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Road to Damascus

How it could break the Palestinian impasse

by
Marc Tracy
August 24, 2010
Syrian President Bashar Assad last month.(STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Syrian President Bashar Assad last month.(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Faced with peace-process pessimism, the proper response is: Well, okay, if talking isn’t likely to accomplish anything, what is? To which (if you ask me, anyway), the response is: Creating a regional context in which both Israel and the moderate Palestinian West Bank leadership feel safer about making real concessions. The chief way to do this is to tamp down Iran as a potential nuclear state and very real sponsor of anti-Israeli terrorism. But another important (and related) way is to start solving the problem of Syria, which has never made peace with the Jewish state.

And—whaddya know?—coinciding with the announcement of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, there appeared a report in a London-based Arabic-language newspaper that the United States (with the aid of the French) is working behind the scenes to try to spur Israeli-Syrian talks. While a channel was first opened earlier this summer (through outgoing Jewish Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pennsylvania), believe it or not), likely because of the effect U.S. sanctions were having on Syria’s sponsor Iran, a new push is apparently in the works. This is a smart move.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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