WND’s Aaron Klein is reporting that deflecting public opinion away from the Olmert investigations is not the only reason for the seemingly accelerated negotiations with the Palestinians and Syrians. Top Israeli diplomats have told Klein that the Israeli government is afraid that Barack Obama will be the next president and they know that as President Obama will force them into suicidal concessions:

Israel ‘expects’ Obama to win
Looks to create defensible borders before pressured into concessions
Israeli government estimates Sen. Barack Obama will win the presidential elections and is rushing to finalize a deal with the Palestinians and possibly Syria before President Bush leaves office, two top Israeli diplomats told WND.

The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel is seeking to create “defensible borders” within months, fearing if territorial negotiations were held during an Obama administration, Israel would be pressured into more dangerous concessions.

“Israel must ensure defensible borders before Obama is elected,” said one Israeli diplomat. “The [Israeli] leadership is motivated by many factors but one of them is a drive to conclude a deal for a Palestinian state and talks with Syria before the likely event of an Obama administration.”

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The other diplomat said Jerusalem is concerned by what he called Obama’s “questionable” support of Israel:

“Look, there’s no doubt [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert is rushing into talks with Syria and looking to create a Palestinian state, at least on paper, by January due to the criminal probe against him. But it is understood Israel will get a better deal and can ensure its security better with Bush in office instead of Obama. [Obama’s] support of Israel is questionable. We fear he is unfriendly,” said the diplomat.Olmert’s government has been holding intense negotiations with the Palestinians the past few months following last November’s U.S.-sponsored Annapolis summit which seeks to create a Palestinian state by the end of the year. It is widely assumed Israel will attempt to hand the Palestinians most of the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem in any deal.

Also last week, both the Syrian government and Olmert’s office announced Israel and Syria are holding indirect talks about a deal in which Israel would be expected to evacuate the Golan Heights, which looks down on Israeli population centers and was twice used by Syria to mount ground invasions into the Jewish state.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem claimed Olmert agreed to withdraw from the entire Golan in advance of the indirect talks, while Olmert’s office would only say it is in negotiations with Syria but would not comment on any preconditions or advance offers.

It is widely believed here Olmert is engaging in talks with Syria due to his implication in what is being described as a very serious criminal investigation.

Politicians from across the political spectrum – including member’s of Olmert’s own Kadima party and other leftist Knesset members who support talks with Syria – have been quoted by the Israeli media in recent days tying the Syria talks to the investigation of Olmert.

Last week, a poll conducted by Israel’s Channel 2 found 57 percent of Israelis believe the timing of the negotiations with Syria is linked to the corruption case against Olmert. Fifty-eight percent of those polled reportedly said Israel’s leader did not have the legitimacy to negotiate with Syria.

Olmert has said he would resign if he is indicted in the probe, which focuses on alleged bribes he took in exchange for political favors.

The Israeli diplomats speaking to WND today agreed with the estimation Olmert is in dialogue with Syria because of the criminal investigation, but they said another major factor was the prospect of an Obama’s presidency.

“Putting Syria aside, Bush is seen as the best chance for Israel to get a deal with the Palestinians that would have better security guarantees,” said one diplomat. “Frankly, we don’t think Obama will favor Israeli security needs as much.”

Asked how an Israeli evacuation of the West Bank or Jerusalem neighborhoods under any circumstances would advance Israel’s security, the diplomat replied: “We are talking about whether Israel would retain certain settlement blocks and other security guarantees, like some sort of Israeli monitoring mechanism in Palestinian areas. Also, U.S. security guarantees.