Israeli-Syrian peace talks?
This is certainly dramatic news. Though many rumors spread in the last months on this issue, it is actually quite unexpected to get an official confirmation now on contacts between the two countries. It is especially remarkable when remembering that Israel obviously carried out a successful airstrike against Syrian nuclear facilities last September. This might show that Israel really considered the threat at the time to be very serious since this attack could have very well compromised any such sensitive talks.
Anyway, it may of course be naive to place any hope in such negotiations. But the very fact that they take place is remarkable and not at all comparable to the regular pro-forma meetings with the Palestinians. Compared to the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah clique, the Palestinians are a mere junior ennemy. Syria's stakes are however quite high and, considering its alliances and commitments, it will be very difficult to find a way to deal with Damascus. In any case, the price the parties would come to pay will be an expensive one.
Also, it would be quite ironic that these political steps should take place under such a weak and disappointing politician as Ehud Olmert. However, it seems that such talks have started back in 2004, i.e. while Ariel Sharon was in office. After his defeating of Palestinian terrorism and his withdrawal from Gaza, this would definitely make Ariel Sharon Israel's first hero in the 21st century.