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Tuesday, January 16, 2007 

SNAP: Syria and Israel 'negotiating' over the Golan Heights

Syria and Israel have held secret negotiations over the Syrian Golan Heights, which Israel has occupied since 1967.

The talks took place last year, as well as in 2004.

Both sides agreed Israel would have to withdraw to the 1967 borders, ending Israel's occupation of Syrian land, and setting up a peace treaty between the two countries.

Syria is said to have agreed to end support for Hizbollah and Hamas. Part of the Syrian Golan Heights would be open for Israelis to use as a national park, once Israel returns it to Syria.

No date was set for all of this to happen, but it's important that they both agreed what they would be prepared to do.

The talks happened in Europe, with the most recent discussion taking place during Israel's war on Lebanon in July and August.

It broke down when Syria asked for the negotations to be made public.

Both sides have denied knowledge of the talks (that is common practise with secret talks), but it could set up a framework for formal negotiations, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

This is the agreement.



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Last update - 10:07 16/01/2007


EXCLUSIVE: Full text of document drafted during secret talks

By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent

Nonpaper
Draft 4
August 29, 2004




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Preamble

The objective of this effort is to establish normal, peaceful relations between the governments and peoples of Israel and Syria, and to sign a treaty of peace attesting to this achievement. The treaty will resolve the four "pillars" at the core of negotiations: security, water, normalization, and borders. There is be no agreement on any single one of these issues unless and until all of these issues are resolved.

I. Sovereignty
1. Syrian sovereignty, based upon the June 4, 1967 line in the Golan Heights, is acknowledged by Israel. The mutually agreed upon border will be determined by both parties (and guaranteed by the U.S. and the UN)

II. Framework Agreement, Implementation, and the End to the State of Belligerency
A "Framework Agreement" will address the issues of security (including early warning), water, normalization, and borders. Negotiations to reach such an agreement should proceed as expeditiously.

1. The state of belligerency between the parties will cease upon signature of a framework agreement between the parties, and will include the cessation of hostile actions by each party against the other.

2. Application of Syrian sovereignty in the Golan Heights, the establishment of normal, bilateral diplomatic relations, and the implementation of relevant provisions related to water and security will commence as soon as possible after the conclusion of a Framework Agreement but no later than the signing of a treaty of peace.

3. Implementation of the Israeli withdrawal to the mutually agreed border will occur during a period (the exact time frame to be mutually agreed) from signature of the Framework Agreement.

III. Peace Treaty
1. Satisfactory implementation of provisions and obligations established in the Framework Agreement will result in the signing of a peace treaty between the parties.

IV. Security
1. Demilitarized zones will be established in the areas of the Golan Heights that Israeli forces will vacate.

2. No military forces, armaments, weapons systems, or military infrastructure will be introduced into the demilitarized zones. Only a limited civil police presence will be deployed in the areas.

3. Both parties agree not to fly over demilitarized zones without a special arrangement.

4. The establishment of an early warning system includes a ground station on Mt. Hermon/Jabal as-Sheikh operated by the United States.

5. A monitoring and inspection and verification mechanism will be established to monitor and supervise the security agreements.

6. Direct liaison between the parties will be established in order to: Create a direct, real time communication capability on security issues in order to minimize friction along the international border; Help to prevent errors and misunderstandings between the parties.

7. Zones of reduced military forces will be established in Israel west of the international border with Syria and in Syria east of the Golan Heights. The respective depth of these zones (as measured in kilometers) between Israel and Syria will be according to a ratio of 1:4.

8. The Parties will cooperate in fighting local and international terrorism of all kinds.

9. The Parties will work together for a stable and safe Middle East, including the solution of regional problems related to the Palestinians, Lebanese, and Iran.

V. Water
1. Israel will control the use and disposition of the water in the Upper Jordan River and Lake Tiberias.

2. Syria will not interrupt or obstruct natural flow of water in either quality or quantity in the Upper Jordan River, its tributaries, and Lake Tiberias.

3. Syrian use of the waters of the upper Jordan River, its tributaries, and Lake Tiberias for residential and fishing purposes is recognized and guaranteed.

VI. Park

1. In order to safeguard the water resources of the Jordan River basin, Syrian territory east of the mutually agreed border will be designated as a Park open to all and administered by Syria. The Park is to be established in the Golan Heights upon completion of the Israeli withdrawal and application of Syrian sovereignty in accordance with the treaty of peace. The park will extend from the agreed upon border eastward to a line to be determined by mutual agreement.

2. Park characteristics:
* Park is open for tourism.
* Park will be policed by Syrian park service personnel.
* The park will be free of permanent residents except for conservation and law enforcement personnel.
* No visa will be required for entry into park [from Israeli territory].
* Syrians will issue onsite official entry permit for a nominal fee.
* Visitors wishing to enter other Syrian territory east of the Park must have a proper visa and transit Syrian controls on park's eastern perimeter.
* Entry to park is valid for one day during daylight hours.

End

More on the Israel-Syria contacts:


Secret understandings reached between representatives from Israel and Syria

BACKGROUND: From Turkey, via Europe, to Damascus

Timeline of talks

Click here for map

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