Ex-Mossad chief: 'PM agreed to Golan pullout'

Ex-Mossad chief claims Netanyahu said during 1st term that he'd withdraw from Heights in future peace deal.

netanyahu Moratinos 248 88 (photo credit: GPO)
netanyahu Moratinos 248 88
(photo credit: GPO)
Danny Yatom, who was head of Mossad during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's first term in 1996, said Thursday that the premier then agreed to withdraw from the entire Golan Heights in exchange for a peace deal with Syria and the normalization of ties between Jerusalem and Damascus. Yatom told Israel Radio that the proof for his claim was a document that appears in his new book, in which Ron Lauder, Netanyahu's special envoy for talks with Syria at the time, reported the prime minister's agreement to then-US president Bill Clinton. The former Mossad chief said that although Netanyahu's agreement didn't bind him now, 11 years later, "he has to admit" that he did agree to withdraw from the territory. Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) told the radio station that the prime minister had not agreed to such a pullout and had repeated it on numerous occasions. Erdan said that in any event, there was no reason to bring up the past. Meanwhile, on the Iranian issue, Yatom told Army Radio on Wednesday night that only a military strike would stop the Islamic republic from attaining nuclear arms. "Today, I don't see the world, led by the US, ready to take the risks involved with a strike on Teheran's atomic facilities," he said. When asked whether that meant that he had come to the conclusion that only military action would stop Iran's nuclear pursuit, the former Mossad chief said, "Correct, that's the conclusion I have drawn, and the world must understand that an Iranian bomb will put it [the world] in danger. Israel won't be able to sit back and watch Teheran become a nuclear power." On Wednesday night, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos told President Shimon Peres that Syrian President Bashar Assad was "optimistic about restarting the Israel-Syria peace process." During a late meeting in Jerusalem, Moratinos and Peres also spoke of combining the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks with the Arab peace initiative, with the Spanish foreign minister citing a "definite momentum for peace." The president expressed hope that "the renewal of the peace process" would be announced during the UN General Assembly in New York later in September. On the Iranian nuclear threat, Moratinos said that Teheran's proposals for new talks with the West were insufficient, and promised to push for harsher sanctions against the Islamic republic. At the end of the meeting, Peres stressed the importance of relations between Jerusalem and Madrid, and noted the "historic bond" between the Jews and Spain. Earlier on Wednesday, opposition leader Tzipi Livni met with Moratinos, and expressed her appreciation for Madrid's move to ban lawsuits against IDF officials due to actions taken as part of Israel's war on terror. Livni urged Moratinos to continue to act to bolster Israeli-European relations. According to her office, Livni called the upgrade in ties an Israeli interest and offered her help on the issue. The Spanish foreign minister also met with Netanyahu during his visit. Despite Moratinos' optimism regarding the Israel-Syria peace process, Israel Radio quoted Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem as saying Wednesday that Israel was not interested in making peace. Speaking at the Arab League in Cairo, Moallem also accused Israel of starving the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and slammed continued settlement construction.