Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Syrian Track

Today, Israel and Syria confirmed their plans to begin indirect negotiations under Turkish auspices. I suspect the success of these negotiations rests primarily on the survival of Olmert's government and his ability to hold together some sort of coalition. This could be easier, as the Golan lacks the religious significance of the West Bank, despite its strategic importance. I also think Israel really is committed to both the Syrian and Palestinian tracks, as Olmert's ambitions extend to his place in history, and one of his goals as articulated in the 2006 elections was to set Israel's final borders.

One thing that went unmentioned in the article is the Swiss track that was begun under Ariel Sharon and aborted in 2006, perhaps under American pressure. The key innovation in the non-paper produced by those discussion was the Golan "Peace Park" under Syrian sovereignty but open to both countries. Such ideas almost have to play a role in the negotiations announced today.

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