The Occupied Golan Heights in the Words of President Hafez Al-Assad

"Our will for peace is boosted by determination on the liberation, restoration of rights and on safeguarding national dignity. It was our keenness on the peace process as well as on securing security and stability in the region which, time and again, motivated us to keep on announcing our preparedness to resume peace negotiations from where they broke off and on the basis of acknowledging what the previous two Israeli Premiers committed themselves to and on the same bases of the UN Security Council Resolutions and the principle of land for peace," His Excellency has ever called for the establishment of a just balanced New World order in which" Neither the strong control others with their strength nor the weak are weakened by their weakness."

"We Want the Mediterranean to be a sea of peace and friendship where seagulls fly, ships of amity sail not warplanes of killing and destruction,’’

Lattakia, 1987,

An Extract from the late President’s Speech at the inauguration of the third Legislative Term of the People’s Assembly on November 16, 1981

"Israel has wrought havoc in the occupied territories, oppressing our people and turning their lives into hell. But our people are putting up heroic resistance to this aggression. They are standing unarmed in the face of the occupying oppressors, confirming everyday all over the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan that they are holding firm to their own rights and those of their peoples and nations, and that they will keep on resisting the occupation until it is eliminated. We assure our people in the occupied territory, as we have previously done, that we will strive together until they rejoin us and we reunite with them.""

An Extract from The President’s interview granted to the British Daily "The Observer" on March 2, 1982

Question:

In the Golan Cause, Mr. President, you have won a victory in the UN, but this, in my opinion, will not help you regain the region, what is your next step, on the Syrian, Arab and international levels?

Late President’s Answer:

"Our battle with Israel, as it has been commonly known to every one now, is a long one. The Golan occupation, annexation or liberation is but a step in the long battle. We don’t doubt for a moment that we will regain our rights, regardless of how long it takes, because aggression everywhere in the world is destined to retreat and fail. We are rightful in our position, and we have been attacked. We have prove and moral potentials which , if well used and managed by us, will enable us in the long run to fully regain our rights."

Question:

Do you feel, Mr. President, that the USA has turned you down? When you met with President Carter in Geneva in 1977, it was plain that things were moving on smoothly between you. Ever since that time, the relations deteriorated; there were the Strategic Cooperation Accord with Israel and the veto against the decision on the Golan. You accuse the USA of interfering with your internal affairs. Is it possible to say that your relations with the USA are at their lowest and that you consider it as a hostile enemy State?

Late President’s answer:

"I have previously said more than once that I had good and positive impressions at the end of the meeting with President Carter, but what happened after the meeting has clearly confirmed that the USA does not have an American policy in the Region, but is implementing an Israel police. We can give many examples which confirm this."

Extract from the President’s Message to the 2nd Conference on Combating Against Racism and Racial Discrimination Geneva, July 30, 1983

"The Israeli racist Regime racism is manifesting its ugliest forms by exercising its racial practices in the West bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan. It continues confiscating Arab lands to build its settlements, applies racial discrimination against the Arabs who are the owners of the lands, plunder their life resources and violate all their rights as enshrined in International law."

Extract from the President’s Message to the UN Committee on Palestinian People’s rights November 29, 1983

"Ever since its foundation, Israel has committed a long series of savage assaults against the Arab Countries. It has openly and frequently expressed its intentions and objectives to control the region. The most recent of instances on such Israeli policy are its decisions on annexing Arab Jerusalem and the Arab Golan territory annexation and the invasion of Lebanon with all the brutal actions of assassination and destruction that it carried along, besides the attempts to deprive Lebanon of its independence, sovereignty, and its territorial integrity by means of the agreement which the USA and Israel have endeavored to impose on it. Israel is held completely responsible for the Palestinian Arab People’s ordeal and displacing millions of Arabs from their homeland in Palestine, the Golan and Lebanon. It furthermore exercises the most disgusting forms of the policy of racial discrimination against Arab citizens all over the territories it is occupying. By the whole of its aggressive and expansionist practices, Israel has created an explosive situation in our Region which has perilous reflections against the world peace and security."

Extract from the President’s Message to the UN Women Conference Nairobi, July 15, 1985

"Thousands of women in the occupied Syrian Golan and Palestinian territories are daily suffering from the arbitrariness of Occupation, the arrest of their husbands, brothers and children who are being tortured in the Israeli occupation jails. In addition to suffering the Enemy’s racial practices applied against the people of the occupied territories."

Extract from the President’s Speech addressed to the Syrian Physicians residing in USA August 15, 1985

"The Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir, standing at the Aqaba Gulf in 1967 and looking towards the Arabian Peninsula, said, " I smell my ancestors in their homeland which we aspire, and which we must regain". Moshe Dayan visited the Israeli soldiers after occupying the Golan in 1967 and told them that the Israelis who came before us had founded Israel in 1948, we have founded Israel in 1967 and you have to establish Greater Israel which is from the Nile to the Euphrates. It is unreasonable to displace people from their homeland in order to place another, or to plan for groups of people to be placed there. We are nowadays confronting a false myth which tries by force to came true. The talk about occupying the West bank and other Arab territories, that was going on before 1967, was opposed by the Arabs, the rightful owners of lands, inside and outside Syria. Yet Israel, nevertheless, occupied the whole of Palestine, the Golan and Sinai in 1967. In one of Israel’s expansionist stages that she wants to continue the detriment of the Arabs."

Extract from the President’s Message to the 12th General Conference Of The World Federation of Democratic Youth November 23, 1986

"This racist expansionist movement, which has in the past closely cooperated with the Apartheid Regime, its ally in South Africa, is still exercising oppression and terrorism against the Arab people in the Golan, the West bank, Gaza Strip an d the south of Lebanon, and receives the support of imperialism and colonialist forces, one campaign after another launched against Syria under the pretext that Syria helps terrorism, the name they use to describe the freedom-fighters who resist aggression and occupation while Israel is full engaged in the worst kind of state terrorism."

Extract from the President’s speech at the 25th Anniversary of the March 8th Revolution delivered on March 8, 1988

"Our people in the Golan are steadfast in their resistance to the Occupation. Our brothers in occupied Palestine are steadfast in their resistance, and our Arab Lebanese Brothers are steadfast too against the Occupation in South Lebanon. Your brothers and children in the Golan are still confronting the Enemy ever since the occupation, particularly after his attempt to impose the Zionist Nationality upon them. They have vigorously stood against its attempt. They remain steadfast in front of the Israeli pressure. The Enemy has failed and will always fail. Israel wants the Syrians of the Golan to be detached from their people and history and live without roots and heritage. The Zionist racism with its hatred to people in general and to the Arab nation in particular is pushing the Israelis to commit every crime in order to execute their abominable designs. But people can not detach themselves off their roots and histories. Your children and brethren start off from this reality. So, Our Syrian children and brothers in the Golan! can make sure that the Enemy understands that we are not asleep. Today we are here and the forthcoming day is ours with confidence and certainty."

Extract from the late President’s speech at the dinner banquet given by the President and Mrs. Hafez Al-Assad in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Rajiv Gandhi on June 4, 1988

"The resistance to the Occupation in the Syrian Golan territory, the Intifada of the Palestinian Arab People in its occupied territories and the continuous resistance in South of Lebanon are the natural outcome of the continuity of occupation. This resistance is a national duty practiced by any person whose land is occupied, and is practiced by the Arab people in the Golan, South Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza Strip. Aggressors must understand that brutal methods of subjugation and repression shall not suppress the spirit of resistance in the People and shall not impose surrender on them."

Extract from the President’s speech to the Armed Forces at the 43rd anniversary of the Syrian Arab Army on August 1st, 1988

"The heroic battles you fought during the October War and then the War of the Golan and Mount Hermon have meant a great change. Through your magnificent performance, sacrifices and the blood of the martyrs, you have shattered the myth of the invincible army and smashed the Enemy’s self-conceit and arrogance. Also, you have proved both to the nation and the world that the Syrian Arab Forces are worthy of both their name and the mission they have assumed. In the name of our People and yours, I greet our kinsfolk in the Golan and assure them that the occupation is destined to disappear."

Extract from the joint press conference with Lebanese President Elias El-Hrawi on May 22, 1991

Question :

What about Sharon’s declaration claiming that the Israeli government wants to double amount of the settlements in the occupied Golan, and what are the effects of this on the peaceful march in the middle east and the international efforts exerted for this purpose?

President’s answer:

"Nothing because the peace process will either march as a whole or freeze as a whole. Israel is not just building settlements now only, but has been building settlements ever since the early comers of the invaders, It built them many years ago but this will not have any effect. The land is ours and, no one can ever swallow it however strong one’s stomach is, because Arab thorn can never be digested, not even Sharon's big stomach can."

Extract from the interview granted to The "Washington Post" and "Newsweek" the American Daily and Magazine on July 28, 1991

Question:

I am sure you understand that there is some ambiguity about your message to President Bush; there is a question asked: Has the USA given Syria any side guarantees or understanding about the Occupied Golan.

President’s answer:

"The USA has not given us any guarantees, but confirmed its commitment to the UN resolutions adopted in 1967, 1973 and the 1980’s. The USA has taken certain positioning, not only at the advent of the current Administration:

The former Administration had confirmed also the continuous commitment to those resolutions. We want no more from anyone. We demand the USA, the Soviet Union and the other permanent members of the Security Council, abide by what they have decided on or participated in deciding according to the UN resolutions. Particularly as all such states say that there is no way to realize peace other than through the UN resolutions."

Question:

Do you mean the return of all Arab lands is required in to such resolutions?

Late President’s answer:

"This is what the UN resolutions provide. As you know, both the USA and the Soviet Union have not recognized any measure previously taken by Israel as regards such lands. I would also like to recall that these position and resolutions were taken by previous administrations. The USA does not recognize the annexation of the Golan, and has previously rejected it, together with all other states."

Question:

Israel is wondering whether you are planning to enter into direct negotiations with her after the formal opening of the conference?

Late President’s answer:

"The delegations to the Conference will discuss issues specific to them; while the Syrian Delegation for instance will discuss the Golan Issue. Who will discuss such issue instead? No one, other than the Syrians, can discuss what relates to the Syrian territory. This is not new to my, attitude even previously, when we have been discussing the Peace Conference, it was obvious that it will split technically; there will be Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian and Palestinian geographical committees so that these delegations discuss their regional issues, but the peace process and the final outcome must be a comprehensive settlement , i.e. realization of peace between the various Arab Parties and Israel, other wise there will be no peace."

Question:

I believe that we don't think really that Israel is going to give up everything. Your Excellency is talking about UN resolutions. Do you believe that Israel will quit Gaza, Jerusalem, the Golan and the West bank? if she did would there be any space left for maneuvering or for security?

Late President’s answer:

"Was the World Community unjust when it decided that Israel must quit the occupied territories. Will then the map of the world be liable to change according to the whims of one maverick party in the international community."

Extract from the interview granted to American TV "ABC" on September 16, 1991.

Question:

Of course I understand that you will not negotiate with me, but you will negotiate in the Conference. Suppose that the Conference convened and an agreement on the Golan was reached, will this be sufficient to make peace with Israel?

Late President’s answer:

"The efforts currently exerted are based on the Security Council Resolutions N° 242 and N° 338 on the basis of realizing a comprehensive peace in the region. The Golan, as an occupied Syrian territory, shall be reinstated, within the framework of such comprehensive peace, to its natural status as part of Syrian territory. Upon implementing the comprehensive solution for the two Arab and Israeli sides, comprehensive peace will prevail and documents will be achieve peace process. This as you know will be decided within the Conference, the Israeli side on the one hand and the Arab side on the other.

Question:

Have you been promised by President Bush that he will exert pressure upon Israel to return the Golan? I know that he has informed you that he does not recognize the annexation of the Golan, but has he promised you to exert pressure upon Israel?

Late President’s answer:

"It is not only President Bush who talks about the Golan as a Syrian territory, but the successive American Administrations have always confirmed. President Bush is just by the American attitude as regarding the Golan issue and that of the occupied territories in general. At any rate, I do not believe that there is a man in the USA who accepts to live in illusion who says that peace will be recognized between the Arabs and Israel even if the occupation of the occupied Arab territories does not come to an end."

Extract from the interview granted to the American "Time" Magazine on November 13, 1992

Question:

Egypt was able, through negotiation, to regain Sinai, will Syria conduct similar negotiations with Israel through which it regains the Golan?

President’s answer:

"What is going on now ? Isn’t it negotiating? Are negotiations not being conducted between Syria and Israel?"

Question:

Is it possible to imagine an agreement signed with Israel under which Syria regains the Golan and the state of war is terminated, and leave other issues to be solved later?

Late President’s answer:

"Is this what you meant when you talked about Egypt? Peace is not, and must not be, realized at the expense of the territories of the others. What is the Arab motivation to work for peace if such peace will give their lands to Israelis? There are half a million displaced people from the Golan, how can we convince them that we have to give a part of the Golan to Israel?"

Question:

Do we understand that regaining the Golan is not sufficient, from your point of view, to give peace to Israel and that you want to wait until the West Bank is returned in order to give peace thereafter to Israel and sign with it a peace agreement?

Late President’s answer:

"We have not previously gone into details, and we do not want to at the moment. It is essential now that there must be an acknowledgment from everyone of what has been mentioned in the principles which have been adopted for building peace, before commencing of the peace process, namely the comprehensiveness of solution. Every side should have reassurance that we are heading towards the comprehensive settlement; each bilateral committee then will have its own job."

Question:

In case you are able to cut a deal or reach an arrangement about the Golan, whereas the other issues remain unsettled, will you keep talking about the comprehensive peace. Is it not possible to realize peace if everything is not achieved as a package?

Late President’s answer:

"All Arab parties are interested in the reassurance that comprehensive peace is coming. They realize that there are some particularities of each of the issues. One side may advance faster or slower than the other in case reassurance is available."

Question:

A compromise about any of the issues put for negotiations?

Late President’s answer:

"If you mean the Golan, there is no compromise as regards the land issue. This is an issue that the American Administration knows, written down on paper and known also by the Israelis. No one in Syria can relinquish an inch of the land; he who relinquishes a part of his land or sells out any part of his homeland is a betrayer of the people. This is an axiom believed by each Syrian citizen. When People judges that one is a betrayer, then one’s fate is known. I have this conviction. Therefore I say that compromise on land issue is out of question and not on our agenda. If you wander throughout Syria, from one end to the other, you will never find a Syrian who accepts a peace that leaves a part of the Golan in the hands of Israel."

Question:

"I understand from what you have said that the whole of the Golan should be returned to Syria. Is it possible, within such concept, that you can meet some of the Israeli security requirements?

Late President’s answer:

"The settlement, within the principles of the peace, should ensure security to all parties. This is one of the few points which have been agreed upon during the talks, namely the security arrangements must ensure security for both parties."

Question:

Can the Sinai Agreement be an example for a settlement? There is multi-national UN Force in Sinai after it has been regained, do you accept a similar thing in case you recover the Golan?

Late President’s answer:

"I don’t have now in mind all the details of the Sinai Agreement, but I agree with the American Official, and the Syrian Delegation agreed with the Israeli One during the talks, that there must be security arrangements for both parties. As regards the means and methods of realizing security there are no difficulties which can not be settled."

Question:

Is there then a great change in the Israeli position? in the past the Israelis insisted on keeping the land in order to realize and guarantee their own security?

Late President’s answer:

"What they say is one thing and their conviction is another. It is not true that they have seized the Golan for peace, because the occupation never gave them the security in the past nor can it give them security now."

Question:

If the Israelis are convinced now that geography does not give them peace, does this mean that a great change has come into the Israeli position?

Late President’s answer:

"They have been long convinced of this, ever since they occupied the Golan. Our delegation to the talks has heard something like this from them. They have previously said, after 1967, that they have seized the Golan in order to keep the Syrians away from the Israeli settlements, have they realized this? They have advanced 20 km, but the range of the guns, as you know, has been for many years much greater than this; they have not realized such objective which they have said they were heading for. Occupation of the Golan has not realized security to them. They have occupied the Golan in order to keep us away from the settlements, as they said, but they have introduced new settlements and built them one or two kilometers from the Syrian forces. This means that they have not occupied to keep us away from the settlements. Had their logic been accepted, they would have been entitled now to send us away from such new settlements in order to build up other new ones, and so endlessly on. This logic is rejected."

Question:

Do you expect more from Yitzhak Rabin than Shamir?

Late President’s answer:

"Rabin talks more. He talks about peace and partial withdrawal. The logic is different and the language is different, but if he maintains such logic, the result won’t be peace. We, as I have told you, can not relinquish our land. I believe that Rabin would lose his voters if he does not agree to total withdrawal from the Golan. There are parties and rabbis, among them is the Chief Rabbi, in Israel who call for withdrawal from the Golan and say that the Golan is not a part of "Eretz Ysrael". The Israeli government convened in 1967 and decided on withdrawal from Sinai, the Golan and the rest of the occupied territories in case peace is realized."

An Extract from the interview granted to media men at the conclusion of the President Assad talks with President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak in Cairo on March 27, 1993

Question:

What is Syria’s definition of the peace it wants in the light of the fact that Israel has not announced the volume of its withdrawal from the Golan while awaiting to know the quality and scope of the peace Syria wants?

Late President’s answer:

"By such announcement, Israel wants in the first instance, to impede the peace process. The Golan is a Syrian territory which is not connected with what they try to hint by their use of the expression scope of peace. The Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs has previously said what the negotiating Syrian delegation had also said that we want just peace in accordance with the UN resolutions; a peace that ensures stability in the region in which we all live."

Extract from the interview granted to media men at the conclusion of the President Assad talks with President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak in Cairo on March 27, 1993

Question:

What is Syria’s definition of the peace it wants in the light of the fact that Israel has not announced the volume of its withdrawal from the Golan while awaiting to know the quality and scope of the peace Syria wants?

Late President’s answer:

"By such announcement, Israel wants in the first instance, to impede the peace process. The Golan is a Syrian territory which is not connected with what they try to hint by their use of the expression scope of peace. The Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs has previously said what the negotiating Syrian delegation had also said that we want just peace in accordance with the UN resolutions; a peace that ensures stability in the region in which we all live."

Extract from the interview granted to the 1948-Palestinians Delegation headed by Mr. Abdul-Wahab Darawsheh on March 9, 1994

"The media in Israel continuously claims that Syria is threatening Israel’s security. The Israelis in the peace talks, until now, saying the same thing and some foreign visitors who come to meet us, talk about the Golan and its threats to Israel’s security. We refer them to the UN documents and the decisions of the Mixed Armistice commission relative to the clashes along the Syrian-Israeli Front since 1948. All such decisions, except for one or two on which differences exist, condemn Israel. They are more than one hundred documents."

Extract from the President’s Statement delivered at the People’s Palace at the conclusion of the President’s talks with the American President Bill Clinton on October 27, 1994

"I have assured President Clinton that, based on the principle of total withdrawal for total peace, Syria is ready to commit itself to the objective peace requirements as regards establishing normal peace relations with Israel, in return for Israel’s full withdrawal from the Golan up to the lines of June 4th, 1967 and from South Lebanon."

Extract from the President’s Statement delivered at the People’s Palace at the conclusion of the President’s talks with the American President Bill Clinton on October 27, 1994

"I have assured President Clinton that, based on the principle of total withdrawal for total peace, Syria is ready to commit itself to the objective peace requirements as regards establishing normal peace relations with Israel, in return for Israel’s full withdrawal from the Golan up to the lines of June 4th, 1967 and from South Lebanon."

Extract from the interview granted to media men at the conclusion of the President’s talks with Egyptian President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak in Damascus on December 1st, 1994

Question:

We want to know exactly about what points of difference exist in the Syrian-Israeli peace project. We hear from the Israeli Side but not from the Syrian Side. What are exactly the points of difference? Is it true what some American sources spoke about a possible presence of American peacekeepers in the Golan? Is it good for the Arabs that we are not told clearly by a Syrian official what precisely are the points of difference?

President’s answer:

"As regards the American peacekeepers, no one has discussed the matter with us we hear about it as you do, and read about it as you do; we will give our opinion when it is discussed with us. As for the points of difference between us and Israel regarding the peace process, I prefer that people ask about points of agreement between us. We have not agreed upon any thing yet. We have only headlines : withdrawal, peace, security. And there is no agreement on any of them. I think I can give you something from my own. I Thank my Brother President Mubarak for his visit and our meeting today because it was very useful, just like all other previous meetings between me and him. I, however, reiterate, as we previously have done, that our relations are very solid, and will continue to be so God Willing. "

Extract from the interview granted to media men at the conclusion of the President’s talks with Egyptian President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak in Damascus on June 1st 1995

Question:

There is now talk about two points; Israel is speaking about withdrawal to the international lines in the Golan, and you are speaking about withdrawal to the line of June 4th, Israel is also speaking about the necessity of raising up the negotiating level, particularly after the final security arrangements are achieved. What is the Syrian position as regards these two issues?

President’s answer:

"First, we have not yet reached an agreement as regards the withdrawal issue. Syria’s position is, of course, known and obvious , namely we strongly adhere to, and will not give up, the line of June 4th, 1967. All who are dealing with the peace process know this conviction, namely, that Syria will never accept less than this. This issue is decided, at least for us. As regards the second issue, I believe that negotiating is being conducted on a high level; who is negotiating? There is an American intermediate who comes to meet with us, and goes to the other party to meet also with the top of them. We do not have a higher level, they also do not have a higher level, hence the level is high; I know that they may say that this is not a real negotiating, and that this is rounds that are made from time to time and at long intervals, but this is so far the suitable system. This matter , as I know, is not discussed now as it has been during previous periods. At any rate, peace is peace, whether it comes through an ambassador, a head of state or his minister of foreign affairs."

Extract from the interview granted at the conclusion of the joint press conference with Egyptian President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak in Cairo on September 3rd, 1995

Question:

It seems now that there are some obstacles on the Syrian - Israeli track of peace negotiations, and that there is news said about Syria’s rejection of proposals relative to surveillance and other issues in the Golan. What is currently the Syrian positions as regards the Syrian track?

Late President’s answer:

"We all, no doubt, know that this track is in a stalemate. The Israelis and most of their demands are outside the framework of the international resolutions. Syria wants to work within the framework of the international resolutions, not beyond. Of course it is not expected that we go into details of the issues and give examples, but we can simply say that deviation of any side from the framework of the international resolutions means that it does not support, the peace process which is based on these resolutions. Syria is committed to and abiding by the international resolutions which it has agreed upon."