Assad talks tough on land return

Bashar Assad reiterated Syria’s demand for a return of land all the way to the Sea of Galilee under a peace deal with Israel.

“What is on the agenda is the return of all land” captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War, Assad told the Gulf newspaper al-Khaleej in an interview published Tuesday.

This, he said, includes Syria’s demand for access to the Sea of Galilee – something that scuppered the last round of peace talks, in 2000.

“As for water, there are international rules that govern these matters and are usually referred to,” Assad said, when asked about Israel’s insistence on keeping exclusive control of the Galilee, a major water source.

“But if the question of water is intended for us giving up the 1967 borders that stretch to Tiberias, then there will never be a compromise on the 1967 borders,” he added.

Israel and Syria last month announced they had revived indirect peace talks via Turkey. Assad signaled a  desire for Washington to intercede as well.

“The negotiations are in their primary stage. In later stages they would require international sponsorship, especially from the United States, a superpower that has special ties with Israel,” another Gulf daily, al-Bayan, quoted him as saying during a briefing to the press in Dubai.

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