Israeli newspaper: ”Sharon rejected Assad bid to address Knesset”
Syrian President Bashar Assad was willing to come to Jerusalem and address the the Israeli parliament (Knesset) in 2003, as a first gesture before resuming peace talks with Israel, senior Israeli sources were quoted as saying on Wednesday by the Tel Aviv-based Maariv daily. However, according to this report, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rejected the offer.
“Israel missed a golden opportunity to return to the negotiating table in ideal conditions as first as it was concerned”, the sources told the nwespaper.
Assad’s proposal was raised during the secret contacts held between Israel and Syria at the outset of 2003.
The 2003 talks, which were held in Jordan, were headed by the Director General of Israel's Foreign Ministry at the time, Eitan Bentzur, while the Syrians sent the president’s brother, Maher Assad, the report noted.
Maariv said that Bentzur confirmed the information. "The contacts were very serious. I am sorry that there were those in Israel who dismissed them," he said.
On Tuesday, UN Middle East Envoy Terje Roed Larson urged Israel to accept Syrian President Bashar Assad’s offer to resume peace negotiations without conditions. According to Larson, the Syrian president told him last week in Damascus, that "he was ready to resume talks without any preconditions of any kind."