Syria: Israel Would Never Declare War Without U.S. Permission

FM Moallem denies rumblings of imminent Mideast conflict, says Arab steps taking responsible steps to preserve security.

Haaretz Service
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Haaretz Service

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem denied that the Middle East was on the brink of armed conflict, telling Radio Monte Carlo on Thursday that Israel was unlikely to declare war without first consulting Washington.

Moallem told the radio that the Arab side was taking responsible steps to preserve the security of the Middle East.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem during a news conference in Damascus on February 3, 2010.Credit: Reuters

He added that the dialogue between Damascus and Washington cannot move forward since the United States has yet to fulfill its promise, hinting at Washington's decision to delay the stationing of the new U.S. ambassador in Damascus following reports that Syrian transfered advanced missiles to Hezbollah.

Israeli defense officials said Wednesday that Syria has delivered M600 rockets to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon within the past year.

Latest claims of arms transfers to Lebanon follow recent accusations by President Shimon Peres that Syria Hezbollah gave long-range Scud missiles, capable of inflicting heavy damage on Israel's cities.

Other government figures, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak, have since avoided repeating the allegations and it is unclear whether Damascus could have delivered the 44-foot liquid-fueled missiles, handling which requires complex logistics, undetected.

Yet doubts over the Scuds have not masked growing fear in the Israeli defense establishment over Hezbollah's rapidly expanding arsenal. On Tuesday the army's head of intelligence research, Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz, told the Knesset that the Scud transfer was the "tip of the iceberg".

Baidatz said that despite strong backing for Hezbollah, Syria remained keen to strike a peace deal with Israel.

"A political settlement with Israel is high on Syria's list of priorities and intelligence shows a will to reach an agreement – but on their terms, meaning a return of the Golan Heights and American involvement," he said.

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