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  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 04-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With Israeli-Palestinian peace talks getting underway in Eilat this weekend, the Middle East seems to be switching peace tracks yet again. After President Bill Clinton held separate White House meetings with Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Yasir Arafat earlier this month, State Department spokesman James Rubin said, "In our judgment, the next six to eight weeks could well be a decisive phase in the pursuit of peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. . . . That phase obviously is now including a more intensive American involvement." This shift—after several months of focusing on Syria talks—does not necessarily mean that the Syrian track can be considered dead and buried (and indeed Arab leaders such as Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah are said to be quietly seeking to revive that track). Yet, operationally, it means that the United States and Israel will no longer wait for Syria as they revive the Palestinian track and plan for Israel's pullback from Lebanon in July.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Syria-Israel negotiations are on hold, but Israelis and Syrians have found a way to negotiate through third parties—the media. Two weeks ago, Israel leaked the U.S. draft text of a proposed peace treaty, complete with a timeline for implementation, in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz. Over the last ten days, a surprised and embarrassed Syria has responded with its own leaks through the Lebanese media. Beirut's al-Safir newspaper is the favored recipient of these leaks, the most authoritative of which were a set of interviews by Syrian foreign minister Faruq al-Shara and a document detailing article-by-article amendments to the proposed U.S. text. The Shara interviews highlight Syria's (professed) obsession with dignity as an essential ingredient in negotiations as well as Damascus's demand that the United States procure a clear Israeli commitment to withdraw to the June 4, 1967 borders prior to the renewal of talks. More important, though, is the al-Safir critique of the original U.S. draft treaty. A close reading of that chilly document suggests that Syria is keen to project the image of offering Israel only an arctic-cold peace, correcting the impression advanced by some press reports that al-Shara had offered numerous concessions to Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak during the Shepherdstown talks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After more than a week of negotiations in Shepherdstown, W.Va., the "working draft" of the Syria-Israel peace treaty reported in yesterday's Ha'aretz notes only one area of seemingly irreconcilable difference between the two parties—over the scope of the demilitarized zone separating the two sides. As currently worded, the text neither rules in nor rules out an Israeli withdrawal to the "June 4, 1967, lines." The draft reflects a document much more detailed than a Camp David-style framework accord or an Oslo-type Declaration of Principles but still far short of a full-blown peace treaty. In tone and wording, it is a throwback to the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, with few improvements and even several drawbacks from that two-decade-old document.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Syria, Egypt