* I was indeed aware of the early efforts and contacts made to hold talks between Syrian and Israeli representatives in Madrid. If anything, the year of 2004 was the year for quiet overtures between the two governments, and I had already commented on my always-and-forever independent part in such endeavors earlier. I had nothing to do with this particular initiative, however, and am really surprised that the talks did last for as long as they did and produced an actual “agreement.”
* The denial by Syrian officials that such talks did indeed take place, and the reaction of so many people commenting on this news in a variety of Arabic forums and websites, if anything, serve to demonstrate the validity of the arguments I made in my recent article in the Forward, namely: that peace with the Assads at this stage would be tainted, and that the Assads are quite aware of that. For this reason, the Assads will talk the talk, but they will not walk the walk. So, if this leak to the Haaretz was meant to show that the Assads mean business, to me, the reactions to it perfectly illustrate why they can’t.