But I’ve just read the interview he gave to Alex Matine. My conclusion: he’s a nice guy.
Now, I know that this is a strange statement! But trust me – it is relevant and important. Because one – only one – of the reasons why there is little enthusiasm among Israelis to support governmental efforts to make peace with the Syrians is the prevailing view in Israel that the Syrians “are not nice”.
When I was still serving in the Israeli army (by now this is ancient history), I – along with many of my colleagues – was quite reluctant to be posted to the Syrian front. Why? Because the Syrians “are not nice” and they are also – this is what we thought of them at the time – “cruel”.
So it is quite refreshing to hear a Syrian who seems to be a nice guy. And with this under the belt, the only problem now is to overcome the remaining stumbling block: the 10 metres of land separating Israelis and Syrians from peace.
The Israelis – including the current prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu – were willing in past peace negotiations to withdraw from the Golan Heights to the so called 1923 international line, decided upon between the French and British in 1923. The Syrians, on the other hand, insist that the Israelis should withdraw to what they call “the 4th June 1967 line”.
Let me just tell you that the distance between the two lines is – yes – a mere 10 metres.