The Israeli - Syrian - Lebanese triangle: The renewed struggle over Lebanon

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Abstract

The indirect talks begun by Israel and Syria in April 2008, at the initiative of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, represented the closing of a circle insofar as Israeli policy toward Syria's role in Lebanon is concerned. The movement around the circle began early in the year 2000, with Israeli- Syrian negotiations in which Lebanon was one of the prizes Jerusalem offered Damascus. The movement around the circle continued when, under the leadership of Ariel Sharon, Israel changed its policy to one of detaching Lebanon from Syria. The movement around the circle then came back to the starting point, with Israel, under Ehud Olmert, declaring that it was prepared to accept Syrian hegemony in Lebanon. It is ironic that the policy shifts Israel instituted from 2000 until the recent past in connection with the Syrian presence in Lebanon corresponded quite precisely to the policy shifts followed by Israel several decades earlier, starting in the early 1970s. At that time also, with Yitzhak Rabin as prime minister, Jerusalem felt that Syria was a calming and stabilizing factor in Lebanon. Later, in the early 1980s, with the appointment of Ariel Sharon as minister of defence in Prime Minister Menachem Begin's Likud government, Israel acted to push Syria out of Lebanon. Finally, from the mid-1980s onward, Israel returned to a policy of accepting and, having no choice, even reconciling itself with the Syrian presence in Lebanon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-412
Number of pages16
JournalIsrael Affairs
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2009

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