Syria can't expect to get the Golan Heights on a silver platter while maintaining its ties with Hezbollah and Iran, Israeli President Shimon Peres told German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday.
Peres told Steinmeier, who is currently in Jerusalem and will be traveling to Syria and Lebanon on Tuesday, that "(Syrian President Bashar) "Assad must understand that he will have to sit at the negotiations table if he wants real peace. He should not depend on mediators; he should sit at the table without any preconditions."
The president said this in response to the German FM's inquiry on whether Israel had any messages it wishes he relay to the Syrian president.
Peres and Steinmeier. 'Israel ready for actions' (Photo: Emile Salman, Jini)
"He should stop being shy. If he wants to promote peace for his people he will have to run negotiations without any preconditions," Peres continued.
"Assad must make a strategic choice. There is no way that Assad will get territorial concessions from Israel while at the same time maintaining ties with Hezbollah and Iran in a package deal."
With regards to Lebanon, Peres said his message was that "if Hezbollah wants to be Iran's missile carrier against Israel – we cannot allow that."
'Netanyahu united the people'The president added: "We are facing a real window of opportunity for peace in the Middle East, despite the many problems and difficulties; there is still the chance for a significant change for the better.
"The peace process demands concessions, but both sides know there is no choice but to get the process moving and make difficult changes and lead to a breakthrough."
Peres lauded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the "important steps" taken with the policy speech he delivered at Bar Ilan University last month, and his success in "uniting the people under the slogan of two states for two peoples, despite the coalitional demands.'
Mitigations for the Palestinian population and steps towards developing the Palestinian Authority's economy were highlighted by the president, who also stressed that Israel would uphold its commitment "not to build settlements and not to expand them. Israel is ready for actions."
Regarding post-election developments in Iran, Peres said, "The world has opened its eyes to the Iranian regime's true intentions as a state sponsoring global terror.
"What happened after the elections in Iran is very significant and creates awareness for an internal change. The change will come from the Iranian people that understand that they have a corrupt leadership that deepens the poverty. The day (Iranian President) Ahmadinejad was elected in Tehran is also the day his collapse began."
In response, Steinmeier told Peres he takes recent events in Iran seriously, and stressed that the path to stability and peace calls for negotiations with the Palestinians based on the principle of two states for two peoples.
Steinmeier also said that he considered maintaining Israel's security a precondition, and that it is Europe's job to boost the moderate forces in the Middle East.