The responses to/analysis of Olmert’s bid to negotiate with Syria. Touching briefly on what’s happening:
— Olmert attempted to give a talk at a Jewish Agency ceremony last night and was booed down by protesters carrying "The people are with the Golan" signs.
— While comments by Bush have been circumspect , a report today cited a US official as calling Olmert’s overtures to Syria as a "slap in the face" to the US. Bush has let it be known that he has no intention of softening his stand against Syria (which, quite likely, is what Assad is after).
— I wrote yesterday about Livni’s spelling out of what would be expected of Syria for a peace deal. Well, the Syrians responded with anger. They say they thought Israel was going into this talk without preconditions.
Seems Livni’s detailing of expectations may have been an attempt to soften the blow to the US: "See, we won’t deal while they are still part of the Axis of Evil." This helps explain why these expectations weren’t spelled out specifically before any agreement to negotiate took place, as, of course, they should have been. All of this merely highlights the ludicrousness of the situation. (The damage done to attempts to isolate Syria by Olmert’s willingness to confer legitimacy on Assad must be taken seriously.)
— MK Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud head) has declared that Likud would not abide by any agreement made with Syria by Olmert.
— Word is that the indirect talks in Turkey will be continued in a week to ten days.
Shai Bazak of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzlyia has written an opinion piece on Syrian negotiations that concurs in the opinion that there will be no deal because what is wanted is only the process. His take involves analysis of Assad’s precarious position as a member of the ethnic minority Alawite.
Good news here: A French appeals court has overturned an earlier ruling of libel with regard to the al-Dura case.
This is the case of the libel against Israel constructed by a Palestinian stringer in Gaza working for France 2 TV, who claimed to have filmed Israeli soldiers shooting down the boy Muhammad al-Dura in 2000. This was broadcast by the station’s Jerusalem correspondent Charles Enderlin, causing an enormous furor and even becoming a rationale for terrorism.
French Jew Phillipe Karsenty, who maintains a media watchdog website, became convinced that the entire thing was a hoax and charged that the station had knowingly misled the world on this issue. France 2 and Enderlin sued him for libel, and won.
Now in the appeal, this has been overturned . Says Karsenty, "The verdict means we have the right to say France 2 broadcast a fake news report that was a staged hoax.
Among the reasons that Karsenty became convinced it was a hoax:
No footage was shown of the boy being killed ; first he is alive, then he is lying on the ground apparently dead.
Only seven bullet holes were in the wall behind the boy even though the claim was that he had been subjected to a 45 minute hail of Israeli bullets.
Israeli soldiers stationed in the area testified that they did not participate in a gun fight that day.
Olmert was questioned by police again today , and a final decision is being made on when Talansky will be deposed, or if he is deposed on Sunday, when he will be cross-examined by Olmert’s lawyers.
I believe it is official now that Hamas has rejected Israel’s ceasefire terms, as conveyed by Egypt’s Suleiman. Hamas officials are expressing anger at Suleiman for pushing them to accept Israel’s offer rather than leaning on Israel to be more forthcoming with Hamas.
Hamas officials are angry about two things: They wanted immediate relief from the blockade, while Israel said this would come as a later part of the process, and then within parameters agreed upon earlier, which include European monitors at the Rafah crossing. They also didn’t find it acceptable that Israel insisted on making sure that Hamas was truly abiding by the ceasefire before stopping all operations.
Sources close to Hamas have reported, as well , that Hamas rejected Israeli demands that weapons smuggling be stopped.
Israel’s terms, said a Hamas representative, were "completely unacceptable" and were aimed at "further humiliating the Palestinians and aggravating their suffering."
This scenario, I believe, reveals a good deal about the Hamas mindset and how they view Israel. They have an exaggerated sense of their own power and obviously saw Israel as weak and accommodating; they thought they could make arrangements on their terms because launching of rockets at us had beaten us down.
That they wouldn’t agree to stop smuggling (even if they intended to continue covertly) tells the whole story.
An explosive-laden truck blew up yesterday at the Erez crossing. The driver was the only casualty. Other terrorists fired mortars at the crossing at the same time that the truck exploded. As a jeep accompanied the truck, it is thought that the intention may have been kidnapping of a soldier.
One of the groups that took credit is Fatah’s Al Aksa Brigades.