A high-ranking official who served in former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government said Sunday that Israel and Syria were close to resuming direct peace talks in late 2008, and that the Syrians signaled readiness to ease past demands for a full Israeli withdrawal.
Turkish-mediated talks between the two sides were to have progressed to direct talks in December 2008. But the talks were derailed because of Operation Cast Lead, said the former official.
"Had we started direct negotiations, I believe that we would have concluded them within a month or two," he said.
He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the political and diplomatic sensitivities surrounding the talks.