Peace In Our Time — plus Hamas and Hizballah. Such a deal!
“Syria makes peace proposal to Israel,” by Zeina Karam for Associated Press, September 4 (thanks to JCB):
DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s leader said Thursday he offered a proposal for peace with Israel but also refused to break off ties with Hezbollah and militant Palestinians “” a key Israeli demand.
President Bashar Assad also said indirect negotiations with Israel were on hold until that country chooses a new prime minister and that direct talks would have to wait until a new U.S. president takes office.
Assad said at the summit that in the peace proposal given to Turkish mediators, Syria outlined six points on the issue of the “withdrawal line” “” a reference to the extent of an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.
This has been a major sticking point in the previous talks, causing the collapse of U.S.-brokered direct negotiations in 2000. Syria has long demanded the complete return of the heights, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. In the previous negotiations, Israel sought to keep a strip of land around the Sea of Galilee.
Assad did not say whether the six points changed the demand for a full withdrawal.
Assad said a fifth planned round of indirect talks with Israel had been postponed until after Israeli leadership elections and that the future of negotiations rested on whether a new prime minister in Israel will be committed to pursuing peace with Syria.
Any direct talks would also have to wait until a new American administration is in place, Assad added, acknowledging the importance of strong U.S. backing for such an effort.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the target of several corruption investigations, has announced he will step down after his party chooses a new leader this month. That has left peace prospects with both Syria and the Palestinians uncertain.
“We want the support of all states, basically France, Qatar and Turkey in order to be assured that the next (Israeli) prime minister will follow the same direction Olmert had followed through his readiness for complete withdrawal from the occupied territories in order for peace to be achieved,” he said.
In Israel, an official said contacts were already being made to set up more talks. He said Israel has a “genuine intention to reach an agreement.” The official declined to be identified because the diplomatic efforts are ongoing.
Israeli officials have insisted that Syria also must end its support for militant groups opposed to Israel, namely Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Palestinian Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.
But Assad on Thursday sought to reassure the groups that he would continue to back what he described as the “resistance” against Israeli occupation.
“We don’t see any interest in abandoning the resistance,” he told Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television. “Our position has always been clear. Our position toward the resistance against any occupation in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine is firm and has not changed.”…