Syrian opposition leader warns Israel against peace talks

Tuesday, June 12, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

An exiled Syrian opposition leader visited Israel this week and warned the Jewish state against making peace with Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

Farid Ghadry, founder and leader of Syria's Reform Party, arrived in Israel on Sunday at the invitation of senior Israeli opposition lawmaker Yuval Steinitz. Carrying a message contrary to the leanings of the current Israeli government, Ghadry addressed the parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, as well as several university forums.

“Peace with Syria is important, but peace with Assad would be a disaster,” Ghadry was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as telling a gathering at the Harry Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at Jerusalem's Hebrew University. “Don't make peace with a dictator, or you will send a message to 19 million Syrians that you don't care about their freedom and their liberties.”

Ghadry said Israel should wait until Syria becomes a democracy to broach the subject of peace negotiations.

The Washington-based Syrian opposition leader is a major proponent of regime change in Damascus, and at one point even recommended the US invade his homeland following the defeat of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

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