Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad “has expressed readiness” to resume peace negotiations with Israel, according to the Israeli Defense Minister.
Ehud Barak, in remarks aired by Israel Radio on Tuesday, said the Syrian president made the gesture in this respect to two US Congressional delegations, currently on a Middle Eastern mission, confirming a Sunday report.
Israel, for its part, “will be ready to deal with the Syrian president if his readiness to hold bilateral negotiations has been proven serious,” the Israeli minister said.
According to Israeli media, the Syrian overture was relayed to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by one of the two delegations that grouped Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain. The premier reportedly replied that “if Syria’s intentions are authentic, Israel will be a real partner.”
However, Netanyahu has reportedly rejected the resumption of the peace negotiations on the basis of demarcating the borders with Syria in advance.
Meanwhile, the Israeli media network, Haaretz, reported that Al-Assad and US Senator John Kerry jointly drafted a document listing board principles for the resumption of the peace negotiations between Damascus and Tel Aviv. It added that Netanyahu expressed opposition to the informal Syrian-US efforts in this regard.
In contradiction to these reports, Israel Radio quoted what it described as “a senior Israeli official source” as saying that the reports about Al-Assad’s readiness to resume peace talks were baseless.
On the contrary, he is cementing his close relations with Iran, arming Hezbollah and “standing on sides of powers with evil intentions against Israel, ” the unnamed source said.
Each time the Syrians make overtures, they couple them with advance terms, thus rendering the negotiations unnecessary, he added.
Syria, unlike Jordan and Egypt, has not worked out peace deals with Israel. The Arab state strives for Israel’s withdrawal from the Golan Heights.