Israel, France slammed for ‘ending Syria’s isolation’

FROM WND

By Aaron Klein

Lebanese leader: ‘They opened the doors of Europe to this wrecker’

By conducting diplomacy with Syria, France and Israel have “opened the doors of Europe” to Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been working to destabilize Lebanon, charged Lebanon’s Druze leader Walid Jumblatt in an interview with WND yesterday.

“They have opened the door to Europe freely to Assad without mentioning his wrecking of Lebanon and the Hariri tribunal,” said Jumblatt, head of the Progressive Socialist Party and considered one of the most prominent pro-democracy politicians in Lebanon.

Jumblatt was referring to an international tribunal to try the murderers of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, who was assassinated in February 2005 in a car bomb blast widely attributed to Syria.

“I don’t understand French policy. I am afraid Assad is now at ease, waiting for new a administration in the United States. President Bush will leave and then the isolation that was around Bashar will be over,” Jumblatt said.

Last weekend, Assad attended a French-initiated regional conference at which financial deals with Syria were discussed. French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised to make a state visit to Damascus in September or October and to send a delegation of high-level businessmen and legislators to Syria in next month – a major blow to U.S.-imposed sanctions against Damascus.

Assad’s invitation to France was issued immediately after it was announced in May that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was conducting indirect talks with Syria regarding renewing negotiations over an Israeli retreat from the Golan Heights.

The Syrian talks with Israel are widely credited with partially ending a U.S.-imposed policy of isolating the Assad regime, specifically in bringing about French and greater European diplomacy with Syria.

While he had harsh words for Israeli and French diplomacy with Damascus, Jumblatt praised an Israeli prisoner exchange deal with the Hezbollah terror group that it set to take place today.

“Look, even though we are at adds with Hezbollah, they did their job precisely and they did succeed. Now they are getting paid,” Jumblatt told WND.

In the controversial deal, Olmert’s government agreed to release Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar and four captured Lebanese guerrillas in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah in a 2006 raid.

Kuntar, considered a hero in the greater terrorist community, is currently serving four life sentences in an Israeli prison for murdering four Israelis in a 1979 terror attack in northern Israel.

He reportedly sent Hezbollah a letter from his Israeli prison cell indicating he would like to join the Lebanese terror group once he is released from Israeli prison.

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