'Turkish-mediated talks with Syria to resume in two weeks'

Turkish official says Israel wants dialogue, Syria hesitant; Vilna'i: Damascus keeping itself out of "war scene" on northern border.

tanks golan 22488 (photo credit: )
tanks golan 22488
(photo credit: )
Turkish-mediated diplomatic negotiations between Israel and Syria will resume in some two weeks' time, Army Radio reported Friday. A Turkish official told the radio station that Israel was already interested in holding direct negotiations with Damascus, but that the Syrians were hesitant. The official said he believed that a three-way meeting could take place in the upcoming rounds of talks. Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i said in response to the report that Syria's diplomatic overture was intended to remove it from the "war scene" along Israel's northern border. Also on Friday, opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu denied ever saying that he would not abide by a peace agreement signed with Syria. Netanyahu's office released a statement declaring that not only did the opposition leader not make the remark, but that "the issue was not even discussed by the Likud faction." The statement went on to say that Netanyahu believes that if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signed a deal with Damascus, it would be rejected by the Knesset and the public by a huge majority. On Thursday, Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar was quoted as saying that the Likud would not be obligated by any peace agreement reached between Olmert's government and Syria if Netanyahu wins the next election and returns to the Prime Minister's Office. The faction met Thursday at the party's Tel Aviv headquarters to respond to Olmert's overtures to Syria and the ongoing criminal investigations against him.