Israeli President Shimon Peres said his country would not give up the Golan Heights back to Syrian president Bashar Assad so long as Damascus continues its ties with Hizbullah and Iran. Peres told Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the visiting German Foreign Minister, that peace negotiations with Syria must return to the negotiating table without mediation of preconditions.
When asked if the President had a message for Assad, Peres said, “He should stop being shy. If he wants to promote peace for his people he will have to run negotiations without any preconditions… there is no way that Assad will get territorial concessions from Israel while at the same time maintaining ties with Hebollah and Iran in a package deal."
Steinmeier stopped in Jerusalem first on his trip to the Middle East. His 40-hour trip will take him to Damascus and Beirut tomorrow.