Syrian President Bashar Assad's candid interview this week with
According to both the Jerusalem Post and Ynet (the website of Israel's largest daily, Yedioth Ahronoth), Assad told As-Safir that Israeli President Shimon Peres sent a message via Russia offering him the entire Golan Heights if Syria would sever ties with Iran and with terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. But Assad said he wasn't interested: He refuses to abandon the option of "resistance."
Whether or not Peres actually made this offer (which his office vehemently denies) is irrelevant. The point is that Assad claims it was made. Yet his response was not to pursue it via direct or even indirect talks with
This response has three noteworthy aspects. First, Israeli advocates of peace with
Second, these advocates always said peace would bring one major benefit:
Yet now, Assad claims that Peres offered precisely what Israeli peace advocates always wanted: the whole Golan. And he contemptuously refused to pay the desired quid pro quo.
Most noteworthy of all, however, was his reason: Abandoning "resistance" would be foolish, because it works. And as evidence, he cited
Moreover, when asked to identify
This also explains why Assad eagerly engaged in indirect talks with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert just two years ago, but scorns the idea today. Then, he was being boycotted by the West, and especially by former President George W. Bush, so talks with
The conclusion is clear: As long as Assad can get everything he wants from the West without a peace deal, Israeli-Syrian peace will be unattainable. Only when the West starts punishing "resistance" rather than rewarding it will Assad's strategic calculation change.
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