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

July 17 , 2007 Assad Sworn In Gives Conciliatory Speech

Syrian President Assad was sworn in to another seven year term today after winning an unopposed election.  In his speech before parliament, Assad stated that he has heard the message from Israel that it is not interested in war this summer and stated that he too is not interested in such a possibility.  Assad renewed his call for negotiations by stating that Prime Minister Olmert is not a serious negotiator and does not really want to engage in true negotiations.  Assad stated however that there are ongoing contracts through a third party- some believe that third party to be Turkey.  So, on the good side it is clear that at least for now the chances of an accidental war starting have seriously receded.
                                                    
The Israeli Supreme Court listened to motions today on whether to stop the plea agreement between the state and former President Katsav.  The session lasted over nine hours and the Court was surprisingly open to possibly blocking the agreement.  Now that Shimon Peres is President many are divided between wanting to put this whole sordid affair behind the country, but the fact is that too many believe that Katsav did not receive what he deserved.
 
Charlie Rose had Dennis Ross on last night.  Ross, who was President Clinton's Mid-East negotiator, supported the efforts to strengthen Fatah in the West Bank, although he feared it was too little to late. He criticized the Bush administration's belief that elections solve every problem, stating the crux of the problem was caused by allowing the Hamas to run without agreeing to the ground rules, which include accepting all previous agreements. Ross further called for a clear international effort to continue to isolate Hamas, while still providing humanitarian aid the Gaza Strip.  He opposed any discussions with Hamas until they were willing to accept Israel and the previous agreements.  In addition, Ross criticized the Bush administration for not influencing the Saudis to stop trying to make peace between Hamas and Fatah, since he felt that is not possible.  Any peace would be used just as a means for a further Hamas' takeover.
 
It would seem Israel’s agreement to provide amnesty for Al Aqsa Brigade members who give up their weapons has proven popular.  There seems to be another large group who are now interested in following suite.  Hopefully this, together with Friday’s expected prisoner release, will build some momentum for Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas.