Israeli FM: Ceding Golan not an Option

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JERUSALEM, Israel - In a meeting Tuesday with three foreign diplomats, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the Golan Heights will remain Israeli.

"There is no justification or reason for Israel to cede the Golan Heights," Leiberman told Japan's Middle East envoy Yutaka Limura, Quartet envoy Tony Blair and Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi.

Representatives from the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia make up the Quartet.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's "only goal is to maintain the rule of the Assad dynasty," Lieberman said, adding that Assad knows "the process of democratization will jeopardize his rule."

"These past few weeks have seen Syrians boosting weapons smuggling to Hezbollah in south Lebanon. They increase weapons acquisitions every year, repeatedly refuse to allow IAEA - International Atomic Energy Agency - inspectors to visit suspicious sites and continue to tighten relations with Iran," Lieberman said.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel Radio on Monday that Assad is ready to consider a peace deal. Barak may have been referring to frequent visits to Damascus by U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., over the past several months to discuss restarting negotiations with Israel.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the idea as he does not believe Assad is serious about making peace with Israel.

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