PM: Israel aspires to peace

At weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu once again reaches out to Syria.

February 7, 2010 13:35
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attends the week

netanyahu cabinet good 311. (photo credit: AP)

Israel aspires to make peace with all its neighbors, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the opening of Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting in the wake of a week of flaring tensions with Israel and Syria. He stated that Israel had signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan and “can do so with Syria and the Palestinians as well.”

The prime minister stressed that negotiations with Damascus could not be dependent on preconditions which would require Israel to make far-reaching concessions in advance.

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He added that any peace agreement with Syria would have to include iron-clad, comprehensive security arrangements. “At the conclusion of negotiations, we must protect Israel's vital national interests - first and foremost, its security. I doubt that a peace agreement without iron-clad security arrangements would last for many years and generations," Netanyahu said.

Preconditions, said Netanyahu, would only serve as an attempt to predetermine the outcome of the talks, defeating the point of negotiations between the two countries.“We do not accept the idea that Israel is supposed to make far-reaching concessions in advance, no matter what, while the other side is practically exempted from making such concessions,” he stressed.

The Turkish-mediated talks between Israel and Syria were halted last winter, at the outset of IDF Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Syria's insistence on mediation by "honest, capable" Turkey, Ankara's growing hostility toward Israel, and the Goldstone Commission's harsh report on the three-week offensive have risen as obstacles to the resumption of negotiations of peace.

The optimistic tone of the prime minister's latest message to Syria stood in contrast to aggressive statements made by officials from both countries in recent days. After Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem threatened that any future war between Israel and Syria would harm Israeli population centers, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned that the Assad regime would not survive another military clash.

“It needs to be understood that we are not looking for either confrontation or friction with Syria, but when the Syrian foreign minister says that they will attack population centers in Israel, that is crossing a red line,” Lieberman later said in a Channel 1 interview.

Syria’s official newspaper Tishreen said in an editorial on Saturday that while Damascus was ready to make peace with Israel, it was also prepared for war.

Also at the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu announced that a national plan of action would be drawn up to minimize Israel's dependence on crude oil.

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