mideast press optimism for Israel-Syria talks

Israeli tanks in the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967
Discussions on a land-for-peace deal over Golan Heights are possible

There is little optimism in the Mideast press on Thursday and Friday about peace talks between Israel and Syria.

Israeli commentators feel Prime Minister Olmert is trying to distract attention from his corruption investigation and that he is in too weak a position to reach a meaningful agreement. However, one paper feels he should try anyway.

Arab papers say Israel has entered the talks for show and that nothing will come of them. A Palestinian paper says Syria is also just papering over its domestic problems.


ISRAEL

YOSSI VERTER IN HA'ARETZ

It does not matter what Olmert does in the months he has left in office - brings peace, finds oil, blows up the Iranian reactor, or takes out Nasrallah - everything will be considered spin... What will come first - an indictment or a peace treaty?

SHALOM YERUSHALMI IN MA'ARIV

A prime minister with 10% support suspected of bribe-taking cannot contend with so many tasks that are much easier than the evacuation of the Golan Heights... To avoid disappointment, it is not worth nurturing hope.

YAEL PAZ MELAMED IN MA'ARIV

Olmert cannot put us on a course to serious negotiations, perhaps even an agreement, not in his current situation... The grave suspicions, the investigations and cross-investigations turn the prime minister into a political corpse.

SEVER PLUTZKER IN YEDIOT AHARONOT

I am ready to return much territory in return for much peace, but by whom and to whom? By Ehud Olmert to Assad junior? You make me cry laughing... These two lame ducks will not make peace.

DAVID HOROVITZ IN JERUSALEM POST

Snap opinion polls confirm the extent of public misgivings... exacerbated by the utter distrust in Olmert... and show overwhelming opposition to ceding Golan... An unlikely journey to Jerusalem by Bashar Assad would seem necessary, to convince the Israeli public that a new era of reconciliation could be dawning.

HA'ARETZ

Whatever Olmert's motives, historic opportunities should not be wasted... As long as Olmert is serving in his position, it is incumbent on him to do everything possible to promote peace, and it is incumbent on the public to urge him on.


ARABIC

ATA-AL-LAH MANSUR IN PALESTINIAN AL-QUDS

The fact that Damascus embarked on this adventure shows that it is close to desperation... It is an attempt to find a way out of the country's predicament because the leaders in Damascus cannot really expect Olmert to give them back the Golan Heights without receiving something in return.

EGYPT'S AL-JUMHURIYAH

It is high time the Arabs regained consciousness, realised the reality of the so-called the peace process on different 'tracks'. They must close ranks and discard their differences, because past experience has proved that partial peace is illusion incarnate.

QATAR'S AL-WATAN

There are many reasons to believe that the talks will end in failure... We do not believe the Americans when they say that they give priority to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. We also do not believe the Israelis when they say they are ready to withdraw from the Golan Heights. We feel there is a return to the game of [peace] 'tracks'.

AL-QUDS AL-ARABI

Israel has begun imposing its premature 'impossible' conditions even before the start of direct negotiations... We do not believe Syria can pay the exorbitant price Israel is asking

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.



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