Syrian FM: Middle East Peace Depends on Israeli Withdrawal from Arab Lands
Syria remains open to peace in the Middle East, but one that is contingent on Israel withdrawing from territory it occupied in the 1967 war, Foreign Minister Farouq Shara was quoted as saying by one of two Arab Israeli MPs who met with him Saturday.
Shara reaffirmed "the disposition of Syria to reach a just and stable peace in the Middle East, on the condition that Israel respects the rights of Arabs and Palestinians by a retreat to the line of June 4th 1967," according to Mohammed Kana'an.
Kana'an said he and fellow Israeli Arab MP Azmi Bishara told Shara of their "support for Syria's position and the importance of ties between Syria" and Israeli Arabs.
Bishara said Shara had said he was "pessimistic" and "doubted the willingness of Israel" to withdraw to the pre-war borders.
Kana'an and Beshara were among 51 people from their community who had traveled to Syria to attend a ceremony Thursday marking the end to mourning for the late Syrian president, Hafez Assad, who died on June 10th.
Israel occupied the strategic Golan Heights from Syria in the June 1967 war and annexed it in December 1981.
Damascus has made an Israeli commitment to a complete withdrawal back to the line in force on June 4th 1967 a prerequisite for peace.
Such a withdrawal would give Syria control of part of the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, which Israel has refused to accept, although it says it is ready to hand back most of the area. The sea is one of Israel's major sources of water.
Talks with Syria resumed in December after a break of nearly four years, but were suspended in January - DAMASCUS (AFP)
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