The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

The weak argument against the March 2000 Syria track breakdown

I just stumbled across this piece which, in trying to do the opposite, convinced me further that the March 2000 breakdown in the Syria Track was indeed as Uri Sagi said: Clinton lied to Assad and Barak got cold feet about giving up the NE corner of lake tiberius (after the waterline had receeded from 67) a la the original Rabin promise.

Notice how the author spends the majority of his time avoiding a discussion of the 2000 events and there, specifically, fails to mention or deal with the specifics of the final negotiation itself:

“…In the post-mortem of the failed Syrian-Israel peace process in 2000, most analysts pointed to the issue of borders—the inability of the parties to resolve the conflict over a few hundred yards along the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee—as the principal spoiler.

The border issue was unquestionably contentious. When Israel began negotiations with Syria shortly after the 1991 Madrid Conference, the assumption was that full withdrawal from the Golan Heights meant an Israeli withdrawal to the 1923 international border. However, throughout the 1990s, Syria’s territorial demands expanded inexorably. [WHAT? Even if you argue that the “Rabin Deposit” of the 67 borders was an “expansion” it is misleading to suggest a series of expansions on the demands…]

“Syrian President Hafez al-Assad’s demands for a “full withdrawal” from the Golan Heights included the caveat that the pullout should be “to the June 4, 1967 line,” and the requirement of Syrian “access to the Sea of Galilee.” Finally, Assad insisted upon “shared sovereignty over the lake.” [HMMMM sounds like assad was actually pretty consistent now! The author is confusing me]

The problem with Assad’s formulation was that the so-called “1967 line” is not actually a border; it exists on no official map. Rather, it is a reflection of where Syrian and Israeli troops were positioned on the eve of the Six-Day War [Indeed]. It was also set substantially further back in Israeli territory. By demanding this border, Syria was effectively asking for Israel’s full withdrawal, plus an additional 41 square miles.

The message was unmistakable: Syria sought peace in exchange for more than it was entitled to under international law, and at Israel’s expense. [HMMM suddenly international law IS A GOOD benchmark…. not a good road for this guy to go down if he wants to be consistent with other arguments that touch Israel!…. plus if Rabin thought this was a good idea in 1993 when he made the deal, the author needs to explain why giving back “more” (and he does not deal with the receding waterline issue of course) was inherently a bad idea! Which he does not…..]

Since 1993, Syria’s precondition for participating in peace talks has been for Israel to first satisfy all of Damascus’ territorial demands before discussing normalization and security [ Uh, yeah, In the deal all THESE POINTS were included]. Accordingly, much of the diplomatic efforts to this point have been spent on bridging the gap between Syria’s notion of the June 4, 1967 line as a precondition to negotiate, and Israel’s refusal to directly offer what it viewed as a possible result of negotiations. [NO, the Rabin Deposit was made…. it was known that this was what the syrians could accept – and they stuck to that….the deal was ready, terms obvious and agreed… then Barak decided he didnt want to do the deal and Clinton did not push him]

By his March 2000 meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton, Hafez had effectively priced himself out of the market. [WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?  The author again needs to explain why the price WAS NOT WORTH IT – especially since unlike his formulation SO MANY israelis thought it was WORTH IT… see the last bit]

The Syrian leader’s intransigence led a majority of Israelis to conclude that returning the Golan Heights to Syria wasn’t worth vague promises of nonbelligerency. Since then, Hafez’s son Bashar, in both word and deed, has proven to be less flexible, further confirming Israeli skepticism….


Written by nickbiddlenoe

June 7, 2011 at 12:28 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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