A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
November 5, 2007 Surprise at Betar Game, Syria Ready for Peace?
The news broadcast tonight was dominated by events that took place at a soccer game last night at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem. November 4th was the 12th anniversary of Rabin's murder and during the Betar Jerusalem soccer game words were mentioned in remembrance of the former Prime Minister. When Rabin's name was mentioned, a large and vocal group of the fans booed his name. Television reporters were shocked when they went to interview people in the stands and they publicly attacked Rabin and supported his murderer's (Yigal Amir) actions. Political leaders across the spectrum were quick to condemn the fans' actions, but clearly there are some very serious problems in the Israeli educational system and they do not center on the pay scale of the teachers.
Israeli intelligence has come around and agrees with the view that Syrian President Assad is now willing and able to enter a peace agreement with Israel. According to Israeli sources, even the most skeptical of intelligence analysts now believe that Assad is now ready. Whether he is really capable or Israel is ready is another question. Yesterday the Syrian Foreign Minister is said to have told Secretary of State Rice that if the Golan Heights is merely mentioned at the Annapolis meeting, Syria will be willing to attend and will stop the anti-summit that is supposed to take place in Damascus. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, Syrian intelligence seems as busy as ever trying to influence events and although the troops have left, their influence has not lessened. In the meantime, Lebanese now feel like they are caught in the middle of a new cold war between Iran Syria and the West. There are many dangers and many opportunities available in dealing with Syria in the coming months.
Palestinian security forces have begun to take control of Nablus. They have even managed, despite opposition from some of the residents, to enter and gain some level of control over the Balata refugee camp in the city. That bodes well for any future agreement with the Palestinians. Both Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas have now made it clear that the Annapolis Summit is just the first step in what will be long and difficult negotiations. Both indicated that they believed that an agreement could be reached within a year and a half.