Despite the recent exchange of threats and the forming alliance with Iran, the British Guardian newspaper reported over the weekend that Syrian officials have expressed willingness to renew peace talks with Israel based on a step-by-step withdrawal from the Golan Heights.
The report appeared in an Op-Ed written by Gabrielle Rifkind, director of the Middle East research program in Oxford Univesity.
Rifkind quoted Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem speaking during a press meeting last December. "For peacemaking, Israel needs to be ready to recognize that Syria is entitled to every inch of the Golan, but we wish to engage in talks," he said. "For us," he continued, "the land is sacred and a matter of honor."
Referring to the agreement's outline he noted, "There could be stages of withdrawal, the timing of which could involve a form of normalization. Half of the Golan could lead to an end of enmity; three-quarters of the Golan, to a special interest section in the US embassy in Damascus: a full withdrawal would allow a Syrian embassy in Israel."
According to Rifkind, the Syrian minister said that such key issues as Syria's support of Hamas, Hezbollah and its policy towards Iran would "only be answered after withdrawal".
The report noted that Moallem suggested that the US provide guarantees for Israel's security under which American jets would be allowed inside Golan territory.