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Getting Syria aboard the Mideast peace train might prove harder than U.S. officials thought. After a meeting with Syrian President Hafez Assad, Secretary of State Warren Christopher said decades-old disputes remained "very complex and intertwined," particularly Israel's 1967 seizure of the Golan Heights. TIME Jerusalem bureau chief Lisa Beyer says the real story turns on behind-the-scenes politics. Israeli officials secretly admit they care more about peace than the Golan Heights: Assad can have the region if he promises first not to use it to launch border attacks on Israel. "Assad's point is, 'Why should I pay for it when it's (legally and traditionally) mine?' " says Beyer. What's more, Israelis say, Assad doesn't seem to care. "They're offering it to him, and he doesn't even want to talk about it. They think he's really interested in being the last anti-Zionist."