Tamir: Israel must talk to Syria, Hamas
Despite group's refusal to recognize Israel, education minister says dialogue with Ismail Haniyeh's government should not be rejected. Addressing option of resuming peace process with Damascus, she says 'Syria is a key axis among Middle Eastern countries and we must launch immediate negotiations with Syria'
According to Tamir, "there is no harm in a dialogue also in this area and we must try and reach an understanding. I am ready to sit with whoever is willing to reach a peace agreement."
The education minister estimated that the Palestinian arena and the talks with the Palestinians have indeed been frozen at this time, and therefore dialogue channels must be launched with anyone who is willing to talk to Israel, including the Hamas government which refuses to recognize Israel.
Tamir also referred to the remarks made by Syrian President Bashar Assad, who said in an interview with the German weekly Der Spiegel that Syria wants peace with Israel rather than see its destruction.
"Syria is a key axis among the Middle Eastern countries and we must launch immediate negotiations with Syria," she said.
Tamir's remarks contradict those made by her party's chairman, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who said that "the State of Israel is ready and prepared for any scenario and threat and will be ready to respond to any provocation by Syria. The Syrian president’s belligerent declarations do not fit in with his talks of peace."
'Policy of confrontation is not helpful'
Talking to Ynet, the education minister explained that the Israeli interest requires the government to explain to the American government that it is time for an agreement with Syria, in spite of the Bush Administration's objection.
According to Tamir, "We have to tell the Americans that we are not their front post in the Middle East. We don't have to be part of a dichotomy which rules that the entire Arab world is on the bad side of the map and is part of the axis of evil. We have to explain to them that a policy of confrontation with the Arab world is not helpful, not to us and not to them."
Tamir also explained that Israel would not find it difficult to reach an understanding with the Americans, because "the American government is too weak and too entangled in Iraq."
The education minister noted that following the Syrian president's remarks, "His declarations must be caught. If he says he wants peace, we have to say 'be our guest.' No harm will be caused to the State if it says it is ready to negotiation. The harm that might be caused is missing an opportunity to talk to our enemy."