Monitor: International press comment on the negotiations between Israel and Syria over the future of the Golan Heights

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Syria Times

The international community has welcomed the resumption of negotiations on the Syrian track from the point they stopped at in February 1996. This world attitude also confirms the credibility of Syria's policy towards the Middle East peace process and the seriousness and honesty of her bid to realise a just and comprehensive peace solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Faith in just peace has become the strategic option of Syria since President Hafez al-Assad made it crystal clear to the whole world that there will never be peace, security and stability in the region so long as one inch of the Golan and South Lebanon remains under occupation or any legitimate right of the Palestinian people is usurped. By taking this honest attitude, President al-Assad has opened the way wide to the establishment of a just, comprehensive and durable peace. Syria has spared no effort to reach such a moment. Israel has to show its true intentions and the US has a key role to help set things on the right path leading to a real peace solution.

Jewish World Review

Though it loomed very large for a few months, it is inconceivable that Kosovo will figure at all prominently in historical evaluations of the Clinton presidency. That is why the elusive Middle East "peace process" beckons. When things are going poorly and there are no pharmaceutical plants to blow away, the United States can always lean on Israel to make concessions to its enemies. It's possible that Hafez Assad has had a true change of heart and now wants what the Israelis want - to live in peace as normal neighbours. But if he [Assad] has undergone such a change, there is not yet any evidence of it. Why the Israelis would even consider returning the Golan Heights is an open question, though in 1993 Rabin did offer to withdraw from most of the Golan if Assad would agree to full recognition and peace with Israel. Assad rejected the offer. (United States)

The New York Times

History beckons in Washington, as Israel and Syria open peace talks that could bring an end to an era of conflict in the Middle East. The Israelis and Syrians appear eager to resolve their differences quickly, and they will have the assistance of President Clinton in trying to do so. The major issues facing negotiators involve control of the Golan Heights, the restoration of peace in Lebanon and the safeguarding of Israeli security. Despite the narrow margin of approval Israel's parliament gave Mr Barak's negotiating plans on Monday, the moment is promising for a settlement with Syria and the Israeli leader should be bold in seizing it. Peace with Syria and Lebanon would mean that for the first time since its creation in 1948, Israel would no longer face armed hostility from any of its immediate neighbours.

The Jerusalem Post

The negotiations between Israel and Syria are only beginning in Washington, but the political debate here has already moved on to the aftermath of an agreement. Among the controversies surrounding a potential agreement is the unprecedented manner in which it is expected to be ratified - through a popular referendum. In this context, it is disturbing that considerable numbers of Israelis believe that an agreement should be ratified by a super-majority in order to negate the influence of the Arab vote. It should be clear that no one is suggesting that Israeli Arabs should not be allowed to vote in a referendum. It is wrong, however, to single out any one group as somehow disqualified from influencing decisions, even critical ones, that are being made democratically.

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