Israel willing to return Golan Heights for peace: report

By Xinhua

Jerusalem : Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert secretly told Syrian President Bashar Assad that Israel would give up the Golan Heights in return for peace with Damascus, local daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday.

Support TwoCircles

The report said Olmert sent messages via German and Turkish diplomats to Assad, indicating that Israel was willing to give up the Golan Heights in exchange for a direct negotiation and the severing of Syria's alliance with Iran and terror groups in the region.

Syria has not responded to the offer, except for a declaration of willingness to enter into negotiations, the report said.

A Syrian diplomat in London denied the report, saying that Damascus had not received any invitation from Israel to open negotiations, Israel Radio reported.

It was further reported that during a phone conversation with US President Bush last month, Olmert said he had decided to look into the possibility of renewing negotiations with Syria.

Bush responded that U.S. would not stand in Israel's way. However, some of Olmert's aides are worried that the renewal of peace talks with Syria would hurt the relationship with the US.

Meanwhile, the concerns over war on northern front are running high after Israeli Military Intelligence said Assad is well placed to carry out a surprise attack on the Golan Heights, seized by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War.