Photo: AP, Amos Ben Gershom, GPO
Getting closer? Olmert, Assad
Photo: AP, Amos Ben Gershom, GPO

Report: Israel, Syria talks set to resume

Jerusalem sources report that Israeli, Syrian negotiating teams may meet as early as next week to resume peace talks on direct channels. PM's Office says no timeline has been set

Indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria are scheduled to resume this week in Turkey, an Israeli official said on Monday.


The official further said Israel favored moving to direct talks but it was unclear when that would happen. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faces a growing corruption investigation that could force him from office.


"We expect the Israeli team to be in Turkey shortly," said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Olmert. Regev declined to give a specific date, but senior Israeli officials said the talks were scheduled to resume this week.


Regev declined to comment on any timeline for starting direct talks between the Israeli and Syrian delegations, but he said: "When talks move to direct talks that would be a sign of significant progress."


Syrian and Turkish officials had no immediate comment.


Israel and Syria said last month they had launched indirect peace talks mediated by Turkish officials, the first negotiations between the two sides in eight years.


The indirect talks between Jerusalem and Damascus, it was later revealed, began as early as February 2007, while Olmert was visiting Ankara.


During the initial talks, the Syrian reportedly demanded the US sponsor the talks; that they be conducted via public avenues and that Israel agree to cede the Golan Heights as a prerequisite to conducting the talks as all.


Syria wants the full return of the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 war. Israel says any peace deal depends on Syria distancing itself from Iran and severing ties with Lebanon's Hizbullah and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip last June.


The indirect talks sponsored by Turkey, was the compromised said reached between the sides. The American were to be kept abreast of the talks at all times, and no prerequisites were made on either party's part.


Roni Sofer contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 06.09.08, 15:48
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