Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – In response to the announcement made by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office that the Israeli Prime Minister is prepared to travel to Damascus immediately to meet with Syrian President Bashar al Assad, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem told Asharq Al-Awsat, “We are sorry but we are not supposed to put the cart before the horse. Israel must first declare withdrawal from the Golan Heights up to the June 4, 1967 borders.”
In response to a question about the Syrian vision and the willingness of Israel to withdraw to the borders of June 4, 1967, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office told Asharq Al-Awsat, “We do not conduct negotiations through the media and the press.”
Asharq Al-Awsat reported last Wednesday that the Israeli Prime Minister’s office stated that Benjamin 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.
Netanyahu’s office was commenting on the quotes given to British researcher Gabrielle Rifkind by the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem. Rifkind stated that al Muallem 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.” In this regard, Muallem stated that “This is not true. What concerns us is regaining every inch of the Golan Heights to the borders of June 4, 1967. To us, land is a matter of honour and dignity.” Al Muallem added, “People must start with the objective, and the objective is the borders of June 4, 1967. The question is will he [Netanyahu] be willing to withdraw to those borders? The details would be discussed later.”