Report: Barak conveys message to Assad

'Al-Hayat' says defense minister to allow residents of Golan to obtain Syrian identification cards.

Barak grin 224 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Barak grin 224 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Defense Minister Ehud Barak conveyed to Syrian President Bashar Assad that he is willing to allow residents of the Golan Heights to hold Syrian identification cards as a step toward renewing peace negotiations, the London-based daily, Al-Hayat, reported Monday. The paper quoted a Golan resident as saying that he was apprised of Barak's message via Syrian sources. Officials in the Syrian border town of Kuneitra claimed that the Civil Administration had already begun compiling a list of relevant Golan residents. The Syrians were facing difficulty in trying to obtain the list from the Israeli Interior Ministry, the source said. A group of 400 residents of the Golan who were studying in Syria had obtained Syrian identification cards about a week ago; the first such group to be granted Syrian citizenship, he added. According to the report, Israeli officials refused to comment on the details but confirmed that the defense minister was keen on promoting the Syrian negotiation track. On Thursday, Al-Hayat reported that Barak had relayed a message to Assad through the Turkish president that Israel plans to escalate militarily the situation with Hizbullah and Hamas. According to the report, Barak encouraged Damascus to take a different stance towards Hizbullah, and emphasized that such a move would be seen as a goodwill gesture, and would open up the possibility for peace negotiations between the two countries.