An Event and a Regional Trend

An Israeli Debate and a Syrian Firmness

The press said the Israeli discussions and analyses concentrated on the Syrian option in the light of the information revealed by Damascus which said the Syrian leadership received a message from the Israeli prime minister which contains a frank commitment to withdraw from the Golan Heights until the 1967 June 4 line. President Bashar al-Assad announced in a press interview, which will be published next Sunday, that he received the message through Turkey. He stressed the Syrian stand which insists on public negotiations through a third party, which is Turkey linking the resumption of negotiations on the compromise to the new administration’s assuming of office at the beginning of next year.
- 1. The Israeli press comments and discussions revealed some of the details of the Israeli stands and conditions that Syria completely rejected:
a) The secrecy of negotiations. Israeli governmental sources expressed resentment at Syria’s disclosure of the information about Olmert’s message.
b) The Israeli proposal included that Syria should sever relations with Iran, Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance. The Israeli press said Syria refused to discuss this in principle because it represents an insolent intervention in Syria’s affairs.
- 2. Israeli analysts described the US stand towards Syria as negative and obstructive. Within this framework they put the US intelligence report on the Syrian nuclear reactor and the Israeli raid that destroyed it which Syria denied as baseless. Syrian diplomats said this press comedy aims at pressurizing North Korea while a senior official in the UN said the US reports are baseless.
- 3. Syria’s firm stand towards the Israeli proposals confused Tel Aviv and a number of involved capitals. President Bashar al-Assad succeeded in directing a difficult and bitter conflict during the previous years clinging to the national invariables. The press said Turkey felt that it achieved a big gain through Syria’s trust in its mediation while the maneuvers that aimed to impose bargains on Syria failed.
The press also said that Olmert’s proposal surpassed Rabin’s deposit.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The Dialogue, Rumieh and the UNIFIL

Lebanese press and political circles focused on the following developments:
- 1. The rebellion of the prisoners in Rumieh prison which is still going on. The rebels insisted on releasing the seven police hostages in return for responding to demands related to improving the conditions of the prisoners. This event raised propositions related to the four arrested officers.
- 2. The condition of the prisons and the human rights state in Lebanon is an open file on the international level. The recent reports of the UN human rights council and the US department of state said the continuity of the four officers’ arrest is illegitimate. The reports also talked about torturing and repressing the authority’s opponents.
- 3. The house speaker’s call for dialogue is still open. The press information said he is still waiting for the loyalists’ answer. Walid Junblat issued statements that hailed the importance of dialogue but the other sides of the alliance adopted negative stands.
- 4. The statement issued by the UNIFIL on the rules of engagement which emanated from the resolution 1701 raised a number of questions concerning the stands of some participant European states, especially France, Italy, Spain and Germany who are members in the NATO. Changes in the structure of the UNIFIL’s leadership led to the NATO’s presence in the leadership of these forces in the south an off the Lebanese coast. This pushed the Lebanese to raise questions on the role of these forces.
- 5. The signs of lull appeared in Zahleh after the latest event and communications started between the phalangists party and representative Elias Skaf.

Arab and International Press

Al-Bayan said in its editorial that the surprising Israeli declaration to withdraw from the Golan in return for peace with Syria is suspicious and tricky.
The Qatari paper al-Rayah said the UNRWA decision to stop distributing food in Gaza for more than 650 thousand refugees is a new tragedy.
The Emirate paper al-Khalij said making the Palestinians hungry is an old Israeli policy and has different forms.
The Israeli paper Yidiot Aharonot said certain circles in Israel said the Syrian answers to the Israeli questions include a number of allegations and raise doubts in Damascus on the seriousness of the Israeli step.

Satellite Stations’ News

The Syrian satellite station said the Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad received an oral message from president Bashar al-Assad related to enhancing bilateral relations.

Lebanese Press

An-Nahar said the house speaker waits for the loyalists’ answer to his call for dialogue pointing out that he said he will wait for three days before setting a date for the new parliamentary session for electing the president.
As-Safir said the file of Zahleh crime is not closed yet but it entered the room of political care.
Al-Akhbar talked about the information concerning activating the file of peace negotiations between Syria and Israel saying president Bashar al-Assad set his country’s condition for negotiations with Israel which is holding public negotiations under the sponsorship of the new Israeli administration.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said Samir Geagea talks about new assassinations while Washington talks about a hot summer in Lebanon.
The NTV said tension is diffused in Zhalh while it started in Rumieh but there is no link between the two incidents.
The NBN said Lebanon entered the circle of waiting for the loyalists’ answer to the house speaker’s call for dialogue.
The OTV said the Syrian president answered the Israeli peace message, which was conveyed by Turkey, that Syria is ready for public negotiations under the US sponsorship.
The LBC quoted the Egyptian foreign minister as saying the crisis in Lebanon will not end this year.
The Future said rebels in Rumieh prison set fire in the building and took hostages demanding a special amnesty.

Tendencies is a daily political watch newsletter about the Near East, issued by New Orient News agency in Beirut, Lebanon. It is available on Voltairenet.org in Arabic, English, French, German, and Spanish languages. Also worth a read is Indicators, the daily Near East economic watch newsletter, available in Arabic, English and Spanish.