ENEMY

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March 9, 2007 07:40
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For the first time in Knesset history, a citizen of an enemy state will testify before the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee next month. United States-based Syrian national, Abe Suleiman, who represented Syria in secret and unofficial talks on a peace agreement with Israel, will testify before the committee on April 12 to brief MKs on the content of those talks. It will be the first time that any foreign national, let alone one from a hostile nation, will testify before the committee. Alon Liel, the former Foreign Ministry director-general who represented Israel in the talks, which were not sanctioned by the Israeli government, will also appear before the committee. The committee meeting came at the prompting of Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On, who requested permission from committee chairman MK Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima) to invite Liel and Suleimanto appear. Hanegbi stressed that the the meeting was meant to find out how serious the peace talks between the two countries were. "I'm not sure who Suleiman represents, but this is a welcome step if it will help us promote relations between the two countries. We would love to hear his position and opinions," said Hanegbi. Gal-On has already spoken with Liel about the talks, but said that she was looking forward to the Knesset meeting to hear a full report of how the negotiations took place. Liel has already briefed the United States embassy in Tel Aviv on his talks with the Syrians, and Nicholas Lang, the Swiss diplomat who mediated the talks, updated officials in Washington last month. According to preliminary media reports on the talks, Syria and Israel reached an agreement on several points, including an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

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