"Sagi believes that six years ago, Israel missed a rare opportunity to sign a peace treaty with Syria under Hafez Assad. "The United States did not stand by its word to Assad and Barak got cold feet at the last minute." He wants to believe that the day is not far off when the younger Assad will finish the job and even surpass his father. He is convinced that the key to Israel’s long-term security problems lies with Syria: the options of neutralizing the actual Syrian threat, a road to an arrangement with Lebanon and even opening a window through it to Iran are all in Syria. He notes that the Iranians in 1991 gave Syria a green light to join the Madrid Conference and promised not to disrupt the negotiations with Barak." Dan Murphy
I know Uri Sagi.
For many years he has followed this path in advocating a diplomatic path to peace that passes through Damascus and which could lead to both Beirut and Teheran.
After his retirement from the IDF, Sagi was Israel’s chief negotiator with the Syrian and, IMO, came very close to completing a deal with Hafez al-Assad that would have ended the Syrian confrontation with Israel. The elder Assad was very sick at the time. He knew he did not have much time left on earth. He was very concerned about the ultimate fate of his family in the context of American hostility and continued de facto and de jure states of war with Israel. He knew well that the Saudis hoped and plotted for the day when Sunni Islam would be restored to supremacy in Syria. This obviously threatened the furure of Assad dynastic rule in Syria. Syria’s semi-alliance with Iran was a poor substitute for the long standing relationship which the country had long enjoyed with the Soviet Union, but the Soviet Union was no more.
In the end, as Sagi says in this interview, the Americans did not really want the deal and Barak lacked the courage to go forward with this deal in the absence of American acceptance.
The excuse found for inaction was some nonsense about a strip of land two or three hundred yards wide on the eastern shore of Lake Kinnaret (the Sea of Galilee). This had been Syrian territory before it was lost in combat to Israel. It is at the altitude of the lake with high ground to the east that the Israelis had already agreed to return to Syria. Assad wanted this piece of the lake front, and a refusal to return it was enough to kill the deal.
Will history be kind and provide "another bite at that apple?" Who knows.