Syria willing to offer Israel 'warm' peace deal
Wednesday 07 September 1994
Although the Israeli-Syrian peace process has stalled over Syria's demand for a prior commitment to full withdrawal from the strategic heights, Mr Sharaa was nevertheless optimistic that peace was possible this year. 'We hope to achieve peace by the end of the year. If it is not achieved, it's not because of us.'
Speaking to reporters during a visit for talks with the Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, Mr Sharaa was only mildly critical of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and of Jordan's King Hussein for signing separate peace deals with Israel but nevertheless reiterated Syria's insistence on a comprehensive regional-wide peace settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This now amounts to a demand for a settlement that meets Syria's and Lebanon's aspirations.
'Normal relations cannot work when part of your land is still occupied. If you go back to the Egyptian peace treaty, you'll see that it led to a 'cold' peace because many preconditions were made that made it very difficult for the Egyptian people to accept,' he said.
Israel is insisting that the withdrawal process is a matter for face- to-face negotiations and has refused to accept the Syrian precondition. Without naming Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, said in an interview yesterday: 'Besides Arafat, there are other leaders in the Arab world who are not likeable . . . however, I would be prepared to make peace with them if they came to Jerusalem.'
By holding out the prospects of a 'warm' peace yesterday, Mr Sharaa was consciously appealing to Israeli public opinion which he said was moving to the realisation that Syria would never accept a partial withdrawal from the Golan heights. 'There is a realisation in Israel that there will be no peace without Syria and Israeli public opinion aware that without full withdrawal from the Golan there will be no peace.' He did not rule out an agreement to demilitarise the Golan area but said such arrangements must be equal and balanced and not to the disadvantage of either side.
An opinion poll at the weekend indicated more than six out of 10 Israelis were prepared to see at least a partial withdrawal from Golan in exchange for peace. The Israeli military, however, remains unconvinced. The chief of staff, Lieutenant General Ehud Barak, recently caused a storm by suggesting that Israel should keep the heights, even in peacetime. Mr Rabin slapped him down on Monday, saying that any decision on withdrawal would be taken by the elected government. The Israeli Prime Minister reiterated yesterday that any deal that involved a 'significant' withdrawal from the heights would be put to a national referendum.
Mr Sharaa was also responding to Israeli fears that concessions on Golan will not lead to the establishment of full relations and could indeed result in the same 'cold' peace that has existed with Egypt since the Camp David accords. President Assad has so far refused to outline the nature of the peace he envisages until Israel commits itself to full withdrawal.
Mr Rabin said yesterday on Israeli army radio that any withdrawal agreed upon could take several years in which normalisation could be tested. Measures during this period would include an exchange of ambassadors and the introduction of free travel and trade.
Part of Mr Sharaa's mission to London was to persuade Mr Hurd to support Syria's demand that the European Union lift its embargo on arms sales to Syria as it has already done for Israel, 'despite the fact Israel is occupying part of Syria and Syria is not occupying part of Israel'. Mr Hurd agreed yesterday to back the Syrian request saying he saw no need to retain the embargo.
Mr Hurd said Syria clearly wanted to move towards a successful conclusion of peace talks and added: 'We strongly support that and we hope it will not be long.'
- 1 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 2 Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
- 3 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 5 David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
Isis 'jihadi bride' claims forced sex with Yazidi girls is never rape because Koran condones it
Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...