Israel and Syria have confirmed they have begun “indirect” peace talks, through Turkish mediators, with a view to reaching a peace agreement. Critics of the Israeli Prime Minister said the announcement is a bid to divert attention from a pending corruption investigation.
But from the Israeli President Shimon Peres, the United States and European Union, there was cautious optimism. “These are preliminary contacts and I think every contact that leads to the direction of peace should be welcomed, yet the value of it is still too early to judge,” Peres said.
But the sticking point, as in the last negotiations, may prove to be the issue of the Golan Heights. Israel captured the region in a war in 1967. It is now home to more than 15,000 Israelis. The Syrian Foreign Minister said Israel has agreed to withdraw from the Golan up to the armistice line of the war, but Israel has refused to comment on the claim.