But the ruling Kadima Party, which votes on a new leader Wednesday, may not buy into the former army chief's security policy.
They are forging economic ties with the Muslim world at a time when interest in Islam is also growing.
Fights between Sunnis and Alawites highlight challenges facing a sectarian-reconciliation deal signed this week.
President Dmitry Medvedev said Saturday that Russia is 'a nation to be reckoned with.'
French President Sarkozy, in Damascus this week, was also thought to be seeking Syria's help in dealing with Iran's nuclear program.
An Orthodox Jewish family hosts curious strangers at weekly meals.