It is reported that Israel and Syria had made secret talks between January 2004 and July 2006. According to the daily ‘Haaretz’ (Israel) on January 16, 2007, in the talks, reaching an agreement on a gradual withdrawal of Israel from Golan Heights -which was occupied in 1967 by her- in response to Syrian distancing herself from Iran by ceasing her support to the anti-Israel organizations Hezbollah and Hamas had been aimed. It is also noted that Israeli and Syrian leaderships were aware of the negotiations. In the report it is said that Alon Lail, the former General Secretary of Foreign Ministry of Israel and once Israeli Ambassador to Turkey, and Ibraham Suleiman, an alawite businessman living in Washington and having both Syrian and American citizenships, had represented the parties in the talks that had taken place in various European cities secretly. Moreover, it is noted that Nicholas Lang, the head of Middle East Desk of Swiss Foreign Ministry, had also attended the negotiations as mediator and met with Syrian Vice President Farouk Shara, Syrian Foreign Minister and some senior officials of the Syrian intelligence service in Damascus, and had talked with Sholam Turjeman, the chief advisor of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, but the contacts between the parties had been ceased with the outbreak of Israel-Lebanon crisis and the US pressure on Israel not to negotiate with Syria. It is also reported that Alon Lail had confirmed the negotiations with a statement to the BBC and mentioned awareness of the Israeli Government of eight sessions of the talks, but had added that those talks had not been inter-governmental. However, Ibraham Suleiman had said in his statement to Yediot Ahronoth daily that the negotiations had been realized with the knowledge and support of Israel and Syria, he had met in the last two years with Alon Lail and two officials from Europe whom he had not want to mention their names, a memorandum of understanding had been prepared between Israel and Syria, but the Americans had hindered the response of Israel to the peace proposals of Syria. It is noted that Israeli and Syrian state officials were denying those claims. As a matter of fact, while Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated that there was not a formal obligation of the talks; an official from Syrian Foreign Ministry denied the reports on the subject.
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