Posted by Joshua on Thursday, September 18th, 2008
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni narrowly won election Wednesday to replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as the leader of Israel’s Kadima party, edging past her main rival, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, by just over a percentage point, according to official results released Thursday.
[Landis analysis] Livni will undoubtedly call off talks with Syria as she tries to form a new cabinet. She must show that she is strong and independent. All the same, it will be up to her whether she begins talks again once the dust has settled and a new government is formed.
Syria would like the talks continued in order to keep the momentum going. Momentum would increase the chance that the next US administration will decide to jump on board and support them. So long as the US does not support Syrian-Israeli negotiations, the gap between the two countries will remain wide. The US has a lot to offer both sides — money, security, help with water guarantees, economic and diplomatic cover.
Syria’s interest right now is to position itself so that the next US and Israeli governments will understand the benefits of pushing ahead with a Golan deal.
Lebanon Jews Tap Diaspora to Rebuild Beirut’s Shelled Synagogue
By Massoud A. Derhally
Bloomberg, September 18, 2008
In 1983, Isaac Arazi and his wife were caught in sectarian fighting during Lebanon’s 15-year civil war. A Shiite Muslim militiaman helped the couple escape.
Arazi, a leader of Lebanon’s tiny Jewish community, sees the incident as a lesson in the Arab country’s tradition of tolerance. Now he is trying to make use of that tradition, along with the global diaspora of Lebanese Jews, in a drive to rebuild Beirut’s only synagogue, damaged during the war…..
“Christians, Muslims and Jews were all living together when I was growing up,” said Liza Srour, 57. “Whenever there was a war with Israel, or tension, the government used to provide protection for us.” …..
Sleiman predicts official ties with Syria by end-2008
By Hussein Abdallah
The Daily Star, September 18, 2008
BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman said Wednesday that Lebanese-Syrian relations were on the right track, adding that Beirut and Damascus were likely to exchange ambassadors by the end of 2008. Sleiman’s remarks came during a meeting with a delegation from the French-Lebanese Friendship Committee at the Presidential Palace. The meeting was attended by French Ambassador Andre Parrant, Minister of State Wael Abu Faour, and MPs Michel Murr, Assem Araji, Walid Khoury, and Michel Pharaon.
Sleiman told the delegation that France had played a major role in helping Lebanon out of its 18-month political crisis…..
Assad says ‘Syria will stand with Iran’
Tehran Times, September 18, 2008
Syria will stand with Iran on all the major strategic issues,” President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview with Syria’s Channel 10 broadcast on Tuesday.
“Only one situation would distance Syria from Iran, and that is if Tehran sided with Israel, and if America sided with the Arabs,” the Jerusalem Post quoted the Syrian president as saying.
Assad also downplayed the recent indirect talks between Israel and Syria, insisting that the term “negotiations” is just too strong for such talks.
“What’s happening today is not negotiation, but they are called ‘negotiations’ in the media,” the Syrian president told the interviewer.
Assad’s comments come as Israel has recently stepped up efforts to persuade Damascus to cut its ties with Iran.
Recently, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Sallai Meridor, declared that the main reason that his government began indirect talks with Syria earlier this year was to “bring about a strategic repositioning” in the region by breaking up Damascus’ alliance with Iran.
Syria: New Ambassador to Iraq
By ROBERT F. WORTH
The New York Times, September 17, 2008
Syria announced Tuesday that it had appointed an ambassador to Iraq for the first time since the early 1980s. The ambassador, Nawaf Fares, was sworn in as the envoy before the Syrian president….
CIA: Syria strike aided by foreign intelligence
The Jerusalem Post, September 17, 2008
The air strike on a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor last year was the result of intelligence cooperation that included a “foreign partner” that first identified the facility’s purpose, CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden said on Tuesday.
“Our foreign partnerships … were critical to the final outcome,” Hayden said in a speech for delivery to the World Affairs Council of Los Angeles, Reuters reported, adding that a US intelligence official declined to specify the partner Hayden referred to or to say whether it was Israel.
“We were able last year to spoil a big secret, a project that could have provided Syria with plutonium for nuclear weapons,” Hayden said.
The CIA chief added that the information from the foreign partner first identified the facility as a reactor similar to one in North Korea, although US intelligence had identified it as suspicious.
“When pipes for a massive cooling system were laid out to the Euphrates River in the spring of 2007, there would have been little doubt this was a nuclear reactor,” Hayden said.
“We would have known it was North Korean, too, given the quantity and variety of intelligence reports on nuclear ties between Pyongyang and Damascus…”
Israel postpones Turkish-brokered talks with Syria
AFP, September 17, 2008
DAMASCUS (AFP) — A fifth round of Turkish-brokered peace talks between Syria and Israel this week has been postponed at Israel’s request, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Wednesday .
“It has been postponed at the request of the Israeli side,” Muallem told a press conference with visiting Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos.
The next round of talks between the two neighbours — which have technically been at war for 60 years — was due to be held on Thursday.
“When Israel is ready to resume the talks, we will be too because we want to build a solid base that will allow the launch of direct negotiations whatever the outcome of the Kadima party election in Israel,” Muallem added.
He was referring to the party of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, which was voting for a new leader on Wednesday after the premier announced he was stepping down to fight corruption and influence-peddling allegations.
Turkey, which has been acting as mediator in the talks, confirmed that Thursday’s planned meeting had been cancelled at Israel’s request.
Israel said it failed to complete the formalities that would allow its chief negotiator, Yoram Turbowicz, to remain on the negotiating team after he resigned from his post as Olmert’s general secretary, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said.
“The Israeli side has emphasised that it is ready to resume the talks as soon as this technical and legal process is completed,” it said, adding that a new date for the fifth round had not yet been fixed…