Assad: Israel-Syria deal was close

NEW YORK (JTA) — Syria’s president said that his country and Israel were very close to reaching a peace deal.

In an interview that appeared Wednesday in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Bashar Assad said that  Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had agreed to withdraw from all of the Golan Heights during indirect peace talks mediated by Turkey. According to Assad, the only remaining issue is the precise route of the 1967 line, which would serve as the border between the two countries.

Assad said he was worried about the impact of a new right-leaning Israeli government on the peace talks.

"I see the finish line moving further away," Assad said. "I am not fearful of Netanyahu, but from the fact that Israel voted for a rightist government. This is the biggest hurdle to peace."

NEXT STORY