Arab MK: Israel Must Change its View on Syria

Published June 14th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

By Nabil Al Mulhem 

Damascus -- 


An Arab Israeli Knesset member has said that if Israel holds to its stereotypical view of Syria and gambles on that, it will lose all its bets on the new era in the Arab country. 

“Israel’s bet is based on an orientalist perspective that the Arabs’ concepts of war, law and sovereignty, are the same as those of tribal wars - looting and revenge,” said Azmi Bishara, who was here to attend the funeral of president Hafez Assad. 

Bishara told that according to this theory, the Israelis believe that the president’s death will inevitably lead to chaos and unrest. 

Refuting this view, Bishara said that parliaments are not the only institutions that have a chance to survive, and it’s not true that, in their absence, we only have tribalism. “This is a losing bet,” said the politician, adding that Israel is also wrong if it believes that, with Assad’s passing away, the principles he clung to during peace talks with Israel are gone, too. 

“What applied to Assad’s era applies to his successor’s, for there are deep-rooted pillars in Syria’s policy that are not subject to change, including Syria’s demand that Israel withdraw to pre-June 4th, 1967 lines.” 




The MK said that the resumption of Syria-Israeli peace talks depends not on the priorities adopted by the new reign in Syria, but on Israel’s ability to be flexible regarding its position on the borders with Syria. Otherwise, even if peace negotiations pick up where they left off, they are destined to fail as has been the since Madrid Conference in 1991. 

“Unless Israel realizes this, we have a long, long road ahead,” Bishara said. 

Another Knesset member agreed. 

In a separate interview with, MK Talab Sane’ said he expects Bashar Assad “not to accept less than his late father demanded. 

“The new leadership cannot afford concessions, for popular trust will be shaken if they do,” he added. 

The MK ruled out that the possibility of peace talks between Syria and Israel restarting in the near future.  

Sane’, who was among the Israeli Arab delegation to bid farewell to the late Assad, said the talks stalemate is expected to continue since Bashar Assad, his father’s most likely successor, will need time to address internal issues. 




Both politicians agree that although Syria’s position on peace with Israel will remain unchanged, many changes are likely to happen in the Arab country, due to the open mentality of the president-to-be.  

“Syria will try to catch up with civilization,” said Sane’. 

For his part, Bishara said one or two meetings with Bashar are not enough to predict the nature and shape of the coming regime, but the heir apparent is “politicized” and well aware of the issues related to his country and the region. This is contrary to the view that he is just a leader’s son who has nothing to do with politics. 

Describing Assad’s son as modest and open-minded, Bishara said the heir apparent for the presidency was a continuation of the old regime who would have the continuing support of powerful elite politicians and influential institutions.  



© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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