Lieberman: Syria Is No Partner for Peace

FM says talking to Hamas also impossible because they say every day they want to kill all Jews.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared that Syria could not be considered a real partner for peace with Israel because it supports Palestinian and Lebanese terror organizations, and the Iranian nuclear program.

In an interview with the Austrian daily Kleine Zeitung, published Saturday, Lieberman stressed that Syria houses the headquarters of various terror organizations, namely the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and that Damascus supports the Lebanese militia Hezbollah and the smuggling of weapons into southern Lebanon.

"Syria supports Hezbollah and its arms trafficking into southern Lebanon. Syria supports Iran's nuclear program. That is why I cannot see in Syria a real partner for any type of agreement," Lieberman told the Austrian publication.

Syria formally suspended the Turkish-mediated indirect peace talks with Israel last year during Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza, but Syrian officials have not ruled out their resumption.

Earlier this month, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said his country was willing to resume indirect talks with Israel's new government, but added that Syria would only do so if the talks focused on an Israeli withdrawal from the entire Golan Heights to lines that preceded the 1967 Six Day War.

When asked about the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and whether Israel would be willing to hold talks with the militant Palestinian group Hamas, Lieberman replied that it was "impossible."

"How can Israel's government talk with those who say every day that they want to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews?" Lieberman said. "Hamas continues to plan terror attacks, smuggle weapons like before and prepare for bombings. Just look at how many Fatah activists have been killed by Hamas. These are unbelievable scenes."

According to Lieberman, "the diplomatic aspect is not the most urgent move in the path to a sustainable peace. First, we must achieve a number of things for both peoples, otherwise the diplomatic process will fail. The most important thing for us is security, because we don't want to live with terror and rockets on a daily basis. The most important thing for the Palestinians is the financial situation? beyond that we need stability."

Lieberman went on to reject the concept of land for peace, a principle on which the 2002 Saudi peace initiative is based. "Until today," he said, "this concept has not achieved any real results? What came of all the [Israeli] withdrawals? Hezbollah and rockets. This idea doesn't work."

The foreign minister reiterated the idea of "economic peace" saying that "it is not enough for the West to donate money to the Palestinians, it must also invest in specific projects to create jobs. Without that, it will be impossible to convince the people that there is a better future ahead of them and that a peaceful solution benefits everyone. Hamas did not win the [2006] election thanks to its extreme ideology, but rather because it ran against a corrupt administration that was ineffective. Hamas built schools and cared for the sick, and that is why it won the election."

"We have given up more than half of Judea and Samaria already, and all of Gaza," Lieberman continued. "We uprooted thousands of Jews and invested billions of shekels in Palestinian territories. And yet, the peace process has stalled. The old solutions don't work anymore. It is mistaken to think that the occupation and the settlements are the reason for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In retrospect, there wasn't peace in the Middle East even before 1967, but only bloodshed and terror. Between 1948 and 1967 the Palestinians had the opportunity to establish their own state, but they didn't take advantage of it."