Assad wants Syrian access to Kinneret shore

Source says Syria needs to know Israeli definition of occupied territory before progress possible.

Assad 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Assad 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Damascus has drafted a document defining the boundaries of the Golan Heights and which puts Syria on the northeastern Kinneret shore, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the talks. The sources said that Damascus was waiting for an Israeli reply through Turkish mediators. "The president was clear that Syria wants to know the Israeli view about what constitutes occupied Syrian territory before progress can be made," one of the sources said. "According to Syrian thinking, Israeli agreement on the six [geographical] points could help seal a peace deal next year. But Israel may not be able to provide a response any time soon, when it is in such political turmoil," a second source said. A Syrian official said that the paper sent to Turkey includes reference to geographical points on the present northeastern shore of the Kinneret. "The document puts us on the water," the official said. Israel said it could neither confirm nor deny the report. It follows a Jerusalem Post report of December 5, which quoted London-based al-Hayat newspaper as saying that Syria was refraining from engaging in direct peace negotiations with Israel until it received answers to six questions sent to Jerusalem regarding the future of the Golan Heights. According to the report, Turkey presented both sides with an offer to advance the negotiations, and during the diplomatic activity that followed, both countries exchanged six questions. Israel asked about security guarantees, and Syria asked about the Golan and future borders. The paper reported that Syria had submitted its responses to the Turks, but had asked that they not be shown to Jerusalem officials until the Israelis submitted their own answers. Israel has never acknowledged that it received any document from the Syrians, and an official in the Prime Minister's Office refused to comment on the al-Hayat story. Another Israeli diplomatic official, however, said the Syrian government had said publicly it wasn't interested in beginning direct negotiations with Israel until a new US administration was in place. The Syrians are very keen on intensive US involvement, something the Bush administration was hesitant to offer, but something to which the Obama administration may be more amenable. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak attended an IDF Armored Corps drill in the Golan on Tuesday and said that the exercise "instills confidence in the might and capabilities of the IDF."