Syrian Peace Activist to Israeli Knesset: A Peace Agreement is Possible in Six Months

12 de abril de 2007

<body><div id="article"><tr><td height="28" valign="middle" width="184"></td><td valign="middle" width="185"></td></tr><h1>Syrian Peace Activist to Israeli Knesset: A Peace Agreement is Possible in Six Months</h1><p>by Dean Andromidas</p><p>April 12-- For the first time in its history a Syrian has addressed the Israeli Knesset with a message of peace from Damascus. Ibrahim Suleiman, a Syrian and naturalized American living in Maryland, who participated last year in Syria-Israeli back channel talks with former Israeli senior foreign ministry official, Dr. Alon Liel, briefed the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee on Syria's readiness for peace talks.</p><p>"Syria right now is ready to speak peace. I challenged the Israeli government to answer President Bashar's [Assad] call for peace and sit down together" Ha'aretz quoted Suleiman telling a Press conference after his Knesset briefing. "I think it can happen in six months."</p><p>Both Suleiman and his Israeli counterpart, Alon Liel, briefed the Knesset committee on their secret talks held between 2004 and 2006 (see EIR January 26,2007 Vol.34 No.4 Even Sharon Allowed Israel-Syria Talks). Suleiman, who reportedly enjoys good relations with the Assad family, presented various possibilities for a peace agreement based and a return to Syria of the Golan Heights in return for a full peace agreement, normalization of relations and economic cooperation. He reportedly told the committee that Syrian President Assad has appointed a committee, headed by one of his army generals, to coordinate talks with Israel. He also conveyed messages from Syrian foreign Minister Walid Moallem.</p><p>Calling for the need for secret negotiations, Suleiman said, "I believe that only secret negotiations between Israel and Syria, far away from the eyes of the media, will lead to peace." Thanking the committee for inviting him he said, "I'm very glad I came. I hope that both sides will begin to meet and we, as a private channel, will disappear. My presence here makes everything possible."</p><p>Knesset member Yahava Gal On, of the Meretz party, who initiated the Knesset briefing said, "In a peace agreement, Syria would agree to stop supporting terror against us and cut ties with Hizbollah, and would demand that we return to 1967 borders in the Golan Heights." She added that the briefing "was a huge step, especially because it returns the Syrian option to public discourse... It is important that Israel begin formal talks with Syria...."</p><p>Although the committee Chairman, and well know rightist, Tzahi Hanegbi, of the Kadima party, said he did not believe the time was right for negotiations, he also said it was "important for the committee not to silence other views, particularly when the man outlining these views claims to have direct access to the Syrian leadership."</p><p>Only Knesset member Yisrael Katz, a member of the Likud party and a crony of its chairman, Benjamin Netanyahu, told Suleiman that Israel will never withdraw from the Golan Heights.</p><p>While in Israel, Suleiman held an evening meeting with a group of Israelis who have been promoting peace with Syria. He also held talks at the Economic Cooperation Foundation which is a think-tank which is deeply involved in the informal peace process. It is led by Yossi Beilin, chairman of the Meretz-Yahad party. Suleiman also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.</p><p>Neither the Israeli Foreign Ministry nor the Prime Minister's office received him for fear that it would look like a peace negotiation. Suleiman's visit was preceded by that of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who used her recent visit to both Israel and Syria as an effort to promote peace between the two countries, which was rebuked by Vice President Dick Cheney (LPAC April 6). Although Pelosi brushed aside Cheney's ravings, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert apparently did not want to suffer a similar rebuke.</p><p>While underscoring the significance of the Suleiman's visit to Israel, one Israeli intelligence source told EIR that as long as Olmert refuses to buck the Bush Administration, the prospect for a peace agreement are slim. Lyndon H. LaRouche would add that as long as Cheney is in office prospects are even slimmer.</p></div></body>