I can hear the alarms clattering in the minds of neo cons inside and just at the edges of the Bush administration, who have been increasingly upset that the U.S. is opening the door to diplomatic contacts with Iran. Despite arduous efforts, they were unable to prevent Israel from (gasp) negotiating with Syria under Turkish auspices. Now, the Syrian ambassador to the U.S., Imad Moustapha, has sent remarkably conciliatory signals to Israel and the U.S. in an interview with Ori Nir of Americans for Peace Now.
The story was picked up yesterday in Haaretz and elsewhere in the Israeli media, but has not gotten the attention it deserves in the U.S.
From the APN blurb:
“In an interview with APN spokesman Ori Nir, Ambassador Moustapha said that the current talks between Israel and Syria are “a historic opportunity of making peace with not only Syria and Lebanon, because we believe that in a way or another Syria plays the role of a gatekeeper between Israel and the Arab world…”
“…I was impressed by the ambassador’s candor,” said interviewer Nir, “let’s hope that the Bush administration picks up on this encouraging signal of Syrian determination to pursue peace.”
According to Ambassador Moustapha, Syria’s leaders “have been telling the Israelis for the past fifteen years: We want to make peace. We believe in a fair and comprehensive peace with you.” He added, “the only way forward â€“ there is no third alternative â€“ is to sit with us and make a peace agreement.”
Ambassador Moustapha also said: “We at the state of Syria are telling the state of Israel that we desire to end the state of war between us, to conclude peace between two states, to recognize each other and to live as peaceful neighbors with each other, within a normalized context. We think this is a very serious proposal (â€¦) here is the grand thing on offer: let us sit together, let us make peace, let us end once and for all the state of war” between the two countries.
No doubt this will be dismissed as tawdry propaganda by those pro-Israel activists who have never met a peace plan they could live with. But why in the world would the Ambassador say those things if Syria weren’t EAGER for a historic settlement? Someone who has been involved in the Track 3 diplomacy that has moved these talks along told me that a Syria-Israel pact is “low hanging fruit.” The U.S. is obviously kept apprised of the ongoing negotiations, and is conveying messages, as needed, to Syria as well as Israel. But it is not merely unconscionable that the U.S. isn’t at the table, in the full view of the international community, offering to help in every way possible; it is truly insane.