Two U.S. lawmakers are serving as intermediaries in the latest round of Israeli-Syrian peace overtures.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) said during a visit Wednesday to Jerusalem that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had told them he is interested in reviving Israeli-Syrian peace talks, stalled since 2000, but was awaiting a “signal” from Syrian President Bashar Assad.
It was not immediately clear what this might mean, but the Olmert government, like its predecessors, has balked at Syria’s demand for a full return of the Golan Heights under a future peace accord. Olmert also wants evidence that Assad is willing to stop supporting Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.
The two U.S. lawmakers are slated to visit Damascus, where Kennedy said he would tell Assad that it would be a mistake to imagine that he might get a better peace deal with Israel once U.S. President George W. Bush steps down next year and is potentially succeeded by a Democrat.
The United States and other foreign diplomats long have served as intermediaries in Israeli-Syrian contacts.