Report: PM agreed to return Golan in Syria talks

'Yediot Aharonot': Netanyahu agreed in principle in 2010 to return Golan in exchange for peace with Damascus; PMO denies report.

Golan Heights 370 (photo credit: Joe Yudin)
Golan Heights 370
(photo credit: Joe Yudin)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed in principle to withdraw from the Golan Heights as part of a peace agreement with Syria in negotiations that took place in the fall of 2010, prior to the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad, Yediot Aharonot reported on Friday.
Yediot cited documents written by Fred Hoff, a special US envoy to the Middle East, who reportedly mediated the negotiations.
Netanyahu was willing to return to the June 4, 1967 lines, giving Damascus control of the entire Golan Heights area, in return for a peace treaty with Syria, according to the report.
The peace treaty would also include an exchange of ambassadors between the two countries.
Michael Herzog, a former chief of staff to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, denied that an agreement had been reached.
“Nothing was agreed between the parties,” Herzog, who was involved in the talks, told the
New York Times, adding that the negotiations were “a work in progress.”
“There was a detailed list of Israeli demands meant to serve as a basis for a peace agreement,” Herzog explained.
The Prime Minister's Office also denied the report, saying the initiative in question was one of many offered to Israel in recent years.
"Israel did not accept this initiative at any point. This initiative is old and irrelevant, and the fact it is being released now derives from political interests," the PMO stated.
In March 2010, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem was quoted in The Guardian as saying that "Israel needs to be ready to recognize that Syria is entitled to every inch of the Golan."
"Half of the Golan could lead to an end of enmity; three-quarters of the Golan, to a special interest section in the US embassy in Damascus: a full withdrawal would allow a Syrian embassy in Israel," Moallem added.