Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008
Syria's peace talks with Israel hang by a tread.
Addendum: Hamas denies political chief Meshaal quit Syria for Sudan
02/09/2008 13:44 DAMASCUS, Sept 2 (AFP)
The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on Tuesday denied that its political supremo Khaled Meshaal had moved from his self-imposed exile in Syria to Sudan.
“The movement totally denies media reports saying that Khaled Meshaal has left Syria for Sudan,” a Hamas official said in a statement received by AFP. “These reports are false.”
Meshaal visited Sudan in early August to express solidarity with President Omar al-Beshir after the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court requested an arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader over alleged war crimes. However, Hamas said Meshaal had since returned to Damascus.
The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai on Tuesday, quoting unnamed Palestinian sources, said Meshaal had “moved to Sudan from Syria” allegedly because of the relaunch of indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel. According to the report, which was picked up by Israeli media, there was “an undeclared agreement between Syrian authorities and Meshaal stipulating that the latter should leave Syrian territory.”
Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai reported Tuesday that Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal has left Damascus to live in Sudan at Syria’s request, in a move stemming from Syria’s desire to advance indirect peace talks with Israel.
The paper quoted Palestinian sources stating that the move was part of a secret deal between Meshal and the Syrian authorities. Meshal has been based in Damascus since his expulsion from Jordan some ten years ago.
Israeli sources believe that the move signals a serious desire on Syria’s part to advance the negotiations.
Israel and Syria announced in May that they were holding indirect peace talks under Turkish auspices. Since then, senior officials in Jerusalem have stated that Syria has carried out a number of measures that reflect that it is taking talks with Israel seriously.
One of Israel’s key demands in the negotiations is that Syria break off its contacts with Palestinian militants groups, in particular Meshal’s Hamas.
Report: Israel-Syria indirect peace talks delayed
JERUSALEM, Sept. 1 (Xinhua)
The fifth round of indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria was postponed due to the resignation of the lead Israeli negotiator, local daily The Jerusalem Post reported Monday.
Yoram Turbowitz, who heads the negotiating team on the Syrian track, has resigned from the position of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s chief of staff, and thus lost his legal authority to conduct negotiations on behalf of Israel, said the report.
As a result, the fifth round of the Turkey-mediated talks, originally scheduled on Thursday, has to be postponed as Turbowitz waits for Attorney General Menahem Mazuz to grant him legal permission to continue to lead the team, according to the report.
Yet the delay has caused Syrian and Turkish officials to speculate over Israel’s intentions, reported the Israeli Army Radio, with some claiming that the decision came in the wake of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s recent visit to Russia and his statements on Syria’s intentions to buy Russian missiles.
In response, sources at Olmert’s office told the broadcaster that the only reason for the delay was bureaucratic, and Israel is “committed to continuing the talks with Syria and they will be renewed as soon as possible.”
Israel and Syria announced in mid-May that they had started peace negotiations under the auspices of Turkey, some two weeks after a bribery probe against Olmert went public, which led to speculations that such a move was aimed to divert the public attention from the scandal.
The key issue between the two neighbors remains the strategic Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed in 1981. Syria demands the return of the entire highland, yet polls have shown that the Israeli public strongly oppose a full withdrawal.