Likud MK confirms he met Syrian official in U.S.
Lebanese Web site reports the meeting between Likud deputy, Syrian official was arranged by U.S.
Likud MK Ayoob Kara confirmed on Tuesday meeting a senior Syrian representative in Washington earlier this year on behalf of Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu. News of the meeting was first reported on a Lebanese Web site.
The site, Lebanon Now, quoted Israeli sources as saying that Kara and the Syrian official agreed to meet after Netanyahu (Likud) forms the next government.
Kara confirmed the report in an interview on Tuesday with Channel 1 television.
Kara told Channel 1 that Israel could see a breakthrough under the new government after his meeting with the unnamed official, who he described as "a very central figure" in Syria.
"They (Syrians) want these things to be discreet now," said Kara, who is from the Arab Druze community, which has branches in Israel, Syria and Lebanon. He said the Syrian had requested the meeting and that Netanyahu had been told of its results.
"When the day comes, and it's not far, you will hear new things, heartwarming things, which will generate a good atmosphere. And contrary to all expectations, there will be a positive surprise in everything to do with the peace process."
The Web site, which is affiliated with the anti-Syrian camp within Lebanon, reports that the meeting was initiated by American officials. "Members of the new American administration requested that Netanyahu consider the possibility of holding a meeting with the Syrians in an effort to understand what his plans are and the chances of renewing negotiations with Syria," sources told the Web site.
"Netanyahu answered positively and sent an official on his behalf to Washington to meet with the Syrian official."
"The Syrians were interested to know what the Netanyahu government plans in connection to renewing negotiations between Syria and Israel," sources told Lebanon Now. They noted that the U.S. administration plays a key role in the process due to Damascus' desire to extricate itself from international isolation.
"Netanyahu has positive intentions towards progress in the peace process in the region," the sources said. "Whatever he declared during the election campaign will be different than what he will do once he arrives at the practical stage."
"That is what Ariel Sharon did in his last term when he decided to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, in contrast to the statements he made during his election campaign," the sources said.
The Web site noted that Netanyahu refused to comment on the report.