Report: Turkey Proposed Hosting Palestinian-Israeli Talks
Turkey has offered to host high-level talks between Palestine and Israel over two moths ago, an Arab diplomat in Ankara said, cited by the Turkish Daily News on Saturday.
He said that both the Palestinian and Israeli authorities are still considering the offer.
Diplomatic sources indicated that Palestine is keen for Turkey to act as a facilitator, and will welcome an upgrading of Turkey's role in the Middle East peace process, whereas the Israelis are cooler toward an increase in Turkey's involvement, said the paper.
Sources told the paper that Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has asked Turkish authorities to distance themselves from the Palestinians in a bid to force Palestinian authorities to be more forthcoming. Peres' remarks have been interpreted as a negative answer to Turkey's offer of new initiatives to bring the violence in the region to a peaceful end.
Arab diplomatic sources said they would not welcome more talks with the Israeli authorities unless there was a possibility that substantial steps forward can be taken, stressing that they are fed up with "hand-shakings and ceremonies for nothing."
The same sources said they now urgently need talks that will bring solid results.
Indicating that Turkey has been very active in delivering messages to the Palestinian and Israeli sides, Arab sources remark that there have been many talks between Palestinian and Israeli experts in Turkey in the past few years.
These sources made it clear that the Palestinian side was not hesitant at all on Turkey's proposal stressing that it was the Palestinian side which offered Turkey as a facilitator, the paper said.
Meanwhile, Israeli diplomats in Ankara categorically denied that Peres had asked Turkey to step aside in the peace process in a bid to exert influence on the Palestinian leadership.
Stressing that a politician like Peres would never wish to hurt or punish Palestinians and would never ask another country to harm Palestinian people, an Israeli diplomat said Peres was calling Turkey to be "an honest messenger" between the two sides.
He added "Peres told Turkish authorities that we wanted them to take a neutral stance. What he said is `deliver the messages as an honest messenger and do it properly because Arabs listen to you.'"
Stressing that Peres stated that there were secret channels which had been used in the past to aid face-to-face negotiations without international interlocutors which had been a success in the Oslo talks, the Israeli diplomatic sources underlined that Peres did not tell the Turkish side to step aside and distance itself from the Palestinian side, on the contrary, he asked for Turkey's help in ending the cycle of violence.
During his two-day visit to Turkey in early April, Peres had stated that Israelis and Palestinians should stop shooting and talk peace – Albawaba.com
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