Syria rejected Israeli overtures to engage in discreet negotiations regarding the Golan Heights, the Qatari newspaper Al Watan reported Saturday. Syrian officials told Al Watan that the Israeli offer was relayed to Syrian officials by European and other Western envoys visiting Damascus.
Israel to brand Arabs as peace spoilers
The same official said Syria was interested in open negotiations and that an agreement, if reached, would be voted on in a national referendum by the Syrian people.
Earlier in the week Syrian President Bashar Assad expressed pessimism regarding peace with Israel, saying "under the current circumstances we don't see signs for peace - despite all the recent talk about it, it has been just talk."
Assad told the Saudi newspaper Al-Jazira that diplomats arrived in Syria from the US and tried to restart a peace process with Israel. According to the Syrian president one of the diplomats told him that [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert had informed the Americans that any decision regarding the issue is in Washington's hands.
During the interview Monday Assad went on to add that "the current Israeli government is the weakest in Israel's history."
Vice Premier Shimon Peres responded to Assad's statements with the query, "And what is he - the strongest president in the world?" speaking to a press conference at the Knesset.