GeriGündem Syria, Israel launch peace talks under Turkey's auspices
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Syria, Israel launch peace talks under Turkey's auspices

Syria, Israel launch peace talks under Turkey's auspices
refid:8991018 ilişkili resim dosyası

Israel and Syria said in surprise announcements on Wednesday they were conducting indirect peace talks with Turkish mediation. Syria’s FM said Damascus had received commitments for an Israeli withdrawal from Golan to the 1967 border. (UPDATED)

In statements issued minutes apart, the two governments said they "have declared their intent to conduct these talks in good faith and with an open mind," with a goal of reaching "a comprehensive peace."  

Both nations thanked Turkey for its help, and Turkey issued its own confirmation on the talks that began on Monday in Istanbul.        

"Syria and Israel have launched indirect peace negotiations under Turkey's auspices," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that the three countries had agreed to make the announcement simultaneously.

Syria and Israel "have declared that they will continue these negotiations with good will and open minds," the statement said. "The two sides have decided to pursue the negotiations in a determined and continuous manner with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace within the framework of the Madrid Conference's principles," it added. 

Reports differ as to the location of the Syrian and Israeli talks being held in Turkey. Senior officials from both sides were currently in Turkey, an Israeli government official told Reuters. Syrian and Israeli officials are in Istanbul, and if any progress is made in the indirect talks, then Turkey would help the two countries to hold direct talks, CNN Turk reported.

However Olmert's aides Yoram Turbovitz and Shalom Turjeman have been in Ankara since Monday holding indirect talks with Syrian officials under Turkish mediation, Israel's Haaretz daily quoted an Israeli government official as saying on Wednesday.

"The idea was to restart the peace process with Syria... We feel these contacts reached fruition about three weeks ago. It was decided to have a gathering in Ankara. The two officials have been there since Monday, in parallel with Syrian representatives," the official said, stopping short of confirming any direct talks between the two sides, Haaretz added.

Peace talks between Syria and Israel broke down in 2000 over the fate of the strategic Golan Heights plateau, which Israel has occupied for four decades. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad revealed last month that Turkey had passed on a message from Israel, expressing its readiness to swap the Golan Heights for peace, as Ankara renewed mediation efforts launched last year.

GOLAN WITHDRAWAL?

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Wednesday Damascus had received commitments for an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan up to the June 4, 1967 border during the Turkish-brokered indirect talks.

"We received commitments for a withdrawal from the Golan to the June 4, 1967 line," Muallem told AFP during a visit to Bahrain.

"This is not new. It started since (slain Israeli prime minister Yitzhak) Rabin's pledge (for a total pullout) in 1993, and all subsequent Israeli prime minister's abided by it," he said.

He said the two sides had also agreed that the talks should be based on the terms of reference of the 1991 Madrid peace conference, an allusion to the principle of the exchange of land for peace.

Muallem also hailed the efforts exerted by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan "for more than a year (to broker talks) between Syria and Israel."

A Golan withdrawal would be extremely controversial among Israelis, and it could be difficult for a weakened leader like Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, whose already low popularity has been battered by a recent corruption investigation, to win public support for such a move. Peace talks with Syria also could divert attention from newly relaunched Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which aim to reach an agreement by the end of the year.

Israel has demanded that Syria - which offers refuge to militant groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad and supports the Lebanese Shiite group, Hezbollah - distance itself from terrorism as a condition for talks. Last September, Israeli warplanes attacked an installation in Syria that the U.S. has said was an unfinished nuclear reactor built by North Korea.

Photo: Hurriyet Archives 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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