Photo: GPO
Dr Alon Liel
Photo: GPO
Prof Barry Rubin

Israel-Syria pact '85 percent done'

Former Israeli diplomat: Assad's top advisor views majority of issues as being resolved

Israel and Syria agree on "85 percent" of the issues which need to be resolved before a peace treaty can be signed between the two countries, a top Syrian advisor to President Basher Assad said, according to a former senior Israeli diplomat.


Dr Alon Liel, former director-general of the Israel Foreign Ministry, and former ambassador to South Africa, has been heavily involved in the Syrian negotiations track.


Speaking to Ynetnews, Liel said he attended a meeting in Brussels last week with Riad Daoudi, described by Liel as "the number one advisor to Assad."


Daoudi, who also heads the judicial branch of the Syrian presidency, was quoted by Liel as saying: "85 percent of the Syrian-Israeli deal is closed. A mechanism has to be found to allow for discussion on the rest of the issues."


"A mechanism means bringing in the Americans, that's how I interpret his comment," Liel said. He added that "85 percent" was a reference to the territorial aspect of a Syrian-Israeli treaty, namely the Golan Heights.


"He didn't go into details. But I assumed he meant security arrangements," Liel said.


"The 15 percent which is not closed involves the regional questions - What happens with Syria's relationship with Khaled Mashaal, its connection with Hizbullah, its alliance with Iran? There needs to be a change. Israel isn't going to hand over the Golan to an ally of Iran," Liel said.


Liel, currently a lecturer in international relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, said he thought Syria's "main aim is to sit with the Americans and end their international isolation."


"The Syrians are in trouble, for a number of some reasons. Their only ally is Iran. Syria is searching for ways to leave Iran. The only way to do that is through an alternative to be offered, which can only be done by the US," Liel added.


'Syrians aren't serious about peace'

Despite such optimistic forecasts, however, peace with Syria is not a realistic prospect, according to Professor Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) at the Interdisciplinary Center.


"I don't believe the Syrians are serious. I don't think anything is going to happen," Rubin said.


"I believe that Syria doesn't really want the Golan Heights back. Because if they got it back it would be a disaster for the regime," Rubin said. "Assuming they got it back, what would happen? A couple of days of celebrations, people would say, the war is over, now when are we going to have a better economy, more democracy, less corruption, more freedom? In other words, it would be a disaster for the regime," Rubin added.


"By the same token, Syria would not be able to use the cause of the Golan to mobilize support for itself. They need the conflict and they can't give it up. What they really want is Lebanon.


"The Golan Heights are almost worthless for them. Lebanon is the prize," Rubin said, adding that Lebanon represented a huge economic asset for the Syrian regime.


"Therefore I believe on the basis of this analysis, that the most important card they're playing is the radicalism card. I don't believe negotiations are going to go anywhere," he said.


פרסום ראשון: 07.18.07, 20:02
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