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New round of Israel-Syria talks

Israeli troops in the Golan observe Syria (archive)
Previous talks broke down due to disagreements over the Golan Heights

Israeli and Syrian negotiators are to take part in a third round of indirect peace talks in Turkey.

There have been no face-to-face talks yet - the delegations sit in separate hotels while Turkish mediators shuttle back and forth with messages.

Syria and Israel said in May they had resumed talks after an eight-year gap.

On Monday, the Israeli parliament gave initial approval to a bill that could make it more difficult to make any withdrawal from the key Golan Heights.

The bill would require a referendum or the support of two-thirds of MPs before a withdrawal from the territory, occupied by Israel since 1967.

The draft bill still needs to be approved at a second and third reading before it becomes law.

Israeli Army Radio and public radio both said envoys Shalom Turjeman and Yoram Turbowitz were headed to Turkey.

It is not known who is representing the Syrians in the talks.

Previous peace talks collapsed in 2000 over disagreements about the Golan Heights, now home to 20,000 Israeli settlers.

The Syrian government has insisted that peace talks can be resumed only on the basis of Israel returning the Golan Heights.

Israeli authorities, for their part, have said they will require that Syria abandon its support for Palestinian and Lebanese militant groups.


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