Israel: April 12, 2000



While the US-Syrian summit in Geneva failed to reach a Golan peace deal, it is important to examine the precise terms which the US presented and which Syrian President Assad rejected:

1.Israel would give up its demand for a continued presence on Mount Hermon in return for patrolling the area by an international force and the US financing of spy satellites operated by Israel. [Syria wants no non-Syrian presence on Mount Hermon.] 

2. The sources of the River Banias would return to Syrian sovereignty, but the Syrians would have to agree to allow the water to continue to flow into the Sea of Galilee. Syria rejects this, intending to use the scarce water supply for its own farms and deny the water to Israel. 

3. The area between the original 1923 border and the 1967 border would come under Syrian sovereignty, but Israelis would be allowed to visit these areas. The Syrians are having none of the Israeli idea that "full peace" means Israeli businessmen making sales calls and owning businesses on Syrian territory.

4. Syria would guarantee that Israel could peacefully retreat from Lebanon, and Syria would prevent Hezbollah from attacking Israeli territory. The Syrians will not put any pledge to control Hezbollah into writing, partly because they want to turn the Hezbollah attacks on and off like a faucet whenever they need some diplomatic pressure on the Israelis, and partly because Iran is so deeply involved in Hezbollah that Syria might not be able to stop such attacks.

5. Syria would give up its claims to Israeli territory west of the Jordan River. Syria rejects any reduction of its territorial claims.

6. Israel would retain sovereignty over all of the Sea of Galilee [Syria demands a share of the Sea] and Israelis would have safe passage through newly-regained Syrian territory along its shore [something Syria flatly rejects].

7. El Hamma, now in Israeli territory, would be transferred to Syrian sovereignty [Syria accepted this but rejected any conditions and any continued presence of Israeli settlers].--Stephen V Cole


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