Report: Breakthrough achieved towards Israel-Syria talks

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by ejazr, Jan 2, 2011.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4007358,00.html

    A Kuwaiti newspaper reported Saturday that there is "unprecedented Syrian willingness" to enter back into negotiations with Israel.

    The report, which is based on US sources among others, stated that Washington is engaged in secret talks with Syrian senior officials regarding peace talks with Israel. The report has not been confirmed by any other source.

    According to the report, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem signaled the US two weeks ago that "the Syrians are ready to reopen direct talks with Israel and achieve peace." Moallem is in close contact with US government official Dennis Ross.

    US President Barack Obama believes, based on such sources, that peace between Israel and Syria would help advance the region. There are no further details regarding the Syrian messages to the US, however Ross has informed the administration that he has "discerned unprecedented Syrian willingness to distance itself from Iran, cool off relations with Hezbollah and Hamas and cooperate with the US on the war on terror." The report also noted that Israel has shown willingness to withdraw from the Golan Heights.

    Getting Israeli green light

    Several weeks ago, Ross visited Israel in what the report described as a visit aimed at securing an Israeli green light to negotiations. According to the newspaper, there is a strong link between the surprising breakthrough and the appointment of Robert Ford as the US's new ambassador to Syria. There has been no US ambassador in Damascus for the past five years since the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The Congress is now in recess and cannot oppose the appointment.

    The report quoted other sources which it described as conservative elements in Washington saying that economic sanctions were suffocating Iran and have led Syrian President Bashar Assad to pull himself out of the alliance with Iran. They were further quoted as saying that Assad believes that peace will protect his government from an international tribunal investigating Hariri's murder. Nevertheless, the report was not supported by other sources.

    Meanwhile, former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz addressed contacts with Damascus Saturday and said: "The meaning of peace with Syria will be overwhelming concessions in the Golan Heights, I don't know how far. One has to ask whether the public is ready for this. A leader who will take the lead and present an agreement to the public would have the people's support. "
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    Just speculation on my part, but does this have anything to do with President Pratibha Patil's visit to Syria and some back-channel talks in bringing this forward?
     
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  3. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Another report,

    US in secret talks with Syria over peace deal with Israel

    The US has been in secret contact with Syrian officials in the hopes of realising a comprehensive Israel-Syrian peace treaty, the Kuwaiti al-Rai newspaper reported Saturday.

    The past few weeks had witnessed an "unprecedented Syrian cooperation" in the peace process, prompting Washington to talk with Syrian officials to reach a peace agreement between Syria and Israel, informed sources told al-Rai.

    Sources said Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem had sent positive signals to the US showing that "the Syrians are ready to re-engage in dialogue with the Israelis to reach peace".

    President Barack Obama's administration believes that an Israeli-Syrian peace agreement will be "a breakthrough in the peace process as a whole to achieve peace in the Palestinian territories".

    Sources said that Obama adviser Denis Ross told the US administration that he found "Syria ready to move away from Iran and reduce relations with Hezbollah and Hamas, and work with the United States in the fight against terrorism."

    The Israelis, for their part, expressed a willingness to return to Syria the occupied Golan Heights, reach an agreement on water rights, and normalise relations with Damascus.

    Syrian demands the return of the Golan, a strategic plateau overlooking northern Israel, as a prerequisite for any peace deal with the Jewish state.

    Israel captured the Golan in the 1967 war, and in 1981 parliament passed a law applying Israeli "laws, jurisdiction and administration" to the territory, in effect annexing it.
    The annexation was not recognised internationally.

    Direct Israeli-Syrian peace talks fell apart in 2000, over a dispute over Syrian access to the Sea of Galilee, as per the de facto border which existed prior to the 1967 war.

    Turkish mediated Israeli-Syrian talks also failed to produce any breakthrough.
     

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