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Statement on Golan Issued by Israeli Newspaper Was False

Yediot Ahronot statement saying PM Netanyahu called for peace talks with Syria at outbreak of civil war shown to be false.
By Scott Krane
First Publish: 10/12/2012, 2:50 PM

Mine field in the Golan Heights
Mine field in the Golan Heights
Flash 90

Israeli Hebrew leftist newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported on Friday that Israel’s prime minister held private talks peace with the Syrian government (kept private from the Mossad and Shin Bet) through an American mediator, in which Israel offered them land concessions.

However, according to the report the negotiations ended because of the civil war in Syria.

Mr. Netanyahu’s office said the offer for such “talks” came from the U.S. and denied Israel had accepted it, “implying the matter was leaked to improve President Barack Obama’s image in the run-up to U.S. presidential elections.” according to Friday’s Washington Post.

Earlier Friday, Arutz Sheva posted a story about the report emphasizing the government office denial.

Yediot Ahronot reported that the talks were mediated by Obama envoy Fred Hoff. The report explained that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered to return the Golan Heights to Syria as part of negotiations. The paper quoted unspecified American documents  saying Netanyahu had expressed such readiness, surprising U.S. diplomats in the midst of indirect contacts they mediated with Syria two years ago, according to Reuters.

According to Friday’s report in Yediot Ahronot, PM Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak, were willing to give up the Golan Heights, within the time range of about two years, in exchange for a full peace treaty that and Syria’s severing its close ties with Iran.

The report explained that the negotiations were conducted in deep privacy.

In a statement released Friday the prime minister’s office said:

“This is one initiative of many that have been offered to Israel in recent years…the initiative is old and irrelevant, and its current publication stems from political considerations.”

The statement had referred to the first Netanyahu Knesset, as well as the premiereship of Ehud Barak when similar concessions were made.