Monday, December 7, 2009

PM Netanyahu: Sarkozy said Syria dropped preconditions for peace talks

(JPOST).The possibility of a resumption of negotiations between Israel and Syria got a significant boost Monday when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that French Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy had told him that "the Syrians are willing to remove any preconditions, but are insisting on Turkish mediation."

In a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Netanayahu said, "I had told the Syrians that we were ready to renew negotiations without preconditions. They replied that they were willing to negotiate, but not before Israel promised to leave the Golan Heights."

Netanyahu went on to say that a few days later, Sarkozy told him that the Syrians were willing to back down over the Golan Heights issue as a precondition for talks with Israel, but still did not want direct negotiations with Jerusalem.

Sarkozy also told Netanyahu that the Syrians preferred to negotiate via Turkey, the prime minister said.

"I spoke to Sarkozy, and he told me that the Syrian stance is a return to 1967 lines," Netanyahu said. "Sarkozy spoke with the Turkish mediator that the Syrians are suggesting. I [said] that we're interested in direct negotiations, and that if we're talking about mediators, I'd prefer [France]."