Yisrael Beytenu chairman MK Avigdor Lieberman declared on Sunday that, so long as his party is in the government, Israel will never give up the Golan Heights to Syria.
Speaking at a rally in support of an Yisrael Beytenu candidate in the town of Katzrin, which is located in the Golan Heights, Lieberman said that right up until the civil war in Syria began in 2011, there were high-ranking officials in the Israeli political system who were willing to begin talks with Syria and concede parts of the Golan Heights.
These officials, who Lieberman did not name, were, according to him, “prisoners of a wrong conception, according to which Assad should be disconnected from the axis of evil by Israel giving up the Golan Heights all the way to the Kinneret.”
He added, “We were lucky that this concept collapsed (with the start of the Syrian civil war -ed.) before it collapsed on our head.”
“Yisrael Beytenu has an absolute commitment to the Golan Heights and as long as we are in the government, Israel will not be giving up one inch of the Golan Heights, no matter how and when the conflict in Syria will end," Lieberman declared.
Last December, at the height of the election campaign to the Knesset, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot claimed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu negotiated with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and was willing to give up the entire Golan region in exchange for peace.
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.
The staff in Netanyahu’s office said that the report is totally false and meant to mislead the public. Then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak also said that while there were contacts with Syria, Israel did not offer it the Golan Heights.