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Obama, Clinton Signal Willingness to Help on Israel-Syria Talks
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By Viola Gienger
Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) — The Obama administration would get involved in Israel-Syria negotiations at the request of the two sides in the talks, Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton said, signaling a shift in the U.S. policy of standing aside.
“We should engage directly to help Israel and Syria succeed in their peace efforts, which both parties have indicated could help advance the talks,” Clinton said in written responses to questions from Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. Lugar’s office released the answer today.
Indirect talks between Israel and Syria, brokered by Turkey since at least May, were interrupted when Israel began a military operation against the militant Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip last month. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice previously said the U.S. was focusing on the separate Israeli- Palestinian peace effort because it had better prospects.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told American Jewish leaders in June that renewed contacts with Syria would lead to peace talks that might transform the Middle East. The last direct Israeli-Syrian peace talks broke down in 2000 when the two sides failed to reach agreement on the Golan Heights, the strategic plateau Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Olmert sought help from Turkey to arrange direct peace talks with Syria, the newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported in December. The previous day, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a press conference that direct talks were possible, the newspaper reported.
Welcomed by Syria
“Syria not only welcomes a U.S. involvement in future Syrian-Israeli peace talks, but also deems such involvement as pivotal for their success,” said Ahmed Salkini, a spokesman for the Syrian Embassy in Washington. “Thanks to Turkey’s mediation, we have had four rounds of successful indirect talks with the Israelis that laid the ground for the possibility of taking such talks to a direct-level stage.”
Jonathan Peled, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, said he couldn’t comment immediately.
The U.S. engagement with Syria would depend on its compliance with “core demands,” Clinton said in her response. They include cooperating in stabilizing Iraq, where the U.S. has accused Syria of allowing foreign fighters to transit into the war zone.
Syria also would have to end support for terrorist groups, stop the flow of weapons to Hezbollah militants in neighboring Lebanon and acknowledge Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, Clinton said.
Syria has taken steps in that direction. Assad issued a decree in October establishing full diplomatic relations with Lebanon for the first time since the two countries became independent in the 1940s. The Syrian government, which had been accused of sponsoring Hezbollah, formally recognized Lebanon as a separate state in 2007.
Clinton testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a daylong hearing yesterday and supplemented that with written answers to other questions posed by the panel members.
She wrote in her response to Lugar that she and President- elect Barack Obama, who takes office Jan. 20, “believe that engaging directly with Syria increases the possibility of making progress on changing Syrian behavior.”
The Senate committee is scheduled to vote tomorrow to forward Clinton’s nomination to the full Senate, where she is expected to win confirmation as Obama’s top diplomat.
“The prospects of success in these talks are unknown, but we are committed to making every effort to help them succeed,” Clinton said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Viola Gienger in Washington at email@example.com.
Last Updated: January 14, 2009 18:25 EST
January 15th, 2009, 2:41 am
Seeing a brutal dictator who supports Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad talk about reducing extremism in the region sounds like some kind of joke.
January 15th, 2009, 1:35 pm
w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update – 13:47 15/01/2009
WATCH / Obama: We must engage Syria and Iran in Middle East peace efforts
By Haaretz Service
U.S. president-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday said that he is going to work toward a comprehensive peace in the Middle East “on day one” of presidency on January 20, and that would include Iran and Syria.
“We’re going to have to take a regional approach,” said Obama in an interview with CBS Evening News. “We’re going to have to involve Syria in discussions. We’re going to have to engage Iran in ways that we have not before.”
“We’ve got to have a clear bottom line that Israel’s security is paramount,” Obama said.
However, he also reiterated his commitment to the long-standing peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians: “We have to create a two-state solution where people can live side by side in peace,” he said.
Obama has avoided discussing what he would do to end the violence in Gaza, but has said, “The loss of civilian lives in Gaza and in Israel is a source of deep concern for me.”
Clinton to name Dennis Ross as top adviser on Mideast, Iran
Obama vows to ‘engage immediately’ on Mideast once inaugurated
Assad: I hope Obama will pursue Middle East peace ‘sincerely’
January 15th, 2009, 1:42 pm
Bashar doesn’t support Hamas or Islamic Jihad for their extremism or for their good looks. He knows that they represent vast sectors of the Palestinian people (proven by the elections), and that they are the sole undertakers of the resistance against occupation. Especially after peace process failed miserably (latest episode being Annapolis conference, which was probably proposed by a jerk in the state department with a similar intellect and IQ like yours, but with 20-30 years of experience in slushing the same shit in his head over and over again (which is probably you in 20-30 years, same shit different era)). .
You see, shortsighted people like you think that suppressing the urge to resist is the remedy to the crisis. That if you just obliterate Hamas, things are going to be nice and dandy, well let me break it to you fool, things weren’t rosy to begin with, the more you pressure the Palestinian people to accept the occupation as fait accompli, the more they are going to resist, we’ll go round and round in circles of violence, and the more violence spread the more extremism will benefit. You think Bin Laden gives a rat ass about Palestine? He sees this as a opportune time as majority of Arab people are fed up with western politics, biases and double standards, dominated by rotten minds like yours, and also fed up with conspiratorial leaders (the ones you like to call moderate).
Those people, idiot Chris, are very susceptible to radicalism.
You get it?
January 15th, 2009, 2:17 pm
I doubt there was much substance to your argument because as I quickly scanned over what you wrote I saw that in reference to myself you wrote: “a jerk in the state department with a similar intellect and IQ like yours,” ” let me break it to you fool,” and “idiot Chris.”
People generally resort to such personal attacks when they know that they have run out of anything substantive to say.
The “SC Rules” page states that:
“The comment section is monitored. Messages containing any of the following elements will not be tolerated:
Personal attacks against other contributors; “
January 15th, 2009, 2:38 pm
Gaza and the laws of war
But is it a crime?
January 15th, 2009, 2:54 pm
If I were you I won’t ask that from Alex, especially after your profanity to Majedkhaldoun and you actually mocked him for complaining to Alex…funny life we live in eh!
January 15th, 2009, 3:49 pm
There is a parallel between the politics in Israel and in the Arab capitals including Syria.
Many an Arab leader have now shrunk to a mere mid level manager of the broad outlines of the Rice-Bush-Cheney policy. They are no longer leaders or effective actors.
Mubarak’s fear of Hamas is unfounded and reflects how fragile he feels his regime is. KSA is afraid of its shadow and sees the end of US support with dread. It is clear to them that the fiasco in Iraq is a double dose of worry: on the one hand they have a regime aligned with Teheran and on the other they have a regime that would be willing to a certain extent to accomodate the US strategic interests for the next two years. They have effectively become irrelevant on the world stage.
In this economic crisis, the lowering of the oil price is not an advantage for it will spark deflation and even stagnation of the economy of the US as well as the price of commodoties and ag products decline and therefore the economy will follow. Thus KSA has no leverage there anymore.
Israeli electoral politics are clearly fueling the war. Olmert wants full fledged re occpuation and Barak wants to claim victory as his numbers improved in the polls. His TV appearence with the Mayor of Sderot was nothing more than a campaign rally. In reality, there is no strategy that is essentially Israeli first. This onslaught is to serve the interests of their client states Egypt and KSA. Israeli kids are dying not for the protection of the citizens of Israel as they claim but to protect the Mubarak regime. I would also say that they are very happy to have Assad in Damascus, there is nothing like a wiping boy to make you feel better and to reinforce your self delusional arguments about being an oasis of stability and prosperity.
This war has its prime victime Fatah and Abbas and the clique around him. If free and fair elections are held they will be swept from power. If not we will have a Palestinian civil war. This will make the two state solution impossible to achieve.
Extremism will thrive at an accelerated pace after this war. It is fueled by the numerous failed states in the region and by the intransigence of Israeli local politics. It is instructive that the defeat of Israeli forces in 06 would lead exactly to this kind of aggression in 09. It is partly psychological where the defeated once to re assure himself first and foremost that he is still in charge. This extremism in Israeli politics is a mirror image of the hardening of the positions on the Arab side. After 67 the Arabs met and had a very hard position re asserted and they only softened after the 73 draw, where they felt that they were avenged.
One more comment on this is the fact that short surgical wars do not seem to be possible any longer. If this is a taste of what is to come, especially as the local states become weaker, then it portends a huge level of destruction on civilian populations and the end of the Israeli doctrine of carrying the fight into the territory of the other for a quick and swift victory.
Finally, the trend of the Europeans dissociating from Israel will accelerate as they see the policies creating ever more tensions and destructions and increasing the mass migration across continents.
I cannot see how Israel thought that they can win; this is a disaster for the people of the region in toto.
January 15th, 2009, 3:53 pm
As an example of my previous comment on how the leaders have become mid level managers, check the web site of the Saudi press agency
January 15th, 2009, 4:00 pm
Offended and Jad,
I will agree with Chris that many of you have been using unacceptable language. Please understand that the rules apply to everyone. I am sure yo can tell Chris that you don’t respect his moral values or you don’t think he is able to understand without resorting to that language. When he also used similar language yesterday with Majedkhaldoun, I could not selectively interfere to ask him to watch his language … he did not start.
When Hariri (one Lebanese politician) was assassinated, most of the Syrians here who are perceived to be “Syrian regime supporters” were sensitive enough to express nothing but support and understanding to the way the many Lebanese (at the time) on this site felt … anger at Syria and even hating Syria (and not only “the Syrian regime”)…
And I let them at the time say whatever they needed to say.
Israel did not kill one Lebanese politician (like Syria was accused of doing at the time), Israel killed 1077 and severely injured thousands … and it continues to target schools and UN relief centers and hospitals and ambulance drivers rushing to save an injured child lying next to his parents’ bodies in the street … and then Israel’s president lies and says the school had Hamas fighters (which was denied by the UN officials) … and Israel’s friends in Fox news and in congress accept Peres’ lies.
Either you and AP are not capable of understanding just how insensitive it is to do what you are doing.
Or you are able to understand but you really don’t care… because no matter how you justify it to yourself, you are simply defending Israel, not promoting understanding here… the results are obvious from how everyone is perceiving you …
But of course you are free to say whatever you want as long as you abide by the rules of this site, and with the exception of what you wrote to Majedkhldoon, you did.
So to those who wrote me asking if I should ban Chris, I won’t. It’s his choice to continue to defend, or express understanding for, Israel’s actions.
January 15th, 2009, 6:45 pm
I shouldn’t have used profanity. It was childish.
“…because no matter how you justify it to yourself, you are simply defending Israel”
“It’s his choice to continue to defend, or express understanding for, Israel’s actions.”
You did use the word use the word “or” in the second quote, but I just want to make clear that I don’t believe I have been defending Israel’s actions. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I don’t think I have been defending Israel’s actions here. I have been primarily critisizing Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and asking what who is benefitting.
January 15th, 2009, 6:55 pm
I’m sorry Alex, but in my reply to Chris I didn’t call him any bad names except “racist” but if you see that it was me who start all this issue I’m ok with that and I’ll be happy to stay away from your site.
January 15th, 2009, 7:23 pm
First a correction, I just realized that I was not moderating here at the time of Hariri’s assassination (I was at creativesyria) but I was participating in the comments section of SC and I did show understanding their anger and tried hard to avoid defending “the Syrian regime” at that time. I meant to say that I allowed bad language and anger from Lebanese contributors here when some of the other Lebanese personalities were assassinated later in 2006/07.
As for criticizing Hamas … most of us here are secular, many are Christian. So Hamas is the last political party we would vote for in elections if had the choice. But these days, “Hamas” is not the extremist religious/political party, or the group that sent suicide bombers to revenge Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians by trying to kill Israelis too, “Hamas” today is an exceptionally courageous Palestinian population of 1.5 million people fighting an occupier that lost its mind long time after it lost its morality and its ability to have compassion for others.
“racist” is strong but I think it can be justified given his inability to react proportionally to the killing of 1077 Palestinians like he reacts to Israel’s casualties. I meant “stupid” and “idiot” and “murderer” … I don’t remember who said them (I am not always here). forgive me if you did not write those.
January 15th, 2009, 7:52 pm
Jad, no it wasn’t you. It was me!
(Alex probably lumped you with me to make me feel better : ) )
January 15th, 2009, 7:56 pm
“A whopping 94% of the public support or strongly support the operation”
January 15th, 2009, 8:01 pm
Syria’s lost battle
Damascus has overplayed its hand in Gaza
January 15th, 2009, 8:35 pm
Watch CBS Videos Online
January 15th, 2009, 8:37 pm
January 15th, 2009, 8:39 pm
We shall have to wait and see, won’t we? 🙂
January 15th, 2009, 8:54 pm
Today, a Jordanian doctor (coordinator of a number of Jordanian doctors who crossed the Rafah crossing into gaza to help with the wounded in the hospitals), was interviewed on BBC Arabic, he talked about new kinds of wounds with which they had no experience. He said doctors don’t have a clue as to what it is or what kind of weapon could have used it. Like they would sew a 2 cm deep wound and after a while the flesh will pop open again and the wound would become 10 cm deep. And then the wounded situation would worsen and some would die from aggravated infections.
January 15th, 2009, 9:03 pm
And the Saudi summit is over .. their closing statement was about 5 seconds long. Absolutely nothing came out of it.
January 15th, 2009, 9:08 pm
Wow Idit. The article you referenced could not have possibly been more wrong. I can’t find a single statement to agree with. To the contrary, assuming Hamas is not completely obliterated, I think Syria will come out of this Israel-Hamas confrontation in a much stronger position regionally (i.e. vis-a-vis Egypt and Saudi Arabia), and will have improved its chances at the negotiating table (whenever that resumes).
Poor analysis indeed.
January 16th, 2009, 12:42 am
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