Israel's Livni rules out Turkey role in Middle East talks - for now

Israel's Livni rules out Turkey role in Middle East talks - for now

Israels Livni rules out Turkey role in Middle East talks - for now

Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister who now leads a small, dovish party, has been pointed to serve as Prime Minister Netanyahu's chief negotiator. Livni has good working relations with the Palestinians. AP Photo

Israel's lead peace negotiator Tzipi Livni on April 7 ruled out Turkey taking an immediate role in reviving peace talks with the Palestinians, shortly before US Secretary of State John Kerry flew in.

Asked if Turkey could play an important role in the peace process - an idea raised by Kerry at a press conference earlier the same day in Istanbul - she told public radio: "The idea is interesting, but it could take time."

Livni, who is also justice minister, has been charged with heading up Israel's efforts to renew direct negotiations with the Palestinians which fell apart just weeks after they were launched in September 2010 in a spat over settlement building.

 "We will look into the contribution of regional countries," the former foreign minister said. "Regional leaders are important, every Palestinian leader who wants to negotiate must of course get the support of other countries in the region, but for the moment, we are fully involved in the efforts to bring about a resumption of direct negotiations, which the Americans are helping with," she said.

Meanwhile, Israeli International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz also dismissed the possibility of Turkish mediation during the Middle East peace process.

Steinitz said he did not believe the reports to be true and stressed that there was no substitute for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, referring to earlier reports that Kerry would ask Turkey to act as a mediator between Israel and Palestine, according to Israeli daily Jerusalem Post. Speaking to Israel Radio, he added that the Quartet on the Middle East was closely following issues surrounding the conflict.