The time is not right to resume negotiations with Syria, Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres said on Monday, adding that Israel is too busy trying to deal with Lebanon and the Palestinians.
Israel's Defence Minister Amir Peretz had proposed last week that Israel put out feelers to Damascus, amid growing concerns in Israel that Syria, if left on the sidelines, would further deepen its ties with Iran.
Peres dismissed the idea. "I think that at the moment, we can't take on too much," Peres told Israel Radio.
"We have the burden of Lebanon and we have the negotiations with the Palestinians. I don't think a country like ours can deal with so many issues at a time."
He also suggested there would be domestic repercussions if Israel were to approach Syria.
After the messy war with Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, it appears many Israelis would be in no mood to make the territorial concessions seen as inevitable for reaching a peace deal with Syria.
Peres said he believes its unlikely Syrian President Bashar Assad was even contemplating a return to negotiations.
"The Syrians, if they are serious (about peace talks), should come and say `we are interested in holding negotiations,"' Peres said. "I don't see Assad doing this."