A former high-rankling aide to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Uzi Arad confirmed today that the Netanyahu government twice held serious negotiations with the Assad government about the possibility of returning the Golan Heights to Syria.
Israel occupied Golan militarily in 1967, though the international community still considers it Syrian territory. Arad said the first talks with Syria took place in 2009, building on previous talks by the Olmert government. A second round of talks was held at the behest of the US in 2011, but collapsed at the start of the Syrian War.
The Olmert government had confirmed that there were talks with Assad on returning Golan as part of a peace deal. Netanyahu’s office is still denying the specifics on the talks, saying Israel would never give up their control of Golan.
Returning the Golan Heights would be unpopular for Netanyahu’s far-right coalition, and the Syrian War ultimately made such talks impractical anyhow. When Syria’s war ends, the future of Golan may again be up for negotiation.