Syria says may resume talks after Israel poll but priority is Gaza
"The people of our region no longer embrace the peace process. Their primary concern is lessening the suffering of our people in Gaza," said Syrian FM.
Syria may resume peace talks with Israel if the Jewish state elects a leader next week willing to reach a comprehensive peace deal, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Monday.
The ferocity of Israel's three week invasion of Gaza, however, turned popular sentiment in the Middle East against compromise with Israel and the priority now was to help the Palestinians deal with the invasion's aftermath, Moualem said.
Syria formally broke off indirect talks with Israel, which were being mediated by Turkey, during the Israeli attack on Gaza. The talks had already broken off following the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in September.
"If Israel proves after its elections that whoever comes to power has the will for a just and comprehensive peace through executing United Nations Security Council resolutions, then that would warrant another assessment," Moualem said after meeting his Irish counterpart Micheal Martin.
"The people of our region no longer embrace the peace process. Their primary concern is lessening the suffering of our people in Gaza, lifting the siege and rebuilding Gaza through solidifying the ceasefire," he added.
Indirect talks between Syria and Israel have focused on the Golan Heights. Israel captured the plateau in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it more than a decade later -- a move unanimously rejected as null by the Security Council.
They resumed indirect talks last year following Turkish mediation and held four rounds. Syria demanded an Israeli commitment to withdraw from all of what Damascus regards as the Golan and Israel demanded that Syria scale back its ties to Iran, Hamas and the Lebanese group Hezbollah.
Israel holds parliamentary elections on Feb. 10. The right wing Likud Party of Benjamin Netanyahu leads opinion polls, with the ruling Kadima party of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni trailing.
Reuters Last Mod: 03 Şubat 2009, 11:22