A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
November 18, 2007 Syria to Attend Annapolis
The Annapolis Summit is one week away and official invitations are going out tomorrow. One of those invitations is going to Syria. Syria has agreed to attend the summit, and after a meeting today between Assad and Jordan's King Hussein, has given its support to Abbas as the representative of the Palestinians. This is a clear break from Iran's position and that, of course, of Hamas. The new Syrian position comes at a time when the United States has changed its position on negotiations with Syria. The United States has informed Israel in the last few days that it now supports negotiations between Israel and Syria. This change in the America's positions coincides with a unanimous support within Israel’s security establishment for negotiations with Syria. How this will play out is the big question. The price of peace with Syria is clear and so are most of the benefits. But, it will be a very hard decision for Israel to make.
Syria will be invited as a separate participant to the summit and the Golan Heights will be mentioned. In the meantime, Israel and the Palestinians have not been able to agree on a joint statement, there is talk of separate statements, but all this could be maneuvering before the summit. One thing seems clear: the summit will not deal with central issues and will in the end be about starting the process. Both sides have agreed to return to the timetable, with the Palestinians taking actions on fighting terrorism and disarming groups, something that is in their interest in the West Bank in order to disarm any Hamas and Jihad supporters. Israel has agreed once again to freeze settlement activities. That promise is what is expected to be enough to get Saudi representatives to the summit.
The teachers strike goes on. Last night over 100,000 teachers, students and their supporters rallied in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. It was an impressive rally, but that does not translate into any significant progress in the negotiations yet.
Israel is very popular in England today. The Israeli soccer team beat the Russian team, which allowed England to advance in the European finals. An English millionaire offered any Israeli who scored the winning goal in new Mercedes sports car, after it was scored he renewed his offer, but the Israeli soccer league decided it would be improper for an Israeli soccer player to receive a Mercedes from an outside source.