Posted by Alex on Monday, May 21st, 2007
Published by ALEX
By Ze'ev Schiff, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service
Washington gave Israel the green light to accept Syrian President Bashar Assad's call for peace talks, in a change of position accompanied by several preconditions.
The Bush administration has given Israel permission to discuss the future of the Golan Heights, security arrangements and Israeli-Syrian peace accords if it agrees to talks with Syria.
However, Washington has stipulated that Israel must not agree to any negotiations, even indirectly, on the United States' position, or on the future of Lebanon.
Furthermore, Israel must not make promises to Syria regarding U.S. policy. According to the new position, Washington will deal directly with Syria on these matters.
Lebanon would also not be discussed in negotiations between Syria and Israel.
Syria's role in terrorism, the presence of terrorist organizations in Damascus and its involvement in smuggling weapons to Hezbollah and the Palestinian territories are currently issues which the U.S. is not discussing with Syria.
Iran and its military connection with Syria is also not a topic that is open to discussion at present.
The American position changed due Syria's participation in the Arab League summit in Riyadh.
During the meeting of Iraq's neighbors, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mualem adopted a moderate position. Rice then held a private meeting with Mualem.
Rice intends to invite Syria as well as Palestinian representatives and Israel to an international summit on the Arab-Israeli conflict, according to a plan being drafted by the U.S. State Department.
If this occurs, the American position regarding possible talks between Israel and Syria will no longer be relevant.