Turkey confirms indirect Syria-Israel talks ended after Gaza strikes

Turkey confirms indirect Syria-Israel talks ended after Gaza strikes

Turkey was ending efforts to organize peace talks between Israel and Syria because of the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan told Monday at a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart. (UPDATED)

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"The continuation of the talks under these conditions is naturally impossible," Babacan told reporters after discussions with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit in the Turkish capital of Ankara.


"To make war on the Israeli-Palestinian track and at the same time make peace on the Israeli-Syrian track. These two cannot go together," he said.


Syria has suspended indirect peace talks with Israel in response to the attacks on the Gaza Strip, a senior Syrian official said on Sunday.


Israel unleashed on Saturday a massive air campaign against Hamas targets in retaliation for ongoing rocket fire from its Gaza Strip stronghold, one of the most densely populated places on earth.


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At least 51 civilians are among the victims of the Israeli blitz on Hamas-run Gaza Strip that has so far killed more than 310 people, the U.N. said.


Babacan said Israel's onslaught in Gaza had led to "profound regret and disappointment" in Turkey.


Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan at the weekend described the Israeli attacks as a "crime against humanity."


Turkey was angered that the attacks came shortly after a visit to Ankara last week by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to discuss Middle East peace. No Syria-Israel talks have been held since Olmert announced in July that he would step down.


"We call on Israel to stop the attacks against Gaza. In addition, Hamas should also refrain from retaliating and bring an end to the actions that led to the Israeli operations," the Turkish foreign minister also said.


"We, as Turkey, would do anything we can to end this situation in Gaza and to ensure peace. We will support all efforts," he added.


He said Turkey urges Israel to allow humanitarian aid to reach the Gazan people.


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"Everybody should restrain from taking steps that could increase the tension. The people of Gaza are in trouble. Nobody should stay silent," he said.


Israel and Hamas should agree on a ceasefire, he said adding that influential countries should undertake efforts to facilitate such an agreement.


Babacan also said his country supports the U.N. Security Council's resolution on Gaza.



"The situation in the region is unfortunately very dangerous. We condemn the attacks, as Egypt, and oppose it with all our will," Gheit told at the press conference.

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"We see the solution in an immediate ceasefire. Both parties should end the armed operations," he said.


"Israel must stop the killing operations," he added.


"We believe that the border gates between Israel and Gaza must be opened," Gheit said.


He said Egypt has been successful at bringing calm between Palestine and Israel for six months. "But unfortunately the clashes have restarted after the deal for calm failed to be renewed," he added.


Gheit said Sunday that Egypt was trying to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas to be followed by a truce.

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Egypt brokered a six-month truce between Hamas and Israel which expired last week and a new wave of tit-for-tat violence led to Israel’s air attacks on the Gaza Strip which have claimed more than 300 lives since Saturday.



Gheit also harshly criticized Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah for calling for mass demonstrations in Egypt to force the government to open the country's border with Gaza.


"Someone yesterday called on the Egyptian people to take to the streets and create an atmosphere of anarchy. In other words, they want an atmosphere of anarchy similar to the one they created in their own country," Gheit told the conference, without naming Nasrallah.


"This person also called on the Egyptian armed forces, but he is not aware of the situation," he added.


"If you do not know, let me tell you that the Egyptian armed forces are tasked with defending Egypt. If need be, they will also protect Egypt against people like you," he added.


Gheit also underlined that the Rafah crossing point between Egypt and Gaza was open for dispatching humanitarian supplies and receiving wounded Palestinians.


In a televised address on Sunday, Nasrallah urged Egyptians to take to the streets "in millions" to force the government to open the Rafah crossing to Gaza, arguing that security forces could not take actions against such a large turnout.



Gheit also met with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan later in the day.


Gul's meeting with Gheit was closed to the press and was also attended by Babacan, Undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign, Ministry Ertugrul Apakan and Senior Adviser from the Turkish Prime Ministry Prof. Dr. Ahmet Davutoglu.


"A cease-fire between Israel and Palestine must be established immediately and relations normalized," Gul was quoted by Anatolian Agency as saying after meeting

"Humanitarian assistance to the region must also begin immediately," Gul said.

Sources told the agency that Gheit's visit to Ankara was decided during a phone conversation between Gul and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak on Sunday.

Gheit briefed Gul on the situation prior to the Israeli attack on Gaza and the aftermath of the attack, the agency added.

Gul told Gheit that the big picture must be seen in regard to the incidents in Gaza, adding there should not be a division between Palestine and the countries of the region.

It would be in the interest of all parties to facilitate a comfortable atmosphere whereby the new U.S. administration can contribute to the peace process, he also said.

No one could remain silent against the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza, Erdogan was quoted by the Anatolian Agency as saying during his talks with Gheit.


The international community must definitely step in, he added.

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