Israelis in Ankara for more indirect talks with Syria
Two aides to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were in Turkey on Sunday, apparently to start the second part of indirect talks between Israel and Syria being mediated by Ankara, reports said. The officials were identified by local media as Yoram Turbovitz and Shalom Turjeman, the aides who had participated in the first part of the negotiations, the dpa reported. The talks with Damascus began last month in "good faith," though Turkish officials shuttled between the representatives of the two sides who did not meet each other. The talks in Turkey broke an eight-year hiatus on negotiations between the countries. Olmert's office would not comment on the reports. The last round of peace talks between Israel and Syria collapsed in January 2000, because of a dispute over the future of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau overlooking northern Israel and whose return Syria insists on as a prerequisite for peace. Polls have shown that any withdrawal from the territory would run into staunch opposition from the Israeli public. About 20,000 Israeli settlers live in the Golan, which was captured from Syria during the 1967 Middle East War.