Syrians want peace but won’t relinquish Lebanon

Wednesday, December 27, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
The head of the Foreign Ministry Center for Policy Research, Nimrod Barkan, spoke in front of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense committee Tuesday and said that the Syrians do want peace with Israel, but will not want to give up ties with Iran or their influence in Lebanon.

“The onslaught of smiles by Syria towards Israel and the West is designed to hide the threats they think are posed to the Syrian regime and the state coming from Israel and certain countries in the West,” Barkan said.

However, Barkan added that if Israel does agree to enter into negotiations, the Syrians will want to resume talks from the point they have ended, as this is the most convenient starting point for them.

“In any event they will see that this kind of negotiation is truly beginning, they will be willing to reach a ‘cold’ bilateral peace agreement with Israel, which is different than Israel’s definition of peace. The Syrians did not seem to connect their status in Lebanon in this aspect as well as their connections to Iran, both issues they are not planning to give up,” Barkan said.

This assessment by the Foreign Ministry joins an assessment delivered by head of the research division of Military Intelligence, Brig.-General Yossi Bidatz who said that Assad’s intentions for peace are serious and sincere, and that it is driven by a Syrian interest. Head of the Mossad Meir Dagan, however, does not share this view and thinks that Syria is not serious about peace talks at this time.

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