Associated March 16, 2000
DAMASCUS — Syria on Thursday dismissed as impossible Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Barak’s demand that Damascus outline normalization arrangements with
the Jewish state before an Israeli pullout from the Golan Heights.
Syrian newspaper editorials, which reflect government thinking, also said that
Syria would be ready to resume negotiations with Israel only when the Jewish
state gives a clear commitment to withdraw from the Golan.
Israeli-Syrian peace talks broke off in January over Syria’s insistence that Barak
promise to return the entire Golan, a strategic plateau that Israel captured in the
1967 Mideast war, before the two countries move on to other issues. Barak has
suggested that he is ready for such a commitment, but first wants to see Syria
outline security and normalization arrangements.
“He knows quite well that what he’s demanding is not only
impossible, but it’s the farthest from the minds of any citizen in Syria,”
said the Tishrin newspaper.
“How can he reach an understanding with Syria if he doesn’t withdraw
from the Golan,…if the talks are at a standstill and if Israel is proficient only in
the language of aggression and assault?”
Another daily, al-Thawra, said that Israel has been deliberately blocking the
path to peace. It should “renounce its policy of aggression, maneuvering and
lies and give a clear and frank commitment to the principles of peace, especially
to the principle of full withdrawal” from the Golan, said the paper.
“When Israel does that…it will find Syria completely ready to resume the
talks.” it said.