Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Big Question: Is Israel heading for a peace deal with Syria - or another war?

Independent Online Edition >:
But having held on to the Golan for so long, why give it up now?

Peace with Syria - and Damascus's recognition of Israel - would be a huge prize in itself, which is one of the reasons that Prime Ministers Barak and Rabin were ready to negotiate with the President's father in the 1990s - though that ended in failure. But it's a fair question. Apart from the Yom Kippur War in 1973, when Syria briefly overran the Golan and was then repulsed, Israel's relations with Syria since 1967 have been of the Cold War variety and Israel has largely lived with that, not to mention enjoying - literally - the fruits of the Heights, not to mention the excellent wine produced by some of its 17,000 Jewish settlers there.

What lends everything fresh urgency - quite apart from the important realization that war might be the alternative, with heavy civilian casualties as well as military - is what Israel might get in return. The prospect that Syria might detach from Iran and stop its support for Hamas, and even more so Hizbollah in Lebanon, has huge potential attractions for Israel.

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