Peres: Syria cannot arm Hizbullah and seek peace with Israel

As Medvedev met with Assad in Syria, the Israeli president reiterated comments he'd made to his Russian counterpart the day before.

May 12, 2010 09:05
2 minute read.
PRESIDENT SHIMON PERES receives an honorary doctor

Peres doctorate Moscow 311. (photo credit: GPO)

MOSCOW – Syria must choose between arming Hizbullah with long-range missiles pointed at Israel, or a peace deal with the Jewish state, President Shimon Peres said Tuesday.

“The problems between us and Syria are obvious and Israel’s positions are obvious. The Syrians are the ones who must decide; either they choose missiles pointed at Israel, or peace with Israel.”

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“The president of Syria is probably the only person in the world who believes the way to peace is through acquiring long-range missiles pointed at the heart of Israel, and hidden in the storehouses of Hizbullah,” Peres added.

\The president’s statements were made during a state visit to Moscow, and came a day after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Damascus to meet with Syrian President Basher Assad.

Medvedev’s visit follows US President Barack Obama’s decision last Friday to renew sanctions against Syria for another year, saying in a letter sent to the US Congress that Assad’s regime is “supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining US and international efforts with respect to the stabilization of Iraq.

“For these reasons I have determined that it is necessary to continue in effect the national emergency declared with respect to this threat and to maintain in force the sanctions,” the letter continued.

Medvedev’s Damascus visit also comes nearly a month after Peres said during a visit to Paris that Syria is providing Scud missiles to Hizbullah, a claim that was also reported in the Kuwaiti paper *Al-Raj.

The allegation was later denied by the Syrian Foreign Ministry as well as the commander of the Lebanese Army, Gen. Jean Kahwaji.

Earlier on Tuesday, Peres received an honorary doctorate from MGIMO University, considered Russia’s top college for the study of international relations.

During his speech, Peres spoke warmly of the contributions Russians have made to the culture, vitality, and security of Israel, as well as the Red Army’s contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany.

The ceremony was the final event in a three-day state visit to Moscow in which Peres attended Victory Day celebrations held to commemorate the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany, as well as a ceremony organized by the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress to honor Russia’s Jewish World War II veterans.

Peres said Sunday that he met at length earlier in the day with Medvedev and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, and told them Israel’s concerns about Syria’s arming of Hizbullah. Peres said he asked Medvedev to pass Israel’s message on to Assad that giving the Lebanese Shi’ite militia long-range missiles will not lead to a peace deal with Israel.

Peres said Sunday he asked Medvedev to tell Assad, “Israel is not interested in border escalation or a war, this is the last thing we want. We extend our hand in peace to Syria, but there must be one basic condition: Assad must stop his support for terror and stop trafficking weapons and missiles to Hizbullah.”

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