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Arab-Affairs Expert: ‘Syria Wants Water, Not Peace'

Arab/Islamic affairs expert Prof. Moshe Sharon says Syrian threats of war need not scare Israel – and we must not give them access to our water.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 11/11/2009, 12:25 PM / Last Update: 11/11/2009, 12:28 PM

“The Syrians want us to sign a peace agreement with them so that they can draw Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) water from us,” Arab Affairs expert Professor Moshe Sharon told Arutz-7’s Hebrew newsmagazine. “They don’t want peace; they want water.”

“We need not take seriously [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s threats to ‘resume resistance’ in the Golan,” Sharon said. “He wants to sound good for Hamas, Hizbullah and Fatah. It doesn’t mean all-out war, but just terrorist attacks in what they call the ‘occupied territories,’ and in this way to take back the Golan.”
Syria is afraid to say anything to Turkey about the ‘occupied Syrian territory’ that Turkey took, because Turkey might make a face at them. But Syria feels they can challenge Israel...

Prof. Sharon, born in Haifa 72 years ago, served as Arab affairs advisor to Prime Minister Menachem Begin. In 1982, during the Peace for Galilee War with Lebanon, he rejoined the army and served as liaison with the Shiites in Lebanon. Later promoted to the rank of Col., he headed the Arab affairs department in the IDF General Staff.

“Assad wants to encourage the Druze of the Golan Heights to organize and rise up against Israel,” Sharon continued, “but this of course will not happen. The Arabs in the Golan - all of whom are Israeli citizens, and some of whom are Israel-supporters - are mostly smart enough to know, based on their history, that it’s not worth it for them to revolt against Israel.”

Asked if Assad might choose instead to heat up his border with Israel, Sharon said the Syrian leader simply does not have the strength and public support he needs to do so: “Syria’s problem now is chiefly water. Agriculture in Syria is in very bad shape, and they lost a large part of their water sources in northwest Syria to Turkey. Syria is afraid to say anything to Turkey about the ‘occupied Syrian territory’ that Turkey took, because Turkey might make a face at them. But Syria feels that they can challenge Israel, because we won’t respond toughly. We must therefore tell them clearly, ‘You won’t receive anything from us because you are belligerent and you lost the war that you started with us, and we don’t plan to give you any gifts for starting a war and losing it.”

“The entire Syrian approach is one of trickery,” Sharon said. “They simply want to be able to take all our water from the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). They couldn’t care less if they dry up the whole lake; they want to put 500,000 farmers in the Golan, and draw water with no concern for any agreements they might sign with us. Turkey, too, is interested in having us sign an agreement with Syria so that Syria won’t demand water from Turkey; Turkey is saying, ‘You don’t need our water; take it from the Jews!’”

'Syria is an Enemy and Constant Threat'
“We must never forget that Syria is a constant threat to Israel. For instance, let us assume that there might be a missile war between Israel and Iran. Iran will then activate not only Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon, but also Syria – missiles from four fronts!  Syria doesn’t want peace with us; it wants an agreement by which it regains all the territory that it once captured from us in the 1950’s, such as Hammat Gader and the eastern Kinneret shore, and it also wants to take our water.”

Sharon sums up: “We have the constant threat of Syria as an enemy, we have a threat on our water, and we have a threat of terrorist missiles from all directions. Just this week, Hamas tested a missile with a 60-kilometer range. We cannot allow ourselves to enter into any negotiations to give them any part of the Golan, and certainly not a full return to the Kinneret shore.”