The secret communications between Israel and Syria seem to have produced public results:
“Syria is prepared to renew talks based upon the land for peace principle, without preconditions, to bring about stability and security in the region,” [Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmad] Arnous said.
The Syrian diplomat, who made the statement following a Damascus meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni, also said that Syria was determined to regain the Golan.
“President Assad is perfectly straightforward regarding Syria’s aspirations to renew negotiations based on the rubrics of the Madrid Conference,” he said. — Jerusalem Post
The Madrid Conference took place in 1991, and affirmed the principle of talks between Israel and Syria with a view to trading the Golan for a peace treaty. Talks under this framework continued during the 1990’s, ultimately failing to reach a resolution because of disagreements about precise borders and security arrangements.
Diplomacy is war by other means, to turn von Clausewitz’s famous remark around, and make no mistake: this particular diplomacy is closely tied up with war and the possibility of war.
Israel’s position will no doubt be the same as it has always been: “sign a real peace treaty that includes recognition and full normalization of relations, and you can have the Golan”.
Syria’s position, as I imagine it, will be “Hizbullah has 20,000 rockets and stronger defenses than they did when they beat you in 2006; we have more and better missiles which can strike anywhere in Israel as well as vastly improved antitank and antiaircraft weapons. Give us the Golan”.
Of course they will probably try to say it more diplomatically, since this is after all diplomacy.