Peretz retracts: Conditions not ripe for talks with Syria

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
Defense Minister Amir Peretz said yesterday in a meeting with UN envoy Terje Larsen that at the moment, the conditions are not yet ripe to renew talks with Syria, but he does see talks with Syria in the future.

Peretz told Larsen that it is better that Syria be a part of the solution, not part of the problem. He supported direct negotiations with the Lebanese government and added: “We are not frightened by the loud voices coming from Syria, and we have no intention to heat up the Syrian front, but we will defend ourselves if we need to.”

Only a few days ago Peretz said that there is a need to prepare the conditions for renewed negotiations with Syria. These words were harshly criticized by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that Israel’s position regarding Syria has not changed, and the international community needs to demand the Syrians renounce terrorism unconditionally, and act in a way demanded by anyone who wants to be a part of the international community.

Livni clarified that this is the unequivocal position of the Israeli government, and that the international community will stick to this position in order to allow full implementation of UN resolution 1701.

Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres expressed his reservations from the revival of the Syrian channel and said that Syria’s position is “strange.” According to Peres, “first they present conditions and ask that we accept them as they are, and then they will decide if to negotiate with Israel. This is unacceptable. They need to stop being shy and meet us out in the open and without any prior conditions.” Peres also called for negotiations between Israel and Lebanon.

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