Jewish leader close to Netanyahu meets president Assad
U.S. Jewish leader Malcolm Hoenlein has denied his recent visit to Syria was on behalf of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli "Yediot Aharonot" newspaper quoted him as saying: "I did not go to Syria on behalf of Netanyahu, or any other person."
He said he discussed humanitarian issues related to the Jewish community in Syria. He refused to give any clarification on whether he had received an invitation from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to visit Damascus, or whether he met with Assad.
The newspaper had earlier quoted officials as saying on Monday: "The Syrian president has invited to Hoenlein, a figure close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to visit the Syrian capital."
Netanyahu expressed on Monday during a gathering of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee of the Knesset Israel's willingness to hold talks with Syria, adding "Damascus wants to get everything before negotiations." He added: "The Syrians are demanding full withdrawal before negotiations even begin. As we are interested in moving forward in this case, there is no shortage of brokers."
There are speculations that Israel wants to promote peace with Syria after the collapse of talks with the Palestinians.