Zeev Schiff is a Lafer international fellow of The Washington Institute and defense editor of Haaretz, Israel's leading daily newspaper. Normally based in Israel, he will be working from the Institute office in Washington during fall 2007.
Although the uncertain status of the Palestinians lies at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict, without Syria there simply can be no progress in the peace process. In the past, Syria was satisfied with the status quo and saw little need to establish peaceful relations with Israel. With the collapse of Damascus' Soviet patron and the dramatic events of the Gulf War, this changed. Today, Syria is simultaneously pursuing the diplomatic track of the peace process while arming itself. But there can be no doubt that Syrian policy has moved in a new direction, one which could be turned towards establishing peace in the course of negotiations.
Chief among President Hafez al-Assad's motives in joining the peace process is the recovery of the Golan Heights. In this Policy Paper, Zeev Schiff examines the history and current security arrangement of the Golan Heights, as well as its geo-strategic significance for both Israel and Syria, to determine how the Golan may best serve the interests of peace.