There is not much difference between the peace we have with Syria today and the peace with have with Egypt, with the exception of the written agreement whose exact details nobody remembers.
Bashar Assad has not traveled to Jerusalem, but when did Hosni Mubarak visit Israel? Only once, for the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, when the Americans forced the Egyptian president to do so.
Moreover, our border with Syria is quiet and stable and no clash has taken place there for dozens of years, as opposed to the “border of peace” with Egypt, which is replete with criminal and terror infiltrations, as well as other troubles. Compared to Syria’s border with Jordan and Iraq, its border with Israel is an asset: Damascus is enjoying the quiet and security too.
Syria lost its hold on the Arab world, most of which boycotted her by not sending top leaders to the last summit meeting in Damascus. Today, Syria is isolated, lacks legitimacy, and a peace treaty with Israel would only serve to isolate it even more and further reinforce the Syrian leadership’s illegitimacy among Arabs.
A peace agreement with Israel will turn Iran into Syria’s greatest enemy: A dangerous enemy that has a hold on Iraq and Lebanon, Syria’s neighbors. Syria lost Lebanon, and therefore a peace treaty with Damascus does not mean a peace deal with Lebanon as well. On the contrary, there will be elements in Lebanon that would do everything to undermine an agreement between Syria and Israel.
On the Golan Heights, IDF and Syrian forces are separated by a buffer in the form of UN forces. Each side knows its place, while an effective and powerful Israeli deterrence system exists. It must remain powerful in the future has well. Both our prime minister and the Syria president admitted that in recent months they created a system of signals, clarifications, and possibly even deterrence, for fear of misunderstandings.
The Syria front is again stable, after a period of disquiet in the wake of the Lebanon War. What else can we ask for?
Peace threatens Assad regimeAnd no less important: As opposed to the old model of peace with Arab states, Israel continues to hold on to territory here, that is, the Golan Heights. This is the only case of “peace” between us and our neighbors where we hold on to both territory and stability. This is a much more advanced model for us than the Egyptian or Jordanian model.
Paradoxically, at this time it appears that the only element the Syrian regime can rely on may be Israel. As opposed to the hatred it faces in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, quiet with Israel is a supreme interest for Damascus.
When will we realize that the peace we seek threatens the Syrian regime? Just like we frighten it with war, we do the same inadvertently with our desire for peace. This peace phantom threatens to sink Assad’s regime.
Yet our media outlets have continued to numb us with this conditioned peace reflex for dozens of years now, and the sense around here is that absolute happiness is right around the corner. If only we cede the Golan Heights, the Mideastern heaven will open its gates to us.
Today, the Golan Heights stabilizes the Galilee and northern Israel in an existential manner. What will be our fate should we make the mistake and evacuate the Golan? The peace will end, the stability will end, and the quiet will end. Moreover, the Syrians will immediately dispatch a million Syrians to settle the area, just as they did in Lebanon, and with the option of a “resistance movement” just like in Lebanon.
And what will happen should the minority regime in Syria be toppled and replaced by a radical Islamic state that would be situated deep in our Galilee region?
Instead of lamenting our absence of peace with Syria, perhaps we need to understand that we already have peace with Syria, and possibly a situation that is even better than peace.