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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Syrian American businessman Abe (Ibrahim) Suleiman, who on Thursday became the first Syrian national to address the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committe, does not represent Syria in any capacity, a Syrian member of parliament was quoted by Israel Radio as saying Saturday.
In an interview with BBC quoted by Israel Radio, parliamentarian George Jabour called Suleiman's behaviour "strange and surprising," adding that "no one in Syria asked Suleiman to speak in the country's name."
Jabour also said that Suleiman had "zero credibility" in Syrians' eyes.
Suleiman, a Syrian-born American who holds a dual citizenship, came to Israel this week in what was hailed as a "landmark visit by a representative of an enemy state," and spoke before members of Knesset.
On Thursday, Suleiman announced to the FADC that peace with Syria could be achieved within six months, and continued to present an elaborate description of the nature and details of a possible peace deal.
Suleiman's visit to Israel was the initiative of Meretz MK Zehava Gal-on.
Suleiman's Thursday appearance in the FADC was widely covered by Israeli media despite the fact that already in January Prime Minister Ehud Olmert emphatically denied any knowledge of Suleiman's alleged "secret talks" with Alon Liel, former Foreign Ministry director-general who supposedly represented Israel in the talks, and other Israeli representatives.
"I didn't know anything, and no one in the government knew," Olmert said at the time. "No government officials were involved in this matter."
Olmert described the meetings a "private initiative of someone speaking to himself," adding that it was "not serious and not dignified, and there is no need to waste words beyond what has been said until now."
Suleiman was quick to retaliate. In a televised interview from his home in Washington DC, he told Channel 10 that the obstacle to peace with Syria was Olmert's weakness as a leader.
Somewhat Ironically, Jabour's statements on Saturday seem to indicate that the one issue on which Syria and Israel currently agree is the doubtful veracity of the Suleiman-Liel duo.