Syria Will Boycott the Middle East Peace Conference

November 24, 2007 - 0:0

Syria has reportedly announced it will boycott the Middle East peace conference which will be held in Annapolis, Maryland. In fact, the only circumstance in which they would attend the meeting would be if the issue of the Golan Heights is included in the formal agenda.

This is the current position of the Syrian top officials regarding this matter as they said, according to the Syrian news agency SANA.
""We are still waiting for the results of the final discussions we are holding regarding the issue,"" the officials told Al-Hayyat, a London-based daily.
Muhsin Bilal, Syria’s Information Minister, has underlined the fact that the Golan must be a point of discussion at Annapolis. He also added that Israel had to withdraw from all the Arab regions it occupied after June 4, 1967.
No comments from the Israeli officials regarding the Syrians’ demands have been reported yet, but Israel has so far constantly repeated that the peace conference will focus on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
On the other hand, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated on Wednesday that the Annapolis conference will not necessarily be only about the Israeli-Palestinian issue and that other problems, such as the Golan Heights, could be raised during the meeting.
Moreover, Rice’s assistant for near eastern affairs, David Welch, said on Thursday that Syria is invited to discussions and that ""if they come... we will not turn off the microphone for anyone.""
The Arab League, a regional organization of Arab States in the Middle East and North Africa formed in Cairo in 1945, expressed its desire that the future Palestine should be founded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and also urged Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria if the Jewish state wants to obtain its regional recognition.
Most of Israel’s neighbors do not recognize the Jewish state. Among those are its Arab neighbors Jordan and Egypt, who nevertheless announced that they will take part at the meeting. On the other hand, when it comes to Syria and Saudi Arabia, who also do not recognize Israel, things are still unclear.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit accepted the invitation from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and said that he will attend the conference in person, rather than send a representative.
Meanwhile, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met on Wednesday in Amman in order to create a ""unified Arab stand"" that would support the Palestinians at the Annapolis meeting.
After the meeting in Amman, the Palestinian president underlined that ""a Pan-Arab attitude"" is needed in order to support the Palestinians at Annapolis.