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assad 298.88 ap.(Photo by: AP [file])
NSC head: Syria's overtures authentic
05/07/2007
Ilan Mizrahi: Unclear whether Assad wants peace or just the peace process.
Syria's move to re-initiate the peace process is authentic, National Security Council head Ilan Mizrahi told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday. "It's not clear whether they want peace or whether they just want the peace process," he said. "They are still figuring out how it will best serve them, but the call for peace talks themselves is authentic." Israel has received mixed messages regarding Syria's overtures of peace - both from Damascus itself and from Israeli intelligence sources - since Syrian President Bashar Assad purportedly offered to renew peace talks last year. At an FADC meeting at the end of December, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni expressed sentiments similar Mizrahi's when she questioned whether Assad was truly interested in peace or only in negotiations. Foreign Ministry Diplomatic Research Department head Nimrod Barkan said at the same meeting that Syria was "interested in entering negotiations in order to alleviate international pressure." However, Military Intelligence Research Division head Yossi Baidatz had told the same panel the previous day that he believed Assad was sincere - contradicting Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who had told them the opposite the previous week and said that the Syrian leader should not be taken seriously because his country was preparing for war with Israel. Gil Hoffman and Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.
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