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

July 22 , 2007 Olmert and Supreme Court Spar- More Syrian Questions.


Today Prime Minister Olmert attacked the Supreme Court when he stated that he would not fight its decision that the schools around Gaza need to be reinforced against missile attack. Olmert said that the Supreme Court would not tell the government what to do when. Olmert's attack is one in a long line of attacks he has made, and more importantly, goes together with his appointment of Daniel Friedmann as Minister of Justice, whose major goal seems to be weakening The Court.

The Israeli Supreme Court is very different from the American Supreme Court. The American Supreme Court is the final arbiter of law in the United States, but before it takes a case, that case winds it way through all the lower and appeal courts (with the exception of narrow group of cases that the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction). If someone does not like a US government action, the issue cannot simply be brought before the Supreme Court. It often takes years before the Supreme Court reviews a case or law and it only agrees to hear a very small number of cases that people bring before it.

In Israel, anyone can bring a case to BaGatz Š Beit Din Gavoa Le'tzedek (the Supreme Court) and appeal a decision or a government action. While Israel normatively has three branches of government: the Legislative (Knesset), the Executive (Government) the Supreme Court, the very nature of the parliamentary system does not produce a true independent legislative branch. This results in only the Court being truly independent.

It seems that the attempts Friedmann and Olmert to limit the power of the court are about to run into serious opposition in the form of Minister of Defense Ehud Barak. Barak, either for political reasons, or out of principal, has made it clear that he will oppose all of Friedmann's attempts to attack the Court.

Yesterday Israeli commentators were busy discussing a report in a London newspaper that Iran has offered $1 Billion to Syria in aid if it does not enter into talks with Israel. The end the consensus is that the report is not reliable, but despite that, the facts may be more or less accurate. There is a clear alliance between Syria and Iran.

The former national security advisor General Giora Eiland wrote a controversial newspaper column over the weekend. In it he states that entering into peace talks with Syria would be a mistake and the final price is not worth paying. Eiland appeared today on London and Kirshenbaum and defended his position. He stated that today, as opposed to when Barak was close to signing an agreement with Syria, an agreement does not solve IsraelÕs major strategic problems. Then Syria controlled Lebanon, thus could bring peace to the entire northern border. Second, bringing peace with Syria will do nothing to alleviate the Iranian threat, and finally according to Eiland, will just make the situation with the Palestinians worse. Eiland thinks that since the benefits are small it is not worth the strategic risk of giving up the Golan Heights.

Elections were held today in Turkey. The Islamic Party won a clear victory and will not need coalition partners to control the parliament. The European Union and the US seem to be satisfied with Prime Minister EdronÕs victory, believing it is good for the stability of Turkey. Edron claims that he is promoting democracy and does not want a true Islamic state in Turkey. His critics claim that this is just an interim position. Time will tell.