November 15, 2010

Syria: Israel not a 'partner for peace'


DAMASCUS (Ma'an) -- Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem slammed Israel on Sunday, saying its neighbour was responsible for the lack of progress in peace talks with the Palestinians.

"Israel is not a partner for peace and it is responsible for stalling the peace process," Al-Moallem said during a speech in Damascus.

"The Judaizing of Jerusalem, the building of settlements and the siege on Gaza; these are all indications that the Israeli government lacks the will to achieve peace," he added.

An Israeli occupation soldier points his gun at a Palestinian mother and her daughters.

The minister's statement comes just days after his Israeli counterpart, right-wing Avigdor Lieberman, said Israel could not engage with Syria on peace.

"Only a political hypochondriac could think that Syria, under its current leadership, could be a partner for peace," Lieberman said during a visit to the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day war.

Syria has long called for the return of the strategically placed Golan Heights as a precursor to normalized relations with Israel. Tel Aviv offered to return most of the Golan Heights to Syria in 2000, but Damascus rejected the offer because it excluded the water-rich eastern shore.

Israel and Syria held four indirect rounds of peace talks with Turkish mediation in 2008, but Syria withdrew from the talks in protest at Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip later that year.

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