Tag Archives: Golan Heights

Why Does Israel Ignore Obama Outreach?

Gabi Sheffer, writing in Haaretz, raises the question as to why the Israel government has refused to accept any ideas from the United States regarding dealing with its conflict with Palestinians. He states bluntly, “the disrespect toward him and his administration is unwarranted, there is no doubt that it is connected to Obama’s ethnic background.” Strong words and they certainly raise questions about why the obstinate refusal to consider what the current American administration is proposing in terms of peace. Sheffer points out what most Israelis today refuse to acknowledge–“Democrats such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton achieved remarkable accomplishments-brokering peace with Egypt and Jordan.” The newspaper correspondent wonders if the deliberate refusal of the Netnayahu government to evaluate any compromise solution has led to a dramatic drop in interest on the part of the US regarding the current impasse in the Middle East.

One can only wonder if the Netanyahu administration has missed an important opening for peace because of its hostility to interact with honesty and openness to the Obama presidency. Israel should be picking up on recent American efforts to interact with Syria and use that opening as a way of dealing with the problem of the Golan Heights. What exactly does Israel seek in terms of peace other than a peace on its own terms?

Is Syria Seeking A New Direction?

After many years of being isolated from the world due to Bush hostility and the ongoing war in Iraq which many American leaders said was partially the result of Syrian aiding forces of insurgency, there is a new sense within the nation of opportunities to enter the broader world of non-violent relations. Turkey has assumed a proactive role in assisting Syria to become engaged in discussions with Israel and its young people want something more than being linked with terrorism. The real question is whether Israel’s new government led by Benjamin Netanyahu is prepared to give up the Golan Heights as part of an agreement to end the long war between the two nations.

Syria can play a vital role in fostering peace in the Middle East because persuading it to cease aiding Hezbollah and Hamas will help end financial support for those groups. It can assist the Iraqi government by ensuring its border is closed to militants headed for Iraq. Syria has excellent relations with Iran and it could be an ally in efforts to reach an agreement with the Iranian government.

Of course, much depends on the desire of the new Israel government to trade land for peace.

Syria Ready To Negotiate With Israel On Golan

Syria has told western officials it is prepared to discuss with Israel the resolution of their conflict over the Golan Heights but first wants to be clear as to exactly what piece of geography constitutes the area being discussed. President Bashar al-Assad will not enter into direct negotiations until both sides have clarified what is the area that constitutes the Golan Heights. Israel captured the plateau during the Six Day war in 1967 and then annexed the area ten years later despite being reprimanded by the UN Security Council. Assad’s father refused to sign any agreement that did not include the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, a main water reservoir.

There are two issues in conflict– the actual geographical entity that is known as the Golan Heights and the desire of Israel to receive assurances from Syria that it will cease funding terrorism in Gaza and Lebanon and to end its close ties with Iran. The issues in the past were geographical, but now they include political ones. Syria has to decide if it wants the return of the Golan Heights and what is it willing to give in exchange?

Israel Wants Syria To Cut Ties With Terrorism

President Shimon Peres bluntly told the Syrian government it could not have peace with Israel and the return of the Golan Heights so long as it continues being friends with Iran and funding terrorist groups like Hizbullah and Hamas. Peres said his nation could not tolerate an Iranian presence on its border, particularly one in which terrorist groups are being supplied with arms that will be used against Israel forces. As of this point, Syria has yet to give any indication it is willing to pay the price of the return of the Golan Heights in exchange for cutting ties with terrorists. British Foreign Secretary Dvi Miliband urged Syria to engage in dialogue with Israel and to re-evaluate its connections to Iran and Hizbullah and Hamas.

Perhaps, this situation could best be handled by having a Middle East summit at which all parties, terrorist or not, come together to work out a compromise. Turkey is the logical mediator in such a conference.

Bush Pushes Syria For Golan Deal

A Kuwait newspaper, al-Jareida, reported that President Bush gave Palestinian President Abbas a handwritten note to deliver to Bashar Assad, the leader of Syria, in which he offered to push Israel to surrender control of the Golan Heights in exchange for Syria cutting its ties with Iran. Bush apparently wants to achieve some aspect of his Middle Eastern policy prior to the November election in the United States. One can assume Bush believes American Jews will forget the disaster brought to American because Syria is willing to make peace with Israel and the Gold Heights will be evacuated. On what planet does Bush live?

President Abbas made his latest visit to Syria in order to pass on the Bush letter. It is still unclear if Bush had the agreement of the Israel government prior to sending notes to Syrian President Assad about what Israel should do. Then again, one never knows what goes on in the mind of George Bush

Syrian-Israel Talks Continue

Three days of indirect peace talks betwen Syria and Israel which are being conducted under auspices of Turkey have apparently led to a sense of satisfaction on the part of both sides. Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan noted: “Both sides were satisfied that the talks-which went on for three days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Istanbul –resulted in findng a common ground.” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem claimed his nation had received firm commitments on the part of Israel for a fulll withdrawal from the occupied Golan Heights. Israel Pime Minister Ehud Olmert said his nation was “ready to make substantial concessions to Syria that will be quite painful.” Babacan refused to comment on the specific areas of agreement except to say”the basic philosophy is peace for land and land for peace.”

President Bush insists talking with nations that have engaged in or supported terrorism is an example of appeasement. Syria certainly fits the category of being a terrorist nation but appearently when Israel talks with terrorist nations it is not appeasement, according to the Bush version of the world, but simply an exercise in common sense. If the same sense of practicality could now be applied to initating discussions with Hamas and Hizbullah the Middle East might move onto the roadway of peace and reality.

Israel and Syria Agree On Golan Withdrawal

President George Bush, in his speech to the Knesset, warned of dangers posed by engaging in discussions with nations or groups which are in the forefront of terrorism and derided Democratic rivals who wanted such discusisons as believers in appeasement. A week after his pep talk to Israel, the government of Ehud Olmert acknowledged it has been involved in discussions with Syria, a state long identified as one supporting terrorism, and the two have agreed on an Israel withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moliem, told the press: “We have received commitments for a withdrawal from the Golan to the June 4, 1967 line.” The Olmert government said ‘Israel and Syria have begun indirect talks with the Syrians, under the auspices of Turkey. The two sides have declared their intention to conduct the negotiations in good faith and with openess.”

President Bush, who opposes negotiations with terrorist regimes like Syria and Iran, is now claiming he doesn’t oppose Israel negotiating with Syria, but he will not allow his administration to negotiate with Syria. The Omert government will use these discussions in order to persuade Syria to end military support for Hamas and Hizbullah. This issue, undoubtedly, will be the central one in any compromise agreement. Of course, one might suggest the possibility of involving Hamas and Hizbullah in discussions with Syria in order to create a regional peace agreement. But, that would be appeasement and we know how George Bush doesn’t believe in appeasing agressors. He only believes in discussions with terorrist nations if they fit into his definition as to what constitutes appeasement.

Hopefully, future historians will be able to make sense of the Bush program of discussions with terrorist nations.

Is Israel Seeking Peace Treaty With Syria?

It has become a byproduct of the Israel-Palestinian conflict for reports to circulate every few months about a seceret Israel initiative to Syria. an Israel government official, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, hinted his nation might be planing to hold secret talks with Syria in an effort to end their long standing dispute over the Golan Heights. “All efforts are bing made to bring Syria to the ngotiating table,” he noted, “to sign a peace treaty.” Prime Minister Olmert has told German diplomats he is ready to negotiate with Syria provided as part of the talks, Syrian gives a commitment to cease providing aid to Hizbullah and Hamas.

These supposed talks have been on and off again for nearly twenty years and in each case, rumors of a get together began with hints of “sceret discussions.” Perhaps, it is time to cease having “secret rumor talks” and openly announce Israel’s intention to enter negotiations with Syria. It might even be interesting to include Hamas and Hizbullah representatives at such a meeting in order to get all sides together that are impacted by any peace treaty.

Syria Interested In Israel Discussions

The government of Syria has indicated its willingness to hold talks with Israel as long as such discusisons do not interfere with current Israel interactions with the Abbas Palestinian Authority. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mosilem emphasized his nation’s desire to explore all possible alternatives and indicated it would attend a conference in Moscow that would deal with Middle Eastern issues, particularly since the Golan Heights will be discussed. However, Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, he did not believe another conference was necessary and he was continuing his own talks with Abbas. Lavrov was told by President Shimon Peres that Syria continued sending arms to Hamas and the Russian promised to explore that issue.

Former Israel Justice Minister Dan Merdor urged his government to investigate any possiblities with the Syrian government about issues between the two nations. He believes Syria feels isolated and is ready to negotiate to get resolution on some of its issues with Israel. He emphasized talks might help break the axis now existing between Syria and Iran.

An ongoing problem in the Middle East is lack of a coherent plan to deal with such varied issues as Hamas, Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Gaza or Egypt. Political oppportunists like John McCain make dramatic dramatic statements and fly away to talk to someone else another day. There is no “roadmap” other than vague rhetorical utterances.

Egyptian President Mubarak Offers Mediation To Israel-Syria

Egypt’s President Mubarak told visiting Israel Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak of his willingness to assume the role of mediator in the dispute between Israel and Syria over the Golan Heights according to a report from the United Arab Emirates’ newspaper, Al-Bayan. Under the proposed Mubarak plan, Israel forces would withdraw from the Golan Heights over a 10-15 year period and when they have departed a force comprising soldiers from Russia, the US and Egypt would assume the role of ensuring there was no violence. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Olmert told visiting US Senator Arnold Spector who was headed to Damascus of his own desire to begin negotiating with Syria over outstanding disputes.

The Mubarak offer is fair and can be implemented without any difficulties. It also guarantees Israel security from any future outbreak of violence. This writer would prefer that American forces not be involved in any Middle Eastern compromise and they be replaced by soldiers from Turkey which has excellent relations with Israel. There is no need at this point in time to get American soldiers involved in any Middle Eastern problem.