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 email@example.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008