Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to talk peace after the Annapolis conference. But, ahead of the formal launch of those negotiations at the White House today, Syria has issued demands. It is another reminder of the obstacles ahead in efforts to resolve the conflict.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: “The Annapolis conference has thus been the beginning, not the end, of a new serious and substantive effort to achieve peace in the Middle East. This work will be hard. It involves risks and sacrifices for all concerned. But today’s events have demonstrated unambiguously that the international community will fully support the path the parties have chosen.”
Still technically at war with Israel over the Golan Heights, Syria has told the conference it has the “political will” to seek a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. But, first, it says, Israel should pull out of occupied land.
The aim is to secure a peace deal by the end of next year that would create a new Palestinian state. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wants East Jerusalem as its capital, something that poses huge problems for Israel.
The city’s status is just one of many thorny issues the two sides will struggle hard to resolve.