Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 16, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

ISRAEL AND SYRIA....Has Israel been holding secret peace talks with Syria? Sort of. Haaretz reports that for two years between 2004 and 2006 discussions at an "academic level" were carried out "with the knowledge of senior officials in the government of former prime minister Ariel Sharon." The meetings broke off last year after Syria asked for the negotiations to become formal:

The contacts ended after the Syrians demanded an end to meetings on an unofficial level and called for a secret meeting at the level of deputy minister, on the Syrian side, with an Israeli official at the rank of a ministry's director general, including the participation of a senior American official. Israel did not agree to this Syrian request.

It's hard to say if this is meaningful. These were essentially private conversations with no direct participation by Israel, but the Haaretz article makes it sound as if Syria was prepared to make quite a few concessions regarding the Golan Heights, sponsorship of Hezbollah and Hamas, and its influence in Iraq. This probably isn't going anywhere, but it's an interesting tidbit anyway. Stay tuned.

Kevin Drum 11:53 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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Comments

Interesting question is why was this leaked and published now? Livni and Peretz have supported talking with Syria. Olmert and Bush opposed. See more analysis at:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/1/16/91037/7574

Posted by: drsteveb on January 16, 2007 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not surprised Syria's negotiating behind the scenes with Israel. After the US led liberation of the Iraqi people by the Coalition of the Willing, Syria is feeling pressure from its own people to enjoy the fruits of freedom and democracy just as the Iraqi people are enjoying. And after the Israeli War on Hezbollah, Syria's ally Hezbollah is now so weakened Syria feels threatened it might be liberated just as Iraq has been liberated. Just goes to show you one more reason to support Bush's Surge in Iraq.

Posted by: Al on January 16, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

My guess on the leak timing is that it was done to benefit Syria diplomatically or otherwise undermine the Bush administration's hard line against it rather than through some sort of internal Israeli battle.

Posted by: Brian Ulrich on January 16, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

This wouldn't be the first time Syria has made themselves 'available' for discussions.

THE SYRIAN BET
Did the Bush Administration burn a useful source on Al Qaeda?
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
Issue of 2003-07-28
Posted 2003-07-18

http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/030728fa_fact?030728fa_fact

Posted by: ww on January 16, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK


Syria is feeling pressure from its own people to enjoy the fruits of freedom and democracy just as the Iraqi people are enjoying.

Good god what an idiot.

Posted by: bobbyk on January 16, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Is this really news. A little country with a lot of enemies like Israel better be holding background talks with its opponents all the time.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 16, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Talk is cheap and doesn't involve Halliburton or the Carlisle Group so it isn't popular in the White House at the mo.

It makes sense for Israel and Syria to talk and these countries cannot afford to keep fighting indefinitely.

Having proxies do the initial discussions allow complete deniability by those in power and yet still paves the way for negotiations.

Thank God some people are still interested in real diplomacy.

Posted by: Bad Rabbit on January 16, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

From what I've read, I can't see what Israel has to lose, the proposed settlement gives them what they want. Someone in Israel has to start working on "land for peace" again. It worked with Egypt. It will work again.

Posted by: tomeck on January 16, 2007 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

to enjoy the fruits of freedom and democracy just as the Iraqi people are enjoying.

And to whomever is writing shit like this, can you at least show a little respect for the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have died there in this conflict.

I really hope you get to enjoy the sight of your father with a hole drilled into his head, just like the Iraqis are.

Posted by: tomeck on January 16, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Israel and the US (current administrations) both seem to disdain negotiations and diplomacy, probably for the same reasons: the other side might agree to something significant that interferes with the at-home political need to keep the voters riled up; and if you don't negotiate you can just do what you want thereby creating new conditions on the ground that are your preferred direction. More war war, less jaw jaw. A good formula for a more warlike world.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR on January 16, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

A little country with a lot of enemies like Israel better be holding background talks with its opponents all the time.

I read this a couple times. I got a different take each time:

(Syria,) a little country with a lot of enemies(,) like Israel(,) better be holding background talks with its opponents all the time.

(Israel,) a little country with a lot of enemies better be holding background talks with its opponents all the time.

(Syria, like Israel,) a little country with a lot of enemies better be holding background talks with its opponents all the time.

Then it struck me - if small countries hold background talks all of the time, why isn't the US expected also to hold background talks with its enemies?

Posted by: Wapiti on January 16, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

What struck me as important here is that it brought up the potential of serious rivalry between Syria and Iran.

Which is why it is so dense for the Republicans to be trying to stuff them both into the same basket.

Posted by: cld on January 16, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

It was probably just some liberal doing freelance foreign policy without government approval. Kind of like Carter muddying the waters in North Korea.

Posted by: Al on January 16, 2007 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Talking with your enemies? The Decider would have no part of that. Better to kill, kill, kill, kill, kill and kill some more. That is the way that you prove what a good Christian you are.

By the way, Al is so obviously a spoof that it isn't worth the calories to type a response any more. Ignore him and he wll go away.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 16, 2007 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, a cardboard copy of a spoof.

Better fools, please!

Posted by: Kenji on January 16, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

This reminds me of this girl that I dated in high school. She was very unpopular and I didn't want anyone to know that we were dating. So she told everybody about it and I denied the whole thing.

Then I nuked her capital.

Posted by: goethean on January 16, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

With leaders like Bush, all these countries might as well start talking.Bush has the worst Sec.of state to ever hold that office,she has done nothing to better the cause of the United states.And being there is no diplomacy what so ever in this adm. if Isreal or Syria or anyone eles in the Middle East wants peace they will have to do it there selves.The peace and freedom the U.S. has to offer is one nobody wants.

Posted by: Thomas3.6 1/2 on January 16, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

AL queda, Al-anon. AL-amony, AL-lmost, AL-time loser, AL shut up.You make the Neocons look good.Which ain't easy.

Posted by: Thomas3.6 1/2 on January 16, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

White Tigers

Posted by: Wang Hong on January 16, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's from "The One Percent Doctrine" Bush is quoted as saying something like "Sometimes a show of force can really clarify a situation." It was in reference to his decision to de-emphasize the Israel-Palestine conflict and Colin Powell pointing out that this would clear the ground for more extreme violence by Israel on the Palestinians.

There is no problem that the decider does not believe cannot be solved by the spilling of a few more hundreds of gallons of blood. Also points to the stunning silence from the US about the violence done to the Lebanese people and the complete lack of outrage over the illegal use of cluster bombs all over southern Lebanon in the closing days of the incursion.

This guy really is a shit.

And I'll second Thomas3.6 1/2, C. Rice is completely out of her depth. She has no idea about the real world.

On a lighter note:

Q: How do you know Al doesn't sleep on his back?

A: He hasn't drowned on his own dribble.

Posted by: notthere on January 16, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

White Tigers

Posted by: Wang Hong on January 16, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I think it was Abba Eban who first said, "Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity" (often repeated as "Palestinians").
If this report is accurate, it seems that this can now be said of the current Israeli administration. If it's something they caught from the Bushies, G-d helps us all.
Both countries could do with better voters. We seem to be trending that way here; maybe that too is catching.

Posted by: smartalek on January 16, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

As the present US administration refuses to even look for any opportunity, it can't help but miss every single one that comes along. Predisposed to follow its ideolgical bent there is, to them, only one right way. Hence "stay the course" by any name; no adjustment, no flexibility, no reality.

Posted by: notthere on January 16, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

PDB: Osama Bin-ladin determinded to let George Bush sink America into a hell hole.Condi Rice;Never mind what the PDB says we are going to beat Osama to the Finish line.

Posted by: Thomas3.6 1/2 on January 16, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Here is how out of touch Condi Rice is.It is well known by Politco's to never ever put your hands by your face when on T.V. This woman has been told to never put your hands by your face when on T.V. Do you see what she does every time she is on T.V thats right her hands are on her dumb looking face.She has got to go.Bush you have to Fire Condi.NOW.....

Posted by: Thomas3.6 1/2 on January 16, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

You observations about Condi are dead on accurate. What an incompetent twit. Just like her boss. It is painful to watch her pretend to be a diplomat and pretend to be a Cabinet-level official. She wouldn't be a convincing Cub Scout den mother. Condi should have become a classical pianist. She is at least respectable in that role. Madeline Albright had so much more sophistication, as well as depth and breadth of knowledge than this freckled frog. She and her boss make me embarassed to be an American.

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 16, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

You mean breakdown in negotiations was not the fault of those damn obstreperous arabs who are never willing to negotiate or concede anything? Say it isn't so... [Within a few months the Israel lobby and its GOP stepnfetchits will certainly be doing so.]

Posted by: Maynard Handley on January 16, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Bush you have to Fire Condi.

'Death Squad' Negroponte is the acting Sec. State now. There is no need to terminate Leezy's employ, especially since everyone is watching her instead of 'Death Squad.'

Posted by: Brojo on January 16, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

(The) Al(-Bot): "... Syria is feeling pressure from its own people to enjoy the fruits of freedom and democracy just as the Iraqi people are enjoying. ..."

You sound just like some moldy, cheesy text straight out of that old Muscovite party organ, Pravda.

So, if you obviously don't have anything original to say, well -- I'll let Barbra Streisand do the talking for me.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 16, 2007 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Then I nuked her capital.

How many $$$ of her capital did you get? Was in T-bills, money market funds, gold, real estate, common stock, or what?

Posted by: JimPortlandOR on January 16, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

More evidence Israel cant walk the talk when it comes to peace.

Posted by: jman_nyc on January 16, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

The reason this was leaked is to show the world that some low hanging diplomatic victories are possible for Condi while she is on tour. If she does not come home with a Syria deal this is effectively confirming to the world that Bush/Cheney had decided to try to create a regional conflict, rather than count their "winnings" and go home. This is the second test after the ISG of the old guard for Team Bush/Cheney. Sticking their nose up at this will be fatal.

Posted by: patience on January 16, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

If I thought Bush was actually running anything I would have a lovely theory that now after having deposed of Saddam for threatening his Daddy, he was moving on to get rid of the pesky jews and Israel, that were also a thorn in his daddy's side during his adm, by having Israel and Iran go at it.
In BushBrain this would be a perfectly logical plan.

Posted by: Rebecca on January 17, 2007 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

As a tricky move of the past that was passed up: Why didn't Israel give the West Bank back to Jordan directly, and let them hash over whether to make a Palestinian State out of it? That would have put Jordan on the spot and taken heat off Israel about just how to set up such a state. It's too late now, with all the settlements (an idiotic move based on nationalist/fundamentalist fervor and not valid security worries), but I have alwasy wondered about this option being missed.

Posted by: Neil B. on January 17, 2007 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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