United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeated a call this week for “comprehensive peace” that goes beyond Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Clinton was in Israel for the second round of talks between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
“We believe that it is not only important to pursue the Palestinian- Israeli negotiations but a comprehensive regional peace consistent with the heart of the Arab Israeli peace initiative,” she stated.
U.S. envoy George Mitchell met Thursday with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Foreign Minister Walid Muallem. Earlier in the week French envoy Claude Cousseran was in Damascus to meet with Assad and push Israel-Syria peace talks.
Assad expressed skepticism that his country and Israel would reach a deal.
Syria has demanded that Israel hand over the strategic Golan Heights, which were under Syrian control between 1948 and 1967, and have been in Israeli hands since the Six Day War. Israel officially annexed the area in 1981.
Syria has demanded that Israel agree in principle to relinquish the Golan before talks begin, a demand that Israel has rejected. Israeli leaders say Syria must ends its ties with Iran and with PA-based terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.