Syrian President Bashar Assad
Syrian President Bashar Assad Israel news file (photo)

Syrian President Bashar Assad has claimed that President Shimon Peres delivered a letter through the president of Russia that Israel would surrender the strategic Golan Heights if Damascus cuts ties with Iran. The President’s office denied he sent such a letter but stated his message was that Israel wants peace and not war with Syria.


Assad’s claim was supposedly delivered by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, whom President Peres met in Russia nearly two weeks ago, but it is likely that something got “lost in translation” or Assad is trying a public relations gimmick to put pressure on Israel.


Half of the Golan Heights is populated by Jews and the other half by Druze, and the area shares the same status of Jerusalem, where Israeli sovereignty cannot be surrendered without approval by an absolute majority of Knesset Members.


Officials at the President's Residence explained that President Peres told Medvedev that Israel always has been prepared to make concessions for peace but that Syria has turned them down.


Most of the Western world considers the Golan Heights ”occupied” by Israel, and U.S. President Barack Obama has said he wants to see a total regional Middle East peace that includes a new Palestinian Authority state, Syria and the entire Arab League.


Either by coincidence or not, Assad’s claim comes one day after Iran, Brazil and Turkey negotiated a deal for Tehran to ship its nuclear reactors' low-grade enriched uranium to Turkey in return for fuel rods for “medical research.” Western leaders have rejected the deal because it stipulates that Iran would retain high-grade uranium and that Turkey would return the low-grade material to Iran if the fuel rods were not supplied within one year.


President Shimon Peres had told Medvedev, "We are reaching our hand out for peace with Syria, but peace cannot exist without a basic condition. You cannot reach a hand out for peace while continuing to support terror groups."


Reacting to the report, freshman Likud MK Yariv Levin said, "If such an offer was made, it's hallucinatory and degrading", adding that "the Oslo road, from honorable President Peres' house of study, by ceding our rights on the land in an attempt to buy imaginary calm, has failed completely and must not be repeated."