Kerry Says Netanyahu Turned Down Assad Peace Offer

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, looks at U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. (Atef Safadi/Pool via AP)
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, looks at U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. (Atef Safadi/Pool via AP)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that he is in possession of a letter from Syrian President Bashar Assad in which he said that he was prepared for formal recognition of Israel and a resolution of Syrian claims to the Golan Heights.

The Assad letter, written in 2010, was disclosed by Kerry in a lengthy profile of him in The New Yorker.

“I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this publicly, but he was ready to make a deal with Israel. And the proof of that is a letter I still have that he wrote and signed proposing a structure by which he was willing to recognize Israel, have an embassy there, make peace, deal with the Golan, etc.”

However, Kerry depicted Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as uncooperative.

“Bibi came to Washington, and one of the first things out of his mouth in the Oval Office was ‘I can’t do this. I’m not going to — I just can’t.’ “

Kerry spoke positively of Assad. “I had an impression that this guy had serious business plans, growth plans, development plans, wanted to change.”

The article, highly favorable to Kerry, included the latest swipes at Netanyahu by anonymous U.S. officials. This time out they described him as “myopic, entitled, untrustworthy, routinely disrespectful toward the President [Obama], and focused solely on short-term political tactics to keep his right-wing constituency in line.”

Kerry also criticized Israel’s reluctance to make concessions to the Palestinians to further the peace process.

In response, Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Tuesday, “It’s not a secret that we do not agree on everything, including the offer that Secretary of State Kerry brought, over a year ago, to hold negotiations.”

“If we had implemented the Americans’ offers,” he stated, “in the area of security, for example, then today there would already be mortar shells striking Ben Gurion Airport, and rockets on Tel Aviv.”