Jerusalem – After Kadima chairwoman and Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni failed in her efforts to form a new coalition, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is not willing to sit idly until the elections.

Officials in the Israel Prime Minister’s Bureau said yesterday that another round of talks with Syria will take place, with Turkish mediation, and the possibility of moving to direct talks
will be examined. As expected, the announcement caused an uproar among the Opposition in the Knesset. A Likud member, as well as Ms. Livni, seemed to have reservations.

Next week, the Prime Minister’s Bureau will contact Attorney General Meni Mazuz with a renewal of its request to allow the former prime minister’s bureau chief of staff, Yoram Turbowicz, to participate in the talks with Syria, even though he resigned from his position in the Israel Prime Minister’s Bureau. The request was made again after Ms. Livni failed to form a coalition. Over the next three months of the transition government, Mr. Olmert intends to continue the negotiations out of a hope to move to the stage of direct talks.

Mr. Olmert’s announcement caused mixed reactions in the political establishment.

“Negotiations with Syria are important,” said Ms. Livni, “but if we are talking about maintaining the negotiations, that’s one thing, and if we’re talking about determining facts on the ground before the elections, that’s something that shouldn’t be done. To me, the test is what it was before: whether the Syrians want only negotiations or whether they want peace. Before the Syrians get what they want from us, let them show their intentions by action-stopping terrorism and the smuggling from Iran.”

Ms. Livni mentioned Mr. Olmert’s timing, saying that over the next three months, the government is a transition government.

“The government should manage ongoing affairs and solve immediate crises, nothing beyond that,” Ms. Livni said. 

On the other hand, Labor Party Chairman Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak mentioned Mr. Olmert’s decision in a positive way.

“Syria can be a peace partner that can lead to an agreement with the Lebanese, and we as a responsible leadership cannot miss this opportunity,” Mr. Barak said at a talk in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site is

©The Bulletin 2008


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David Bedein
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: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.