Syrian President Bashar Assad demonstrated in remarks to European diplomats this month why all talk of peace between his nation and Israel is extremely premature.
While Assad continues to demand a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights up to the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Ha'aretz quoted the Syrian leader as telling European Union diplomats that he has no intention of meeting Israel's demand that he rein in Hizballah.
"I am not Israel's bodyguard," Assad reportedly said.
Israel's current leadership has expressed a willingness to part with most, if not all, of the Golan in exchange for peace with Syria, but insists that Assad reciprocate by ending Syria's sponsorship of Hizballah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other anti-Israel terrorist organizations.
Arab media at the weekend reported that Assad cancelled a new round of indirect negotiations with Israel via Turkish mediators.
According to reports, Assad wants to wait until US President-elect Barack Obama takes office to see how he will affect the balance in the Middle East conflict.