Syria and Israel not Prepared for peace talks: Experts

Azerbaijan, Baku, 23 May / corr Trend R.Hafizoglu, R.Abdullayev, E.Tariverdiyeva / Despite of the resumption of talks between Syria and Israel, the sides will hardly accept mutual conditions. "Neither Israel nor Syria would agree to the conditions put forward," Nasir al-Gazali, a Syrian independent political expert, told Trend .

For the first time after the occupation of Golan heights in 1967, on 21 May Syria and Israel through official mediation of Ankara, restored peace talks. Syria is demanding the return of the Golan Heights, a plateau overlooking Damascus on one side and the Sea of Galilee on another, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war, whilst Israel insists on cessation of Damascus's relations with Iran and support to the organizations Hezbollah and Hamas.

"The sides are not prepared for peace talks," Al-Gazai, the Director of the Syrian Political Researches Center, told Trend over a telephone from London on 22 May.

According to al-Gazai, the sides have put forward unacceptable conditions. "Taking into consideration Isreali Premier Ehud Olmert's political influence, the possibility of returning the Golan heights is doubtful," he said.

Mustafa Ozcan, a Turkish political expert, said it is too premature to speak a about the results of talks between Syria and Israel. "The acceptance of condition by two sides, causes doubts," Ozcan, an expert for Middle East of the Turkish daily Yeni Asia, told Trend over telephone from Istanbul on 22 May.

The political expert said that Olmert, accused of bribery and with extremely weakened political influence, has no right to implement Damascus's conditions and return the Golan heights to Syria. "Radical nationalists, who are real forces in Israel, and the rest opposition parties are against return of Golan heights," Ozcan assured.

According to the Turkish political expert, Damascus will not implement Israel's conditions. "The cessation of support to the organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah, and destruction of Damascus's relations with Iran, will hardly occur. In fact, by fulfilling Israel's conditions Syria could lose its political ally," he added.

Ozcan said that formal peace talks between Syria and Israel were launched under the US influence.

Mordohei Kedar, a political expert of the Begin Sadat Strategic Researches Center at the Israeli university Bar-Ilan, said that Syria will in no condition refuse from the support to Hamas and Hezbollah.

"Hamas and Hezbollah are Damascus's sources of pressures on Israel," Kedar told Trend over a telephone from Jerusalem on 22 May.

The implementation of Israel's conditions by Damascus does not seem possible and the probability of a positive outcome of peace talks is very less, Kedar said.

Meanwhile, Mehran Kamrawa, professor of the US Georgetown University, a political expert, said that the consent for conduct of peace talks between Syria and Israel was a positive milestone in the solution of Golan heights dispute.

"During the US President Clinton's presidency, a hope appeared for the commencement of peace talks, whist later we admitted of it being false," Kamrawa told Trend via e-mail from Doha.

According to the political expert, it is too premature to speak about peace talks between Syria and Israel.

"I do not believe the sides will accept the conditions put forward," the political expert said.

Since 27 April 2007, Turkey has been a mediator in the negotiation process between Israel and Syria.

In his interview with Qatar's Al-Vatan news agency on 26 April the Syrian President said that in a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, the Israeli side stated its readiness to return the Golan heights to Syria.  

The Golan heights, belonging to Syria, was occupied by Israel during the Arab-Israeli war in 1967 and was later annexed in 1981.

The correspondent can be contacted at: [email protected]

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