CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - With Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert facing the most serious of a long string of criminal investigations, his office announced Wednesday that Israel and Syria have been holding direct negotiations mediated by Turkey.
"Israel and Syria have begun indirect peace talks with the Syrians, under the auspices of Turkey," read a statement from the prime minister's office. "The two sides have declared their intentions to conduct the negotiations in good faith and with openness."
With Olmert's popularity at an all time low, the political right saw the announcement as a ploy to divert attention from the Israel Police National Fraud Unit investigation against him.
"Olmert has proven that he is willing to sell off anything, including the safety of the State of Israel, in order to take the public's mind off the criminal actions he is suspected of," Likud member of Knesset Gilad Erdan told YNet news.
Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar drew the same conclusions.
"Olmert's calculated cynicism when he's gambling Israel's strategic assets for his own political survival knows no bounds," Sa'ar said. "He has no mandate to make any concessions on the Golan Heights," he said.
"The launching of negotiations with Syria prove that the prime minister's investigations have reached a very advanced stage," MK Nissan Slomiansky (National Union/National Religious Party) said.
MK Zevulun Orlev, chairman of NU/NRP, said the link between Olmert's political woes and Wednesday's announcement is undeniable.
"Olmert is trying to save his skin at the Golan's expense, due to the heavy bribery suspicions, while critically hurting the State's security," he said.
"The Syrians and Americans must know that the Israeli prime minister has no moral authority to stay in office and has no legitimization to negotiate the Golan. Any agreement with him has no chance of being approved by the Knesset," he said.
Labor MK Danny Yatom agreed.
"The publication of the negotiations has a clear purpose, aimed at covering up the prime minister's investigations," Yatom said.
"By spreading the new spin on imaginary peace talks with Syria, the prime minister is trying to cynically fool decent, peace-seeking citizens," said MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor). "His only aim is to divert the attention from his cash envelopes," she said.
Sources: YNet news, The Jerusalem Post