Baker: US Should Negotiate With Syria to Soften Hamas

Former United States Secretary of State James Baker told a Senate committee Tuesday that America should negotiate with Syria so that the Assad regime will convince Hamas to accept Israel.

Ezra HaLevi , | updated: 5:22 PM

Baker was giving testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as part of the follow-up to the Baker-Hamilton report he took part in compiling. "We could get them (Syria) to get Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist,” Baker said as part of his argument for opening dialogue with Syria. “It would be a huge step in the right direction."

Baker said he had already discussed the matter with senior officials in Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s regime. He said that the talks could convince Syria to stop arming Hizbullah.

The Baker-Hamilton Report also recommended engaging Iran in dialogue for the purpose of bringing about a smooth U.S. exit from Iraq.

Another Senator, Florida Democrat Bill Nelson, visited Syria in December and met with Assad and his Foreign Minister. The Associated Press quoted Nelson as telling the Council on Foreign Relations that, "The administration has adopted the approach of an ostrich. And make no mistake. It is not working.”

Bargaining chips in negotiations with Syria are expected to include U.S. pressure on Israel to relinquish the Golan Heights, which Israel won in the Six Day War and subsequently annexed.