Israel’s caretaker prime minister Ehud Olmert believes peace talks with Syria should continue even though elections are pending, Israeli officials said on Friday. (UPDATED)
Olmert will remain in office as caretaker until a new government is formed after a mid-February election. He wants to avoid a diplomatic vacuum for this period, officials added.
A source in Olmert's office said the Israeli leader had told Syria via European officials that he wanted to resume Turkish-mediated talks that took place earlier this year, and had "received a positive indication" from the Syrians.
Israeli media reported Friday that Olmert planned to ask
Olmert’s political opponents say he should freeze negotiations as his days in office are numbered.
Direct Israeli negotiations with
Many analysts believe the forthcoming change in the
Syrian officials were not available for comment Friday. But the Syrians have indicated they might not agree to resume talks with an Israeli prime minister who has almost no clout.
"This process cannot be resumed before the political crisis in Israel is solved," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem was quoted by AP as telling a news conference in London on Monday, following talks with his British counterpart.
In Israel, Olmert’s critics said he was overstepping his authority as a caretaker prime minister.
"A transition government perhaps has legal standing, but it certainly does not have the public and moral standing to make great changes and commit the people and the state to things that affect the coming generations," lawmaker Reuven Rivlin of the hardline Likud Party told Army Radio.