Syrian Opposition in Golan

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Syrian Opposition in Golan
Group of Oppositional Syrian Kurds
Gruppe der Oppositionellen syrischen
syrisch Kurden
Fraksîyona Opozîsyona kurdên Sûrîyê
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‫رد ا‬
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02 , 06.13.07
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Syrian Opposition
Syrian opposition leader: Israeli factories can stay in
Golan
Syrian émigré visits Golan Heights overlooking his
homeland, says Israeli factories should be allowed to
remain open under Syrian authority should the land
be returned. But first, he says, Assad's regime must
be toppled
Roee Nahmias
Farid Ghadry
Photo: Gil Yohanan
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"If I am president of Syria, I will see no need to
evacuatee Israeli factories from the Golan within the
framework of a peace agreement," said visiting Syrian
opposition leader and émigré Farid Ghadry.
'No Peace With Assad'
Syrian opposition head
warns against peace with
Assad / Yitzhak Benhorin
Head of exiled Syrians'
Reform Party to visit Israel
next month, plans to warn
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Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee against talks with
'dictator'
Full Story
"They can continue operating under Syrian
sovereignty and pay taxes. They can also employ
Syrians and I would welcome that. This is pragmatism
in the fullest sense of the word," said Ghadry.
Ghadry spoke during a tour of the Golan Heights on
Tuesday, his first ever visit to the region. "This is 100
percent Syrian territory, the Golan is Syrian land. I
came here to express my opinion as a Syrian citizen,
to reassure the Syrians that this is our land, and that
one day we will recover it in full," he said.
Ghadry's rhetoric is clear – Syrian President Bashar
Assad must be overthrown, and fast. According to
Ghadry Israel must refuse to negotiate with the
current regime under any circumstances, saying that
such contact would result in direct Iranian influence
over the Golan.
Ghadry said that only after Assad is removed from
power and a stable democracy is established in
Damascus will there be a true chance for peace
between Syria and Israel. Until then, he said, the only
one who would gain anything from a peace agreement
is Assad himself, at the expense of the two peoples.
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Ghadry (center) and MK Yuval Steinitz (Photo: Roee
Nahmias)
"Bashar Assad is under enormous pressure and it's his
own fault. Instead of choosing peace, he has chosen a
path of violence and terror. He has brought this on
himself. We believe that the winds are changing in
Syria, slowly but surely. Assad is not Egypt's Sadat nor
is he Jordan's Hussein. He is a violent and dangerous
man. If Israel signs an agreement with him, all it will
have done is extend an invitation to (Iranian
President) Ahmadinejad to the Golan Heights,"
Ghadry said.
'The Israeli people want peace'
This is not Ghadry's first trip to Israel. In 1996 he
visited Tel Aviv and Jerusalem while on a business
trip to the country.
"I prayed at the al-Aqsa Mosque and visited the
Church of the Holy Sepulcher," he recalls with pride.
This time he has arrived with much media fanfare
with fellow exiled Syrian opposition leader Dr.
Hussein Saado in tow.
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"It is my impression that the Israeli people want
peace, and that their main concern is their security.
This was something that I knew, but I grew more and
more aware of it during my time here," said Ghadry.
When asked about the fevered criticism lashed at him
by MKs Ahmad Tibi and Muhammad Barakeh during
his visit to the Knesset earlier this week, Ghadry said:
"We long for the day when we can express our
opinions in Syria like these men express their opinions
in a democratic nation. Differences of opinion are a
good thing in a democracy, so we have nothing to say
about this."
The Golan Heights tour was led by MK Yuval Steinitz
(Likud), a former nature guide. Steinitz said that it was
possible that more Syrian opposition leaders would
be inspired by Ghadry's visit and also choose to come
to Israel.
"I can't name names, but several months ago I met
with another Syrian opposition official in the United
States and following this (Ghadry's) visit he has
already contacted me to say he is considering a trip to
Israel in the near future. I think that this is
encouraging."
Steinitz also addressed recent criticism of Ghadry's
relevancy: "There are no democratic elections in
Syria, so I couldn't tell you is the Syrian Reform Party
is large – like the Likud or Labor – or small like Meretz,
but there is no doubting that it is a very important
party within the Syrian oppositions. I have no doubt
that the opposition in Syria has more public support
than Assad."
But despite the flattering words, Steinitz had no
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heartening news for his guest. When asked if he
would be willing to cede the Golan in the event that
Ghadry would one day be in power, Steinitz said: "I'm
not willing to withdraw from the Golan Heights under
any circumstances. I think the Golan is crucial to
Israel's existence and also because of its historical
roots.
"My position is that peace must withstand the test of
decades, and therefore we must be sure that there are
no changes in the policies of neighboring countries,"
he said.
"Without any regard to my opinions and his opinions,
he definitely seems like a man that we can open a
channel of dialog with and negotiate with and maybe
we can find a compromise, though I cannot see one at
present time. There is point in at least trying to
communicate, but certainly not with the current
regime."
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