Israel/Palestine

The Golan Heights Peace Park?

You will probably have read about the secret and “unofficial” meetings between Syrians and Israelis – including, significantly, Dr. Alon Liel –  which took place between September 2004 and July 2006, at which certain understandings for a peace agreement between Israel and Syria were formulated.

The Yaba Yaba blog has what it claims to be a September 2007 draft of the plan for a Golan Heights Peace Park, obtained from “a reliable channel” and “attributed to Dr Alon Liel”. Yaba Yaba says:

I found it hard to believe: an experienced diplomat like Dr Liel would not compromise the achievement of a century by leaking it to the Internet. The draft is dated sept. 2007. And above all, I find it incomprehensible that any of the Israeli or Syrian leaders would display enough creativity or imagination to be able to read such a proposal and fidn the dotted line. Still, a quick google run shows that it is not a complete urban myth.

Anyhow, here it is.

The Peace Park on the Golan

Draft – Sep.2007

The park on the Golan will be designed as a nature reserve, under Syrian sovereignty, stretching on about one third of the Golan Height territories, on the western zone close to the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).

Israeli citizens will be allowed entry to the park, no visa required, from morning to evening, for tourist, ecological or humanitarian purposes, as agreed to by both sides.

Israeli citizens currently living on the territory to be defined in the future as the park land and who own economical, tourist, or agricultural businesses will be able to continue operating their businesses and even hold on to their business ownership on the condition that it is approved by both governments and if the nature of their business is not contradictory to the spirit of the park.

The supervision and safeguarding of the park will be carried out by Syrian nature reserve officials who will be partially armed with personal weapons only. Entry for tourist purposes will entail payment of fees. Authorized workers, whether Israelis or Syrians, will hold a permanent entry permit. Other routine operational regulations will be set by the park management in accordance with the Syrian Parks Authority.

Both governments, with the cooperation of the international community, will make special efforts to turn that park into a tourist attraction which will appeal to the citizens of all countries and will draw tourists from all over the world.

Initial planning of the park will be carried out by a leading international team. The planning will take into account long term ecological and environmental considerations as well as certain historical, political and humanitarian sensitivities on both sides. The international team will make recommendation to both parties on the exact location of the park. The two governments will be asked to approve the park area before detailed planning starts.

The spirit of the park should be the spirit of reconciliation between the two peoples. It will reflect the wish of both countries to co-exist in peace and to maintain maximal economical and tourist cooperation for their own sake. Top businessmen and economists from all over the world will act as an advisory team to the Syrian authorities in order to ensure that the park will eventually yield profits and will not need long- term governmental subsidization.

Both parties aspire to reach a situation in which appropriate existing infrastructures in the park will continue to function after the sovereignty is restored to Syria.

The water flow in the park will be controlled in a way that will guarantee that Israel will keep on receiving the same quantities of water from the Golan sources or through the Golan as at the time the agreement is signed by both parties.

The evacuation of the Israeli population living on the territory of the park will be carried out within 5 to15 years from the date the agreement is signed by both parties. Aside from park personnel, Syrians will not be allowed to establish permanent residence on park territory.

The park territory entirely will be a buffer zone free of weaponry and visitors will not be allowed to bring in weapons. Citizens holding guns will be required to deposit it at certain entry posts.

Every transgression of park regulations will be dealt by the park authorities. When juridical process is required it will be handled by Syrian authorities if it concerns Syrian citizens and foreign tourists. The agreement on the juridical aspect will be discussed in details by both parties at the time of signing the accord.

It sounds nice.

(Hat tip: Mira)

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