Netanyahu with King Abdullah
Photo: AFP

PM denies Syria sent message through Jordan

As focus shifts to Netanyahu's trip to Washington this weekend, prime minister's office negates Arab media report that Jordanian king relayed message from Syria signaling willingness to renew peace negotiations with Israel

"Israel received no message from Syria," officials at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office insisted on Thursday night following the prime minister's meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II earlier in the day.


The officials were responding to a report by the al-Arabiya television network, which confirmed a previous Ynet report that Syrian President Bashar Assad had used Jordan to relay a message to Netanyahu, saying that Damascus is willing to renew negotiations with Israel.


So what was said at the meeting with the Jordanian king ahead of Netanyahu's first trip to Washington since taking office? The prime minister's office confirmed that King Abdullah had expressed concern over the growing power of extremists groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah, as well as the Iranian nuclear threat.


Jordan "doesn't want a Hamastan in the (West Bank), and a nuclear Iran is a problem for Jordan as well as Israel," one official said.


Abdullah pressed Netanyahu in their meeting Thursday to "immediately declare his commitment to a two-state solution, acceptance of the Arab peace initiative and to take necessary steps to move forward toward a solution," according to a statement released by the royal palace.


Netanyahu replied that he was "aware of the need to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and I intend to focus the talks on political, security and financial issues, none of which will take precedent over the other. I believe in changing the reality on the ground."


The prime minister added that plans were in motion to strengthen the Palestinian Authority's security apparatuses and economy, and that these plans would be carried out alongside the negotiations. Netanyahu stressed to the Jordanian king that he believes other nations in the region must be included in peace process to bolster its standing.


Earlier this week Netanyahu also met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. The prime minister is scheduled to leave for Washington on Saturday evening for a series of meetings with members of the new US administration, chiefly with President Barack Obama.


Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 05.15.09, 00:57
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