Israeli News: A Daily Analysis
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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

July 5 , 2007 IDF in Firefight with Hamas/Syria Backtracks on Peace

The Katsav affair continues to dominate Israeli news. 57% of Israelis are opposed to the plea agreement, while 23% are in favor.  Despite the continued domination of the issue in Israeli media, there have been other more important things taking place.
The IDF became involved in another fire fight with Hamas today.  The results are similar to the previous encounter, with a large number of Hamas fighters killed and a just a few IDF soldiers wounded.  It seems Hamas is trying to make a statement that any time an IDF patrol enters any part of the Gaza Strip they will respond in force.  As long as the results remain similar to today their statement does not have much strength.
MK Ophir Pines returned from a meeting of the European Parliament that was attended by representatives of Syria.  He reported that the Syrian representatives have gone back on their earlier statements on making peace.  The representatives are now saying that only after a peace agreement is reached can the question of their support of Hezbollah and terrorism be discussed.  Further, they have indicated that they are only willing to discuss peace with the US present, meaning not direct talks.  If this is true this is serious back pedaling by the Syrians and may indicate a very worrisome direction that President Assad has decided on.
Finally, while no one was watching, Prime Minister Olmert overrode the objections of the Minister of Education and the Ministerial Budget committee and approved a new funding for the independent educational systems. This approval will ensure that the Shas and the Haredi systems will receive exactly the same money as the national educational schools, even though they need to meet no standards or teach significant secular subjects. This will force a serious redirection of funds from the state schools to the other schools. Once again, for the purposes of short term political gains, Israeli politicians are willing to strengthen those elements that undermine the long term future of the country.