Netanyahu says he never offered to give up all of Golan

Netanyahu's aides distribute comments made by American businessman Ronald Lauder to counter claims to the contrary from Netanyahu's adversaries.

netanyahu 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
netanyahu 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu never agreed to give up the Golan Heights to Syria, according to American businessman Ronald Lauder, who was Netanyahu's emissary to Syria when he was prime minister. Lauder made the statement to Yediot Aharonot in April 2001 in an article that Netanyahu's aides distributed at the Knesset on Monday to counter claims to the contrary from Netanyahu's adversaries, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "Prime Minister Netanyahu never agreed to withdraw to the June 4, 1967 borders or close to them, and never allowed me to make such an offer," Lauder said. "An agreement was not reached in the summer of 1998, due to Netanyahu's refusal to accept the Syrian demands and his insistence that the final border with Syria be a significant distance east of the June 4, 1967 lines and the 1923 international border." At Monday's Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Netanyahu revealed that in September 1996, the US State Department issued a statement at his request saying that Israel was not obligated to withdraw from the Golan Heights, despite commitments that former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin made to former US secretary of state Warren Christopher. At the meeting, Olmert threatened to reveal documents proving that Netanyahu did in fact agree to give up the Golan Heights. Netanyahu will convene the Likud central committee in Katzrin in the Golan Heights on Thursday to show solidarity with the region.