Asharq Al-Awsat- There has yet to be an official public statement by the Syrian government announcing the suspension of indirect negotiations between Damascus and Tel Aviv, despite news reports by various press agencies that negotiations will be suspended in protest against the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip.
A Syrian source in Damascus informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “Israeli aggression against Gaza has halted the indirect negotiations with Israel mediated by Turkey.” While another source in London close to the negotiations revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “there is no specific news on an official level” in Syria with regards to suspending negotiations with Israel although “the orientation coming from Turkey is to suspend negotiations as Ankara sees a contradictions between the Israeli position and its actions on the ground.”
This same source added that “in principle there is a strong reaction in Syria, but no official position has been announced” regarding the indirect negotiations with Israel of which there have been four previous rounds of negotiation. Indirect negotiations were postponed in September at the request of Israel following the announcement of the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
The Associated Press (AP) quoted a Syrian official speaking on the condition of anonymity as saying that Damascus had decided to suspend negotiations with Israel and that “Israeli aggression closes all the doors” to a peace deal in the region.
While Cham Press [independent online Syrian publication] quoting a Turkish source revealed that “Syria informed Turkey to stop indirect negotiations with Israel in response to Israeli aggression against Gaza.”
According to AP, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip on Sunday calling them a “crime against humanity” and calling for an immediate ceasefire. Erdogan accused Israel of using “disproportionate force” and said the attacks were a “blow for peace.”
Last week, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad spoke about laying the groundwork for building a peace, citing indirect negotiations as the basis for this, and saying that they would eventually lead to direct negotiations [between Syria and Israel].
Marches and demonstrations occurred throughout Syria in protest against the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip with participants criticizing the “international silence over the Israeli terrorism” and calling for the international community “work to stop this bloody aggression and break the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.” They also called on Arab countries with ties to Israel to immediately sever these ties and expel the Israel embassies from their soil, while at the same time calling for the Palestinian Authority to stop negotiations with Israel. The demonstrators burned American and Israeli flags.
The Syrian national SANA news agency revealed that Syrian President Bashar Al Assad received a telephone call from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Sunday in which they discussed the “tragic situation” in the Gaza Strip. SANA confirmed that “President Al Assad called on the United Nations to assume its responsibilities to secure the immediate stop of the Israeli massacre perpetrated against the defenseless Palestinian people in Gaza Strip.”
The SANA news agency also revealed that Al Assad had received a telephone call from his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in which they discussed “the crime perpetrated by the Israeli occupational forces in the Gaza Strip, and ways of utilizing the Organization of the Islamic Conference [OIC] to repel the brutal Israeli aggression against the defenseless Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip.”
Dr. Boutaina Shaaban, the political and media advisor who holds the position of Minister in the Syrian government condemned the “massacre and the terrorist and criminal war” committed by Israel against the Palestinian people.
SANA quoted Dr. Boutaina Shaaban as saying that “What is going on in Gaza is a genocide, a crime against humanity, and a terrorist operation against the defenseless Palestinian people.” Dr. Shaaban added that “anybody who wants to become Prime Minister of Israel must taste Palestinian blood, and this is what Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is doing in order to become Prime Minister, for one cannot become Prime Minster of Israel unless they have committed a massacre against the Palestinian people.”
She also stressed that President Bashar Al Assad “is in contact with Arab leaders regarding the grave situation in Gaza.”
In addition to this, the Syrian Foreign Minister is preparing to travel to Cairo to attend the Arab League meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers to discuss the latest developments in the Gaza Strip, and to make preparations for the emergency Arab Summit expected to be held in Doha on Friday.