Any politician in as desperate straits as Ehud Olmert can be counted on to do the wrong thing. Trying to avoid being despised as the worst prime minister in Israeli history, and lacking any light at the end of the Palestinian tunnel, Olmert is trying to pull off some kind of breakthrough with Syria.
There are many bad ways to do this, including continuing to tolerate Syria’s connections to Iran and coddling of Hamas. But possibly the worst would be by selling out Lebanon. Israel’s beleaguered neighbor to the north is a hodgepodge of pro- and anti-Western forces, and has struggled for decades to rid itself of Syria and its proxies. The only real hope for Lebanon not being swallowed wholly by Arab radicalism is for some way to be found to expunge both Syria and Hezbollah. Instead, there are signs that Israel is considering a deal that would do the opposite, accepting and recognizing Syria’s domination of the country. According to Haaretz, U.S. State Department officials recently sent a harsh warning to Israel against selling out Lebanon, and asking for Israeli guarantees on the matter. And the chief of staff of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Michael Herzog, recently said that “in the framework of a peace deal, Israel has to recognize Syria’s unique position in Lebanon.”
Let’s hope it’s just bluster.