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Diplomacy & Politics
JPOST.COM STAFF, HERB KEINON \
'Turkey can't substitute Israeli-Palestinian talks'
Yuval Steinitz 370.
(photo credit:Hadas Parush)
International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz dismissed reports that
the US will ask Turkey to act as a mediator between Israel and the
Palestinian Authority, in an interview with Israel Radio Sunday morning.Steinitz
was responding to reports in the Turkish media that during US Secretary
of State John Kerry's visit to Istanbul - his second trip to Turkey in
two months- he will offer the country a role in the Middle East
diplomatic process.Steinitz said he did not believe the reports
to be true and stressed that there is no substitute for direct
negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Moreover, he added
that the Quartet on the Middle East closely follows issues surrounding
the conflict. Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki supported Steinitz's opinion, saying that Turkish mediation was not likely to be helpful since it had not yet renewed strategic relations with Israel. In an interview with radio station The Voice of Palestine, cited by Israel Radio, Malki said that the PA would prefer the Quartet to continue mediating, particularly the US due its influence on Israel. Kerry arrived in Turkey Saturday night on the
first stop of a six-country tour that will take him to Jerusalem and
Ramallah on Sunday through Tuesday.State Department spokeswoman
Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing last week that Kerry would meet
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and discuss the “complex
issues surrounding Middle East peace.”In the past, she said,
they have discussed Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, “and our insistence that
Quartet principles need to be abided by if this is going to serve the
cause of peace.”While not directly referring to Erdogan’s
announced intention to visit the Gaza Strip this month, Nuland said that
in the past the US has urged senior Turkish officials that any contact
with Hamas be “in service to the greater issue of stability and peace,
and that the fundamental underlying tenets of the Quartet principles be
reiterated as the necessary precondition.” The Quartet principles are
that Hamas recognize Israel, forswear terrorism and accept previous
Israeli-Palestinian agreements.The prospect of Erdogan indeed
going ahead with a trip to Gaza, which he has threatened to do a number
of times in the past, seemed to fade somewhat with the announcement that
he will be meeting US President Barack Obama in the White House on May
16. The US has in the past urged Erdogan to refrain from making that
trip, arguing it would undercut Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas and strengthen Hamas.Asked whether Turkey could play a
role in the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process, something Ankara has
expressed an interest in doing, Nuland said Turkey certainly “has
significant influence with the Palestinians. It has the ability to
encourage Palestinians of all stripes to accept Quartet principles and
move forward on that basis.”One Israeli official said that
Turkey is one of any number of international actors – the EU, the
French, British, Russians and the UN – which would like to have a larger
role in the diplomatic process. “We are ready for countries to play a
positive role in the peace process, the official said, adding that to do
so these countries “have to have the confidence of both sides.”
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