Tags: Israel | syria | talks | direct

Israel Ready for Direct Syria Talks

Monday, 07 Dec 2009 10:50 AM


JERUSALEM - Israel is prepared for immediate negotiations with Syria, without preconditions, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said during a meeting of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.

The prime minister told the committee he had recently informed French President Nicolas Sarkozy that Israel was interested in direct negotiations with Damascus, and would prefer that France take a mediator role.

"I spoke to Sarkozy, and he told me that the Syrian stance is a return to 1967 lines," Netanyahu said. "Sarkozy spoke with the Turkish mediator that the Syrians are suggesting. I [said] that we're interested in direct negotiations, and that if we're talking about mediators, I'd prefer [France]."

The prime minister said that preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities was Israel's "central problem."

"In the last year, two things have happened," he told the FADC. "Iran has advanced its military nuclear program, and the international community has lost its legitimacy."

Specifically referring to Sunday reports that Iranian authorities had moved to limit Internet access ahead of expected anti-government protests, Netanyahu said, "Iran is stopping the flow of information on the Internet… as well as stifling opposition elements."

He said that the Islamic republic was "silencing all sources of information."

While Netanyahu also noted that relations between Israel and the US were improving, specifically in terms of strategic and political coordination, he said that "none of the understandings that were reached with the Bush administration [in return for the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip] have been honored."

Regarding security along Israel's borders, the prime minister said, "The security situation in the areas that we withdrew from [Gaza and southern Lebanon] has not stood the test of time. UN Resolution 1701 [that ended the Second Lebanon war] has crashed. It was supposed to prevent the rearming of Hizbullah, but instead it totally collapsed."

If an agreement should be reached with the Palestinians, he said "future arrangements in Judea and Samaria must be better, must be demilitarized and must prevent rockets from being smuggled in. Israel must directly monitor what goes into the West Bank, which did not happen in Gaza or Lebanon."

Netanyahu also blamed the Palestinians' refusal to accept Israel as a "Jewish state" for the continuation of the conflict between the two.

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Israel,syria,talks,direct
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2009-50-07
Monday, 07 Dec 2009 10:50 AM
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