Syrian President Bashar Assad threatened yesterday that if negotiations didn’t end in Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Golan Heights, Syria would reclaim the land with force. Assad’s comments come on the heels of new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise that Israel would “not provoke war” with Syria.
Aaron David Miller, former advisor to six Secretaries of State on Arab-Israeli Negotiations, advises that President Obama redouble U.S. efforts for peace between Israel and Syria. However, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich recently told inFOCUS that “The [Syrian] regime is not going to ever change its stripes.”
While the Syria debate plays out in Washington, the JPC has stated its position that peace with Syria, while preferable, is highly unlikely. As analyst Matthew Brodsky notes in the new issue of inFOCUS, the problem stems from Syria’s idea of withdrawal which entails Israel ceding up to 41 square miles beyond the original border. It was Syria’s inability to budge on this issue that tanked the countries’ bid for peace in 2000.