Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu said in a radio interview that in past talks with Syria, former Syrian president Hafez el Assad promised him that in any future deal, Mount Hermon would remain in Israeli hands. Netanyahu held talks with Assad through Ron Lauder as his emissary. "I held talks ... and I said 'I have a precondition - Mount Hermon.' He asked me, 'Why do you need this precondition?' and I replied, 'Because there is an Iranian threat.' I'm talking here about 1997 or 1998," he said. "[I said,] 'There is a threat, I need eyes to the East,' and he agreed to this. I must tell you I was surprised, but he gave away Hermon, and I was happy," Netanyahu told the radio show Radius, aired on Radio100FM. According to estimates, Lauder did the round trip between Jerusalem and Damascus nine or ten times.