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Israel-Syria Draft Leaked

Israeli negotiators insisted in peace talks with Syria that Jewish settlers be allowed to stay on the Golan Heights after an Israeli troop withdrawal, and did not commit to a pullback from all of the plateau, according to a U.S. document published Thursday by an Israeli newspaper.

Though refusing to confirm that the draft treaty is the actual text written by U.S. mediators, State Dept spokesman James Rubin did condemn the leak.

"We believe this makes our job more difficult, it makes...peace more difficult but we intend to persevere nonetheless," he told reporters at the State Department.

CBS News Correspondent Dan Raviv reports the nine articles of the draft treaty include sentences in parentheses marked "I," if the Israeli position...or "S," if it's the Syrian stand.

Syria apparently agrees to joint management of water resources, and would go along with an early-warning station on the Golan Heights run by the United States and France.

Israel resists the idea of having a de-militarized zone on its side of the border.

According to the document, published in the Haaretz daily, the two sides have made considerable progress in detailing future relations. They have agreed to full diplomatic relations, open border crossings, free trade and cooperation in the field of tourism. Israel, wary of possible Syrian attempts to slow normalization, demanded that a timetable be set for each step.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's office Thursday described what was published as "a preliminary American document which, as is stated in writing, has no binding force."

Barak said Wednesday that a framework for a peace treaty with Syria could be reached within two months. The Israeli prime minister said that despite little apparent progress in the latest round of U.S.-sponsored peace talks with Syria, he saw "cracks in the typical Syrian rigidity" that made him optimistic.

Talks are to resume Wednesday, and Barak faces opposition to the negotiations at home, where polls show that a majority of Israelis are against giving up the Golan. Two key Cabinet ministers said Tuesday they would pull out of the government if Barak agrees to return the region.

In Damascus, Syria Thursday said recent large protests in Israel against withdrawing from the Golan Heights were designed to extract more U.S. money and weapons for the Jewish state.

"Demonstrations inside Israel are likely to have erupted just to raise prices in the bazaar," said the ruling party's mouthpiece, Al-Baath, which reflects the views of the Syrian government.

Moshe Maoz, a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the U.S. document apparently was leaked to prepare Israeli public opinion for a peace deal.

Israel's demand to allow Golan settlers to stay on under Syrian sovereignty is intended to help boost support fothe plan, he said. "People are attached to the Golan, and (Barak) wants to ease the blow," Maoz said.

In a veiled reference to Hezbollah guerrillas fighting Israeli troops in southern Lebanon, where Syria is the main power broker, Syria signed on to a provision in the document that neither side will instigate violence by third parties.

Israel has long accused Syria of tolerating, if not encouraging, Hezbollah attacks on Israeli troops.

In an apparent warning to Syria, Barak said a flare-up in south Lebanon could derail the peace talks for many months.

"There are many things that could harm an agreement with Syria. For example, severe terror attacks in Lebanon," Barak said in an interview with the Maariv daily published Thursday. "Our response to such activity could derail the peace process."

Israeli Tourism Minister Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, who was present at last week's peace talks in Shepherdstown, W.Va., confirmed Thursday that Israel wants to give Golan settlers the option of staying, even under Syrian sovereignty.

"I assume it is one of the issues on which there will be a debate between us and the Syrians," Lipkin-Shahak, a former army chief, told Israel radio.

At present, Syria insists no Israeli presence should remain in the Golan after the Israeli army withdraws.

Golan settler leader Yehuda Wohlman told Israel radio that thousands of settlers have said they are willing to stay in the Golan, even under Syrian rule. However, Justice Minister Yossi Beilin said that when he raised the idea years ago, it was dismissed with contempt by the settlers.

In the document, Israel does not specify where the new boundary should be, leaving the issue open to negotiations.

Syria has demanded that Israel hand back all of the Golan, as well as areas Syria controlled before the 1967 war in which Israel captured the heights.

Israel has said it will not withdraw to the pre-1967 lines, but it is assumed it is ready to pull back to a 1923 international border, which was drawn by British and French colonial rulers and runs slightly to the east.

President Clinton and Syrian President Hafez Assad conferred by telephone Thursday on the status of Syrian-Israel peace talks, which are scheduled to resume Wednesday in the United States. The location has not been announced.

Mr. Clinton and Assad talked at length, White House deputy press secretary Jake Siewert said, about "the status, and how we can make progress when the next round commences."

Leading U.S. senators visiting Israel said on Thursday that Washington could provide "substantial" sums of money along with peacekeeping troops to help secure an Israeli-Syrian peace.

But the senators -- all members of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, which would set the tone for any financing -- insisted any U.S. aid and forces would have to be part of a broader international effort.

Excerpts from the document President Clinton presented to Israeli and Syrian negotiators during last week's talks in Shepherdstown, W. Va.

Article I - Establishment of Peace and Security within Recognized Boundaries
1. The state of war between Israel and Syria (hereinafter "the Parties") is hereby terminated and peace is established between them. The Parties will maintain normal, peaceful relations as set out in Article III below.

2. ... The location of the boundary has been commonly agreed (Syrian position: and is based on the June 4, 1967, line) (Israeli position: taking into account security and other vital interests of the Parties as well as legal considerations of both sides). Israel will (S: withdraw) (I: relocate) all its armed forces (S: and civilians) behind this boundary in accordance with Annex - of this Treaty.

Article III - Normal Peaceful Relations
2. The Parties will establish full diplomatic and consular relations, including the exchange of resident ambassadors.

3. The Parties recognize a mutuality of interest in honorable and good neighborly relations based on mutual respect and for this purpose will:

a. promote beneficial bilateral economic and trade relations, including by enabling free and unimpeded flow of people, goods and services between the two countries.

b. remove all discriminatory barriers to normal economic relations, terminate economic boycotts directed at the other Party, repeal all discriminatory legislation, and cooperate in terminating boycotts against either Party by third parties.

c. ... the Parties will open and maintain roads and international border crossings between the two countries, cooperate in the development of rail links, grant normal access to its ports ... and enter into normal civil aviation relations.

e. promote cooperation in the field of tourism in order to facilitate and encourage mutual tourism and tourism from third countries.

Annex - sets forth the agreed procedures for establishing and developing these relations. (I: including the schedule for attainment of relevant agreements as well as arrangements concerning the Israelis and Israeli communities in areas from which Israeli forces will be relocated pursuant to Article I).

Article IV - Security
A. Security Arrangements

2. Within the areas of limitation of forces and capabilities, the establishment of a demilitarized zone. (I: encompassing both the area from which Israeli forces will be relocated and the existing Area of Separation established under the Agreement of Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian Forces of 31 May 1974) (S: of equal scope on both sides of the border). As described in Annex - , no military forces, armaments, weapons systems, military capabilities, or military infrastructure will be introduced into the demilitarized zone by either Party and only a limited cvil police presence may be deployed in the area. (I: Both sides agree not to fly over the demilitarized zone without special arrangements).

3. Early warning capabilities, including an early warning ground station on Mt. Hermon (I: with an effective Israeli presence) (S: operated by the United States and France under their total auspices and responsibilities) ...

B. Other Security Measures

1. Each Party undertakes to refrain from cooperation with any third party in a hostile alliance of a military character and will ensure that territory under its control is not used by any military forces of a third party (including their equipment and armaments) in circumstances that would adversely affect the security of the other Party.

2. Each Party undertakes to refrain from organizing, instigating, inciting, assisting or participating in any acts or threats of violence against the other Party, its citizens or their property wherever located, and will take effective measures to ensure that no such acts occur from, or are supported by individuals on, its territory or territory under its control.

Article V - Water
1. The Parties recognize that full resolution of all water issues between them constitutes a fundamental element in ensuring a stable and lasting peace.

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