Yossi Melman at PostGlobal

Yossi Melman

Tel Aviv, Israel

Yossi Melman is a senior commentator for the Israeli daily Haaretz. He specializes in intelligence, security, terrorism and strategic issues. An author of seven books on these topics, his most recent book, The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran was published recently by Carroll & Graf. Close.

Yossi Melman

Tel Aviv, Israel

Yossi Melman is a senior commentator for the Israeli daily Haaretz. He specializes in intelligence, security, terrorism and strategic issues. An author of seven books on these topics, his most recent book, The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the State of Iran was published recently by Carroll & Graf. more »

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Missing From Talks: Sincerity

TEL AVIV - The Turkish-sponsored indirect talks between Israel and Syria, which have been taking place for a couple of months already, have not changed the regional status. Both Israel and Syria have conflicting interests and agendas. Israel is interested in the "peace process," with emphasis on the "process" - that is, Israel wishes to prolong the talks without reaching an agreement. A peace accord would force Israel to abandon the Golan Heights. Such a decision would be met by a strong domestic political, security religious and ideological opposition which will further polarize Israeli society. Thus, this is a too heavy and too risky price for an Israeli government to pay. All Israeli prime ministers since 1992 with the exception of Sharon - Rabin, Netanyahu, Barak and now Olmert -negotiated deals with Syria but, at the last moment, backed off.

The Syrian government, on the other hand, is merely interested in having back its territory but not in signing a real peace with Israel. Syrian presidents, the late father Hafez and now his son Bashar, were not and are not ready to pay their own heavy price: establishing full diplomatic and trade relations with Israel, opening borders with Israel and allowing free movement of people and goods. They won't agree to demilitarize the Golan Heights, to address Israeli security needs and fears, or to allow deployment of early warning intelligence posts on their soil, manned by either Israeli or international observers.

A peace accord with Israel would force Syria to expel all Palestinian terrorist organizations which have headquarters in Damascus: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Jibril group, the Abu Mussa faction and others. Furthermore, Syria would have to minimize its relations with Iran, and control its borders to stop the free transfer of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Iran, of course, would find itself further isolated in the Middle East and without its only Arab ally. Since Syria perceives its relations with Tehran as a strategic alliance, its leadership doubts whether a peace treaty with Israel is worth it.

All the ingredients of how to cook the peace meal between Israel and Syria are known. What is needed is the courage and determination of the leaders on both sides to pay for it - and also a wealthy and devoted guest (the U.S.) who will join in and actively encourage them.

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