Israeli Prime Minister Seeks Direct Talks with Syria

Israel Materials 1 November 2008 10:55 (UTC +04:00)

Israel, Jerusalem, 1 November/ Trend , corr A. Gut/ Acting Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert is still working on the draft of Israeli-Syrian peace accord in spite of obstacles on his way, Ynet reported.

Olmert is said to gain consent of the Syrian side in holding direct talks without mediators. The general talks between Israel and Syria held under the mediation of Turkish government, is expected to resume within the next few days.

A recent meeting between Olmert and Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul revealed that the Israeli prime minister expressed his willingness to hold another round of talks with Damascus.

In the negotiations, Israel plans to inquire whether Syria plans to quit the axis of evil. The Syrians, in turn, seek to discuss the borders issue, according to a six-point document presented to the Turks. If both sides arrive with positive answers, direct negotiations may be the next step.

Officials at the Prime Minister's Office clarified Friday morning that Olmert's only plan is to reinforce the diplomatic process he launched with the Syrians, and not to create irreversible decisions in the four months left until the Knesset elections.

Nonetheless, sources in Foreign Minister Livni's office were surprised by the reports on a fifth round of talks with Syria.

According to the Kadima chairwoman's associates, she had made it clear several times in public statements that an interim government must not lead extensive diplomatic moves like the talks with Syria.

MK Yuval Steinitz, said that "Olmert's conduct in regards to the negotiations with Syria is harming the principles of democracy and the State of Israel's most vital interests.

In spite of Olmert's plans, the interim government is limited in its actions, as clarified recently by the attorney general. In a letter sent to all ministers following the prime minister's resignation, Mazuz clarified that the ministers are part of an interim government and are therefore requested to act with restraint and not make decisions on unusual issues without consulting with him.