Turkey freezes Israel-Syria mediation

"Israel's policy to turn to war with Palestinians has greatly disappointed us," says Turkish FM.

December 29, 2008 17:30
1 minute read.
Turkey freezes Israel-Syria mediation

survey gaza. (photo credit: )


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Turkey said Monday it was suspending its role as mediator for peace talks between Israel and Syria after IAF attacks on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. It came a day after Syria announced it was suspending the peace talks launched in May because of the counter-terror operation in Gaza. "Under these circumstances, naturally it is not possible to press ahead with the talks," Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said at a joint news conference with visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. "Israel's policy to turn to war with Palestinians while negotiating for peace with Syria, has greatly disappointed us." Turkey's Prime Minister Recep 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 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. Babacan and Aboul Gheit called on Hamas and Israel to renew a cease-fire that ended more than a week ago and Babacan warned that the IAF assault against Hamas threatened to escalate into a wider crisis across the region. "There should be an immediate cease-fire," Babacan said Aboul Gheit. "Otherwise, the situation will not be limited to Gaza only, but it might develop to extended challenges in the region and make the situation worse." Aboul Gheit signaled that the two countries could join forces to work to end hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians. Babacan said Turkey was keeping channels of communication open, including with the Hamas leadership. Meanwhile, protesters were gathering for demonstrations outside Israel's diplomatic missions in Ankara and Istanbul on Monday for a third day in row. Both Turkey and Egypt have tried to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians and expressed concern that the clashes could spread. The countries urged Israel to allow humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians and Aboul Gheit said border crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip should be opened.

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