Talks between Israel and Syria will resume in Turkey this week, with an attempt to reach an agreement about direct talks between the two nations on the agenda.

The Israeli Prime Minister Chief of Staff Yoram Turbowicz and the prime minister’s political adviser, Shalom Turjeman, went to Istanbul in the middle of the week for the fourth round of talks between Israel and Syria.

According to Turkish sources, quoted in the Israeli media, this round of talks will focus on reaching an agreement about starting direct talks between the two countries. Israeli officials, who aspire to this as well, have expressed cautious optimism based on the progress that was made in the first three rounds.

This is the first meeting to take place after the international conference in Paris, in which Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stood on the same platform with Syrian President Bashar Assad, where Mr. Assad refused to shake Mr. Olmert’s hand.

A Syrian figure close to the Damascus ruling elite hinted during a closed conversation he held recently in Washington that relations with Iran would not constitute a problem in case of peace with Israel.

The statements are attributed to Dr. Ahmad Samir Taki, political adviser to Syrian Prime Minister Naji Otri.

“Syria will know how to evade the Iranians,” Dr. Taki was quoted as saying in a speech he gave last week at the Brookings Institute, during a discussion on the Israeli-Syrian channel and Damascus-Washington relations.

Dr. Taki, director of the Orient Center for International Studies in Damascus, attempted to explain Syria’s closeness to Iran: “The Syrian-Egyptian-Saudi triangle is inactive, which pushed Syria to find local and regional allies. When Syria thinks about Turkey, it is looking for an opportunity. When it contemplates Iran, it thinks about power.”

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2008

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.