Meeting of FM Levy with President of the Japanese Institute for International Affairs

(Communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
May 2, 2000

In a meeting held yesterday between Foreign Minister David Levy and the President of the Japanese Institute for International Affairs, Hisashi Owada, they discussed the peace process and the fruitful bilateral relations between the two countries.

Foreign Minister Levy expressed his satisfaction regarding the development of these relations in recent years, as well as his deep appreciation for Japan’s contribution to the peace process, its generous assistance to the Palestinians and Jordan, and its work for the advancement of the multilateral track.

Foreign Minister Levy provided his guest with an update on the government decision to withdraw from Lebanon on the basis of Security Council Resolution 425. He said, "We warn Lebanon and Syria not to play with fire. If Hizbullah continues to strike at Israel after we have deployed to the agreed borderline, our response will be particularly severe." Levy added that leaders around the world have reached the conclusion that the Syrians are apparently "not yet ready for peace, but only for a situation of non-belligerence which serves their interests."

According to Foreign Minister Levy’s assessment, the Syrian order of priorities is to:

  • Maintain their control of Lebanon
  • Transfer power and leadership to the son and heir in the period following Assad’s rule, and ensure that the leadership remains in Alawite hands
  • Ensure economic assistance and the removal of Syria from the list of states supporting terror
  • And last, the peace process with Israel.

    Foreign Minister Levy said that it was possible that Syria would also be surprised by Hizbullah actions, and that events would unfold unfavorably for Syrian interests: "This is what happens to those who think that they can tame a poisonous snake, which in the end strikes at the person who toys with it."

    It is possible that after Israel redeploys to a new border line, and following a change in circumstances, Syria will rethink its position and be more flexible and cooperative in its attitude to the peace process.

    Regarding the negotiations with the Palestinians, Minister Levy stated that intensive efforts are being made, and it is only natural that as long as final agreements have not yet been signed, there is a tendency to see the glass that is half empty, rather than what has been accomplished so far.