'Any minute.' Erdogan
Photo: AP
'Blessed aspiration.' Netanyahu
Photo: AP

Erdogan says Turkey to again mediate Syria-Israel talks; PM's office denies

TV station quotes Turkish PM as saying Israel agreed to Ankara's mediation in indirect talks with Damascus; Netanyahu's office: No decision reached

A news report quotes the Turkish prime minister as saying Israel has accepted that Turkey will again mediate talks with Syria.


Turkey's NTV television quotes Recep Tayyip Erdogan as telling reporters in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday that the stalled talks may resume soon.


However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Office denied that Israel has decided to renew negotiations with Syria with Turkish mediation.


"No decision was made to renew the Turkish mediation, but if this reflects Turkey's wish to strengthen its relations with Israel and support peace in the region – it is naturally a blessed aspiration," the statement read.


Turkey mediated several rounds of indirect negotiations between the Mideast rivals in 2008, but little progress was made.


Syria later suspended the talks in response to Israel's military offensive in Gaza, and Israeli officials said Turkey's scathing criticism of Israel's role in the conflict had disqualified it as a mediator.


NTV quoted Erdogan as saying the Syria-Israel talks can begin "any minute."


'Palestine is our problem'

Earlier this week Turkey's foreign minister said Ankara is determined to resume indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel.


Ahmet Davutoglu said during a visit to Damascus Sunday that he and Syrian President Bashar Assad discussed ways to restart the negotiations with Israel.


Syria's official news agency said Assad stressed during the meeting that there is no Israeli partner willing to achieve peace. 


In September Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was willing to resume peace negotiations with Syria with no preconditions.


The PM said he preferred direct talks, but "if a mediator is involved, he should be impartial. The Turkish prime minister (Erdogan) has not reinforced his image as an objective, unbiased mediator.


"We would agree to talks under French mediation, if France is so inclined," added Netanyahu.


On Sunday Erdogan joined the Palestinians and various Arab states in criticizing Israel for its heritage plan, which includes sites located in the West Bank and Jerusalem.


"Al-Aqsa mosque, the Cave of Patriarchs, and Rachel's Tomb will never be Jewish sites, but rather Islamic ones," he told Palestinian reporters Sunday.


"Palestine is our problem, it has never been removed even for a day from our agenda," the Saudi al-Watan newspaper quoted Erdogan as saying. 


פרסום ראשון: 03.09.10, 14:41
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