Syrian-Israeli settlement outlined?

17 Jan. Updated below

Haaretz reports that Israeli and Syrian representatives, in a series of meetings between September, 2004, and July, 2006, formulated “understandings” for a comprehensive settlement leading to a peace treaty. The framework would return the Golan Heights to Syria while ensuring Israeli access to the entire shoreline of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). It also includes a suspension of Syrian aid to Hamas and Hezbollah, Syrian assistance on the Palestinian issue (including the “refugee problem”), and a Syrian declaration that it considers itself a “part of the Sunni world” (and thereby not an ally of Iran).

Too good to be true? Olmert claims there were “no government officials involved” in the reported talks. Similarly, a Syrian Foreign Ministry official said “the Haaretz report is completely false.”

A full text, dated 29 August, 2004, of the terms of the (nonexistent) settlement talks is also available. And there is a map (reproduced below) of the (completely false) proposals for security arrangements.


Most of the Golan Heights would become parkland, accessible to both Israelis and Syrians.

If there wasn’t even a “fable” about settlement terms, someone went to an awful lot of trouble to create an amazingly elaborate fabrication.

UPDATE: Jonathan agrees with that last statement: “If this story is a fabrication, then it’s a remarkably consistent one that somebody spent a great deal of time creating.” He also has some interesting reflections on the various theories floating about regarding who leaked the story, and comes down on the side of those who say the leak “was a move by the Israeli peace faction to force Olmert to resume talks.” That seems plausible to me, given that the most recent reported talks were during Israel’s Second Lebanon War, now six months ago. But is Olmert’s government strong enough to resume negotiations? I doubt it. But Jonathan adds a note of potential optimism: Maybe it’s Tzipi Livni’s first move in a palace coup.

Go Tzipi!

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