Barak: Assad ready to consider Israel-Syria peace deal
Defense minister says that if Syrian president will reach out to Israel, he will find a willing partner, also says Israel must strengthen peace efforts with Palestinians.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday that Syrian President Bashar Assad is prepared to consider a peace agreement with Israel.
In an interview with Israel Radio, Barak said that it seems that the Syrian president is ready to consider a peace deal and that if Assad will indeed reach out to Israel regarding a peace agreement, he will find a willing partner.
On Friday, it was revealed that U.S. Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee and a close associate of U.S. President Barack Obama, has been working together with Syrian President Bashar Assad over the last few months on a plan to restart negotiations between Syria and Israel.
But apparently, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been briefed on Kerry's talks with Assad, opposes the plan, since he does not believe Assad is serious about making peace with Israel.
Last week, Barak stressed the importance of a peace deal with Syria. "I, as well as others in the defense system, believe negotiations with the Syrians are a positive step for the state of Israel, but of course we need a mutual agreement for such negotiations."
In the interview to Israel Radio on Monday, Barak added that Israel must try and strengthen the peace process with the Palestinians, but refused to comment on whether a new plan is in the making. Barak stressed that Israel will protect its security interests in any possible agreement.
Over the weekend, Haaretz revealed a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in which Netanyahu promised Merkel that he intends on presenting a new peace plan next month, after Merkel reportedly chided him for failing to advance peace.
Barak also said Monday that he does not see a radical Islamist movement arising in Egypt at this point or an immediate military threat to Israel coming from Egypt.