walid moallem 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Following Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Wednesday meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem reiterated Syria’s recent criticism of Israel at a joint press conference with the visiting minister on Thursday.
“Syria calls on Israel to halt launching threats – first against Gaza, then against South Lebanon and Iran, and now Syria,” he said, referring to a statement by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman which hinted that the Assad regime would not survive another war, and a more subdued statement by Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
“Israel sows the seeds of war in the region,” Moallem said, adding that Syria’s determination “must not be tested.” An additional war against Israel, he said, would take the battle into Israeli cities. He stressed that if another war were to indeed break out, “that war will be all-out, whether it hits south Lebanon or Syria, and I rule out that our generation will witness peace talks later.”
“Israel has to commit to the just and comprehensive peace requirements,” he said in the statement, which was communicated by the Syrian news agency.
Moallem also referred to ongoing efforts by the US administration and its special envoy George Mitchell to encourage peace talks in the Middle East on all tracks. “The American role in the peace process is pivotal due to the nature of the strategic relationship between the US and Israel,” he was quoted as saying. He added that the EU’s role in facilitating dialogue in the region was “essential.”
He described preparations for the upcoming Arab Summit, set to focus on “issues of interest,” among them reconciling inter-Arab conflicts and halting “the ongoing Judiazation of Jerusalem.”
Moratinos, whose tour of the region began in Israel earlier this week as he attended the Herzliya Conference, stated that Spain was currently “considering the way through which we can work regarding the Turkish mediation” in talks between Israel and Syria. He denied the possibility that the escalating tensions in the region would take a violent turn for the worse. “I was in Israel and I didn’t hear any beat of war drums,” he clarified.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has stated that Turkey “can no
longer serve as a credible mediator” in the talks. The Syrians, in
contrast, have repeatedly said that the government in Ankara proved
itself capable in the last round of talks between the two countries.
The indirect negotiations between Israel and Syria came to a stop last
winter, when both Damascus and Ankara criticized IDF Operation Cast