Monday, January 15, 2007

The Secret Syrian Channel

Golan Heights, January 2007 (Photo: N)

By now, the denunciations of the report in Ha'aretz that Israelis and Syrians engaged in secret talks on a peace agreement from September 2004 until August 2006, well into the war between Israel and Hizbullah, have hit the news tickers. Unnamed cabinet ministers and a former aide to Sharon have called the news "nonsense." Likud MK Yuval Steinitz, who sometimes talks sense and more often goes crazy, referred to the news as "sleight of hand."

I have previously been skeptical of Syrian overtures, and I don't know what it means that this report is coming out now, but if the draft framework for negotiations published in Ha'aretz is accurate, I am willing to lift all objections. Frankly speaking, this agreement is too good to be true for Israel. The draft includes
  1. an end to hostilities and the commencement of bilateral relations
  2. the establishment of demilitarized zones on the areas of the Golan evacuated by Israel
  3. "Zones of reduced military forces ... in Israel west of the international border with Syria and in Syria east of the Golan Heights" whose depths will be in a 1:4 ratio in favor of Israel
  4. cooperation in "fighting terrorism of all kinds"
  5. "the solution of regional problems related to the Palestinians, Lebanese, and Iran"
  6. a settlement on water sources under which Syria promises not to "interrupt or obstruct natural flow of water in either quality or quantity in the Upper Jordan River, its tributaries, and Lake Tiberias"
  7. the establishment of a Syrian-administered "Peace Park" east of the border that will be open to Israeli tourists without an entry visa
A waterfall in the Golan

Anyone who rejects such a plan does not have the long-term interests of the State of Israel in mind. If a peace deal along the lines of this draft is still possible, the government of Israel must pursue it.


Jeha said...

Good points, I just have two comments;

1- Wouldn't the "Syrian-administered 'Peace Park'" roughly follow the outlines defined by the Schwarz-Zohar report? I do not know how the Syrians could have accepted this.

2- You're not dealing with Syrians here, you're dealing with Alawites whose regime is well past its due date...

Peace with a "normal" Syria is not only possible, it is desirable. With this regime, it is a waste of time.

Shaul Hacohen said...

Thursday, January 18, 2007
Comment to the comment.
The Alawit are regarded primitives by the Syrians. However they are in charge de facto. If we have to deal with a democratic Syrian we will most probably deal with a Hamas like regime. This regime would not need us as the bad Alawi regime does these days. With them we could negotiate though, give less and cut a deal fast. Get out of your democratic fantasies. If you think it work in Israel it does not mean (because the US say so) that it will work everywhere. The American failed in “Iraq” and we in “Palestine”. Is Lebanon a success?
Shaul Ha Cohen

Jeha said...

Shaul Hacohen,

Yes, Lebanon is a success. But Rome was not built in a day, you know...

My point is simple; we're in the midst of resource scarcity, rising fundamentalism, and galloping demographics. In this context, democracy, or more accurately a "representative system of government" is unescapable on the long run... With checks and balances, of course. But the current system is bankrupt, and you will soon see how fickle allies the Alawites will become.

You think Hamas or Hezbollah are bad, but they're only a byproduct of the current system. How else do you explain that Kahane Hai did not catch on in Israel?