Tensions over the Golan Heights, seized by Israel from Syria following the 1967 Six-Day War, took a new turn after the United States recognised Israeli sovereignty over the disputed region last month.
In an interview with the Egyptian al-Hayat network, Egypt’s former President Hosni Mubarak claimed that Syria had turned down an Israeli offer to return the Golan Heights in exchange for the normalisation of bilateral relations and the opening of embassies in the two countries back in 1998.
This information was revealed by TV presenter Ahmed Al-Sayed, who told Cairo24 about his conversation with the former president, the Middle East Monitor reported.
According to Al-Sayed, Mubarak, who served as Egypt’s president from 1981 to 2011 when he stepped down amid the Arab Spring protests in the country, told him: “I contacted the Israelis to try to recover the Golan Heights, but they demanded the opening of an Israeli embassy in Damascus and a Syrian one on the occupied land as a kind of Syrian recognition of Israel”.
The offer in question was allegedly made during Benjamin Netanyahu’s first prime ministership and was flatly rejected by then-Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.
Mubarak reportedly added that US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights last month was the “result” of the failed talks two decades ago.
The telephone interview between Al-Sayed and Mubarak was supposed to be broadcast, but the Al-Hayat TV channel reportedly refused to release it due to “unexpected circumstances”.
Syrian and Israeli authorities, as well as Mubarak’s representatives, have yet to comment on the reports.
On 25 March, Trump signed a proclamation formally recognising the Golan Heights as a part of Israel’s territory, drawing much condemnation from the Muslim and Arab world. Syria, which considers the Golan to be a part of its territory, slammed Trump’s move as an act of aggression against the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Last year, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution urging Israel to immediately pull out its forces from the occupied area after the country organised local elections in the area on 30 October.
Although Israel seized the mountainous plateau from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War, it was only in 1981 when Tel Aviv formally annexed the area in a move that was not recognised internationally.
While Syria has repeatedly stressed that the Golan Heights are an integral part of its territory, Netanyahu has insisted that the area would “remain in the hands of Israel forever”.
Source: News Agencies