Quarterly Updates for (16 Feb 1995 — 15 May 1995)

In late February, low-level, unofficial talks resumed in Washington under the direction of U.S. coordinator Dennis Ross, but negotiating positions remained unchanged. On 3/5, Rabin reiterated his offer of a "very small" withdrawal from Golan in exchange for a three-year period to "test" full normalization, open borders, and exchange embassies, which Pres. Hafiz al-Asad again rejected.

To jump-start talks, Secy. of State Christopher travelled to Damascus and Tel Aviv 3/13-15 and persuaded the parties to switch the focus of talks from the extent of Israeli withdrawal (the current sticking-point) to post-withdrawal security arrangement.

angements. On 3/22, Syria and Israel accepted a four-stage U.S. formula for drafting a military annex to a future peace agreement: (1) Israeli and Syrian ambassadors define gaps and points of accord and fix agenda for talks between military experts; (2) U.S. envoy Ross shuttles between Israel and Syria, compiling a comprehensive list of concerns and agreements; (3) military experts meet in Washington to find a military solution based on concerns listed; (4) military chiefs of staff draft the annex.

Official negotiations, suspended since last December, resumed in Washington 3/ 27-29, but without military advisors as had been planned. Syria pulled its advisors at the last minute, saying they would not be sent until Israel agreed on the underlying principles of the security arrangements. Talks ended with differences slightly narrowed, but no agreements.

In early April, Israel retracted its demand that Syria cut its standing army as part of a peace agreement. Syria switched its demands for geographical "symmetry" in security arrangements to a demand for overall "equality," but rejected Israel's suggestion of a 1:9 ratio for demilitarized zones; the U.S. said it is aiming for 1:4 compromise.

After Syria backed out of Washington talks scheduled for mid-April, Peres called for upgrading talks to the foreign minister level, suggested discussing all aspects (withdrawal, borders, diplomatic relations, security, timetables) at once rather than struggling over "equality," and hinted at possible withdrawal to the international border drawn after WWI. Syria demanded withdrawal to the 6/4/67 border, which includes a strip of land along the Sea of Galilee not included in the international border.

Two days of unproductive official talks were held 4/25-26, again without military advisors. As of mid-May, Israel was reported to have offered to make a small withdrawal from the Golan nine months after signing a peace accord, followed by a larger withdrawal after three more years. Its earlier proposal had been to withdraw from most of the Golan in three stages over five to eight years.