Private peacemaker visits Israel


A Syrian American who drafted an informal proposal for peace with
Israel visited Jerusalem. Ibrahim “Abe” Suleiman addressed the Knesset
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Thursday along with Alon Liel, a
retired Israeli diplomat with whom he spent two years in back-channel talks
on a blueprint for rapprochement. Suleiman, 69, has been disavowed by
Damascus but spoke authoritatively about Syrian President Bashar Assad’s
recent peace overtures.

“I ask the Israeli government – I challenge the
Israeli government – to answer President Bashar Assad’s call for peace. I believe peace can be reached within six months if the
parties are willing. I don’t believe there are any more things to negotiate
about,” Suleiman told reporters, referring to Syria’s bedrock demand for a return of
the Golan Heights.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who in the past dismissed
Suleiman as an “oddball” and described the peace proposal as completely
unauthorized, had no immediate comment on the visit.

Recommended from JTA