Foreign ministry official: Syria ready to negotiate
Center for Policy Research head tells Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee radical countries increasingly fearful of possible Syrian shift toward western bloc. Meanwhile, Syrian sources reject possibility of resuming negotiations in coming year as 'Olmert's government is weak'
Barkan added that radical countries are increasingly fearful of a possible Syrian shift toward the western bloc. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni also took part in the discussion.
Syrian President Bashar Assad met Tuesday afternoon with Republican Senator Arlen Spector. The Syrian news agency SANA reported that the two discussed the situation in Iraq, in the territories and in Lebanon, in addition to the war on terror.
Spector is expected to head to Israel and will meet on Wednesday with the foreign minister.
Assad's phone number raised during demonstration opposite Knesset (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Meanwhile, Syria warned Israel that "if it dares to attack it, Damascus has surprises waiting for the Israeli soldiers."
Simultaneously, Syrian sources rejected the possibility that negotiations between Damascus and Jerusalem will be resumed in 2007. In an interview published Tuesday in the Qatari newspaper al-Watan, the sources made it clear that the data they possess contain no positive elements that could testify to that.
The same sources accused Ehud Olmert's government of being "an enemy of peace," which is expressed in "its unruly aggression against Lebanon in the month of July and its rejection of all piece initiatives offered by Syria."
According to them, the American government held an extremely negative role in the attempt to prevent the resumption of talks on the Israeli-Syrian channel, because the United States is interested in pressuring Damascus to cooperate with it on the deepening crisis in Iraq.
According to the sources, Olmert's government is "a weak government which is incapable of starting a serious move in the direction of peace and of making big decisions like withdrawing from the Golan Heights to the June 1967 lines and resume the peace process in order to reach an agreement.
And as for the chances of a military confrontation between the two states, the sources said that peace was still Syria's strategic choice, but warned Israel's leaders not to dare to choose the possibility of power and aggression in order to force Syria to give in to their conditions, as "the Syrian side has sufficient ability to deter any aggression and there are several 'surprises' waiting for the Israelis if they dare attack Syria."
IDF Intelligence: Assad’s peace offer sincere
The head of the research division of Military Intelligence, Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz told the Knesset’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Monday that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s remarks regarding the renewal of peace talks with Israel are sincere, adding that such negotiations would serve Syria’s interest.
Baidatz’s assumption directly contradicts that of Mossad Chief Meir Dagan, who said last week that "There is no indication at the moment of actualization of Syrian positions or that the country is moving toward peace."
Defense Minister Amir Peretz said during Monday’s meeting that “there is no indication of a war with Syria in the summer, and all the remarks made on this issue are damaging.”
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert continues to oppose the opening of negotiations with Syria. “Syria continues to support terror in Iraq, is collaborating with the Iranian President and is sparing no effort to topple the government of (Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad) Siniora," Olmert said recently during a joint press conference with his Norwegian counterpart Jens Stoltenberg in Jerusalem.
"We want to achieve peace with every state, peace we want – but false pretenses we are not ready to accept," he said.
Roee Nahmias contributed to the report