Segment #5: The Syrian Channel – 90-105


After underscoring the effect of polls on Barak's decision-making, concrete illustrations are provided in the context of the Syrian negotiation channel.


"Greenberg's analysis, two days prior to Shepherdstown Summit are gloomy. He reports of his concern at the decreasing support for Barak in the Russian public. Greenberg presents reduced percentage of support for Barak: "the support for Barak in the Russian public decreased by11 percent, the Russians don't perceive Barak to be a leader". The worrisome analysis continues: "The Sea of Galilee is gradually becoming of symbolic importance. The public doubt of the agreement is linked to the rudimentary rejection of Syrian presence in the lake. Most of the public feels that this is an imperative matter of strategic importance, preventing Israel from defending its basic security interests". Greenberg concludes: "Should we not deal with this perception now, we are facing the danger of missing this historic window of opportunity."

[Drucker mentions that Greenberg reaffirmed the vitality of the question of the Sea of Galilee in a persistent way from the period leading to Shepherdstown and on]

"Following the failure of Shepherdstown, 10 days prior to the 'Geneva Summit' of Clinton and Assad, Greenberg (as well as other pollsters) issues another blunt, pessimistic report: "Barak is gradually becoming weaker. I doubt if he will be able to generate the majority required to pass the agreement, should one be achieved. Barak's leadership is at its lowest point since the term began. There's an increasing feeling that Barak is alienating the public that brought him to office". This time Barak decided to disregard the polls. He understood he failed in Shepherdstown and tried to focus his efforts on President Clinton".

[104-105] Greenberg was asked to conduct various polls to help Barak devise the plan he would like President Clinton to push forward in Geneva.]

"Greenberg wrote the following (18.03.00): "The support of a 100 meter strip surrounding the Kinneret declined by six percent and is now 34%". Greenberg's analysis also indicated that there was 48 percent support to the 400 meter strip initiative [between 45-49, depending on the formulation of the question]. Barak, apparently because of these findings, presented Clinton with the 400 meter strip plan.

Barak had followed the advice of his consultants in this period of time. Stanley Greenberg advised that certain 'red lines' are to be drawn, in order to abate the public's concern of Barak's 'soft negotiation' position. The Syrian channel was then wrapped as a full package with clear boundaries and evident benefits such as a shortened mandatory IDF service".