The office of the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, stated on Wednesday that Israel and Syrian decided to hold indirect talks in the Turkish capital, Ankara. The office of Olmert and the Syrian Foreign Ministry issues similar press releases that were apparently formulated by Turkey.The office of Olmert said that “Syria and Israel started indirect talks under Turkish supervision and mediation”. The Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV, stated that a Turkish official said that Syrian and Israeli delegates are currently in Ankara, and that they are holding indirect talks through Turkish mediators.
Also, Olmert’s office stated that both sides expressed good intentions to hold serious and ongoing talks in an attempt to achieve a comprehensive peace deal in accordance to what was decided in Madrid Conference in 1991.
The Syrian News Agency, Sana, reported that a senior source at the Syrian Foreign Minister stated issues a statement similar to the statement of Olmert’s office.
Syrian sources stated that Israel and Syria started indirect peace talks under Turkish supervision and that they decided to hold serious talks in order to achieve a comprehensive peace deal.
Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that two envoys of Olmert, Yoram Torbovitch and Shalom Turkman, are currently in Turkey and that the two met with Turkish officials. Turkish sources, on the other hand, stated that Syrian officials were already on Ankara for the same reasons.
Several days ago, Turkish officials said that indirect talks between Israel and Syria are ongoing in spite of the internal probe against Olmert in Israel.
Last month, Syria declared that the Turkish Prime Minster, Receb Tayib Erdogan, stated that Olmert informed him that Israel is willing to withdraw from the occupied Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria. Yet, Israeli political analysts expressed doubt the Olmert can make a statement and stand by it.
On Wednesday, Olmert said that peace with Syria would not be easy and required what he described as “difficult concessions”.
The statements of Olmert and the recent news about talks, even indirect, with Syria caused a storm in the Israeli political arena.
The ring wing in Israel considered these negotiations ad “cold and cynical move”, Israeli Ynet News reported.
Olmert, who was speaking at an event at the “Kibbutz College of Education”, on Wednesday, said that he knows that talks with Syria would be hard and would involve what he described as “painful concessions”.
He added that the simultaneous announcements by Syria, Israel and Turkey regarding the talks are the conclusion of a “process that started more than one year ago”.
Yet, Israeli officials rejected on Wednesday s statement which was made by Waleed Al Muallim, the Syrian Foreign Minister, who stated that Israel expressed willingness to withdraw from the Golan Heights.
Al Muallim added that peace talks between Israel and Syria, under Turkish mediation, could be possible if Israel shows seriousness.