The Roadblock to Damascus Lies on Pennsylvania Avenue

Eyal Zisser, a top Israeli expert on Syria, says that Ehud Olmert and Bashar al-Assad appear serious about talking peace. The latest sign is Asad’s comment to the Qatari daily al-Watan Olmert has given him a commitment to return the entire Golan Heights.

In an analysis published through the Dayan Center at Tel Aviv U, Zisser describes that the most likely reason for Assad to reveal Olmert’s commitment, which was delivered via Turkey:

…the Syrians may have wanted to test Olmert’s seriousness, to check whether the message delivered to them was reliable, and whether Olmert would be capable of weathering the inevitable criticism from portions of the Israeli public. The fact that the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office declined to deny the news of the commitment has been understood as a tacit confirmation of its veracity.

The peacemaker here is Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leader of Israel’s closest ally in the region. The obstacle is the leader of the United States:

…achieving real progress in the Israeli-Syrian peace process will require active American participation. So far, the US has not reacted officially to the latest Olmert-Bashar exchange. However, it concurrently revealed information regarding the Israeli attack in northern Syria in September 2007 against a nuclear facility under construction with North Korean assistance. To be sure, the revelation was not designed as a response to the incipient resumption of Syrian- Israeli negotiations. Nevertheless, it served as another reminder of the low point that Syrian-American relations have reached in recent years, and the lack of any readiness in the Bush administration to change its attitude towards Syria.

I should stress that the single most significant improvement in Israeli security was arguably the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, which elimnated the possibility of a strong Arab coalition going to war against Israel. It also completed Egypt’s switch from a pro-Soviet to a pro-Western orientation. Some "pro-Israel" activists in the U.S. have never forgiven Jimmy Carter for his role in that achievement.

Now we have at least a glimmering of an opportunity to remove Syria from the threats against us, and cut it loose from the Teheran-Hizballah alliance. But the roadblock on the path to peace is a large white structure on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. At least until the tenant changes.

4 thoughts on “The Roadblock to Damascus Lies on Pennsylvania Avenue

  1. Not being a Middle East expert, it just baffles me the White House has to be involved, or give the OK for this to happen. Why? Aren’t Syria and Israel sovereign nations? Would the WH actually withhold assistance if Israel went ahead with this?

  2. Gershom said:
    —————————————————————–
    I should stress that the single most significant improvement in Israeli security was arguably the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, which elimnated the possibility of a strong Arab coalition going to war against Israel. It also completed Egypt’s switch from a pro-Soviet to a pro-Western orientation. Some “pro-Israel” activists in the U.S. have never forgiven Jimmy Carter for his role in that achievement.

    ——————————————————————-

    Actually, none of this is correct. Egypt already started the shift away from the USSR before the Yom Kippur War. The “peace treaty” does NOT eliminate the possibility of a “strong Arab coalition” going to war with Israel. People point out “look at what a success the peace treaty has been…there hasn’t been a shooting war across the Israel-Egypt border since it was signed”. But that isn’t becaue of the “peace treaty”. There hasn’t been a shooting war across the Israeli-Syrian frontier since 1974 either, and there is NO peace agreement there. The reason there has been no direct Israel-Egypt war since 1979 is simply because the Egyptians haven’t wanted one, and if they should decide they DO want one in the future, the “peace agreement” won’t stop them from starting one. Most wars in the world between countries start from a prior condition of peace.
    In actuality, Egypt presents the “peace agreement” to its population as a partial, temporary cease fire with Israel. Just as Syria keeps its own frontier with Israel quiet, but at the same time, maintains HIZBULLAH in Lebanon as an active belligerent against Israel in an ongoing proxy war with Israel, Egypt does the same with HAMAS in the Gaza Strip. Egypt maintains a cold war with Israel. Alon Liel, a former Israeli Foreign Ministry official and close friend of Yossi Beilin stated on Israel radio that Egypt totally opposes an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement because they view that as a threat to the Egyptian position in the Middle East.
    Egypt is facing a change in the top position in the future as Mubarak turns 80 years old. Who nows how the new regime will come to view the “peace agreement” in the face of rising Islamic extremism. Israelis should view the “peace agreement” the same way the Egyptians do, a partial, temporary cease fire and not assume that it is a permanent feature, I am sorry to say.

  3. Huntly: If you read Ben David’s retort , you may get a drift of the Condi Rubber Stamp’s policy.It’s just mindless ranting and a comittment to a “we can out hate them”policy of the Zionists and if you read between the lines ,hate for THEM just drips with every so-called justification.,You get this sort of Moslem hate here from people who have not served in the armed forces such as Limbaugh,O’Reilly ,Cheney,Rove,Glenn Beck, and most of the religious “ding-a-lings” Clinton dodged but it was on opposition to the war ,a reason I never liked but it’s certainly better than Cheney’s 5 deferments based on”I had other things to do ” will so did I and I went anyway.We are not going to get involved until we get the pro”We hate Palestinians” out of the mix.We have a comittment to peacemaking as the greatest military power in the world unfortunately the present WH has other plans such as corrupting the judicial system,filling their friends pockets with “blood money”made off of “Cheney’s War” I say Cheney’s war because Bush is too dumb to have thought up these deceits. Cheney is the closest thing to a Martin Bormann they have and Rove;first name Karl, would have done fit right in as Goebell’s replacement

  4. Most wars in the world between countries start from a prior condition of peace.

    I actually don’t even know what this means it is so vague. But anyone with any grasp of history will know that this statement is false. Wars don’t just spring from nowhere. There are always deep disagreements or causes of animosity which provoke them.

    The idea that Hamas is a willing stooge of Egypt is news to me since Hamas stems from one of the Egyptian regime’s betes noire, the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Ben David writes as if peace treaties have little or no significance. Thank God the world of professional diplomacy disputes this view.

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