by David Bedein
A senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official responded yesterday to a press statement made by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Saturday, saying “Israel is not a partner for peace,” by calling the Syrian dictator’s credibility into question.
“What interests Assad is not peace, but rather the peace process. Assad knows very well that he will have to pay for peace with normalization and open his country to the West, which could bring about the toppling of his regime,” said Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon. “Assad is only interested in the peace process in order to get his country out of its international isolation and to remove the pressure of the international community.”
Peace between Israel and Syria can only be reached, he said, when the Syrians start negotiating without preconditions and stop supporting terrorist groups that seek Israel’s destruction.
“It’s impossible to desire peace and at the same time support and arm Hezbollah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad,” Mr. Ayalon said.
Mr. Ayalon also addressed today’s meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama in Washington. He called the bond between the U.S. and Israel “a natural one” because both nations share the common goal of stopping Iran’s and Pakistan’s nuclear programs.
The Israelis, he said, likely would not act against Iran without coordinating operations with the U.S., and he expressed hope that time hasn’t run out for a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“Iran is a very weak state in a shaky situation,” Mr. Ayalon said. “They cannot withstand real sanctions; their banks and shipping companies are vulnerable. If the world insists on imposing strict sanctions against them, military action may not be necessary.”
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