Will Syria Sign a Peace Treaty with Israel in 'Our Time?'
by Gad Nahshon
Did you know that at the end of 1951, the new Syrian military dictator, Adiv Shishakly, approached the Eisenhower administration with a serious place treaty proposal with Israel? He suggested the following:
- Syria will join the American block against the Soviet Block;
- Syria will totally dismantle its border confrontation in the North and will sign a peace agreement with Israel;
- Syria declared its will to absorb 250,000 Palestinian refugees.
But the U.S. did not inform Israel about this Syrian proposal.
According to Gen. (Ret.) Arieah Shalev, an expert on Israeli-Syrian relations (see: Matara Nov. 23, 1991) who researched this proposal, it is not clear why the U.S. did not tell the Israelis about this peace proposal. Furthermore, as early as March 1949, Husni Zaim, a military dictator in Syria suggested to Israeli officers who co-operated with the U.N.'s representatives in the area and to some American diplomats, a peace meeting with David Ben-Gurion himself.
Zaim wanted, as the price of permanent peace, only half the water of the Kineret. The Syrian also asked for territorial changes that Israel refused to accept. It should be explained that Israel asked the Syrians to retreat to the old international border between the two states. Syria changed its posture during the 1948 War of Independence.
Israel decided to sign a cease fire agreement with Syria July 20, 1949. But this cease fire turned to be the mother of non-stop military confrontations and wars between the two countries. The reasons:
- struggle for security
- struggle for territories
- struggle for controlling the region's water
The stories of the 'Six Days War' and the Yom Kippur War is known. We have to uproot the reasons for this non-stop confrontation and this is a very complicated task.
Today, we are happy for a new chance for peace but one should not expect a miracle. The Clinton Administration, a-la-pax Americana, needs achievements. Prime Minister Ehud Barak is happy to fly abroad again, escaping from his non-stop ever-growing domestic crises, his fragile coalition government and probably poor public opinion ratings. Is the Syrian dictator like the story of the 'Emperor's new clothes?'
His country's economy is poor. His army is poor. His weapons and military equipment is old. His country's national morale is low. His military elite is tired and poor. Assad himself is old and sick, but he is a great card player. He is a charismatic leader. He has many admirers abroad such as, ex-President Jimmy Carter, for example.
Assad (Arabic for a lion) is a smart leader. He is an expert of human manipulation and disinformation! Therefore, this is a clear discrepancy between his international image and prestige and his real time reality. Of course, he is the major player in Lebanon and Southern-Lebanon. So he can tell the Israelis: 'You can leave southern Lebanon only with my blessings' (he will dismantle the activities of the terrorist Hizzbalah!) but he has another card in his hands: Remember the 'rejectionist block' of the Arab-Muslim world? Syria, Algeria, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, and other Muslim countries such as Indonesia.
They rejected any attempt to recognize the existence of Israel. They attached Egypt for signing its peace accord with Israel in 1979. Assad knows and Israel knows that a peace treaty with Israel means the crushing of the 'rejectionist block' forever. Israel will face a new horizon of peace with the entire Arab or Muslim world! The Saudis, Yemen, Iraq, and others will recognize Israel! The Arab league will recognize Israel! The Messiah will come to Israel: Israel will not be discriminated against even in the U.N.!
Assad knows it all and, therefore, he does not have to flirt with Israel. He can wait until Israel will beg him to resume talks in which he wants to take and give promises to Israel, a country yearning for peace. But will Israel espouse this 'new Messiah' and give in to Assad's territorial demands? Can Israel compromise its basic measures of security or its basic ground of defense?
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