Assad: No peace unless Israel gives us the Golan

As Gulf Arab nations move closer to Israel, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad rejects any notion of peace.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad said the only way his country would make peace with Israel is if Israel gives him the strategic Golan Heights.

Assad made the comments in an interview this week with the Russian Sputnik TV channel, a transcript of which was published by the Syria News website.

Asked if he would consider establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain did last month, Assad was emphatically negative.

“Our position is very clear since the beginning of peace talks in the ’90s, so nearly three decades ago, when we said peace for Syria is about rights,” Assad said.

“Our right is our land. We can only have normal relations with Israel when we have our land back. It’s very simple. So, it is possible when Israel is ready, and Israel is not ready. It has never been ready; we’ve never seen any official in the Israeli regime who is ready to move one step towards peace. So, theoretically yes, but practically, so far, the answer is no,” Assad said.

In March 2019, the United States officially recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a plateau on Israel’s northern border with Syria that had Jewish populations dating back more than 2,000 years. Israel captured the Golan in the 1967 war, territory from which the Syrian army had routinely bombed Israeli towns and farming communities.

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Assad came to power in 2000 after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, who had been dictator of Syria for almost 30 years after seizing power in a 1970 coup.

Following the Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011 in which Syrians protested peacefully for more rights, Assad cracked down on the protestors and a civil war broke out that claimed the lives of an estimated 700,000 Syrians, destroyed most of the country’s economy and infrastructure, and forced some 13.5 million Syrians to become refugees.

The embattled dictator, who needed military intervention by Russia and Iran to survive the almost decade-long Syrian civil war, rejected a report two weeks ago that suggested Syria had sent signals it was interested in restarting negotiations with Israel.

“No, there is none, nothing at all,” Assad said.