Syrian deputy FM: Talks with Israel still far away

Says Syria's "requirements" before the 2 states can move forward.

mekdad miqdad 224 88 (photo credit: AP)
mekdad miqdad 224 88
(photo credit: AP)
Syria will not hold direct talks with Israel until Jerusalem recognizes Damascus' "requirements" for a peace deal, a report carried by Reuters quoted a senior Syrian official as saying Tuesday. "I think it is too early to resume direct talks. There are conditions," Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal al-Mekdad told reporters, despite Syria's reiterations that his country was willing to negotiate with the Jewish state without preconditions. Mekdad was referring to a promise allegedly given by then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin to then Syrian president Hafez al Assad, that Israel would eventually cede the entire Golan Heights to Syria. The Golan was conquered in the Six Day War in 1967, after Syria used the strategic plateau as a vantage point to harass Israeli fishermen and farmers with small arms fire and occasional artillery in the days before the Six Day War. In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Syria invaded again, but was repelled after intense fighting, this time around losing even more territory. In the early 1980, the Knesset approved a law which put the Golan Heights within Israeli jurisdiction, albeit without specifically using the word 'annexation.' The UN does not recognize the Golan Law. "I hope Israel responds to the requirements of peace, which are the end of the occupation of Palestine and the establishment of a Palestinian state, restoration of the Syrian Golan and pull out of remaining occupied Lebanese territory," Mekdad said. He added that despite a joint declaration issued by Jerusalem, Damascus and Ankara two weeks ago to the effect that Turkey was mediating Israeli-Syrian negotiations, talks were "still in their infancy."