A United Nations peacekeeping soldier stands on an observation tower near the Quneitra border crossing between Israel and Syria.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Israel and Iran engaged over the weekend in indirect negotiations in Jordan regarding fighting in southwestern Syria, according to Elaph, a Saudi-owned website.
Elaph reported that the Iranians pledged not to participate in expected battles in southwestern Syria between President Bashar Assad’s forces and rebel groups, and Israel has made it clear that it will not intervene in the battles in the tri-border area, as long as Hezbollah and the Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias are not involved.
The unconfirmed report said the negotiations were conducted last weekend between Iran’s ambassador to Jordan, who was in one hotel room in Amman with Iranian security personnel, while in the next room there were senior Israeli security officials, including the deputy head of the Mossad. The report said a Jordanian mediator carried messages between the sides.
Elaph sources said that "the talks with the Israelis were related to fighting in Syria and the nearing campaign in southern Syria, particularly in Dera'a and Kuneitra."
Furthermore, they said that Israel made clear to the Iranians they should not become involved in fighting close to the Israel-Syria ceasefire lines in the Golan and the Israel-Jordan border. One participant in the talks reportedly said that "the sides discussed this issue with the Israelis, and arrived at a quick agreement that even surprised the Israeli representatives."
Iran’s ambassador to Jordan, Dr. Mostafa Moslehzadeh, reportedly received instructions from senior officials to conduct the negotiations with Israel in Amman.
In recent days, Israel and Iran are said to have passed a large number of messages via Jordan regarding the situation in Syria. Israel has warned Iran of the possibility of conflict should Tehran send its troops and Hezbollah militants to southern Syria in order to participate in the fighting there. Jordan also passed the messages to Syrian and Russian officials.
Elaph sources said Iran understood its heavy losses in Syria resulting from Israeli attacks in the country. For this reason, Iran may have been willing to agree not to participate in battles in southern Syria, on the condition that Israel will not participate at all in combat in the region.
Israel's peace treaty with Jordan includes an Israeli umbrella of defense, which provides for Israeli military action should Jordan be threatened.