Syria: Peace isn't the only way to get Golan

Syrian deputy FM to Israel: Which is better, giving up the area through peace, or giving it up in war?

mekdad miqdad 224 88 (photo credit: AP)
mekdad miqdad 224 88
(photo credit: AP)
Several weeks after Jerusalem announced the renewal of indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria, one senior member of the foreign ministry suggested that if Israel did not willingly give up the Golan, then Syria would take it by force. During a press conference to Jordanian reporters on Saturday, Syrian deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad said that Syria has "other options" to "liberate" the Golan, adding that should hostilities erupt, his country would be able to "protect its land within minutes." Speaking directly to Israeli residents of the Golan - whom he labeled "settlers" - the foreign minister warned that they should not "raise their sons in the Golan, for this is not their place." He addressed Israel with a question: Would it be better to return the heights to Syria "peacefully and without blood," or would a war be necessary? Mekdad's message to the Golan's residents implied that in case of war, the civilian population there would be a Syrian target. Also during the press conference the foreign minister offered a glimpse into the status of the indirect talks, saying that they were based on "Rabin's pledge." According to the Syrians, after negotiations between the two countries began in the early 1990s, former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin promised then-Syrian president Hafez Assad that any agreement would include the transfer of territory to Syria. Israeli media reported recently that the said "pledge" had been relayed to Assad without Rabin's explicit consent.