Shalom questions whether Netanyahu backs talks with Iran
"Negotiations with Syria now would strike a deathblow to the moderate Arab world, because it would remove their only advantage over the extremists."
By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
December 18, 2006 00:23
1 minute read.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Following opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu's call for negotiations with Syria, his rival for the Likud leadership, former foreign minister Silvan Shalom, questioned on Sunday whether Netanyahu would be in favor of dialogue with Iran.
Netanyahu said on Saturday that he believes Israel should talk to Syria if it disconnects from the "axis of evil with Iran," stops transferring weapons to Hizbullah in Lebanon, clamps down on terrorism within its own borders and includes the US in peace talks.
Shalom mocked Netanyahu's multiple conditions and said that speaking to Syria would send the wrong message to the moderate Arab nations and to the world.
"Would he be in favor of negotiations with Iran if they accepted the same conditions?" Shalom asked. "We need to separate between the moderate Arab world and the extreme Muslim world. Negotiations with Syria now would strike a deathblow to the moderate Arab world, because it would remove their only advantage over the extremists."
Responding to Shalom's question, Netanyahu's spokesman Ophir Akunis said there was "no comparison between Iran and Syria, because Iran calls for destroying the State of Israel and Syria does not."
Netanyahu invited ambassadors from around the world to hear his opinion about Iran in a briefing on Tuesday morning at the Carlton Hotel in Tel Aviv.
In a speech at a Hanukka party at the Likud's Haifa branch, Shalom called for the Likud to follow the lead of the Labor Party and initiate primaries immediately. He said that if Labor needed primaries after winning 19 seats, the Likud definitely needed a leadership race after winning only 12 mandates.
Shalom said that if the Likud had elections now and he won, he would be willing to hold another race ahead of the general election for the party's candidate for prime minister.