Netanyahu: Israel wants peace with Syria


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel wants peace with Syria following several days of mutual recriminations.

"Israel aspires to complete peace agreements with all of its neighbors," the Israeli leader said at the start of Sunday’s Cabinet meeting. "We did this with Egypt and Jordan, and we aspire to achieve similar agreements with both the Palestinians and Syria."

Netanyahu said the negotiations must be conducted "without preconditions. We do not accept the idea that Israel must always make extraordinary concessions in advance while the other side is exempt from making its own concessions. It is negotiations that will bring about an agreement, and we will not enter into negotiations when everything is known in advance."

Syria has demanded that Israel agree to give up the Golan Heights under a peace agreement before entering into negotiations. The Palestinians also have made demands before they agree to sit at the negotiating table, including that a future Palestinian state be created along the 1967 borders.

Netanyahu’s remarks come after his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, on Feb. 4 challenged what he called "blatant threats" by Syria against his country and said that if Syria goes to war with Israel, "not only will you lose the war, you and your family will no longer be in power."

Lieberman’s comments came following Syrian President Bashar Assad’s assertion a day earlier that Israel is “pushing the region towards war" and that Israel "is not serious about achieving peace.”

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