Ayalon: Any talks with Syria should be direct

Deputy FM Danny Ayalon: Israel is not interested in resuming indirect, Turkey-brokered talks.

Danny Ayalon 224 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Danny Ayalon 224 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Syria should deal directly with Israel and not insist on indirect negotiations through the Turks as if Israel had a plague or was a pariah, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Wednesday. "We have enormous respect for the Turkish efforts, but they have not succeeded," Ayalon said, in a Reuters interview. "Not because of the Turks, but because of the Syrians. Past experience shows that other negotiators or mediators, like the US or France, did not succeed because of Syrian intransigence." Ayalon said that what Israel was suggesting now was "to move away from indirect or proximity talks" and to begin direct negotiations. "I think that we are worthy of the respect from the Syrians to sit with us directly, and not to treat us as a plague or as pariahs. If [Syria is] really serious on peace, and not just a peace process which may serve them to extricate them from international isolation, if they are really serious, they will come and sit with us," he said. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly since taking office at the end of March that he was willing to negotiate with the Syrians without any preconditions. Syrian President Bashar Assad has said he will negotiate with Israel only after it commits to a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Senior diplomatic officials said that despite Ayalon's comments, Netanyahu had not ruled out indirect talks with the Syrians, although it was unlikely Israel would now agree to Turkish involvement, because of Ankara's harsh criticism of Israel during and in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead. Turkey mediated four rounds of indirect talks between Israel and Syria last year, which broke down at the beginning of the IDF operation in Gaza.