In response to FM Lieberman's statement that 'Syria is not a partner for peace', defense minister says 'removing Damascus from the axis of evil is in Israel's interests'
|Published:||04.26.09, 07:19 / Israel News|
Removing Syria from the axis of evil is in Israel's interests, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Saturday in response to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's statement that Damascus 'must stop supporting terror before peace negotiations are launched."
The FM told Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung that "we must face reality; until now Syria has served as a haven for Hamas and Islamic Jihad. It supports Hizbullah and the smuggling of arms to south Lebanon. Syria also backs Iran's nuclear program and is only strengthening its ties with Tehran. Therefore, I cannot view Syria as a genuine partner in any agreement."
Barak and Lieberman are both members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's inner security cabinet.
The defense minister, whose position is based on IDF Intelligence assessments, believes Syrian President Bashar Assad would also benefit from a peace deal with Israel.
"Negotiations with Syria must include the demand to dismantle the terror groups' headquarters in Damascus and uphold Israel's security-related interests; these negotiations are vital to preserving Israel's interests in the current reality in the Middle East," Barak stated.
According to the defense minister, the US administration is also exploring the possibility of strengthening the West's ties with Syria.