Thursday, June 5, 2008

Syrian-Israeli Peace?

Recently it was announced that Israel and Syria have been having diplomatic relations through our mutual friends Turkey. Most of the world hailed the developments has a break through, clearing the way for peace in the Middle East. I, however, am a little more pessimistic.

There a a few things that I'd like to show why I'm pessimistic.
1. What would we gain? The status quo with Syria is peace. We don't fear Syrian attacks like we do from Hezbollah or Hamas. At best this treaty would give us another number to chalk up on the board of countries with diplomatic relations although I do have to admit there is a possibility that Hezboallah/Hamas would lose Syrian support, but that isn't good enough to give up the Golan.

2. The Golan. While people like ex-IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz say that we could live without the Golan Heights, since artillery is not as important as it once was (the threat coming more from rockets than anything else). It is abundantly clear to me that high ground is just as important as it once was and will continue to be. In the event that there is a war or terrorist bombardment from the Golan it would allow them to easily hit cities like Tiberias, Sfat, Afula, etc.

3. All this is a facade to remove the discussion of the indictment of our dear Prime Minister due to bribery and fraudulent election donations.

4. The Syrians said that Israel offered them the Golan in return for peace. The problem is is that most Israelis have actually been to the Golan (unlike Gush Katif) and like it. I can't imagine that the Israeli public would support giving up the Golan for relatively little in tangible results (see #1).

5. I find it interesting that the country that is moderating these peace discussions is Turkey. If we remember, back in September it came out that Israel bombed the Syrian nuclear reactor, the country to spill the beans was ... Turkey. Israel flew through Lebanon into Syria and out through Turkey without tripping any alarms and what happens? The spent fuel tanks land in Turkey and that's how the world found out. To me it seems that these two events are connected.

The Jerusalem Post recently reported "The diplomats said Syrian atomic energy chief Ibrahim Othman told the Arab delegates his country could not open secret military sites to outside perusal as long as Syria and Israel remained technically in a state of war." The IAEA wants to go into Syria to inspect, but now that Syria is limiting the inspections the world will start putting even more pressure on Israel to accept Syrian terms (give up the Golan so we can go check out more nuclear sites).

Guess we'll have to see how this plays out, but for all these reasons I really don't think that now it an appropriate time to make peace with Syria.

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