Assad: Israel Always Ruins Every Chance for Peace

During Turkey visit, Syrian President says Israel launches military campaign every time Arabs offer peace.

Syrian President Bashar Assad on Wednesday accused Israel of ruining every chance for peace with the Arab world, speaking during a visit to Turkey for discussions on stalled Israel-Syria peace negotiations.

"Israel has always wrecked every peace initiative by embarking upon an attack every time we started to talk with it indirectly about real and durable peace," said Assad.

"This happened in 2002, shortly after the Arab peace initiative was launched, when Israel embarked upon a war in the [Palestinian] territories, and in 2008, after four days during which we had engaged in intensive talks via Turkish mediation."

Assad also asserted that there was no partner for peace in Israel. He made the comments after sitting down with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul to consider how to restart the peace talks.

Turkey mediated last year until they were broken off in the wake of Israel's winter offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Syrian president added: "The Israeli insistence on requesting that Arab states and the world recognize Israel as a Jewish state - this is a racist demand, which explains why Israel is opposed to peace."

During the talks on Wednesday, Turkey's leaders encouraged Syria to think of ways to revive the peace talks, but Syria's foreign minister said Israel does not appear to be a partner in the process.

"On the peace issue, we don't think Israel is present as a partner," Moallem said through an Arabic interpreter. He accused Israel of maintaining construction of Israeli settlements and continuing its aggression against Gaza.