Israel Denies Agreement with U.S. on Golan Withdrawal

(New York Times) Isabel Kershner - For several months in 2010, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel engaged in secret, American-brokered discussions with Syria for a possible peace treaty, but the process was cut short by the Arab Spring uprisings in early 2011. IDF Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog, who was involved in the talks, said Friday that "nothing was agreed between the parties." "There was a detailed list of Israeli demands meant to serve as a basis for a peace agreement," said Herzog. "The idea was to see if we could drive a wedge in the radical axis of Iran-Syria-Hizbullah" by taking Syria out of the equation. Yediot Ahronot claimed that the Israeli prime minister was prepared to agree to a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights, but the prime minister's office denied on Friday that Israel had agreed to a withdrawal. "This is one initiative of many that was proposed to Israel in the past years," Netanyahu's office said. "At no stage did Israel accept this American initiative. The initiative is old and irrelevant, and its publication now stems from political needs," referring to Israel's upcoming elections. Dore Gold, an adviser during Netanyahu's first term, rejected the assertion that Netanyahu had agreed to withdraw to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Gold, who is now president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said Netanyahu "has always viewed the Golan Heights as a strategic asset for the defense of Israel," and it was "completely unthinkable that Prime Minister Netanyahu would ever contemplate the kind of withdrawal" described by Yediot Ahronot.

2012-10-15 00:00:00

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