Syria and Israel still remain principle military threats to each other and numerous efforts to reconcile the two have almost proved futile. Syria has been continuously increasing its expenditure on weapons and nuclear research while strengthening its military to equal Israel which is much more endowed in military power. Just recently in November 2007, Syria complained that Israel had penetrated its airspace and that it was probably a plan to test Syria’s flight paths in preparation for war (Mitchel, 2009). It is also said that Israel bombed a site which many suggest was a nuclear testing plant in Syria. This kind of tension is not a new phenomenon considering that Israel and Syria has been in conflict for decades with issues like the Golan Heights and Syria’s support for Muslim Jihad groups forming the major causes of conflict.
From the surface it may seem like Israel’s and Syria’s conflicts will never come to an end (Hinnebusch, 1996). The Israeli still think that Syria has not completely made a decision to make peace and that they are not ready to let go of what is needed to make the peace deal a success. Unremitting hostility can still be felt because previous peace deal attempts have constantly aborted half-way as conflicts between the two countries continue to occur. However, there is a possibility of using negotiations to reconcile these two military giants. Peace talks and making negotiation rather than war the solution to peace and achieving political objectives would have to be applied. This paper aims at illustrating how a framework for a workable peace deal between Israel and Syria would look like.
It examines the undying tension that has existed between Israel and Syria and explores the possibility of reconciling these two in a workable peace deal.Framework of a workable peace dealA workable framework must have aims and objectives for the peace deal. In anticipation for a peace deal, the causes for the differences between the two countries must be identified. Basically, the framework would contain the identification of conflicts existing between the two countries; address the reasons for failure in past peace deal negotiations; indicate the proposed solutions to the conflict and come up with ways of maintaining the peace deal in the future. A solution however will lie on the two parties’ ability to agree on the contentious issues affecting them. As part of the peace deal, there would be an agreement between the two countries to refrain from undertaking activities that are bound to frustrate the peace deal efforts.Syria conflict and previous peace deal attemptsThe Golan Heights has been a source of dispute between the two countries staring 1967 (Suez, 2008).
Israel has declared Golan height as its territory even though it lies within Syria. Israel has made use of the Golan Height resources especially water resources and numerous Israeli’s have settled in the disputed region. War between Israel and Syria erupted at Golan Heights in 1973 creating tension between the two countries. Israel has constantly accused Syria for fueling terror in the Middle East through its support for Muslim Jihad groups, the Hezbollah and the Hamas (Seale, 2000). Constant attacks have been witnessed in the two states either directly or indirectly. Syria has in many occasions provided military support and weapons to anti-Israel groups.Fundamental differences continue to exist between the two conflicting sides and peace talks are not often completed as new issues and conflict issues arise between the two.
The first attempts to negotiations starting in 1991 were thwarted when Islamic Jihad terrorists and the Hamas caused the death of 60 Israelis following three suicide attempts in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (Frykberg, 2008). By the end of the talks, withdrawal of Israel from Golan had been discussed and a time table set. Certain security arrangements had also been organized in addition to negotiation on the border. Revival of the peace talks in 1999 with US as the mediator seemed to have come to a standstill in 2000 when the two sides could not agree on major security issues (Mandell, 1996). Syria refused to surrender the Sea of Galilee’s north east corner and Israel was still skeptical about departing from the Golan Heights which has been a major water supplier in the Israel. More recently indirect peace talks with Turkey as the mediator brought a sign of hope for the end in rivalry between the two (Seale, 2000). Syria however suspended the talks following the attacks on the Hamas by Israel.
Turkish minister Ali Babacan has expressed his country’s willingness to re-launch indirect talk to find peace between Israel and Syria (Mozgovaya, 2009). The two parties have also shown interest in conducting dialogue under Turkey’s mediation. According to Omar (2008), Syria through President Bashar Assad has agreed to talk without any pre-conditions and Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli Prime minister expressed his readiness to sign a peace treaty with Syria should it agree to the conditions set by former President Ariel Sharon which include Israel’s disassociation with Iraq and its ceasure to support anti-Israeli groups.Long-term conflict resolution prospectsThe peace deal would most definitely lay down aims and objectives to be achieved in the treaty. In other words, there a certain issues that the two warring nations must agree upon.The deal would seek to establish a proper meaning of the content of peace. Both Israel and Syria have different definitions and concepts of peace. Israel perceives peace as full normalization of relations in terms of trade relations, economic, cultural as well as diplomatic relations (Mandell, 1996).
For Syria, unless Israel withdraws from the Arab territory, there can be no peace. As a matter of fact, Syria for a long time maintained that Israel’s’ withdrawal was a subject of duty and did not even require any kind of negotiations (Mandell, 1996).Strong negotiations leading to a formal workable peace deal would particularly address the Security issues that are taken to be of transcendent value and which both countries may find hard to let go. Territorial issues are a major concern for the two countries. The framework would establish the scope and a plan for territorial withdrawal of Israel from Golan Heights (Mendell, 1996). Syria wants the return of Golan Heights and other territories including East Jerusalem which Israel has taken custody since the Six-Day War in 1967 (Suez, 2008).
While Israel may be unwilling to let go of Golan Heights, Syria insists there can be no peace if the territorial issue is not resolved. At least 18,000 Israelis have settled in the Golan Heights and Israel is reluctant to undertake settlement of these people (Suez, 2008). They give a reason that Syria’s commitment to peace after their withdrawal from Golan Heights is not predictable and would have to be tested first (Hinnebusch, 1996). Israel has a firm stand that that it cannot form a peace deal unless Syria cuts its ties with Iran and other anti-Israel groups which the country supports. Iran has been Syria’s ally together with South Korea and Israel accuses Syria of supporting Iran and generally causing conflict in the Middle East by funding Halmas, Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad organizations (Mitchel, 2009). Israel insists that Syria must stop sponsoring and providing logistical support and supplying weapons to these groups.
In support of US, Israel wants Syria to stop anti-American insurgents from accessing Iraq through Syria. A peace deal between these two countries must bring Israel and Syria to an agreement. Should Israel agree to cede the Golan Heights, a permanent solution to the conflict could be found (Ramirez, 2008).
Israel should recognize that by not leaving, it will only be bringing Syria closer to Iraq thus strengthening the Shia Crescent. Leaders from both sides have seen cause for this and an example is the former Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert who in an interview in 2008 pointed out that the best solution to ending the conflict and creating peace was to withdraw from the occupied territories that are the source of conflict. (Ramirez, 2008)Israeli and Syrian forces from Lebanon would be another territorial issue to be included in the deal.
Simultaneous withdrawals from the Bekka valley and Southern Lebanon would come in handy in ensuring the workability of the deal. A linkage of Southern Lebanon to Golan could help the two countries to withdraw their troops from Lebanon. Currently, Syria fears that Israel could pose a threat to Damascus since it can easily maneuver through Bekka Valley and the Golan front which is in turn their justification for the high presence of Syrian troops in Bekka valley (Mandell, 1996). Similarly, Israel feels threatened just in case the Syrians bring in surface-to air missiles through the Bekka Valley. Withdrawal from Lebanon and the two parties’ agreement to renounce territorial claims in Lebanon would promise lasting peace between the two nations (Mandel, 1996). This cannot be said to be impossible because after all, Damascus withdrew troops from Lebanon following the Rafik Al-Hariri, the former Lebanese minister’s assassination blame. This was after a 29 year presence which denotes that it is possible to cut the territorial occupation by the two countries from Lebanon.
Syria would have to restrain from fueling military support to Iran and other terrorist groups. Syria’s support for Iran has brought about complications in forming a peace deal between the two countries. Israel fears that by supporting Iran, the Hizbullah and the Hamas, Israel would still not be promoting peace since these groups are anti-Israel and would continue attacking them through the help of Iran (Alpher, 2001).International border adjustment and Security arrangements including early warning measures for the two countries would be part of the deal. Syria is currently concerned about the early warning station set by Israel on Mt Harmon. The sophisticated radar can even eavesdrop conversations from Syria’s central cities which Syria thinks is a threat to its security detail (Seale, 2000).
Since both countries will be aimed at maintaining peace, only what is viable in maintaining peace would be required to be maintained. The peace deal would serve to ensure that there would be no more surprise attacks and that friction between the two must not always be solved by war. Syria and Israel would end the state of war and instead embrace non-belligerence.
Israel and Syria must realize that peace deal could serve as an opening for Israel and Syria to interact both diplomatically and economically. Regional stability and prosperity in domestic status-quo could be maintained should the two countries come to terms (Omar, 2008).Apart from these, there are external issues to be addressed. There would be plans for the removal of the US sanctions erected against the Baathist regime which the Syrians believe has caused them losses through delays in technology exports, bank transfers and caused the grounding of its jets due to shortage of spare parts. The US withdrew its ambassador form Damascus after Syria was supposedly involved in the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Al-Hariri’s assassination in 2005 (Mozgovaya, 2009). The sanctions were put up during this time and the relationship between U.S and Syria has been challenged by this arrangement. Considering that Israel and U.
S are allies, U.S would have to cede to this to enhance the peace deal. The U.S through the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised to send a convoy to Moscow and is considering abolishing the sanctions as one of President Barack Obama’s government objectives (Mozgovaya, 2009).Principal interveners and more so US should would be required to exert efforts and calibrate ways of ensuring permanent rivalry termination (Smith, 2007). Syria has constantly wanted Iraq to come strong in helping them to regain the Golan Heights and other territories which Israel took into their hands during the Six-Day War in 1967.
John Kerry, the U.S foreign relations committee chairman proposed that financial incentives by the U.S would be of significant help (Smith, 2007).ConclusionThe success of a peace deal between the two states would lie on the commitment to maintain the agreements made in the peace deal. Israel and Syria’s relationship would still be fragile even after a peace deal considering that their conflict has been there for decades hence the need for the commitment.
Syria must make a decision to cease its support for Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hizbullah and consider its relationship with Iran conclusively. Similarly, Israel must be ready to let go of the territories under conflict once and for all. Among other issues, the two states need to consider that a peace deal would be of benefit to both and that through the new bond created, economic as well as diplomatic cohesion can be achieved. In conclusion, the peace deal can only be workable if the two states are committed and when peace through dialogue rather that war is embraced. ReferencesAlpher, J. (2001). Israel’s Security Concerns in the Peace Process.
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