Kerry Claims Assad Was Ready to Make Peace With Israel Before Arab Spring
Syrian President Bashar Assad was ready to make peace with Israel in exchange for the Golan Heights before Arab Spring protests began to spread in 2011, Secretary of State John Kerry revealed in this month’s New Yorker.
Speaking to the New Yorker along with his wife Teresa Heinz, Kerry said Assad had declared his willingness to sign a peace deal with Israel in a letter he sent to the secretary of state in 2010. Assad was ready to recognize the Jewish state and open an embassy there, he said.
“And the proof of that is a letter I still have that he wrote and signed,” said Kerry.
In exchange, Syria expected financial, medical and technological assistance from the US. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reluctant, however, said the secretary of state, who recalled the prime minister as adamantly insisting, “‘I just cant.'”
This account of Netanyahu’s response to an overture from Assad, through the Americans, contradicts a 2012 report by Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronot, which first broke news of the 2010 Syrian-Israeli peace talks.
According to the report, Netanyahu and then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak were ready to exchange the land captured in 1967 in the Golan Heights for a peace deal, although this was later denied by the prime minister’s office.
Regardless, the talks ended forever by March 2011, when protests began in Syria.