18 April 2014, Friday
Today's Zaman

Olmert: Turkey acted responsibly, fair in Syria-Israel talks

16 February 2010, Tuesday /TODAY’S ZAMAN
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said Turkey acted with responsibility and fairness in its role as a mediator in the indirect peace negotiations between Israel and Syria, according to the Israeli Haaretz daily.

He also said he had been “hours” from a meeting with the Syrian foreign minister during his tenure, but that the talks were cancelled after Israel embarked on its offensive in the Gaza Strip. Olmert’s remarks came during a conference at Tel Aviv University on Sunday.

During Olmert’s tenure, Turkey mediated five rounds of talks between Israeli and Syrian officials. Toward the end of Olmert’s term the two sides were on the verge of resuming direct negotiations.

At the last meeting between Olmert and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish leader called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and relayed messages to and from Olmert. But after Operation Cast Lead began in December 2008 and the freeze in negotiations with Syria, Erdoğan said Olmert had stabbed him in the back. A recent rise in tensions between Turkey and Israel has meanwhile prompted Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, to discount Ankara from serving as mediator in any future diplomatic negotiations with Syria.

“We can reach an understanding with the Syrians which would change the map in the Middle East. A decision on this issue must be made. It’s too easy being angry at Erdoğan, but it would be wise to reconcile with him. He is a fair mediator. We need negotiations with Turkish mediation,” Olmert added.

He also said that during his tenure he offered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas an unprecedented peace offer, based on a return to the 1967 borders and a fair demographic land arrangement which would see heavily Jewish areas in the West Bank remain under Israeli control. Olmert said he and Abbas had reached an interim agreement on the Palestinian right of return, but he never received a final response from the Palestinians on the matter.

Olmert added that he had “reached the conclusion that in choosing between the greater Israel and a Jewish, democratic state, I prefer the latter,” saying he knew it would be necessary to withdraw from much of the land the Palestinians want for a state.

DIPLOMACY  Other Titles
KKTC pushing for Cyprus deal before end of this year
MEPs question EU Commission over EU funds to Turkey
Greece rejects extradition of leading DHKP/C member
Pro-gov't dailies report conflicting news on leaked audio on Syria
US warns against damage to ties over recurring media claims
KRG's Barzani visits Ankara for talks with Erdoğan
Villagers file suit against ministry over stray bullets from Syria
Chief ombudsman laments low implementation of KDK recommendations
Turkey says deeply concerned over events in Ukraine
Chinese deputy foreign minister in Ankara for inter-delegation meeting
‘Turkey will not remain silent over 'genocide resolution' if adopted’
Russia welcomes Turkey's assurances on observance of Montreux terms
Poland: NATO should send troops to east Europe, ignore Russia's objections
US looks to Turkey to uphold checks and balances
Dubai may be a hub for Turkey and Iran's illicit transactions
US House Speaker meets senior Turkish officials in Ankara
EU Minister Çavuşoğlu says Füle's comments on Turkey ‘balanced'
US Ambassador Ricciardone has talks with AK Party officials
Turkey's honorary consuls meet to discuss foreign policy
Iran to build cultural center in the heart of İstanbul
Loğoğlu: No Turkish institution in US works against Turkey
Erdoğan will further polarize Turkey as presidential election approaches
European Union concerned about rule of law in Turkey
Turkey seeks to restore dialogue with Serbia with FM's visit
Turkish Rights groups slam Egypt over execution ruling