Thursday, September 10, 2009
Former Netanyahu Official: Bibi Agreed to Give Up Golan Heights
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Danny Yatom, Mossad director during Binyamin’s Netanyahu’s term as Prime Minister a decade ago, claims the Likud leader agreed in1998 to give up the Golan Heights. Prime Minister Netanyahu’ office denied the claim, and Yatom stated Thursday morning that the alleged document in Netanyahu’s name does not obligate him to the future. Israeli media spotlighted Yatom's claim, included in his new book in which he states that a letter presented to former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1998 states that Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to hand over the strategic Golan Heights to Syria in return for a security treaty. The Prime Minister stated during his campaign last year that he would not surrender the Golan, a position he has maintained since then, but he has not stated categorically that he would not give up parts of the area.
Israeli media, most of which promote an agenda for surrendering much of Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, omitted Yatom’s background in the former Netanyahu administration.
Yatom, who was a Knesset Member for the Labor party in the previous government, resigned his position as head of the Mossad because of a critical report of the intelligence agency’s botched attempt to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal following suicide bombings in Jerusalem.
Yatom also has a long-time partnership with Israeli diamond mogul Lev Levayev. This connection played a part in the letter to President Clinton by Ron Lauder, an American businessman who also deals in diamonds. He traveled to Syria to talk about Netanyahu’s readiness to withdraw from the Golan and reported to former President Clinton.
Yatom’s claims are not the first time the story has been reported. Clinton’s autobiography published three months ago also refers to Netanyahu and Syria. He wrote that Netanyahu suggested a security treaty based on giving up the Golan, but it was not specified how much of the area was involved.
When Syria asked for specifics, Netanyahu said Israel would retain part of the Golan bordering the Kinneret, according to Clinton and Yatom.
Netanyahu previously denied any agreement and said in one interview, "I never agreed to withdraw from the Golan Heights in any situation or in any talks. The negotiations were unsuccessful because I insisted that the final international border be located miles eastward of the current border."
Another letter that the Israeli media failed to mention was written by Lauder, who wrote in 2004, "Prime Minister Netanyahu never approved a retreat to 1967 borders. None of the documents that were drafted during these talks was official, and no document was approved by Prime Minister Netanyahu."