Jerusalem – Giora Eiland, the national security adviser to the Israeli government under former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, most recently provided a briefing paper on the negotiations with Syria for Israeli intelligence. The Bulletin obtained a copy of that paper.
Mr. Eliand relates what is not included in a possible peace agreement between Israel and Syria. According to Mr. Eiland, the agreement will not resolve seven critical issues:
1. The Iranian nuclear program. There is no connection between Syria and the Iranian desire or ability to acquire nuclear weapons.
2. The dismantling of Hezbollah. As opposed to the situation in 1999-2000, the Syrians do not control Lebanon (at least not formally), and therefore they will not commit themselves to stem Hezbollah from posing any threat.
3. Even if Syria commits itself to stop supplying arms to Hezbollah, its interest in supplying arms will continue to exist. Even if there will be such a commitment, there is no way to supervise it. (The Egyptians are not preventing arms smuggling to Gaza along a sector that is only 12 kilometers long, all consisting of level ground without vegetation. The border between Syria and Lebanon is hundreds of kilometers long, most of which consists of uneven, densely covered terrain.)
4. An Israeli-Syrian peace process will necessarily come at the expense of the Palestinian issue and, in any case, it will not contribute to its resolution.
5. Removing Hamas headquarters from Damascus. What is the connection between Khaled Mashaal’s location and the effectiveness of Hamas’ activity? Moreover, if there is peace between Israel and Syria, it would be preferable for Israel for Hamas headquarters to remain in Damascus.
6. The relationship with the Arab world. Just as the peace agreement with Jordan neither added to nor detracted from the peace situation, the Arab world will not accept the state of Israel as long as the Palestinian issue has not been solved.
7. Israel’s legitimacy in the world. Israel suffers from hostile treatment in the eyes of most of the world, since no nation recognizes Israel’s rule over the Palestinian minority. A peace agreement with Syria will not reduce this hostility.
Mr. Eiland’s conclusion, therefore, is that “the main argument in favor of a peace agreement with Syria is that this way we will avoid a war. It is not completely clear whether a withdrawal from the Golan keeps us further away from war or brings us closer to it.”
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com