Latest News Syria: Israel is an obstacle to Peace


November 2, 2010

‘IDF intelligence chief: Israel’s next war will see heavy casualties’

‘Syria is a military obstacle’…

In farewell meeting at the Knesset, Gen. Amos Yadlin says next conflict will hit Israel far harder than recent wars in Lebanon and Gaza – and hints for first the time at Israeli involvement in a 2007 strike on a nuclear plant in Syria…

In a final meeting at the Knesset, outgoing Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin warned on Tuesday that Israel’s next war would be fought on several fronts – causing far heavier damage and casualties than other recent conflicts. A new war would be far deadlier than Israel’s last two, relatively short, conflicts in Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008-9. Syria, particularly, posed a greated military obstacle to Israel than at any time in the past three decades, Yadlin said, having amassed advanced Russian-built antiaircraft missiles that seriously limited the operational freedom of the Israel Air Force. Yadlin also hinted at Israel’s involvement in attacking a Syrian nuclear facility in September 2007. That strike has been widely attributed to Israel, but the government has never officially taken responsibility for the operation. The veteran soldier, who turns 60 next year, told the committee that during his position as MI chief he had contended with two enemy nuclear programs – apparently a reference to Iran and Syria. Yadlin also warned of a growing threat from the Iranian nuclear program, saying Iran now had enough highly enriched uranium to build a bomb.



May 6, 2013 – May 21, 2013

Israel’s bombings

May 6, 2013 – ‘Israel used depleted uranium in airstrike on Syria: Report’:
May 21, 2013  – ‘Israel forces fired at target in Syria’:


June 17, 2013

Israel’s chemical weapons campaign – Google

UN believes chemical weapons used in Syria | JPost | Israel News
Israeli general: Syrian ‘regime has used and is using chemical
Israel preps for nationwide chemical warfare drill | The Times of Israel
Syria Has Used Chemical Weapons, Israel Says –
Israel TV News | US considers no-fly zone in Syria after obtaining …
Syria accused of chemical weapon use by Israel – World – CBC News
Israel Accuses Syria of Using Chemical Weapons –
Israel: Syria used chemical weapons, several times – CBS News
Israeli official says he believes Syria’s Assad has used chemical …
Israel says Syria has used chemical weapons – World News | Latest …
Israeli military says Syria used chemical weapons | The Japan Times
Israeli Official Says Syrian Regime Used Chemical Weapons – US News
Israel says Syria used chemical weapons – World News | TVNZ
Israel: Syrian government used chemical weapons –
Israel says Syria used chemical weapons – ABC News (Australian …


Israel a Major Obstacle to Peace

May 23, 2009 – Syria: Israel A “Major Obstacle” To Peace

May 23, 2009 – Associated Press – Syria’s Assad: Israel Is ‘Obstacle’ to Peace,2933,521417,00.html

7.13.09 Syria to EU: Israel obstacle to peace – Israel News, Ynetnews,7340,L-3745949,00.html

May.23, 2009 – Assad: Israel is the major obstacle to peace

4 June 2008 – Normalizing occupation: Syria, Israel and “peace talks”



About kruitvat

I am working for the Belgian human rights association 'Werkgroep Morkhoven' which revealed the Zandvoort childporn case (88.539 victims). The case was covered up by the authorities. During the past years I have been really shocked by the way the rich countries of the western empire want to rule the world. One of my blogs: «Latest News Syria» (WordPress)/ Je travaille pour le 'Werkgroep Morkhoven', un groupe d'action qui a révélé le réseau pornographique d'enfants 'Zandvoort' (88.539 victims). Cette affaire a été couverte par les autorités. Au cours des dernières années, j'ai été vraiment choqué par la façon dont l'Occident et les pays riches veulent gouverner le monde. Un de mes blogs: «Latest News Syria» (WordPress)/ Ik werk voor de Werkgroep Morkhoven die destijds de kinderpornozaak Zandvoort onthulde (88.539 slachtoffers). Deze zaak werd door de overheid op een misdadige manier toegedekt. Gedurende de voorbije jaren was ik werkelijke geschokt door de manier waarop het rijke westen de wereld wil overheersen. Bezoek onze blog «Latest News Syria» (WordPress) ------- Photo: victims of the NATO-bombings on the Chinese embassy in Yougoslavia
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6 Responses to Latest News Syria: Israel is an obstacle to Peace

  1. kruitvat says:

    Syria: Israel A “Major Obstacle” To Peace

    May 23, 2009 – Syria: Israel A “Major Obstacle” To Peace

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday championed the right of resistance to get back occupied lands, branding the “extreme” Israeli government as a “major obstacle” to peacemaking in the Middle East.

    “The failure of the peace process so far has clearly shown that Israel is the major obstacle to peace. How can a state that was founded on illegal occupation and continues to murder the original inhabitants work toward peace?” Assad wondered in an opening address to a ministerial meeting of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference in Damascus.

    “How can a country that has chosen the most extreme government in its history be a partner for peace?” he added, referring to the Israeli government of right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which took office two months ago.

    “Our experience with Israel during indirect peace negotiations mediated by Turkey is further proof of this,” Assad said.

    Turkey brokered four rounds of indirect talks between the two foes last year, the first such contacts since previous peace negotiations were broken off in 2000 over the fate of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

    But Syria froze the contacts at the turn of the year when Israel launched a devastating offensive against the Gaza Strip, controlled since June 2007 by the Islamist Hamas movement whose exiled leader, Khaled Meshaal, lives in Damascus.

    “The failure of political methods to recover the legitimate rights gives the right of the resistance to take up its duties,” he said.

    “We the Arab nations, and especially Syria, will not change our view about peace as a strategic goal, including the full return of occupied lands,” he added.

    U.S. officials told their Syrian counterparts this month that President Barack Obama, who has placed Middle East peace high on his agenda, was committed to seeking a deal between Syria and Israel, in contrast to a less enthusiastic position by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

    George Mitchell, Obama’s Middle East envoy, is expected to visit Damascus and meet Assad after Lebanon’s parliamentary election June 7.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is taking part in the conference and was expected to see Assad later. Russia, a member of the Middle East Diplomatic Quartet, has been seeking a greater role in Middle East diplomacy and hopes to host a peace conference in Moscow soon.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday after meeting U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington that he was ready to resume the talks with Syria immediately, but indicated he would not make any commitments on land first.

    Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem said any resumption would be useless without an Israeli commitment to withdraw from the Syrian Golan Heights, which Israel has occupied for the last 42 years.

    “The return of the Golan is not a precondition but a requirement for peace. If Israel does not honor these requirements then there is no point of conducting useless negotiations,” Moualem said on the sideline of the 36th session of the OIC.

    “Negotiations will be futile if there is no true Israeli will to make peace and no U.S. involvement. We will not go back to wasting time,” he added.

    The OIC foreign ministers sat the previous day for a brain storm to discuss the agenda which includes the Middle East peace process, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, combating Islamophobia, terrorism, racial disputes among Muslims in a number of countries and a review of new charter for the organization which originally saw light in 1969 in Morocco.

    The Ministers were also expected to examine in the 3-day conference a conceptual paper on its future role in maintaining peace, security and resolving conflicts in the Member States. The paper sets out from the premise that the Muslim world needs to have peacekeeping troops, as myriad conflicts are waged within Muslim territories.

    The OIC, which is headed by its incumbent Secretary General Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, is an international organization with a permanent delegation at the United Nations. It groups 57 member states, from the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, the Caucasus region, the Balkans, Southeast Asia, South Asia and South America.

    The Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers meets once a year to examine a progress report on the implementation of its decisions taken within the framework of policy defined by the Islamic Summit.

  2. kruitvat says:

    Syria’s Assad: Israel Is ‘Obstacle’ to Peace

    May 23, 2009 – Associated Press

    Syria’s leader said Saturday that Israel poses the “greatest obstacle” to Mideast peace and warned that a failure of negotiations would open the way for more resistance in occupied lands.

    Bashar Assad said in a speech opening the foreign ministers’ meeting of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference in Damascus that peace must include regaining Arab territories held by Israel.

    Israel and Syria conducted indirect peace negotiations through Turkish mediators last year. But Syria suspended them in December over Israel’s Gaza war.

    Assad said recently he didn’t think Israel’s hard-line government was a good peace partner since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he would not return the Golan Heights captured from Syria in 1967 — a key Syrian demand.

    Netanyahu has said, however, that he was open to restarting peace talks.

    The Syrian leader said Syria continues to consider peace as a “strategic goal that must be reached one day,” and he blamed Israel for the lack of progress since the launching of the internationally sponsored peace process in the early 1990s.

    “The failure of the process so far showed blatantly that Israel is the greatest obstacle facing the hoped for peace,” he said.

    Assad said in a newspaper interview in March that the earlier indirect talks with Israel failed because the Jewish state would not make a clear commitment to return all of the Golan up to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

    Assad also said that Israel wanted Syria to end its support for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas.

    Direct talks between Syria and Israel under U.S. auspices failed in 2000 over the same issue of the extent of an Israeli withdrawal.

    Assad warned that the “failure of political efforts to regain legitimate rights will give the resistance the right to carry out its duty in order to regain those rights.”,2933,521417,00.html

  3. kruitvat says:

    Syria to EU: Israel obstacle to peace

    FM Moallem tells EU Mideast envoy Otte that Jerusalem’s policy of continued blockade of Gaza, settlement expansion hindering peace efforts; stresses importance of European role in achieving comprehensive agreement based on ‘peace for territories’ formula

    Roee Nahmias
    7.13.09 / Israel News

    Israel poses an obstacle to peace in light of its continued blockade on Gaza and the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Monday.

    Disputed Land
    Syrian FM in response to Peres: Golan Heights belongs to us / News agencies
    After Israeli president says Syria can’t expect to get disputed region on a silver platter, Muallem tells joint press conference with German counterpart that Israel must cede land without preconditions; Assad says ‘no real partner in Israel’; Steinmeier: Rein in ‘destructive’ Mideast elements

    During a meeting in Damascus with EU special representative to the Middle East Mark Otte, Moallem urged the international community to pressure Israel into accepting the “necessary terms for peace.”

    According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), Moallem stressed the importance of the EU’s role in achieving a regional agreement based on the “peace for territories” paradigm.

    Meanwhile, Syria’s relations with the US appear to be warming. President Barack Obama told British television network Sky News this week that the two countries have begun the process of establishing diplomatic ties, but stressed that there was still a long road ahead.

    Obama refrained from directly addressing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s public invitation, but expressed his optimism over the chances of making progress in the relations between the two countries. “I’m a believer in engagement and my hope is that we can continue to see progress on that front,” he added.

    Last week, Assad invited Obama to visit Damascus for a summit in which the two leaders would discuss peace efforts in the Middle East.

    Assad told Sky News that he would be happy to meet with Obama on Syrian soil, and that the date of the meeting was up to the Americans to decide.

    “We would like to welcome him in Syria, definitely. I am very clear about this,” Assad told Sky’s Middle East correspondent. Asked whether this could happen soon, the Syrian president said, “That depends on him.”,7340,L-3745949,00.html

  4. kruitvat says:

    Assad: Israel is the major obstacle to peace
    Syrian president blasts new Israeli government, says it is not a worthy partner for peace talks.

    By Haaretz Service and News Agencies | May.23, 2009 |

    Syrian President Bashar Assad says the collapse of indirect peace negotiations with Israel last year proves that Jerusalem is the greatest obstacle to Mideast peace.

    The Syrian leader warned that the failure of negotiations would legitimize “resistance to occupation.”

    “The failure of the peace process is a blatant demonstration that Israel is the major obstacle to peace,” Assad told a gathering of foreign ministers representing the Organization of the Islamic Conference states in Damascus on Saturday.

    In late December of last year, Israel and Syria were believed to be close to a breakthrough in talks surrounding the future of the Golan Heights and the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

    The negotiations were then placed on hold due to Israel’s military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

    “The failure of the peace process so far has clearly shown that Israel is the obstacle. How can a state that was founded on illegal occupation and continues to murder the original inhabitants work toward peace?” Assad said.

    “How can a country that has chosen the most extreme government in its history be a partner for peace?” he added.

    “We the Arab nations, and especially Syria will not change our view about peace as a strategic goal, including the full return of occupied lands,” Assad said.

    “The failure of political methods to recover their legitimate rights gives them the right of resistance,” Assad told the OIC.

    On Friday, Assad’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moualem, said that resuming peace talks with Israel would be “useless” without a commitment by Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights.

    Responding cautiously to an Israeli offer to open the talks without preconditions, Moualem reiterated Syria’s calls for an Israeli commitment to restore the Golan and described it as “not a pre-condition, but a requirement for peace”.

    “If Israel does not honour these requirements then there is no point of conducting useless negotiations,” Moualem said.

    “Negotiations will be futile if there is no true Israeli will to make peace and no U.S. involvement. We will not go back to wasting time,” he told Syrian state television.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday after meeting U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington that he was ready to resume the talks with Syria immediately but indicated that he would not make any commitments on land first.

    “Israel says openly now it wants peace for the sake of peace, which is laughable,” Moualem said.

    Last week, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Ankara was ready to continue as a mediator. Diplomats in the Syrian capital said Gul has been urging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Netanyahu to resume the talks.

    Assad said the Turkish mediated talks had stopped just as Syria was waiting for an Israeli response to Damascus’s definition of what constitutes the Golan boundary, which would have set the benchmark for any Israeli withdrawal.

    Israeli captured the Golan, a fertile plateau overlooking Damascus and the Sea of Galilee, in the 1967 Six-Day War. Syria defines the occupied Golan as the territory Syria held on June 4, 1967, before the war broke out, including the northeastern shore of the lake, Israel’s main water reservoir.

    The two sides held almost 10 years of U.S.-supervised talks that collapsed in 2000 when the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, father of the current president Bashar, refused an Israeli offer to pull out of the Golan but keep several hundred meters on the northeastern shore of the lake.

  5. kruitvat says:


    Normalizing occupation: Syria, Israel and “peace talks”
    Yaman Salahi

    The Electronic Intifada – 4 June 2008

    It may be too early to determine what truly lies behind the secret Syria-Israel “peace talks.” With Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert positioned to leave office under a cloud of scandal and after a rash of policy failures across the Middle East, the Bush Administration is now counting its last days in power. Thus, it appears that the Syrian government has chosen an opportune time to attempt to usher in a new positive period for itself. Whatever the intentions of the parties involved in these negotiations, at least one thing can be said that makes them irrelevant. That is, for those of us working for justice in Palestine, to position ourselves as either “for” or “against” these so-called “peace talks” is to obscure other important questions about, and facets of, the relationship between Syria and Israel, as well as the other implications of this ever-enduring “process.”

    Time and again, it has been re-affirmed that these negotiations for “peace” have always been to the overwhelming advantage of one party, and to the disadvantage of the others. That is not to say that peace is undesirable, or that open and transparent communication should be rejected, but rather that this process does not bring peace as we might normally imagine it or as its proponents have claimed. Nor is it open or transparent. The Palestinians know this lesson more than any other participant in the “peace process” as they have watched the seemingly endless talks with Israel continue to weaken their struggle. If accepting “peace” were simply a matter of abhorring violence, then the term would not be separate from “cease-fire.” How else can Israel’s perpetual calls for “peace” but constant rejections of cease-fire proposals from Palestinians be explained or understood?

    The question that is posed to us by these talks, after all, is not whether we believe in “peace,” but whether we believe that colonization can be peaceable, or that liberation must be peaceful. A rejection of “peace talks” is not a rejection of peace, peaceful processes, diplomacy, or resolutions, but the rejection of the normalization of the status quo, since that is what these talks will affirm. It is worth noting that in the Syrian context, that there has been no open warfare for 40 years, that the only aggression has been instigated by Israel, and thus that there is no obvious pressing military need for such talks.

    There is yet another facet of these talks to be examined. We tend to consider only their outcome as being potentially normalizing, when in fact it is the process itself that is normalizing since the very framework legitimizes occupation and colonization as things to be “negotiated” or “discussed” rather than rejected. Further, even without any formal results, these normalizing talks have always been fruitful for Israel which, behind this veneer of an ultimate aspiration for peace, continues to engage in violent hostilities and offenses against all parties with whom it has ever engaged in a peace process because it can then position the oppressed, colonized, and occupied as the obstacle to peace, as opposed to its own continued intransigence. Under a desire for future peace, Israel today expands settlement and annexation while expanding its military. It has only been a few months since Israeli airplanes bombed Syria, and it has been probably only a matter of minutes since the last Palestinian was abused, injured, detained, tortured or killed by Israeli violence, despite the unwavering — and ultimately meaningless — public relations claim that Israel “wants” peace. In this Israel has been aided by the incompetence of those who speak for and represent the occupied that has allowed for the discursive inversion of the relationship between the occupied and the occupier, insofar as responsibilities and rights are concerned.

    Neither we nor those parties presuming to speak in our name should ever accept that these are “peace talks.” They are talks that normalize occupation. At best, communication between the occupied and the occupier can be a way to guide the disengagement and decolonization of occupied lands and peoples. If “talks” do not have this effect (and the only time they ever have was when parties were of equal not disparate strength like Egypt after the 1973 war), then they achieve quite the opposite. Nor is the Israeli government the only entity which is normalized through such processes: so is the Syrian government. In both cases, there are collective interests guiding participation in the process that are not necessarily the interests of the peoples for whom they purport to represent. Namely, the interests of that collectivity called “the government” and its own survival. These talks and the idea of “peace agreements” have meaning primarily and most directly for state and government institutions, not people. Hence Olmert in the final days of his government grasps for a rope that might pull him out of his quickly deepening hole, while Syria finds talks as an opportunity to strengthen its image and position in the region following years of threats and isolation.

    We should recall, too, what has been the outcome of all previous “peace talks” that brought no peace: much publicized “failures,” as if it were the fault of both the occupier and the occupied for failing to bring “peace.” We are still haunted by the fact that the late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad and Syria continue to be blamed for Ehud Barak’s refusal to return the occupied Golan Heights. In truth, the only party who can “fail” to bring peace is the occupier, because the occupier is the cause of its absence. The occupied, on the other hand, cannot be blamed for a lack of peace because their status as “occupied” leaves them inherently in a position of conflict. If anything, the occupied can be blamed only for failing to bring peace by failing to bring liberation, for weakening the struggle by normalizing occupation and colonization through such futile “talks.” Hizballah never sat at a table in a lavish hotel with any Israeli prime minister while southern Lebanon was occupied. To speak of a “peace process” between Syria and Israel, or between Palestine and Israel, precludes the possibility that one or more of these entities is itself a barrier to peace. We should not be ashamed by such an acknowledgment because we should never forget that it is not the place of the colonized or the occupied to embrace “peace,” but rather the responsibility of the colonizing occupier to reject “war.”

    In the case, though, that this process achieves its formal goal of normalization, this will merely shift the task of the activist away from arguing against normalization, since it has already occurred, to calling for boycott — economic and otherwise — of a state that is premised on persistent dispossession and displacement. The pattern to be followed in solidarity with the Palestinians in Syria, will begin to resemble the pattern guiding solidarity movements in the West and those in Egypt and Jordan. Grassroots boycott is the feature of a political institution’s failure to represent, through formal channels, the desire of its people. And that, really, is the more accurate expression of where we stand on so-called peace talks between Syria and Israel, or Palestine and Israel: not in a position that advocates war or interminable violence or is against “peace,” but in a position that calls for boycott until justice. As we have come to know them “peace talks” are simply incompatible with such a position, especially in a country that is home to half a million Palestinian refugees and yet has not named the refugees’ right of return as one of its concerns in the bilateral process. “Peace talks,” now, are nothing more than the next manufactured product whose consumption benefits the manufacturer, the occupier, and by that reason alone calls for boycott.

    Yaman Salahi is an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley and a member of Students for Justice in Palestine.

  6. kruitvat says:

    Can Israel and Syria Reach Peace?
    Obstacles, Lessons, and Prospects


    At the turn of the century, during late 1999 and early 2000, Israel and Syria were about to sign a peace agreement, after more than fifty years of bitter conflict, including four wars and numerous smaller clashes.
    Following almost a decade of protracted negotiations with U.S. involvement, most of the
    bilateral disputes had been settled with mutual understanding regarding Israeli withdrawal from the Golan (Jawlan ) Heights, security arrangements, as well as diplomatic and economic relations between Syria and Israel.
    Yet, in the last stage of negotiations, in March 2000, the remaining obstacle to a peace agreement was a dispute over a narrow strip of land, some 12 kilometers long and a few hundred meters wide, along the northeastern shore of Lake Tiberias (or Sea of Galilee, or Lake Kinneret).
    President Hafiz Asad demanded sovereignty over this strip of land, allowing Syria direct access to the lake for fishing and swimming (and probably also giving Syria control over half the lake).
    This long-held position derived from Syria’s demand for a return to the June 4, 1967 line which it had occupied since the 1948 war with Israel, although the international boundary demarcated
    in 1923 by the British Mandatory power in Palestine and the French Mandatory power in Syria
    was drawn 10 meters from the lake’s northeastern shore.
    Previously, however, at an advanced stage of the peace negotiations, in December 1999 and
    January 2000, Asad’s chief envoy agreed that Israel should retain a 10 meter wide strip around the northeastern shore. Syria subsequently agreed to a 50 meter-wide strip provided Israel would accept the June 4, 1967 line as a basis for negotiations towards a final agreement. Barak, Israel’s prime minister, had initially agreed to consider the June 1967 line as a basis for such negotiations. In principle or conceptually, he was prepared to withdraw to that line within the framework of a peace agreement, but he did not specify the exact demarcation of the line on the northeastern shore. Subsequently, however, Barak changed his mind and insisted on retaining a 400 meter wide strip of land. Barak thus seemed to have caused the breakdown of the AsadCan Israel and Syria Reach Peace?

    Clinton summit in Geneva on March 26, 2000, which was expected to bring about a
    breakthrough towards a Syrian-Israeli peace agreement.
    Barak also did not agree to a compromise proposal (made by Patrick Seale, Asad’s semi-official biographer and backed by Moshe Ma’oz, Asad’s unauthorized biographer, who brought it to Barak’s attention alongside other Israelis) concerning the disputed strip of land suggested in early April 2000, namely, that full sovereignty would be exercised by Israel over the lake and by Syria over the disputed northeastern land strip; that Syria would have access to the lake for fishing and swimming, but not for drawing water; that the northeastern shoreline would be a joint tourist area for Syrians, Israelis and foreigners, under UN security supervision.
    Like Barak, Asad did not accept this compromise proposal, and as a result both leaders probably missed an opportunity to reach a peace agreement that could have served the national interests of both countries, as well as contribute to the security and stability of the region. For Israel such an agreement would remove a strategic threat — real or imagined — while neutralizing the Hizballah menace in southern Lebanon and leading to an Israeli – Lebanese peace agreement.
    Peace agreements with Syria and Lebanon would also have improved Israel’s image in the Arab world while enhancing its bargaining position vis-à-vis the Palestinians and reducing the Iranian threat.
    For Syria, peace with Israel, including the return of the Golan would have minimized the
    military-strategic peril and enabled Damascus to divert a large part of its military expenditure toward social and economic development. Syrian society and economy could have benefited from the American financial aid and investments that were likely to follow a peace agreement with Israel and erasing Syria from Washington’s “black list” of countries supporting terror.
    Why then did both Asad and Barak insist on controlling a narrow strip of land on the Lake
    Tiberias shoreline, and so missed an opportunity to advance their countries’ national interests?
    Was this merely a game of bargaining or brinkmanship that could have been resolved had
    Clinton pressured them to complete the negotiations and reach a compromise settlement? Is it possible that this dispute over a narrow shoreline could not be settled by a win-win compromise ?

    Because it represents a zero sum game, deriving from the deep psychological, cultural, emotional and political conflicts between Syria and Israel, as well as from the questionable quality of Asad’s and Barak’s respective leadership and their poor potential to cope with deep-seated issues and old taboos?
    For example, was Barak able or willing to overcome a large opposition among the Israeli-Jewish public, including within his own party, who refused to let the “cruel” Syrians “dip their toes” in Lake Kinneret (Tiberias), allegedly control part of it, or pollute its waters — the lake being a major reservoir of Israel’s water, as well as a piece of national symbolism? As many Israelis would argue, until the 1967 war, Syria had endeavored to prevent Israel from using the River Jordan waters that flow into the lake, and to prevent Israeli fishermen from fishing there. To achieve their purposes, the Syrians exploited their military positions on the strategic Golan Heights, firing at Israeli localities in the Jordan Valley-Kinneret area.
    Again, was Asad, powerful and autocratic, but affiliated with the Alawi minority heterodox sect, capable of “selling” his public a peace agreement with the hated “crusader” state of Israel, without demonstrating a major strategic-ideological gain? This would demand the resumption of Syrian control over the northeastern shoreline of the lake, representing a greater Arab nationalist gain than Egypt and Jordan had achieved in their peace agreements with Israel. Besides, the seriously ill Asad badly needed Syrian-Arab nationalist legitimacy for his posthumous legacy, and/or for facilitating his son, Bashar’s, succession.
    What conclusion, then, can we draw from this account? That there will never be peace between Israel and Syria if their positions will remain unchanged regarding the Lake Tiberias northeastern shoreline as it is reflected in the minds of Israelis and Syrians, as well as in the strategies of their leaders? Assuming that in the foreseeable future the Israeli and Syrian publics are not likely to moderate their positions, and may even aggravate them, can the respective present leaders, Ariel Sharon and Bashar Asad, reach a peace agreement? Bashar has already indicated his desire to renew peace negotiations with Israel, largely because of his strategic predicament following the U.S. military action in Iraq. But Sharon rejected Bashar’s overture.

    Will the U.S. exploit its military and political presence in Iraq, employ sticks and carrots, and bring about an Israeli-Syrian peace under a regional Pax Americana?
    The aims of this paper are:
    To further examine the obstacles that caused the collapse of Israeli-Syrian peace
    negotiations in 2000, notably the issues of water, the Golan, public perceptions and
    national leadership; as well as the interplay among these factors;
    To draw some lessons from the failure of these negotiations as they affect Israeli-Syrian
    relations under Ariel Sharon and Bashar Asad and beyond, as well as to examine
    America’s role in the peace process in light of its strategic aims in the Middle East.

    A Major Obstacle: The Water Problem
    Of all the matters in dispute between Israel and Syria, water is a major problem. The issue has brought about a series of military clashes between the two parties, largely contributing to the outbreak of the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Although part of this problem was settled during the 1990’s negotiations, the lingering dispute over Lake Tiberias’ northeastern shoreline was, on the face of it, the main cause for the collapse of these negotiations in March 2000. To be sure, the water dispute does not involve only the northeastern shore of the lake, but also the Hula Lake (a marsh), the upper Jordan and its main tributary, the Banyas, arising in the Golan Heights.
    The UN Partition Resolution No. 181 of November 29, 1947 made Israel’s frontier with Syria
    follow the 1923 British-French international line. This boundary incorporated into Israel the whole of Lake Tiberias, with the frontier demarcating a land strip over a kilometer wide east of the lake and a strip 10 meters wide in the northeastern section (about 12 kilometers long). The British-French agreement of 1923 gave Syrians (and Lebanese) the rights to fish, swim in and otherwise use the waters of Tiberias and the Hula. The latter was included in British Palestine and subsequently in Israel. This was also the case of the upper Jordan River and the slopes of the Banyas, but not the Banyas spring which remained within the Syrian Golan Heights.


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