Posted by Joshua on Thursday, November 15th, 2007
Asad is sticking to his negotiating position on the Golan. He does not want his pockets picked going into Maryland. The Arab league is of similar mind. This suggests that Saudi Arabia and Syria have been putting their heads together to some extent – a least by means of Egyptian mediation. This is a good thing. Arab unity has been absent since the invasion of Iraq, leaving the region prostrate at the feet of the West and Iran.
Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt must put their heads together going into talks with the Israelis or it will be all process and no peace – that is what the Israelis and some in the Bush administration want. It is the duty of the Arab governments to get a higher price for their participation. Their stock is already low enough as it is. The last thing they need is another round of fruitless negotiations that lead nowhere but to the loss of more land in the West Bank and a lower standard of living for the Palestinians.
Al-Assad: No peace initiative without Golan can be serious
Nov 15, 2007, DPA
Damascus – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Thursday any peace initiative not including the Golan Heights could not be serious and would not achieve fair and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
Al-Assad made the statement during a meeting with the Arab League (AL) Secretary General Amr Moussa who arrived in Damascus overnight for talks on the upcoming Middle East peace conference in the United States and Lebanon's upcoming presidential elections.
Moussa and al-Assad also discussed an extraordinary meeting for the foreign ministers of the member countries in the AL committee to follow up on Arab peace initiatives with Israel.
Syria has repeatedly said it will not participate in the conference in Annapolis, Maryland that was called by US President George W Bush unless the issue of the occupied Golan Heights was placed on the agenda.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hinted earlier this week that Syria would be invited to the Annapolis conference, in a move that would contradict the US policy of isolating the Baathist Syrian government, press reports said.
Rice also said it would be likely that to follow up on the 2002 Saudi peace proposal, members of the AL committee – Syria is among them – would be invited to Annapolis.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has reportedly sent a message to the Syrian president informing him he was interested in resuming peace talks with Syria.
Moussa had earlier told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that Arab countries would need guarantees and a timetable for talks over a final solution to their conflict with Israel as a condition to their participation in the Annapolis meeting.
According to Moussa, the Arab countries are against open-ended talks with Israel. 'This was our mistake in the 1990s that we will not repeat,' he said.
Israeli military bulldozers are digging trenches on the Golan Heights
By Gwen Ackerman
Nov. 15 (Bloomberg)
Israeli military bulldozers are digging trenches on the Golan Heights intended to stop a possible Syrian tank invasion, the daily Ma'ariv said, citing unidentified army officials.
The digging started two weeks ago and officials told the newspaper the trenches were a defensive measure in case of a Syrian thrust deep into the strategic plateau, Ma'ariv said.