We learned last August that in September 2004, Dubya directly undermined attempts to forge peace between Israel and Syria.
In January, we learned that despite Bush's attempts, secret negotiations between Israel and Syria occurred anyway, between Sept. 2004 and July 2006. The outlines of a peace agreement were formed, but Israel would not agree to upgrade the status of the talks from unofficial to official -- presumably because Bush was still lurking over its shoulder.
Today in Ha'aretz, we learn that Israel is continuing to explore possible common ground in Syria, but Bush continues to lurk and meddle:
Some of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's advisors are concerned that an initiative to renew peace talks with Syria might undermine Israel's relations with the United States.
The Bush administration is not keen on reviving the Syrian track, as it considers Bashar Assad's regime problematic and harmful to regional stability.
However, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi strongly supports renewed talks with Syria, with the goal of distancing Damascus from its alliance with Iran and contributing to a new regional order in which Syria would forge closer relations with moderate Arab states.
A government source said on Monday that resuming negotiations with Syria is not on the agenda for a scheduled meeting between Olmert and U.S. President George Bush in Washington in two weeks.
In closed sessions, Olmert said recently that the Bush administration "has never told us officially not to talk with the Syrians." Senior officials who participated in the discussions therefore concluded that Olmert is holding secret talks with Damascus.
It would appear, based on the past history, that Bush doesn't care about "secret" talks, because he can lean on Israel to prevent them from becoming official talks that produce concrete results -- results that would thwart neocon plans for more "regime change."
And it's clear from the Ha'aretz report that Israeil officials are flinching from overtly pursuing peace, not because of the prospects of negotiations, but because of negative pressure from the White House.
As noted here before, if Dems want to build a reputation for being "serious" on foreign policy, they need to call attention to stories like this, show how the current conservative foreign policy is actively preventing peace, stability and freedom, and explain how a change in foreign policy objectives would move us forward.