ICEJ NEWS - 08/27/2001
Just as he issued an historic invitation to PLO chief Yasser Arafat, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has said that war with Israel is a distinct possibility, that Israel would be on the losing side in the long term, and that "the Oslo Accords no longer exist."
Assad made the comments in a brief interview with the Saudi daily to Al-Sharak Al-Awsat published in London. "The possibility of war with Israel has existed all the time, before [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon took power and now during his term," said Assad. "We believe that military strength is likely to lead to victory in one or several battles, and in the short term Israel will win," he said. "But Israel will be the main loser in a long-term confrontation, not Syria."
In regard to the planned visit of Arafat to Damascus, Assad said, "We welcome him at any time he wants." According to Assad, Syria is demanding from Arafat "exactly what the Palestinian people themselves want: a comprehensive and just peace in which occupied Arab lands are returned, a Palestinian state is established with its capital in Jerusalem and refugees return to their land."
Due to strained relations between the two sides, Arafat has not made an official visit to Syria in five years, but attended the funeral of Assad's father and predecessor, Hafez, in June 2000. PLO official Nabil Sha'ath and aides to Assad have met several times over the past few days, and an Arafat-Assad meeting has been scheduled for September 12 in Damascus. The state-run Syrian press stressed the meeting will be held "to formulate an active Arab stance to put an end for the Israeli arrogance and aggressions."
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.