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27 May, 2008 01:41

Israel and Syria resume peace talks

Israel and Syria have confirmed they are holding indirect peace talks through Turkish mediators, for the first time in eight years. The announcement has raised speculation that Israeli PM Ehud Olmert is preparing to relinquish the Golan Heights, Syria's c

But Olmert says he has made no promises to Syria about a future peace agreement.

The two countries are still technically at war over the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war. Syria wants a full Israeli withdrawal from the area, which is home to around 20.000 Jewish settlers and an equal number of Syrians.

About 2.000 people live in the Raghar village. When Israel took over the Golan Heights the villagers found themselves inside the Jewish state. Later they became Israeli citizens and are now in the bizarre situation of being Syrians living in Israel.

It’s a political question the villagers struggle with. Some say they want to go back to Syria, others prefer to stay in Israel.

They survive on what they grow and sell on their farms. They worry that if they return to Syria, they will have to leave their fields behind in Israel.

Complicating the situation further is the fact that half the village is today in Lebanon, meaning Israeli citizens are living in a state that was at war with Israel in 2006.