WASHINGTON -- Israelis and Syrians say they are findin areas of agreement in a Syrian paper on the Golan Heights that is now the basis of their peace negotiations.
Neither side was willing to disclose details of the paper the Syrians presented this week. Both sides said their areas of disagreement were larger than their areas of agreement.
But Bush administration officials said yesterday that Syria and .. Israel seemed to be moving into substantive negotiations just as Israel's separate negotiations with Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinians were foundering on symbols and principles.
"So far, the Syrian and Israeli exchange has been the most constructive," said one senior administration official approvingly. "The biggest disappointment has been the Palestinians, who are largely unwilling to address real substance," said the official.
Itamar Rabinovich, head of Israel's negotiating team with Syria, said he saw "some positive elements" in the Golan Heights paper.
Bushra Kanafani, spokeswoman for the Syrians, said the most fundamental disagreement concerns Syria's demand for Israel's total withdrawal from the Golan Heights, a slice of high ground overlooking the sea of Galilee that Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Jordanian spokesman Marwan Muasher said Israeli and Jordanian delegates still had not agreed on an agenda for their discussions.
Negotiators expect to take a week to consult with their governments.