The following editorial appeared in today's Washington Post:
The first round of substantive talks between Israel and Syria in several years, which wrapped up this week in Shepherdstown, W. Va, after a week of fits and starts, lacked any of the sense of reconciliation that infused Israel's Oslo negotiations with the Palestinians or the Camp David talks with the Egyptians. The public signals from Damascus, even during the talks themselves, were resentful and cold, and the Syrian leadership seems utterly uninterested in convincing the Israeli public -- which will ultimately vote on whether to ratify a deal -- that it is serious.
Despite the Israeli government's apparent willingness to make deep territorial concessions on the Golan Heights, Syria has been reluctant to specify, without a promise in advance that Israel will yield the whole strategic plateau, the security arrangements and normalization of relations it would grant in return. While some discussion of these issues did take place in Shepherdstown, the procedural wrangling over the agenda's priorities sent an unmistakable message: Syria may be eager to reap the rewards of peace, but it views peace itself as a necessary evil.
On the Palestinian track, a people's self-determination is at issue, but there is no great moral imperative for Israel to reach an agreement with Syria's dictator, President Hafez Assad. And in contrast to the behavior of then-Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during the Camp David process, Mr. Assad has done his best to ensure that, at least in his lifetime, nobody will confuse peace with Syria with any sort of rapprochement between two peoples.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.