Assad: Peres offered us 'Golan for Iran'
Syrian president says his Russian counterpart relayed message from Israeli president that Jewish state will be willing to withdraw from Golan Heights if Damascus cuts its ties with Tehran, 'resistance movements'. Assad takes offer lightly, says 'reality proves Israel is not working for peace'
Assad made the remark in an interview published Tuesday in Lebanese newspaper as-Safir.
Last week, President Peres took part in ceremonies marking the 65th anniversary of the Nazi defeat in Moscow. He asked Medvedev to relay a message to Assad, with who the Russian leader met two days later.
On the backdrop of the recent tensions and the calming messages, Assad replied: "Our answer is clear. Reality proves that Israel is not working for peace, so talks will not help."
Assad and Medvedev. Peres' message relayed (Photo: Reuters)
Peres told Medvedev, "We are reaching our hand out for peace with Syria, but peace cannot exist without a basic condition: You cannot reach a hand out for peace while continuing to support terror groups."
He explained that "Israel has no other interpretation for the transfer of arms from Syria to Hezbollah. The transfer of long-range, precise missiles to the organization is an incitement to war."
Not revealing cards
Assad was asked in the interview whether Syria would join a war in the event of an Israeli attack on Lebanon.
"I believe that the Israelis hope to hear the answer to this question, but I won't fulfill their wish," the Syrian president replied. "These are military matters which we shall not reveal. We shall not reveal our cards or plans."
He also addressed claims that his country transferred Scud missiles to Hezbollah. "All the public sights of war and peace are imaginary. I say we must worry if the Israelis are silent, not if they talk. The threats you hear and the Scud missiles they talk about have nothing to do with the conditions of war and the possibility that it will take place, just like all the calm attempts which follow do not mean that the chances of peace have grown stronger."
"We don't believe the Israelis," Assad added. "We act based on the assumption that we must be prepared for war and peace at any minute. There are those who made a mistake and erased the resistance option, becoming hostage to the peace option. We must be prepared for both options at the same time."
Officials at the President's Residence said the report was false and reiterated Peres's message, according to which Israel is interested in a peace agreement with Syria rather than in a military conflict.
They clarified that Peres told Medvedev that five Israeli prime ministers were willing to make far-reaching moves for peace, but that the Syrians were the ones who rejected these moves.
"Israel will not allow Syria to have its cake and eat it too, by on one hand demanding withdrawal from the Golan Heights and on the other planting Iranian missiles on the northern hills and continuing its support for terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas," a statement from the residence said.
The president's associates added that a situation in which the Syrians have the Golan but continue to maintain relations with Iran is inconceivable.
The Prime Minister's Office refused to address Assad's remark, but Benjamin Netanyahu's associates told Ynet that the prime minister had clarified in the past that Israel would be willing to launch negotiations with the Syrians without any preconditions. They stressed, however, that there was no one who could offer territorial concessions on behalf of the prime minister.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report