Tel Aviv and Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat – The office of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the Israeli Prime Minister “is ready to meet with the Syrians immediately and without [setting] preconditions” in order to resume peace talks. This comes in response to reports that state that Syria is prepared to accept Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights “in stages” in return for normalizing ties.
The office of the Israeli Prime Minister clarified to Asharq Al-Awsat that Netanyahu “is prepared to travel to Damascus immediately to meet with the Syrian President Bashar al Assad or invite him to Jerusalem or meet with him in a third country for this purpose.”
In an article in The Guardian newspaper, Gabrielle Rifkind of the Oxford Research Group revealed that last December Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem had informed her that Syria was prepared to accept “stages of withdrawal, the timing of which could involve a form of normalization…half of the Golan could lead to an end of enmity; three-quarters of the Golan, to a special interest section in the US embassy in Damascus: a full withdrawal would allow a Syrian embassy in Israel.”
At the same time Arab sources close to Damascus have informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the comments attributed to Muallem “are in line with the foundations of the Madrid negotiations.”
The US State Department refused to comment on this issue, with a US State Department spokesperson saying that it is official US policy not to comment on the details of diplomatic talks.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who visited Cairo Tuesday, said that his country was prepared to resume mediation between Israel and Syria.