September 30, 2020 Syrian President Bashar Assad (AP/SANA)
“The road to Washington always passes through Tel Aviv,” said Ibrahim Hamidi, senior diplomatic editor at Asharq Al-Awsat.
By Josh Plank, World Israel News
A widespread belief has emerged recently in diplomatic corridors about the presence of secret negotiations between Israel and Syria, the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported Sunday.
Ibrahim Hamidi, Asharq Al-Awsat‘s senior diplomatic editor, said that Syria sent the first explicit “peaceful signal” after the signing of the Israeli agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Contrary to its ally, Iran, Syria did not issue an official condemnation of the Abraham Accords.
“It remained silent,” Hamidi said. “Silence here is a political stance.”
Hamidi noted that modern history has shown that whenever Syria was on the brink of major transformations or isolation, the only “way out” was to resume negotiations with Israel.
“The road to Washington always passes through Tel Aviv,” Hamidi said, citing two historic examples.
In 2008, Israel and Syria engaged in secret negotiations, through which Syria intended to break its state of isolation after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.
Syria also entered into direct negotiations with Israel in 2000, after the collapse of the Soviet Union led to transformations in the region and the world.
Neither effort led to a lasting peace agreement, but did serve to lessen Syrian isolation on the world stage.
Hamidi said that both U.S. and Russian sponsorship would be needed for renewed Israeli-Syrian negotiations.
Any negotiations would likely focus on the future of the Iranian presence in Syria as well as the status of the Golan Heights.
The U.S. formally recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in 2019.
“This should have been done numerous presidents ago,” said President Donald Trump at the time.
Israel liberated the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and officially applied sovereignty to the area in 1981.
Syria has never recognized the State of Israel or Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and has threatened to attack Israel unless it withdraws from the area.
Syria has been involved in an ongoing multi-sided civil war since 2011.