A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
June 3, 2012- Ulpana Neighborhood, Syria Update
The Israeli government continues to spend its time trying to find a solution to the crisis with homes in the part of the settlement of Bet El that is called "The Ulpana". The Israel Supreme Court gave the Netanyahu government until July 1 to destroy the homes built on private Palestinian land. The Supreme Court's decision, which was merely a reaffirmation of its previous decision, somehow seems to have taken the government by surprise. As such, they have been scrambling ever since to come up with a solution. Finding a solution has been particularly difficult, since so many of the leading Likud ministers have publicly stated they would never allow the Ulpana to be destroyed. Netanyahu announced today that he had a solution that would allow the buildings (three story ones) to be physically moved to a different and uncontested location. However, the residents have rejected that solution. Instead, residents are pressuring the Likud ministers to vote for a law that would supposedly legalize the purchase of the buildings retroactively. Netanyahu opposes the law. Not only is passing a retroactive law is problematic, in and of itself. In addition, to the difficulties, the Knesset cannot pass a law that takes effect in the settlements. For as long as Israel does not formally annex the West Bank, Israel’s laws do not apply there. That fact seems lost on the residence of Ulpana.
Yesterday I saw a long time reader of this blog. While the reader was quite complimentary, he complained and questioned why I keep getting it wrong in predicting when Assad will fall. In my defense, I must say that almost every Israeli commentator has had to defend the same position. All of Israel’s experts on Syria have been predicting Assad's fall (for a year now). They have all had to apologize publicly, and repeatedly for being off. The question is where do we stand one week after the horrible massacre of women and children came to light? The reality is, things have not changed much. That needle pointing to the end of the Assad regime has moved slightly. The only problem that remains is understanding where the end point will be.
As the Arab Spring unfolded I had always assumed that any dictator willing to kill his own people could survive. I believed that as the Cold War came to an end it was the unwillinglyness of either the dictators, or their soldiers in Easter Europe to fire on and kill their own people had sealed their demise. Therefore, initially when Assad started killing his own people, I thought he would be able to hold power indefinitely. Then as the Syrians continued to being willing to be killed in the name of protested Assad, I was convinced that he could not hold on for long. Today, my view is a little more nuances. On one hand, I do not believe Assad as any long term future in Syria. While a minority of 10% can rule a much larger majority for a long time– either by mutual agreement or by terror, today both options are gone. Too much Sunni blood has been shed by an Alwawite led army to ever be forgiven. In addition, the failure of the majority to be terrorized has guaranteed that Assad cannot hold on forever. So how long? .... At this point, it's almost impossible to know. Though my gut tells me that some event will take place, when we least expect it, that will result in a sudden swift fall.
To other interesting notes, look at this announcement on the IDF web site on cyber warfare. Also there was an intersting interfaith marriage today between Vice President Biden's daughter and a Philadelphia doctor.