Brazil, Syria Slam Israel Over Gaza Flotilla, Blockade

Syria President Assad voices support of Iran nuclear uranium swap deal initiated by Turkey and Brazil during rare South America visit.

The leaders of Brazil and Syria Wednesday backed the founding of an independent Palestinian state and admonished Israel to lift its blockade against the Gaza Strip.

Bashar Assad and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

In a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, also backed the return of the Golan Heights to Syria, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967.

"Blockades do not contribute to peace," Lula said, according to media reports after the meeting. "The incident with the humanitarian fleet which was attacked in international waters showed that it's long overdue that the blockade of Gaza is lifted."

Israeli military commandos boarded the ships trying to break the blockade and killed nine activists. Israel put the blockade in place in the past years to prevent war materials from reaching Gaza, which regularly attacks Israel with missiles.

Assad criticized Israel for always placing new hurdles in the way to a Middle East peace agreement.

On Sunday, Assad told the Brazilian newspaper Estado de S. Paulo that he would discuss the possibility of Brazil helping bring Israel to the table with other Arab countries to diffuse tensions stemming from its policy on Gaza.

Lula along with Turkey unsuccessfully sought to broker a solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis, "In my view, the combined effort of Brazil and Turkey in the Iranian nuclear question has raised Brazil's role to a new level," Assad said. "For this, we hope Brazil can act to stabilize the Middle East."