“Secret understandings reached between representatives of Israel, Syria” by Akiva Eldar

Here are three stories from one of Haaretz's best reporters about peace negotiations between Israelis and Syrians that took place between Sept. 2004 and July 2006. (Thanks Alex and Tony Karon for bringing them to my attention.)

They suggest that President Bashar al-Asad has been eager for peace talks for some time. Skeptics will point to the fact that they come after the 2003 Iraq war to argue that Asad only wanted the talks to get out of isolation. But there is a deal on the table. It is a good one. If Asad was inclined to make it out of fear of isolation and possible US military action, so what? Washington is being a spoiler. It should be pushing Israel to make the talks official rather than dissuading Tel Aviv from talking to Syria.

 

Secret understandings reached between representatives of Israel, Syria
By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent: Last update – 04:05 16/01/2007
In a series of secret meetings in Europe between September 2004 and July 2006, Syrians and Israelis formulated understandings for a peace agreement between Israel and Syria.

The main points of the understandings are as follows:

  • An agreement of principles will be signed between the two countries, and following the fulfillment of all commitments, a peace agreement will be signed.
  • An agreement of principles will be signed between the two countries, and following the fulfillment of all commitments, a peace agreement will be signed.
  • An agreement of principles will be signed between the two countries, and following the fulfillment of all commitments, a peace agreement will be signed.

  • As part of the agreement on principles, Israel will withdraw from the Golan Heights to the lines of 4 June, 1967. The timetable for the withdrawal remained open: Syria demanded the pullout be carried out over a five-year period, while Israel asked for the withdrawal to be spread out over 15 years.
  • At the buffer zone, along Lake Kinneret, a park will be set up for joint use by Israelis and Syrians. The park will cover a significant portion of the Golan Heights. Israelis will be free to access the park and their presence will not be dependent on Syrian approval.
  • Israel will retain control over the use of the waters of the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret.
  • The border area will be demilitarized along a 1:4 ratio (in terms of territory) in Israel's favor.
  • According to the terms, Syria will also agree to end its support for Hezbollah and Hamas and will distance itself from Iran.

    The document is described as a "non-paper," a document of understandings that is not signed and lacks legal standing – its nature is political. It was prepared in August 2005 and has been updated during a number of meetings in Europe.

    The meetings were carried out with the knowledge of senior officials in the government of former prime minister Ariel Sharon. The last meeting took place during last summer's war in Lebanon.

    Government officials received updates on the meetings via the European mediator and also through Dr. Alon Liel, a former director general at the Foreign Ministry, who took part in all the meetings.

    The European mediator and the Syrian representative in the discussions held eight separate meetings with senior Syrian officials, including Vice President Farouk Shara, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, and a Syrian intelligence officer with the rank of "general."

    The contacts ended after the Syrians demanded an end to meetings on an unofficial level and called for a secret meeting at the level of deputy minister, on the Syrian side, with an Israeli official at the rank of a ministry's director general, including the participation of a senior American official. Israel did not agree to this Syrian request.

    The Syrian representative in the talks, Ibrahim (Abe) Suleiman, an American citizen, had visited Jerusalem and delivered a message to senior officials at the Foreign Ministry regarding the Syrian wish for an agreement with Israel. The Syrians also asked for help in improving their relations with the United States, and particularly in lifting the American embargo on Syria.

    For his part, the European mediator stressed that the Syrian leadership is concerned that the loss of petroleum revenues will lead to an economic crash in the country and could consequently undermine the stability of the Assad regime.

    According to Geoffrey Aronson, an American from the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace, who was involved in the talks, an agreement under American auspices would call for Syria to ensure that Hezbollah would limit itself to being solely a political party.

    He also told Haaretz that Khaled Meshal, Hamas' political bureau chief, based in Damascus, would have to leave the Syrian capital.

    Syria would also exercise its influence for a solution to the conflict in Iraq, through an agreement between Shi'a leader Muqtada Sadr and the Sunni leadership, and in addition, it would contribute to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the refugee problem.

    Aronson said the idea of a park on the Golan Heights allows for the Syrian demand that Israel pull back to the June 4 border, on the one hand, while on the other hand, the park eliminates Israeli concerns that Syrians will have access to the water sources of Lake Kinneret.

    "This was a serious and honest effort to find creative solutions to practical problems that prevented an agreement from being reached during Barak's [tenure as prime minister] and to create an atmosphere of building confidence between the two sides," he said.

    It also emerged that one of the Syrian messages to Israel had to do with the ties between Damascus and Tehran. In the message, the Alawi regime – the Assad family being members of the Alawi minority – asserts that it considers itself to be an integral part of the Sunni world and that it objects to the Shi'a theocratic regime, and is particularly opposed to Iran's policy in Iraq. A senior Syrian official stressed that a peace agreement with Israel will enable Syria to distance itself from Iran.

    Liel refused to divulge details about the meetings but confirmed that they had taken place. He added that meetings on an unofficial level have been a fairly common phenomenon during the past decade.

    "We insisted on making the existence of meetings known to the relevant parties," Liel said. "Nonetheless, there was no official Israeli connection to the content of the talks and to the ideas that were raised during the meetings."

    Prior to these meetings, Liel was involved in an effort to further secret talks between Syria and Israel with the aid of Turkish mediation – following a request for assistance President Assad had made to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    That attempt failed following Israel's refusal to hold talks on an official level – and a Syrian refusal to restrict the talks to an "academic level," similar to the framework of the talks that had preceded the Oslo accords.

  • As part of the agreement on principles, Israel will withdraw from the Golan Heights to the lines of 4 June, 1967. The timetable for the withdrawal remained open: Syria demanded the pullout be carried out over a five-year period, while Israel asked for the withdrawal to be spread out over 15 years.
  • At the buffer zone, along Lake Kinneret, a park will be set up for joint use by Israelis and Syrians. The park will cover a significant portion of the Golan Heights. Israelis will be free to access the park and their presence will not be dependent on Syrian approval.
  • Israel will retain control over the use of the waters of the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret.
  • The border area will be demilitarized along a 1:4 ratio (in terms of territory) in Israel's favor.
  • According to the terms, Syria will also agree to end its support for Hezbollah and Hamas and will distance itself from Iran.

    The document is described as a "non-paper," a document of understandings that is not signed and lacks legal standing – its nature is political. It was prepared in August 2005 and has been updated during a number of meetings in Europe.

    The meetings were carried out with the knowledge of senior officials in the government of former prime minister Ariel Sharon. The last meeting took place during last summer's war in Lebanon.

    Government officials received updates on the meetings via the European mediator and also through Dr. Alon Liel, a former director general at the Foreign Ministry, who took part in all the meetings.

    The European mediator and the Syrian representative in the discussions held eight separate meetings with senior Syrian officials, including Vice President Farouk Shara, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, and a Syrian intelligence officer with the rank of "general."

    The contacts ended after the Syrians demanded an end to meetings on an unofficial level and called for a secret meeting at the level of deputy minister, on the Syrian side, with an Israeli official at the rank of a ministry's director general, including the participation of a senior American official. Israel did not agree to this Syrian request.

    The Syrian representative in the talks, Ibrahim (Abe) Suleiman, an American citizen, had visited Jerusalem and delivered a message to senior officials at the Foreign Ministry regarding the Syrian wish for an agreement with Israel. The Syrians also asked for help in improving their relations with the United States, and particularly in lifting the American embargo on Syria.

    For his part, the European mediator stressed that the Syrian leadership is concerned that the loss of petroleum revenues will lead to an economic crash in the country and could consequently undermine the stability of the Assad regime.

    According to Geoffrey Aronson, an American from the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace, who was involved in the talks, an agreement under American auspices would call for Syria to ensure that Hezbollah would limit itself to being solely a political party.

    He also told Haaretz that Khaled Meshal, Hamas' political bureau chief, based in Damascus, would have to leave the Syrian capital.

    Syria would also exercise its influence for a solution to the conflict in Iraq, through an agreement between Shi'a leader Muqtada Sadr and the Sunni leadership, and in addition, it would contribute to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the refugee problem.

    Aronson said the idea of a park on the Golan Heights allows for the Syrian demand that Israel pull back to the June 4 border, on the one hand, while on the other hand, the park eliminates Israeli concerns that Syrians will have access to the water sources of Lake Kinneret.

    "This was a serious and honest effort to find creative solutions to practical problems that prevented an agreement from being reached during Barak's [tenure as prime minister] and to create an atmosphere of building confidence between the two sides," he said.

    It also emerged that one of the Syrian messages to Israel had to do with the ties between Damascus and Tehran. In the message, the Alawi regime – the Assad family being members of the Alawi minority – asserts that it considers itself to be an integral part of the Sunni world and that it objects to the Shi'a theocratic regime, and is particularly opposed to Iran's policy in Iraq. A senior Syrian official stressed that a peace agreement with Israel will enable Syria to distance itself from Iran.

    Liel refused to divulge details about the meetings but confirmed that they had taken place. He added that meetings on an unofficial level have been a fairly common phenomenon during the past decade.

    "We insisted on making the existence of meetings known to the relevant parties," Liel said. "Nonetheless, there was no official Israeli connection to the content of the talks and to the ideas that were raised during the meetings."

    Prior to these meetings, Liel was involved in an effort to further secret talks between Syria and Israel with the aid of Turkish mediation – following a request for assistance President Assad had made to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    That attempt failed following Israel's refusal to hold talks on an official level – and a Syrian refusal to restrict the talks to an "academic level," similar to the framework of the talks that had preceded the Oslo accords.

  •  

  • As part of the agreement on principles, Israel will withdraw from the Golan Heights to the lines of 4 June, 1967. The timetable for the withdrawal remained open: Syria demanded the pullout be carried out over a five-year period, while Israel asked for the withdrawal to be spread out over 15 years.
  • At the buffer zone, along Lake Kinneret, a park will be set up for joint use by Israelis and Syrians. The park will cover a significant portion of the Golan Heights. Israelis will be free to access the park and their presence will not be dependent on Syrian approval.
  • Israel will retain control over the use of the waters of the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret.
  • The border area will be demilitarized along a 1:4 ratio (in terms of territory) in Israel's favor.
  • According to the terms, Syria will also agree to end its support for Hezbollah and Hamas and will distance itself from Iran.

    The document is described as a "non-paper," a document of understandings that is not signed and lacks legal standing – its nature is political. It was prepared in August 2005 and has been updated during a number of meetings in Europe.

    The meetings were carried out with the knowledge of senior officials in the government of former prime minister Ariel Sharon. The last meeting took place during last summer's war in Lebanon.

    Government officials received updates on the meetings via the European mediator and also through Dr. Alon Liel, a former director general at the Foreign Ministry, who took part in all the meetings.

    The European mediator and the Syrian representative in the discussions held eight separate meetings with senior Syrian officials, including Vice President Farouk Shara, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, and a Syrian intelligence officer with the rank of "general."

    The contacts ended after the Syrians demanded an end to meetings on an unofficial level and called for a secret meeting at the level of deputy minister, on the Syrian side, with an Israeli official at the rank of a ministry's director general, including the participation of a senior American official. Israel did not agree to this Syrian request.

    The Syrian representative in the talks, Ibrahim (Abe) Suleiman, an American citizen, had visited Jerusalem and delivered a message to senior officials at the Foreign Ministry regarding the Syrian wish for an agreement with Israel. The Syrians also asked for help in improving their relations with the United States, and particularly in lifting the American embargo on Syria.

    For his part, the European mediator stressed that the Syrian leadership is concerned that the loss of petroleum revenues will lead to an economic crash in the country and could consequently undermine the stability of the Assad regime.

    According to Geoffrey Aronson, an American from the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace, who was involved in the talks, an agreement under American auspices would call for Syria to ensure that Hezbollah would limit itself to being solely a political party.

    He also told Haaretz that Khaled Meshal, Hamas' political bureau chief, based in Damascus, would have to leave the Syrian capital.

    Syria would also exercise its influence for a solution to the conflict in Iraq, through an agreement between Shi'a leader Muqtada Sadr and the Sunni leadership, and in addition, it would contribute to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the refugee problem.

    Aronson said the idea of a park on the Golan Heights allows for the Syrian demand that Israel pull back to the June 4 border, on the one hand, while on the other hand, the park eliminates Israeli concerns that Syrians will have access to the water sources of Lake Kinneret.

    "This was a serious and honest effort to find creative solutions to practical problems that prevented an agreement from being reached during Barak's [tenure as prime minister] and to create an atmosphere of building confidence between the two sides," he said.

    It also emerged that one of the Syrian messages to Israel had to do with the ties between Damascus and Tehran. In the message, the Alawi regime – the Assad family being members of the Alawi minority – asserts that it considers itself to be an integral part of the Sunni world and that it objects to the Shi'a theocratic regime, and is particularly opposed to Iran's policy in Iraq. A senior Syrian official stressed that a peace agreement with Israel will enable Syria to distance itself from Iran.

    Liel refused to divulge details about the meetings but confirmed that they had taken place. He added that meetings on an unofficial level have been a fairly common phenomenon during the past decade.

    "We insisted on making the existence of meetings known to the relevant parties," Liel said. "Nonetheless, there was no official Israeli connection to the content of the talks and to the ideas that were raised during the meetings."

    Prior to these meetings, Liel was involved in an effort to further secret talks between Syria and Israel with the aid of Turkish mediation – following a request for assistance President Assad had made to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    That attempt failed following Israel's refusal to hold talks on an official level – and a Syrian refusal to restrict the talks to an "academic level," similar to the framework of the talks that had preceded the Oslo accords.

  • As part of the agreement on principles, Israel will withdraw from the Golan Heights to the lines of 4 June, 1967. The timetable for the withdrawal remained open: Syria demanded the pullout be carried out over a five-year period, while Israel asked for the withdrawal to be spread out over 15 years.
  • At the buffer zone, along Lake Kinneret, a park will be set up for joint use by Israelis and Syrians. The park will cover a significant portion of the Golan Heights. Israelis will be free to access the park and their presence will not be dependent on Syrian approval.
  • Israel will retain control over the use of the waters of the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret.
  • The border area will be demilitarized along a 1:4 ratio (in terms of territory) in Israel's favor.
  • According to the terms, Syria will also agree to end its support for Hezbollah and Hamas and will distance itself from Iran.

    The document is described as a "non-paper," a document of understandings that is not signed and lacks legal standing – its nature is political. It was prepared in August 2005 and has been updated during a number of meetings in Europe.

    The meetings were carried out with the knowledge of senior officials in the government of former prime minister Ariel Sharon. The last meeting took place during last summer's war in Lebanon.

    Government officials received updates on the meetings via the European mediator and also through Dr. Alon Liel, a former director general at the Foreign Ministry, who took part in all the meetings.

    The European mediator and the Syrian representative in the discussions held eight separate meetings with senior Syrian officials, including Vice President Farouk Shara, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, and a Syrian intelligence officer with the rank of "general."

    The contacts ended after the Syrians demanded an end to meetings on an unofficial level and called for a secret meeting at the level of deputy minister, on the Syrian side, with an Israeli official at the rank of a ministry's director general, including the participation of a senior American official. Israel did not agree to this Syrian request.

    The Syrian representative in the talks, Ibrahim (Abe) Suleiman, an American citizen, had visited Jerusalem and delivered a message to senior officials at the Foreign Ministry regarding the Syrian wish for an agreement with Israel. The Syrians also asked for help in improving their relations with the United States, and particularly in lifting the American embargo on Syria.

    For his part, the European mediator stressed that the Syrian leadership is concerned that the loss of petroleum revenues will lead to an economic crash in the country and could consequently undermine the stability of the Assad regime.

    According to Geoffrey Aronson, an American from the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace, who was involved in the talks, an agreement under American auspices would call for Syria to ensure that Hezbollah would limit itself to being solely a political party.

    He also told Haaretz that Khaled Meshal, Hamas' political bureau chief, based in Damascus, would have to leave the Syrian capital.

    Syria would also exercise its influence for a solution to the conflict in Iraq, through an agreement between Shi'a leader Muqtada Sadr and the Sunni leadership, and in addition, it would contribute to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the refugee problem.

    Aronson said the idea of a park on the Golan Heights allows for the Syrian demand that Israel pull back to the June 4 border, on the one hand, while on the other hand, the park eliminates Israeli concerns that Syrians will have access to the water sources of Lake Kinneret.

    "This was a serious and honest effort to find creative solutions to practical problems that prevented an agreement from being reached during Barak's [tenure as prime minister] and to create an atmosphere of building confidence between the two sides," he said.

    It also emerged that one of the Syrian messages to Israel had to do with the ties between Damascus and Tehran. In the message, the Alawi regime – the Assad family being members of the Alawi minority – asserts that it considers itself to be an integral part of the Sunni world and that it objects to the Shi'a theocratic regime, and is particularly opposed to Iran's policy in Iraq. A senior Syrian official stressed that a peace agreement with Israel will enable Syria to distance itself from Iran.

    Liel refused to divulge details about the meetings but confirmed that they had taken place. He added that meetings on an unofficial level have been a fairly common phenomenon during the past decade.

    "We insisted on making the existence of meetings known to the relevant parties," Liel said. "Nonetheless, there was no official Israeli connection to the content of the talks and to the ideas that were raised during the meetings."

    Prior to these meetings, Liel was involved in an effort to further secret talks between Syria and Israel with the aid of Turkish mediation – following a request for assistance President Assad had made to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    That attempt failed following Israel's refusal to hold talks on an official level – and a Syrian refusal to restrict the talks to an "academic level," similar to the framework of the talks that had preceded the Oslo accords.

  • [END]

    BACKGROUND: From Turkey, via Europe, to Damascus, By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent

    It began exactly three years ago. In January 2004, Syrian President Bashar Assad came to Turkey for an important visit, some say a historic one. By complete coincidence, Dr. Alon Liel, a former Foreign Ministry director general and former Israeli ambassador to Ankara, was in Istanbul and staying at the same hotel as the Syrian delegation. His friends in the Turkish Foreign Ministry hinted to Liel that Israel had a respectable spot in the conversations between Assad and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    A few days after Liel’s return to Israel, he was invited to a meeting with the Turkish ambassador to Israel, Feridun Sinirlioglu. The Turkish ambassador told Liel that Assad had asked Erdogan to use Turkey’s good relations with Israel to remove the rust from the negotiation channel with Syria. Liel was asked to put out discreet feelers in the bureau of then prime minister Ariel Sharon to find out if there were an Israeli partner for covert talks with Syria, to be mediated by Turkey.

    Liel brought Geoffrey Aronson from the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace into the picture. Aronson, who is Jewish, had wandered among the capitals of the Middle East, including Damascus, Beirut and Amman, and suggested bringing in Ibrahim (Ayeb) Suleiman, a Syrian-Alawite businessman who had been living in a suburb of Washington, D.C. for many years. Suleiman’s family is from the same village as the Assad family, and senior American officials had used his good mediation skills many times to make contact with Damascus. Suleiman had also been involved in opening the gates of Syria to the Jews remaining there who wanted to move to Israel.

    Suleiman left for Damascus. He arrived at the home of the Turkish ambassador to Syria in a vehicle from the president’s bureau to report that the Syrians were prepared to begin negotiations with Israel immediately: formal negotiations, certainly not “academic talks.” The Prime Minister’s Bureau in Jerusalem didn’t care whether Liel and his friends sat down with the Syrians to hear what they had to say − but no negotiations. The Israeli reason (or excuse): The Americans are not prepared to hear about contact with Syria.

    Covert meetings in a European capital

    At the end of the summer of 2004, Sinirlioglu told Liel, with great regret, that the Turkish channel had reached a dead end. But the trio of Liel, Aronson and Suleiman didn’t give up. In September, they met in a European capital that agreed to provide cover and funding for a covert Israeli-Syrian channel via a senior official in that country’s foreign ministry. Since autumn 2004, seven more meetings have been held. (Haaretz was provided the details about the conversations, on condition that the identities of the mediator and two other Israelis who participated in some of the meetings not be published.)

    Following each meeting, as soon as he returned to Israel, Liel gave a full report to a senior official Foreign Ministry official. Sharon’s bureau also received a full situation report. Suleiman joined Liel on one of his visits to the Foreign Ministry and personally described Syria’s position to the officials in attendance. The European mediator also shared his impressions with the professional staff in Jerusalem.

    To allow the European mediator to form his own impressions regarding the Syrians’ attitude toward the covert channel, Suleiman invited him to join him on his trips to Damascus. Each time they landed there, an official car awaited them near their plane. They were taken to the office of Syrian Vice President Farouk Shara, and occasionally met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and a senior official in Syrian intelligence.

    The European mediator had the impression that the Syrian leadership was treating the matter very seriously and was not wasting his time or the taxpayer’s money on “futile academic talks.” He recalled that the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians began with talks among academics, with the assistance of a European country.

    “I was convinced that the Syrians want a peace agreement with you,” the European mediator reported directly to official Israeli sources even before the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005 and the investigation that began afterward. His impression was that the Syrian motive for the murder went far deeper than fear of revenge from the United States or France, which points to Assad as the one responsible for Hariri’s death.

    “Farouk Shara told me radical Islam constitutes a threat to Syria and that peace is the only way to halt it,” the mediator said. He said the Syrians told him that in a few years, they would lose their oil sources and need significant amounts of foreign currency to purchase energy from external sources. The Alawite regime realizes, the European mediator said, that in order to survive, it has to bring foreign currency into Syria, and that no sane businessman would invest his fortune in a country that is not at peace with its neighbors.

    While in Damascus, the European mediator heard about Syria’s readiness to include its ties with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas in its agenda for peace negotiations with Israel. He even reported identical comments he heard from the the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s legal adviser, Riad Daoudi, at the ‘Madrid+15 Conference’ on Friday.

    Daoudi’s refusal to befriend the Israeli delegation at the Madrid conference is in line with the Syrians’ approach in the European channel regarding proposals for Syrian gestures toward Israel, such as the digging up the bones of Israeli spy Eli Cohen, information on missing Israeli soldiers or a visit to the grave of Rabbi Haim Vital.

    “Israel has held onto our land for 40 years now and rejects are request to open negotiations, and after all that, they expect confidence-building steps from us,” the Syrians argue.

    Wartime meetings

    The discussions dealt with all the matters that occupied the official negotiation teams: borders, water, security and normalization. Suleiman, representing the Syrian position, made it clear from the first moment that it would be a shame to waste time on futile attempts to move Syria from its position regarding the June 4, 1967, borders. Feelers regarding the possibility of territorial exchange were dismissed out of hand.

    Nonetheless, the Syrians showed surprising flexibility regarding everything connected to a timetable for evacuating Israeli communities in the Golan Heights, water use and primarily the concept of building a “peace park” in the buffer zone that would be open to Israeli visitors.

    The final document was formulated in August 2005, and has since been changed slightly. The final meeting took place a year later, in the midst of the second Lebanon war, on a day in which eight Israelis were killed by Hezbollah-fired Katyusha rockets in the Galilee. Suleiman announced that the Syrians had done all they could with the covert channel and were suggesting a meeting between a Syrian representative at the rank of deputy minister and an Israeli official at the rank of director general. They asked that C. David Welch, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, also participate in the meeting.

    That was the end of the story

    And the Full document:

    EXCLUSIVE: The full text of the draft document, By Akiva Eldar

    Nonpaper
    Draft 4
    August 29, 2004

    Preamble

    The objective of this effort is to establish normal, peaceful relations between the governments and peoples of Israel and Syria, and to sign a treaty of peace attesting to this achievement. The treaty will resolve the four “pillars” at the core of negotiations: security, water, normalization, and borders. There is be no agreement on any single one of these issues unless and until all of these issues are resolved.

    I. Sovereignty
    1. Syrian sovereignty, based upon the June 4, 1967 line in the Golan Heights, is acknowledged by Israel. The mutually agreed upon border will be determined by both parties (and guaranteed by the U.S. and the UN)

    II. Framework Agreement, Implementation, and the End to the State of Belligerency
    A “Framework Agreement” will address the issues of security (including early warning), water, normalization, and borders. Negotiations to reach such an agreement should proceed as expeditiously.

    1. The state of belligerency between the parties will cease upon signature of a framework agreement between the parties, and will include the cessation of hostile actions by each party against the other.

    2. Application of Syrian sovereignty in the Golan Heights, the establishment of normal, bilateral diplomatic relations, and the implementation of relevant provisions related to water and security will commence as soon as possible after the conclusion of a Framework Agreement but no later than the signing of a treaty of peace.

    3. Implementation of the Israeli withdrawal to the mutually agreed border will occur during a period (the exact time frame to be mutually agreed) from signature of the Framework Agreement.

    III. Peace Treaty
    1. Satisfactory implementation of provisions and obligations established in the Framework Agreement will result in the signing of a peace treaty between the parties.

    IV. Security
    1. Demilitarized zones will be established in the areas of the Golan Heights that Israeli forces will vacate.

    2. No military forces, armaments, weapons systems, or military infrastructure will be introduced into the demilitarized zones. Only a limited civil police presence will be deployed in the areas.

    3. Both parties agree not to fly over demilitarized zones without a special arrangement.

    4. The establishment of an early warning system includes a ground station on Mt. Hermon/Jabal as-Sheikh operated by the United States.

    5. A monitoring and inspection and verification mechanism will be established to monitor and supervise the security agreements.

    6. Direct liaison between the parties will be established in order to: Create a direct, real time communication capability on security issues in order to minimize friction along the international border; Help to prevent errors and misunderstandings between the parties.

    7. Zones of reduced military forces will be established in Israel west of the international border with Syria and in Syria east of the Golan Heights. The respective depth of these zones (as measured in kilometers) between Israel and Syria will be according to a ratio of 1:4.

    8. The Parties will cooperate in fighting local and international terrorism of all kinds.

    9. The Parties will work together for a stable and safe Middle East, including the solution of regional problems related to the Palestinians, Lebanese, and Iran.

    V. Water
    1. Israel will control the use and disposition of the water in the Upper Jordan River and Lake Tiberias.

    2. Syria will not interrupt or obstruct natural flow of water in either quality or quantity in the Upper Jordan River, its tributaries, and Lake Tiberias.

    3. Syrian use of the waters of the upper Jordan River, its tributaries, and Lake Tiberias for residential and fishing purposes is recognized and guaranteed.

    VI. Park

    1. In order to safeguard the water resources of the Jordan River basin, Syrian territory east of the mutually agreed border will be designated as a Park open to all and administered by Syria. The Park is to be established in the Golan Heights upon completion of the Israeli withdrawal and application of Syrian sovereignty in accordance with the treaty of peace. The park will extend from the agreed upon border eastward to a line to be determined by mutual agreement.

    2. Park characteristics:
    * Park is open for tourism.
    * Park will be policed by Syrian park service personnel.
    * The park will be free of permanent residents except for conservation and law enforcement personnel.
    * No visa will be required for entry into park [from Israeli territory].
    * Syrians will issue onsite official entry permit for a nominal fee.
    * Visitors wishing to enter other Syrian territory east of the Park must have a proper visa and transit Syrian controls on park’s eastern perimeter.
    * Entry to park is valid for one day during daylight hours.

    End

    Comments (71)


    Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

    51. youngSyria said:

    While I’m not expert in history, I can’t understand why people insist to relate themselves to those who lived 3000++ B.C. What is the relation between an Egyptian citizen living in 2007 and an ancient one (pharaoh).

    And I really wonder where did we herd of Lebanon after the so called Phoenicians desappeared?

    “Going back to Phoenicians, never mind what the Greeks may say. The Greeks may have their own perspective and they may also have their own shortcomings.”

    Gibran …dude .. since you are so in love with history , how could you critisize a super power (in your time )like greac? Arent they far more superior than your Phoenicians ?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    January 17th, 2007, 3:37 am

     

    52. Alex said:

    U.S. officials: Cheney was kept abreast of Israel-Syria talks

    By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent

    Senior American government officials received regular reports of the secret meetings that took place in Europe between a former Israeli official and a Syrian representative, Haaretz has learned.

    Senior officials in Washington told Haaretz that U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was kept in the picture about these indirect talks between Syria and Israel.

    Ibrahim (Ayeb) Suleiman, the Syrian representative, also said this at his meetings with former Foreign Ministry director general Alon Liel, adding that Cheney had made no move to stop him from participating in the talks. Suleiman is a Washington resident.

    A document that Dr. Nimrod Novik, a former political advisor to Vice Premier Shimon Peres, disseminated last October to members of the Council for Peace and Security also said that Washington knew about the talks. “While the administration is taking care not to broadcast a U-turn in its approach as long as the president has not given it an explicit green light, the signs of a change in direction are multiplying,” Novik wrote.

    “During the fighting in Lebanon, former senior [U.S.] officials were authorized to speak with Damascus, within a narrow mandate, while Pentagon and State Department officials support a change in the policy toward Hamas and quote the president in this context.”

    Geoffrey Aronson, of the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace, who helped arrange the secret meetings, also participated last year in meetings organized by Alastair Crooke, the European Union’s former security envoy to the territories, with key Hamas and Hezbollah members.

    These meetings, which took place in Beirut, were also attended by two former senior Central Intelligence Agency officials. Haaretz reported at the time that Cheney also know about the existence of these meetings, and received regular reports from the American participants.

    Novik wrote that “during secret talks via a third party a few years ago, the Syrians already demonstrated much more flexibility than they did at Shepherdstown on matters such as the pace of the withdrawal, implementation of normalization and creative solutions (‘a peace park’) for the area north of [Lake] Kinneret. Then, too, it was Israel that refused direct, official talks.”

    The Shepherdstown talks were formal Israeli-Syrian negotiations started by Ehud Barak’s government.

    Meretz-Yahad Chairman Yossi Beilin said in media interviews Tuesday that the European mediator in the secret talks was Nicholas Lang, head of the Middle East desk at the Swiss Foreign Ministry.

    Lang also played a key role in organizing the Israeli-Palestinian meetings at which Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo drafted the Geneva Initiative, their proposal for a final-status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Liel, who was the driving force behind the secret meetings with Suleiman, is one of the people closest to Beilin.

    Raviv Drucker, of Channel 10 television, reported last night that Lang met not long ago with Shalom Turjeman, Ehud Olmert’s political adviser, and presented him with the draft. According to Drucker, Turjeman told Lang that Israel has no interest in the understandings. Drucker also said that Lang visited Damascus several times during the talks, met with Syrian FM Farouk Shara, and reported that he believed the Syrian leadership genuinely wanted a deal.

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    January 17th, 2007, 3:43 am

     

    53. Gibran said:

    UGARIT,
    If you’re taking the Bible as your historical reference then you’re contradicting yourself. I never suggested the Canaanites were civilized or uncivilized. I didn’t even mention anything about their achievements (if any). The Phoenicians have well established history: Hiram the king of Tyre figures prominently in the Bible. Mel Kart also figures in various historical references. King Solomon’s temple is well known to have been built from Levantine Cedars supplied by Phoenicians and not Canaanites. Phoenicians may also have been involved in the actual construction process as designers and/or builders. Coins have been discovered with Hiram’s insignia clearly engraved. Coins with Mel Kart insignia were also found. The history of the LEVANTINE coastal cities uniting against outside invaders is well documented. The facts are the Canaanites inhabited the interior desert which may also include present day Jordan in addition to the Syrian Desert and developed their own way of life. The Phoenicians inhabited the Levantine coast, also developed their own way of life and were perhaps the first people to sail and became sea traders. Carthage in Tunisia is a living testimony to the Phoenician civilization which ruled the Mediterranean Sea for a complete millennium ending with the Punic wars with Rome. By the way Ugarit Kingdom is Phoenician and not Canaanite.

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    January 17th, 2007, 4:02 am

     

    54. Alex said:

    Gibran

    You are turning the phoenicians into the other builders of King Solomon’s temple!

    Joshua? MSK? .. who built King Solomon’s temple? Was Hiram Abiff the real architect? or was it some other Phoenician that King Hiram of Tyre sent?

    Ihsani? how was the temple financed at the time? was king Solomon a good economist?

    Can we go back to discussing today?

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    January 17th, 2007, 5:36 am

     

    55. Enlightened said:

    I wonder that if all the secret peace talks between Israel and Syria might prompt that clown Nasrallah to tell Assad he is a traitor ?

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    January 17th, 2007, 5:48 am

     

    56. Nur al-Cubicle said:

    Negotiations for the handover of the Golan Heights to start soon per L’Orient-Le Jour. The negotiators have been appointed: “Ibrahim Suleiman, un médiateur européen non précisé, et, côté israélien, un ancien directeur du ministère des Affaires étrangères, Alon Liel. ”

    In return, Syria is to sever its links to Iran and Hezbollah.

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    January 17th, 2007, 6:10 am

     

    57. Gibran said:

    ALEX,
    Hiram Abiff that you mentioned is perhaps a fictional personality used in some Masonic ritual according to your link. I don’t believe that I referred to any such Masonic cults in any of my comments. Could it be one of the Hiram’s mentioned in the Bible? I don’t know. You have to ask an authority in the Masonic cult. Your link seems to indicate some similarity, but as you may well know the Masons are a secretive society.

    Historical Hiram (King of Tyre) is clearly mentioned in the Bible in connection with the building of the Temple. That’s the Hiram I was referring to. Here is what says:

    The name “Hiram Abiff” does not appear as such in the Bible, but there are three references to people named Hiram that are present:

    Hiram, King of Tyre, is credited in 2 Samuel 5:11 for having sent building materials and men for the original construction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
    Hiram, a craftsman of great skill sent from Tyre. Second Chronicles 2:13 relates a formal request from King Solomon of Jerusalem to King Hiram I of Tyre, for workers and for materials to build a new temple; King Hiram responds “I am sending you Huram-Abi, a man of great skill, whose mother was from Dan and whose father was from Tyre. He is trained to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, stone and wood and with purple, blue and crimson yarn and fine linen. He is experienced in all kinds of engraving and can execute any design given to him. He will work with your craftsmen and with those of my lord, David your father.”
    In 1 Kings 7:13–14, Hiram is described as the son of a widow of a Tyrian citizen, contracted by Solomon to cast the bronze furnishings for the new temple. From this reference, Freemasons often refer to Hiram Abiff as “the widow’s son”. Hiram lived or at least temporarily worked in clay banks (1 Kings 7:46-47) along the Jabbok River, on the east bank of the Jordan River, near their confluence.

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    January 17th, 2007, 6:12 am

     

    58. Nur al-Cubicle said:

    Oh, and France is getting directly involved and will be sending an envoy to Tehran to discuss Lebanese Hezbollah. Chirac told Dubya to take a hike. Bien!

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    January 17th, 2007, 6:13 am

     

    59. Alex said:

    Nur, Chirac has been pushing the “talk to Iran” option for some time now. To him, it means “Show Bashar that we will not need him, if we decide to coordinate things with Hizballah, we will talk to Iran, and not to Bashar”.

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    January 17th, 2007, 6:39 am

     

    60. Alex said:

    Gibran

    I was joking, but anyway, that’s an interesting analogy.

    You will be happy to know that the Freemasons admire another Phoenician … Pythagoras, who is not really Greek, but from Sidon or Samos.

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    January 17th, 2007, 6:48 am

     
     

    62. MSK said:

    Dear Simohurtta,

    I don’t disagree with you on your description of the East European development post-’89.

    But my point was that there are a number of countries where the change from a socialist statist system to a liberal economy did not translate into a total economic crash.

    Also, Syria isn’t as small as, say, Slovenia but it’s also not as big as Egypt. And, contrary to Slovenia, there are a LOT of Syrians abroad who have business expertise and can raise investment money, not to speak of Gulf and other foreign investors.

    So what if a Dubai or Canadian or Indian company owns the Homs cement factory (no idea if there is one in Homs, but just as an example)? Why would that be so bad?

    And my point with China/Singapore was that an immediate switch to total free market economy isn’t even necessary.

    But what IS necessary is a clear economic program set by the gov’t and then implemented. The business elites should be offered to join in & benefit from it, but if some don’t like it … then they will get pushed aside.

    But no program will succeed unless it is accompanied by the establishment of rule of law. Unless a citizen or foreign investor can be sure that the laws & regulations are followed or, in case of a breach, s/he will be able to call upon the gov’t institutions (incl. courts of law) to enforce them … well, until then there’s no way that Syria will get out of the current situation.

    I’ve witnessed the development in Syria for a while now and agree that today’s situation is much better than, say, 10 years ago. But so far the only economic liberalization and investments are on small-scale projects, like the opening of restaurants in Damascus. But that will never provide enough jobs or seriously raise the GDP.

    And time is running out.

    Again, none of this requires a change in government, as the Chinese (and Vietnamese) example shows. And it can be done gradually. But it has to be DONE.

    –MSK

    http://www.aqoul.com

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    January 17th, 2007, 9:57 am

     

    63. Ford Prefect said:

    Gibran,
    The subject of the Phoenicians has been analyzed and debated extensively in the literature. One can find a wealth of knowledge, often contradictory, about the lives and the different civilizations in our region. The real issue in not the academic discussion of whether the Phoenicians were Canaanites or not; but rather why anybody is talking about them in the context of nationalism of the modern state of Lebanon. The real issue is that while all Lebanese read and understand the history of the land, not all of them see that the Phoenicians form a basis for their uniqueness. A certain group of Lebanese have drawn the delineation back to the Phoenicians to compose a unique identity that is presumably different, but many other Lebanese do not share that line of thinking but rather consider themselves an integral part of the indigenous inhabitants of the region. The idea of “we are Phoenicians” is a 19th century invention contrived to counter the horrible events that befell on the Maronites in Mount Lebanon. In today’s Lebanon, while that idea is still marginally surviving, it is noticeable that it is no longer forming the basis of a national Lebanese identity.

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    January 17th, 2007, 10:38 am

     

    64. simohurtta said:

    Dear MSK

    I have never said that Syria doesn’t need a plan and change its economical “system”. What I have pointed out is that it can not be done by simply “demanding” free markets and low governmental interference. The transformation of a closed economy to an open economy takes a relative long time dependent from the development stage. At least 5 to 10 years.

    Selling state owned companies must be done in good time in order to get the best price. Not by selling those assets fast like in Eastern Europe to very shady “investors”.

    A real rapid economical development can only start when USA stops it rather extraordinary blockade. The other hurdle is the peace with Israel. No serious investments in large scale and long term are made to Syria if the is a high probability of war and/or a fear for the investors to be put on US black list.

    Simply shouting time after time free trade and markets, without talking about those blocks on the road in that direction, is not very constructive. Especially when USA does its best to block that free market development. Syria doesn’t lack the desire and need to develop economically. The problem is that it is not allowed to develop.

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    January 17th, 2007, 11:51 am

     

    65. Ford Prefect said:

    I hope that I am not the only only who happens to agree with both MSK and Simohurtta and see that both are making valid points. MSK’s rule of law combined with Simohurtta’s rational approach to the fundamentals of free market infrastructure form the basis of the free enterprise system. Both of you are making excellent points with no fundamental difference that I can discern.

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    January 17th, 2007, 12:24 pm

     

    66. ugarit said:

    Gibran said: “If you’re taking the Bible as your historical reference then you’re contradicting yourself.”

    No not at all. The point I was making is that Orientalists have tended to push for the name Phoenician over Canaanite for Biblical reasons.

    The Phoenicians (that’s what the Greeks called them) called themselves bani kanaan. Kanaan means Canaan.

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    January 17th, 2007, 3:28 pm

     

    67. MSK said:

    Dear FP,

    I think the essential difference between Simohurtta & me is that he (just like the Syrian gov’t) says that Syria can’t do anything economically until there’s a solution to the Israel “issue” while I say that that’s a cheap excuse and not true.

    Establishing rule of law in Syria has absolutely nothing to do with outside forces. Or are the Americans & Israelis responsible for the Makhlouf mafia & the government’s failure to deal with it? Or for the corruption und powerlessness of the Syrian judiciary?

    –MSK

    http://www.aqoul.com

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    January 17th, 2007, 3:56 pm

     

    68. simohurtta said:

    Dear MSK

    As IMF has stated Syria has done steps towards opening their markets and developing economy. So it is simply unfounded to say that Syria is not doing anything. I have never said that Syria would not need to take steps in the “rule of law”. Of course it has to do it better like most other countries in the world had to do. It is a rather wild assumption that I am against increasing the rule of law.

    Would you MSK invest your property to a country which is
    a) getting a Lebanon treatment from Israel
    b) a “democracy treatment” from USA in Iraq style
    c) a + b.

    with some certainty. I guess not. Neither are the big investors who have ready plans to invest to Syria. That is why it is rather difficult for Syrian government to take bold steps.

    I would say it is pure insipidity not admit that the Israel and USA relations have no effect to Syria’s development of economy.

    Certainly Syria has to fight against corruption, like Israel, Saudi Arabia etc have to. Is the business ethics in Syria much different that it is in the area? I suppose not.

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    January 17th, 2007, 6:04 pm

     

    69. MSK said:

    Dear Simohurtta,

    you keep evading my argument and obfuscating the issue.

    There is NOTHING external to the fact that the Syrian judiciary is corrupt, for Syrians and foreigners, that there is no accountability whatsoever on part of the government and the zu’amaa, that the economy is run along a pre-89 Soviet style, and that the few get (super)rich while the masses don’t get much.

    Syria has done “steps towards opening their markets and developing economy” according to the IMF, yes. Well, when you start at almost nothing, any improvement is quite visible. As in, if you have one factory and build another one, you have a 100% growth, but when you have 50 factories and build five more you “only” have 10% growth.

    But regardless of all that – the main issue I was talking about was that of “rule of law”. You have it in Finnland: If you sign a contract with someone else and that other person breaks it, then you go to court and either force the other party to pay the contractually agreed fine or get them to fulfil the terms of the contract, PLUS the other party will also get sentenced to a penalty (money and/or prison).

    In Syria … forget about it.

    THAT’s what I am talking about.

    No Israeli and/or American interference or pressure has anything to do with that.

    –MSK

    http://www.aqoul.com

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    January 18th, 2007, 12:28 am

     

    70. simohurtta said:

    Dear MSK

    In the “pre-89 Soviet era” there were no super-rich in Soviet Union. The super rich emerged during the Mafia economy era (post-89 capitalist era). 🙂

    I have never claimed that Syria has no problems with the rule of law. Certainly it has, but so has Israel, USA and Finland. It is a never ending job make it better. Of course the lack of rule of law is “internal”, nobody has claimed it would not be. But with political and economical blockade USA and Israel have much to do.

    Even though the rule of law and “blockade” are both linked to the economical development they are completely separate issues. The lack of rule of law in Syria doesn’t wash away Syria’s need to end the blockade and making peace with Israel nor it does justify US/Israeli actions against Syria.

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    January 18th, 2007, 8:22 am

     

    71. Tara30HENDRIX said:

    One acknowledges that today’s life is not very cheap, however some people require money for different issues and not every one earns enough cash. Thus to get fast loans and collateral loan should be good way out.

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    October 18th, 2010, 3:16 pm

     

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