President Bashar Al-Assad: the Man of Peace (5)

The realization of the just and comprehensive peace has ever been the noble objective of H.E. President Bashar Al-Assad. Actually, all the measures and political moves taken by the Syrian leadership aim at the restoration of stability, security and realization of the peace. This strategy of peace has been characterized and reflected by H.E. President Al-Assad through:

The principle of land-for-peace. This principle is not clear or unacceptable to them. Their positions on eastern part of Tiberias Lake are still as they were. We refuse to negotiate any object unless there is an agreement on the basic principle. We will say to all those that are our conditions for peace. Whoever can implement them, we are ready to continue negotiating. We deal with realities not speculations.

We started the peace process 13 years ago, and we have not achieved anything. One reason is that there are is no criteria. So, the instrument or the vision that we have is the one we agreed on in the Madrid Conference; we, as one party, and the other parties, the United Nations, the United States, and all countries of the world supported the Madrid Conference which possessed the instruments, the road, the objectives and the vision. We should reconsider the causes of the failure of the peace process; we should put new criteria and move on with confidence. Then we can achieve peace. This is the Syrian vision which we propose to the officials we meet to discuss the peace process. (December 14, 2003)

The basics are '' the full withdrawal from the occupied territories of 1967, the Palestinian State with east Jerusalem as its capital, the right of return" asserting that the initiative asserts " Arabs' desire for peace'' and exposes the '' Israelis who don't desire peace''. "The principle of the peace process is the land for peace. The land is an integrated one factor, either to be restored in full or to remain till it is to be fully restored. The second factor for Peace also consists of its components including, for example, the issue of water, relations, security arrangements including the disarmament of Mass destruction weapons and nuclear weapons which Israel possesses.

I am going to go back to the word conditions. Israel, in its statements with senior officials, always says we reject Syrian conditions. In fact, Syria has never set any conditions, and we always say that Syria does not have certain conditions at all. When Syria speaks about the bases for peace it refers to the necessity of implementing Security Council resolutions and Madrid terms of reference. These terms of reference were not invented by Syria, rather they were American ideas and they became international resolutions once they were approved by the international community. And due to the Arabs desire to reach a genuine peace, they adhered to these terms of reference. Hence, our conditions are the conditions of the international community and they stipulate the full return of the Syrian rights. The international community is the one who met in Madrid and decided what are the terms of reference for peace. Thus, the terms of reference are agreed upon by the international community and we are part of this international community and we do not live outside it.

The entire world, with the exception of Israel, has supported these terms of reference. Israel is the only country that refuses to talk about Security Council resolutions and the United Nations, and it refuses to adhere to the international will. As an example for this, I shall mention that upon his return from Madrid conference, Yitzhak Shamir said to the journalists that he will make the peace process drag for ten years and this is actually what had taken place. Now, when we say we want negotiations, negotiations for us are the means and not the end in themselves. When we started negotiations in 1991, we started because we were convinced that peace is going to be achieved through an honest broker of the negotiations and through a true adherence to the terms of reference that were announced in Madrid. Ten years from that time we can say that the peace process has suffered an absolute failure. Is it possible to re-launch future negotiations without analyzing the reasons that had led to this failure and without avoiding these reasons? This means that we could go back ten years from now and say why did the peace process fail, and we would have wasted twenty years. (February 14, 2002)

Just and comprehensive peace is attainable through the implementation of United Nations resolutions which call for Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories to the line of 4th June, 1967, and recognition of the right of the Arab people of Palestine to their independent state with Jerusalem its capital, and repatriation of Palestinian refugees.

We seek support to the ranks of those who advocate peace in our region, and hope that the co-sponsors of the peace process, the European Union and the United Nations will comply with the requirements of ending aggression and restoring just and comprehensive peace in our region.(February 2, 2002)

Syria has always talked about peace as a strategic option, and Syria seeks to restore rights without a high price by peaceful means and the next few months will determine war or peace depending on the Israelis in the first place.

We started the peace negotiations in 1991 with Israel. We said when Israel withdraws from our lands we recognize Israel. So when you say recognize you say it when you achieve peace. Anyway, when you have peace talks with Israel, this means you recognize the reality of Israel. But when you say verbally that we recognize it politically, that will come as a result of the peace.

The solution is through United Nations or Security Council Resolutions. Security Council resolutions define the borders by June 1967. So the fence is much far behind. I mean behind Palestinian territories. So this won't lead to any solution. The facts proved that this fence wouldn't do much to Israel, so I will advice any rational Israeli to go back to these resolutions. This is the main solution. You may sometimes win some political, security and military battles but eventually you need the stability and it happens when you have normal relations. The fence won't give you normal relations. It is a matter of people not governments.

The issue of peace was at the heart of these events and cast shadows over other issues. This process receded, in its general atmosphere, many steps backward, not only because of Israeli intransigence and its rejection to respond to the requirement of peace, but also because of the lack of international responsibility, when Israel is concerned, for the implementation of international resolutions, and the lack of seriousness on the part of the international community in shouldering its responsibilities in this concern.

We simply think that the peace process needs requirements: first of all, the will of the parties to achieve peace, second to have an honest sponsor, and third technical requirements like negotiations, terms of reference and standards. What is lacking today is the will of the Israelis; the will of the sponsor, the United States, and also the standards and criteria. So the peace process is stalled for the foreseeable future. But until that time we should not stop talking about the peace process. That is why we continue dialogue with our European friends and other concerned parties, in order to identify the mistakes of the past and in order to draw a vision for the future. And when all these conditions change we proceed forward with the peace process.

The process- the Middle East peace process- as you know has stopped for years as a result of Israel's rejection to resume the negotiations and its continued occupation of the Arab lands and its continued aggression on the Palestinian people. It is also because the international powers didn't commit themselves to their obligations towards the peace process, and because they are not serious about implementation of the international legitimacy resolutions when it comes to Israel.

We emphasize that option of just and comprehensive peace in accordance with Madrid Terms Of Reference, the relevant international resolutions and the "land for peace" formula that call upon Israel to withdraw from all Arab territories occupied in 1967, safeguard the legitimate rights of the Palestinians people in establishing their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, and complete the Israeli withdrawal from the rest of the occupied Lebanese territories. All the Arabs expressed this stand when they adopted the peace initiative in Beirut Summit in 2002, while the Israeli response to it was evasiveness, disregard and more acts of killing and persecution.

Arab peace initiative in Beirut summit reflected the Arab Nation's readiness to achieve peace but Israel reacted by increasing its aggression on the Palestinian people, rejection the international resolutions and continuing building the racial separation wall.

The peace process is in need for a peace plan and not for words, for content not for form," the President added calling for action as to salvage the Palestinians from '' massacres'' and from '' the new holocaust'' calling on Arab countries, which have relations with Israel, to break them off before it is too late. "The only reference for the peace process is that of Madrid and the resolutions it is based upon.

We, in Syria, like things to be clear. We do not like to address any issue in a vague foggy environment. We have important things that we would like to do to our country and we have no time to waste on issues which do not lead us anywhere. The mistake that was committed by some European countries and by the United States is that they believed that negotiations by themselves could bring peace.

Dr. Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim