Original - Additions in bold
Associated Press - Wed May 21, 9:42 AM ET
JERUSALEM - Israel and Syria said Wednesday they are holding peace talks through Turkish mediators on a dispute that centers on the Golan Heights. Some facts about the territory:
• Plateau at southwestern corner of Syria overlooking Sea of Galilee and northern Israel, roughly 40 miles long and 15 miles wide.
• Soldiers shelled northern Israel from the Golan Heights between 1948 and 1967. Israel captured the territory in the 1967 Mideast War and annexed it in 1981. No country recognized the annexation.
HC - No they [Syrian soldiers] didn't. This contains zero reference to the actions the Israeli military were taking in that period, when they were systematically advancing into the "demilitarized zone" that had been declared by the United Nations along the seam-line between the Israeli and Syrian armies in 1949, and the associated attacks the IDF maintained throughout that period against Syrian farmers, the Syrian military, and even UNTSO peacekeepers.
HC - According to the AP version, the Syrians forces in Golan were just gratuitously shelling Israeli positions?
• Most of the 100,000 Syrian residents of the Golan Heights fled during the 1967 war and were not allowed to return. A few of the roughly 17,000 left have accepted Israeli citizenship. About 18,000 Israelis live in 32 settlements built since 1967.
HC - Zero mention of the fact that these Israeli settlements are completely illegal under international law.
RP - Or of another 100,000 inhabitants driven from their ancestral lands by Israeli miltary activities, and not allowed to return.
HC - How about we have some mention of the plight of Syrian families split up by Israel's continued occupation of Golan and of the dire human-rights situation of the indigenous Golanis?
Israel-Syria peace talks broke down in 2000. Israel offered to withdraw from all of the Golan Heights down to the international border in exchange for full peace. Syria insisted on recovering land across the border.
HC - That is quite simply not true. The reason the peace bid that Israeli PM belatedly made in 2000 got absolutely nowhere was precisely because he pulled back on assurances PM Yitzhak Rabin had earlier given that Israel would withdraw to the international border. Barak was not prepared to do that, but Pres. Hafez al-Asad insisted as always that that was the only basis on which he would conclude a peace deal.
Asad did not ask for-- far less insist on-- a single inch of land that was not Syria's under international law.
• Syria fought in three wars against Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973 and battled Israel when it invaded Lebanon in 1982. Damascus backs Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad and is a close ally of Iran. Israeli warplanes carried out a September attack on a Syrian installation that the U.S. has said was an unfinished nuclear reactor built by North Korea.
RP - Israel started a colonial war of occupation in 1948, another 'pre-emptive' one in 1967, was surprised by a counter-attack into Israeli-occupied Sinai in 1973, and invaded Lebanon in 1982, occupying 20% of the country for 18 years
Is this a "peace-loving democracy"? I don't think so.
Thanks to Helena Cobban for 95% of the counter-comments (in bold) above.