Shalom Im Hagolan? Draft plan for Golan peace park

From the Israeli side, there have been two sticking points in making peace on Syria’s terms.
One was the Syrian demand that Israel return to the 1948 armistice lines, which were significantly closer to the Kineret than the pre-48 international border. If Syria were to get its way, only a few yards of the far shore of the Kineret would be Israeli — not enough to place an ice-cream shop.
The other was the general sense among Israelis of what Yossi Klein Halevi has described as a claustrophobic narrowing of borders. The Golan plain offers some of Israel’s finest vineyards and Mt Hermon, its only ski slope.
So it is encouraging that the negotiators for the ongoing Israeli-Syrian talks being conducted through Turkey have apparently come up with a plan that would give Syria the legal title it wants, while giving Israelis continuing use of much of the territory.
The following proposal is being circulated as coming from someone involved in the negotiations.

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.

3 thoughts on “Shalom Im Hagolan? Draft plan for Golan peace park

  1. Very interesting. Some of it sounds like ideas first proposed by Syrian opposition parties like the RSP. I wonder what internal politics are at work in Syria.

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