assad 298.88 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday that the possibility of a new war in the Middle East could not be ruled out.
Assad said he believed Israel could decide to attack Syria, because it was "looking for a way out of the crisis it is in through a new [military] operation."
Israel might attack Syria under the pretense that the country was aiding Iran, Assad said.
In this case, "Syria will resist, stand strong and never give in," Assad told Lebanon's As-Safir newspaper on Thursday.
Since the end of the war between Israel and Lebanon, there has been increased discussion in political circles over the relationship between Israel and Syria.
On August 21 Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter (Kadima) surprised the political establishment by announcing that he was in favor of a withdrawing from the Golan Heights in exchange for lasting peace with Syria.
Dichter's statement was echoed one week later by Finnish Ambassador Kari Veijalainen, when he told The Jerusalem Post that Israel would do well to signal a willingness to pick up negations with the Syrians where they broke off in 1999 as a way to get Damascus on board to help implement UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
However, soon after Dichter made his remarks, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected the notion of peace talks with Syria.
Syria is the "single most aggressive member of the axis of evil," Olmert said, ruling out a resumption of negotiations with Damascus at this time.
"I am the last person who will say I want to negotiate with Syria," Olmert snapped.
Yaakov Katz and Sheera Claire Frenkel contributed to this report
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