Elections are in the air.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu negotiated with Syrian President Bashar Assad and was willing to give up the entire Golan region in exchange for peace, Hebrew newspaper Yediot Aharonot has reported.
The staff in Netanyahu’s office say the report is totally false and meant to mislead the public.
According to the report, Netanyahu and Assad communicated via United States intermediaries. Contact began in fall 2010 and ended with the outbreak of widespread rioting in Syria which developed into a civil war.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak was reportedly involved in the talks as well.
The report is supposedly based on classified American documents. Those involved in the secret negotiations were required to sign forms committing them to total silence in the matter, says the newspaper, but several officials were mentioned by name in the report, among them former Military Secretary to the Prime Minister Yochanan Locker, advisor for national security Uzi Arad, and Barak’s military secretary, Brigadier-General (reserves) Yitzchak Herzog.
An American source quoted by the paper said the American negotiating team was surprised at how much Netanyahu was ready to give up in exchange for a full peace. The source said that the Prime Minister offered Assad a complete withdrawal to the shore of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), the source said – more than previous Israeli prime ministers had been willing to offer.
The Prime Minister’s Office responded by saying the report was totally false. There was an American plan, one of many, which involved a full withdrawal from the Golan, the staff responded – but Netanyahu never agreed to it.
“The report was published at this time for political reasons,” they accused. The report comes on the heels of Netanyahu’s announcement that national elections will be held in the near future and they retorted, is meant to bias the Israeli public against the current Prime Minister..