From remarks by Ambassador Zalman Shoval of Israel at the National Press Club yesterday:

. . . Speaking of the overall calculus of Syrian-Israeli peace, one should not forget the wider aspects involved, not only or even principally in the context of the so-called . . . "comprehensive" peace. For if 20 or even five years ago one could still argue that without Syria there could be no peace or any sort of relations between us, Israel, and other Arab states, this no longer holds true . . . as Israel already has peace treaties or other forms of de facto, even de jure, ties with many Arab and non-Arab Muslim states--though I admit a Syrian-Israeli peace treaty would help move things further along.

But Syria no longer holds a stranglehold in this respect, and in any case, comprehensive peace is not all that comprehensive, looking at Iran or Iraq in the not-too-distant neighborhood. And contrary to, I think, rather half-baked theories that peace between Israel and Syria would automatically bring about the lessening of Iran's anti-peace and anti-Israel stance, the opposite may actually be true.

Not only is Iran's religiously motivated hatred of the West part of the ideological underpinning of its Islamic revolution--seeing Israel, America's main ally in the region, as the very embodiment of the hated ideas of Western democracy--but stability in the region and reconciliation do not necessarily fit in with Iran's overall strategic purposes in the region anyway.