Peres: Damascus must cut ties to Hizbullah for peace

"No Israeli will agree to give the Golan back if Syria keeps its bases in Lebanon;" President awarded honorary doctorate on first day of visit in Great Britain.

peres honorary doctorate 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
peres honorary doctorate 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Making peace with Syria depends on whether it is prepared to rein in Hizbullah, President Shimon Peres said on Tuesday. Damascus cannot expect Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights while Syria continues to help Iran further its influence in Lebanon, Peres said in a BBC radio interview. Israel is not prepared to tolerate an Iranian presence on its border, he said, referring to Hizbullah. "If Syria will understand that they can't have the Golan Heights and keep Lebanon as a base for the Iranians, then the decision will be clear. But if she wants the Golan Heights back and keeps her bases in Lebanon - which are really controlled and financed by the Iranians - no Israeli will agree to have Iranians on our borders," he said. Peres, who will be in London through Friday for a series of engagements, including talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, stressed Israel's fears about Iran when he addressed some 200 UK business leaders at Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London, on Tuesday. "They are a real danger for the rest of humanity with their combination of enriched uranium, missiles, terror and the sense that they have the right to kill people whom they do not like," Peres said. While he was at Mansion House, he received an honorary doctorate from King's College London. Prof. Richard Trainor, the college's principal, said: "The honorary doctorate is in recognition of the efforts of Mr. Peres to find a peaceful solution to conflicts in the Middle East, which has led to him being awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. "The college has a strong interest and expertise in Middle East affairs, notably in the Department of War Studies, and earlier this year launched the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, an innovative initiative in this area in which Arab and Israeli academic institutions are openly collaborating." Peres delivered a keynote speech titled "Israel: Driving the Middle East business engine forward." Also at the meeting, Lord Peter Mandelson, secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform, called for deeper business ties between the UK and its "firm friend" Israel. "This is an age of great promise and immense global change - driven by the rapid development of new technologies and powerful flows of ideas, people, goods, services and capital across borders. Interdependence defines this new world," Mandelson said. Nowhere was this more evident than in the current global financial crisis, "the first great test of our new multi-polar globalized world," he said. "We cannot act by ourselves any more. We have to act together or we will not act at all." Britain aimed to raise trade between the two countries to £3 billion per year by 2012, up from the 2007 level of £2.3b., and opportunities existed in financial services, biotechnology, information and communication technologies, medical equipment and software, and creative industries, including filmmaking, he said. "Your country's prudent fiscal policy, structural reforms and investment in education and hi-tech industries have encouraged strong growth, foreign investment and consumer spending, and left your economy well placed to withstand the current global downturn," Mandelson told Peres. The minister paid tribute to Peres for his "tireless energy and bravery" in bringing a vision for peace within the grasp of today's leaders. "As a "firm friend" of Israel, Britain would work tirelessly with Israel and its neighbors to pursue peace and end extremism," he said. "Only in the context of a safe and secure Israel living in peace with its neighbors, alongside a prosperous and democratic Palestinian state, will Israel be able fully to unlock its immense potential," he added. Following the meeting, Peres held talks with Conservative Party David Cameron leader before heading off to speak at the University of Oxford. AP contributed to this report.