|Syria and Israel preparing for direct negotiations|
|Written by Chris Perver|
|Tuesday, 02 September 2008 14:09|
President Bashar Assad has announced that Syria and Israel are close to achieving peace, and that both sides are now preparing to move to direct peace negotiations following the next Israeli elections. The two countries have held several indirect meetings over the last few months, mediated through the Turkish government. Israel has been keen to move to direct negotiations, but up until now the Syrian government has remained more cautious. Earlier in the year it was revealed Olmert had reportedly given President Assad assurances that Israel was willing to hand back the entire Golan Heights to Syria. And just recently Olmert was reported to have offered the Golan in return for just moving to direct talks with the Syrian regime.
Quote: ""Today there is a possibility of peace," Assad said. "But nonetheless, we cannot say that we are close to achieving peace. We are preparing for direct negotiations. When we reach that step, we will be able to say that we are approaching peace. "Today, we can only say that we have opened the door to peace," he said, in remarks in Arabic that were dubbed over in French.
With the Iranian nuclear crisis now heating up, Israel is keen to drive a wedge between Iran and Syria, both of which have signed a mutual defence pact. It seems that it is up to Assad to make the decision as to which side he is on. Should he risk the security of his own regime by siding with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who has set himself up for conflict with the West? Or should he side with Israel and the United States, and by doing so, guarantee the survivability of his own regime? I think that's probably the main driving force behind this latest push for peace. To be honest I think the actual land matters little to either the Israelis or the Syrians right now. It's all about who is on who's side. In other news today, Arabic newspapers reported that the Israeli government has signalled its readiness to disengage from Ghajar and Shebaa farms. Israel believes that this land was originally part of Syrian territory that was seized during the Six Day War. But Lebanon says the area belongs to them, and Hizbullah has used this as an excuse to claim that the IDF is still in occupation of south Lebanon. Well now Israel is seeking to disengage from these territories, with the aim of removing Hizbullah's reason for existence.
Quote: ""Evacuating Shebaa will pull the rug from under (Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan) Nasrallah's legs, and will make his excuses to continue the 'resistance' for the sake of Lebanon's interests lose their meaning," an Israeli source was quoted as saying. "If this area is handed over, it will be clear to the Lebanese that Hizbullah's excuses are aimed at disguising its main goals, in the service of global terror and Iranian interests," the source concluded.
As you can see, the issue is not really about land, it's all about who's side you are on. The question is, who's side are you on? I'm not talking about Israel or Iran now. I'm talking about eternity. There is a lot of confusion about religion, and people say there are all sorts of ways to get to God. Really, the Bible makes it very simple. There are only two roads you can take in this life. One leads to heaven through the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the other road leads to a lost eternity. The bad news is, all of us have been born on the wrong road. No matter who you are, whether you are rich or poor, an important person or just a nobody, the Bible says we were all born in sin and are at a distance from God (Psalm 51:5). The good news is, God has provided a Way for all of us to get onto the right road. For while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Why don't you turn about and start on the road that leads to heaven today.