Report: Netanyahu was prepared to pull out of Golan Heights in 2010

Photo: Report: Netanyahu was prepared to pull out of Golan Heights in 2010  / Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed in principle during negotiations with Syria in 2010 to withdraw from the occupied Golan Heights as part of a peace agreement with Damascus, the Yediot Aharanot daily reported Friday.

The talks fell apart with the start of the Syrian uprising in January 2011, the daily said, basing its report on documents written by US special Middle East Envoy Fred Hoff, who reportedly mediated the negotiations, dpa reported.

Netanyahu's office denied the report, saying the initiative referred to was old and irrelevant and one of many offered to Israel in recent years.

Israel Radio quoted officials as saying that Netanyahu never expressed any readiness to withdraw from the Golan, captured in the 1967 Middle Eat War.

The premier believed the Golan, a vast plateau overlooking northern Israel, was a strategic asset, the officials said.

According to the Yediot report, Israel was willing to withdraw from the Golan Heights to the borders which existed at the outbreak of the 1967 war, in return for a peace treaty and an exchange of ambassadors between the two countries.

The Israeli officials involved in the indirect negotiations were made to sign confidentiality agreements, in order to safeguard the secrecy of the talks, Yediot said.

Syria has demanded the return of the entire Golan as a prerequisite for peace with Israel. Previous Israeli-Syrian peace talks have reportedly broken down over the extent of any possible Israeli withdrawal.

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