Following Syrian President Bashar Assad's insistence that his country could conduct direct peace negotiations with Israel if the US acted as a mediator, Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Aharon Ze'evi Farkash, former head of Military Intelligence, said Tuesday that the Syrian president understood that a peace deal with Israel would be advantageous for Damascus. Farkash told Israel Radio that as opposed to the Palestinian issue, in the case of Syria, there was a "partner on the other side." He said reaching a deal with Damascus would be "the first great challenge" of Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu.