ARABS-ISRAEL - Apr. 17 - Bashar Assad Says Door To Peace Still Open.Bashar Assad, the son of Syrian Pres. Hafez Assad is quoted in 'Al Wasat' as saying the door to peace with Israel is still open and time has not run out for Syria and Israel to reach a settlement. However, Bashar Assad - who reportedly is being groomed to succeed his father - tells the London-based weekly that Damascus will not give up its demand that Israel return all of the Golan Heights Golan Heights, strategic upland region (2003 est. pop. 10,500), c.500 sq mi (1,250 sq km), SW Syria. It borders S Lebanon, NE Israel, and NW Jordan. It takes its name from the ancient city of Golan and was known as Gaulanitis in New Testament times. , including a small patch of land along the Sea of Galilee The Sea of Galilee or Lake Kinneret (Hebrew ים כנרת), is Israel's largest freshwater lake. It is approximately 53 km (33 miles) in circumference, about 21 km (13 miles) long, and 13 km (8 miles) wide; it has a total area of 166 . (Syria gained the land in raids in the early 1950s, but the Israelis regard it as theirs.) Bashar is quoted as saying: "The issue of land is an issue of sovereignty and dignity. Syria is not ready to offer gifts of this kind. This is the leadership's stand". (Bashar's remarks come at a low point in the Mideast peace process. Talks between Israel and Syria broke down in January over Israel's refusal to give a prior commitment to withdraw from the entire Golan Heights, a strategic plateau captured in the 1967 Mideast war. Pres. Clinton met with Assad in Geneva Geneva, canton and city, Switzerland
Geneva (jənē`və), Fr. Genève, canton (1990 pop. 373,019), 109 sq mi (282 sq km), SW Switzerland, surrounding the southwest tip of the Lake of Geneva. in March in an unsuccessful effort to revive the negotiations.) According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the magazine, Bashar said the pessimism that followed the Geneva summit Geneva Summit
(1955) Meeting in Geneva of the leaders of the U.S., France, Britain, and the Soviet Union that sought to end the Cold War. Such issues as disarmament, unification of Germany, and increased economic ties were discussed. was unwarranted. He said: "The peace process has not stopped, and the door remains open as long as efforts are continuing. Time has not run out". In an interview with Israeli TV on Apr. 17, Barak says: "We did not close the door, but the opening as I see it is very narrow", adding: "There is nothing that could force Assad or the Syrian government to make peace. I would only sign on a peace that will strengthen the security of Israel". Meanwhile, Assad's biographer, Patrick Seale Patrick Seale is a British journalist and author who specializes in the Middle East. He is a former correspondent for The Observer, and has interviewed most of the Middle East's most prominent leaders and personalities. , appeals in an open letter to Assad and Israeli PM Barak to make peace. His letter is published on Apr. 17 in 'Al Hayat'. Seale, who is close to Assad and is believed to act as a messenger between Israel and Syria, writes that the Israelis need reassurance that making peace with Syria is "an acceptable adventure" and asks Assad to send the Israelis more signals of his good intentions. Seale writes: "They do not trust Syria. Before surrendering such a valuable site like the Golan Heights they need to be convinced of Syria's peaceful intentions." Seale also writes that Barak must remember that he accepted a pledge made by the late PM Rabin and later by former PM Peres to withdraw from the entire Golan. Seale writes: "Assad is ready to meet you half way on other peace elements - water, security, normalisation 1. (data processing) normalisation - A transformation applied uniformly to each element in a set of data so that the set has some specific statistical property. For example, monthly measurements of the rainfall in London might be normalised by dividing each one by the total and the withdrawal schedule - but not on land". He appeals to Barak to "seize the opportunity offered by history to renegotiate re·ne·go·ti·ate
tr.v. re·ne·go·ti·at·ed, re·ne·go·ti·at·ing, re·ne·go·ti·ates
1. To negotiate anew.
2. To revise the terms of (a contract) so as to limit or regain excess profits gained by the contractor. with Syria on the same basis that was accepted by 2 Israeli elected governments." (Seale has travelled to Israel and Syria recently. He has proposed in an 'Al Hayat'
article that the Sea of Galilee remain under Israeli sovereignty, but that the border be drawn along the water line, giving Syria control of the north-eastern shore.)