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The Roots of the IsraeliSyrian Conflict

With encouragement from the United Nations, three world powers namely. the Soviet Union, the United States, and Great Britain acted as mediators and attempted to divide the territory but rather than resolve issues it only made matters worse. A number of wars followed namely, 1956 Suez War, the 1967 Six Day War, the 1970 War of Attrition, the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the 1982 Lebanon War. Syria had occupied Golan Heights, a plateau which borders Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria since 1946. Following the 1967 Six Day War, Isreal took possession of the plateau. Elliot Repko explains the respective positions of both Syria and Israel in the ongoing conflict over Golan Heights as follows: Israel justifies its annexation of the Golan Heights through its victory in the 1967 War. Syria argues that the United Nations forbids land acquisition through war, and therefore Israel’s occupation is illegal. Preexisting tensions between Syria and Israel on the Golan Heights border together with Syria’s friendly relationship with the then Soviet Union and links to terrorists form the basis for Israel’s justification for its continued occupation of the region. The US role as a mediator has been characterized by attempts to reconcile these disparaging concerns, on the one hand, Israel’s security concerns and on the other hand, Syria’s territorial concerns. The discussion that follows examines the US role as a mediator since that time with particular emphasis on the period from 1990 to 2000. This discussion will also articulate the major factors that influence the success of ongoing negotiations, with a view to determining where the mediation efforts have failed and what possible approaches can improve future negotiation efforts.

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