The Golan and the Peace Fallacy

During his first term as prime minister of Israel, both foreign governments and liberals decried Benjamin Netanyahu as an enemy of peace just as they do today. Given the lack of credible negotiating partners, that’s always been a bum rap. Moreover, in retrospect, Netanyahu’s cautious approach to dealing with Yasir Arafat — the blood-soaked terrorist the U.S. State Department was doing its best to whitewash — seems unexceptionable and perhaps even a trifle too credulous since the prime minister signed off on a number of Oslo measures that further empowered the PA leader. But that wasn’t the only sign of Netanyahu’s willingness to engage in peace negotiations. He also exchanged messages with Syrian dictator Hafez Assad via American businessman and Jewish communal leader Ron Lauder about a possible deal about the Golan. The feelers came to nothing. But Netanyahu tried again in 2010 with Assad’s son Bashar. Again, the effort failed because the Syrians were never prepared to make peace with Israel even if it might net them the return of the Golan Heights as peace with Egypt gave them the Sinai. The same fate befell a previous try at negotiating peace with Syria conducted by Yitzhak Rabin.

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The Golan and the Peace Fallacy

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