Could there be something in the air between Israel and Syria? We’ve receiving reports that the two countries have been back channeling with the help of Turkey for some time – and now Syrian President Assad has told a Qatar newspaper that Turkish involvement had yielded an Israeli offer to withdraw from the Golan Heights in return for a peace treaty.
The inevitable diplomatic two-step has already begun. Olmert’s office does not confirm or deny anything, and the report has already set off a political firestorm in Israeli political circles. But the momentum seems to be continuing. For his part, Assad is saying direct talks could not happen without US involvement – but that this could never happen until a new US President takes office. (No surprise there…)
I’ve blogged about Syrian – Israeli peace efforts before, but I’ll restate my own two cents for the record: I believe an accord would go a long way to stablize the region, improve the climate for Israeli-Palestinian talks, and further mitigate the influence of Iran. Is Assad serious? There’s only one way to find out. As I am fond of saying, where there’s talk, there’s hope.
Click here for an AP article on the latest developments.