(VIDEO) WASHINGTON – The Baker-Hamilton report submitted Wednesday evening to US President George W. Bush marks a change in the American policy regarding the Middle East, particularly on the Israeli-Syrian channel.
"In the context of a full and secure peace agreement, the Israelis should return the Golan Heights, with a US security guarantee for Israel that could include an international force on theborder, including US troops if requested by both parties," the Iraq Study Group headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton recommended.
According to the report, the return of the Golan Heights to Syria
will be subject to the fulfillment of a series of conditions by the Syrians in peace negotiations:
- Syria’s full adherence to UN Security Council Resolution 1701 of August 2006, which provides the framework for Lebanon
to regain sovereign control over its territory.
- Syria’s full cooperation with all investigations into political assassinations in Lebanon, especially those of Rafik Hariri and Pierre Gemayel.
- A verifiable cessation of Syrian aid to Hizbullah
and the use of Syrian territory for transshipment of Iranian weapons and aid to Hizbullah. (This step would do much to solve Israel’s
problem with Hizbullah.)
- Syria’s use of its influence with Hamas and Hizbullah for the release of the captured Israeli Defense Force soldiers.
- A verifiable cessation of Syrian efforts to undermine the democratically elected government of Lebanon.
- A verifiable cessation of arms shipments from or transiting through Syria for Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups.
- A Syrian commitment to help obtain from Hamas an acknowledgment of Israel’s right to exist.
- Greater Syrian efforts to seal its border with Iraq.
|Bush receives report (Video: Reuters)|
On the Palestinian channel, the report rules that the elements of the negotiated peace should include:
- Adherence to UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and to the principle of land for peace, which are the only bases for achieving peace.
- Strong support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to take the lead in preparing the way for negotiations with Israel.
- A major effort to move from the current hostilities by consolidating the ceasefire reached between the Palestinians and the Israelis in November 2006.
- Support for a Palestinian national unity government.
- Sustainable negotiations leading to a final peace settlement along the lines of President Bush’s two-state solution, which would address the key final status issues of borders, settlements, Jerusalem, the right of return, and the end of conflict.
The report also states in the Palestinian context that "the United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with theArab-Israeli conflict.
There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon, Syria, and President Bush’s June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.
"This commitment must include direct talks with, by, and between Israel, Lebanon, Palestinians (those who accept Israel’s right to exist), and particularly Syria—which is the principal transit point for shipments of weapons to Hizbullah, and which supports radical Palestinian groups."
Analysts in Washington have already implied that there are those who suggest that Baker himself, who already served as secretary of state in the past, will be appointed a special envoy to the Middle East in a bid to twist Israel's arm.
Israel objects to this possibility, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said so as he recently left a meeting with Bush.