Former Mossad chief Danny Yatom writes in Haaretz that it is very foolish of PM Olmert to declare Israel will never return the Golan to Syria. He argues that just as Golda Meir refused Sadat's offer of peace in 1972 resulting in the unnecessary war with Egypt the following year, so Olmert's dismissal of Bashar al-Assad's overtures could result in a disasterous confrontation with Syria now.
Perhaps the important reason holding Olmert back is not the strategic nature of the Golan but rather its electoral value. There are 20,000 Israeli settlers living on the Golan Heights - most of them moderate Labour supporters, very different to the more zealous settlers of the West Bank. Would returning the Golan be simply a vote loser?
The article states that the US position on Syria takes its lead from Israel. If Israel accepts to deal, so will the US, and the benefits will far outweigh the risks.