If it really was just an offhand remark by the U.S. Secretary of State that gave Russia the chance to play peacemaker in the Syrian conflict, Moscow is certainly not letting on.
As President Barack Obama and the world deliberate over how to respond to Syria’s murderous decision to use chemical weapons, a group of Israeli Jews have been fighting the humanitarian crisis the old-fashioned way — by smuggling aid into Syria.
Threats from Damascus and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah to turn the Golan Heights into a "resistance front" against Israel could end nearly four decades of calm across the increasingly tense ceasefire line separating Israeli and Syrian forces.
An injured Syrian treated by Israeli soldiers on the Golan Heights border died in an Israeli hospital.
Syrian rebels said on Wednesday they had begun arming sympathetic Palestinians to fight a pro-Assad faction in a Palestinian enclave in Damascus - a move which could fuel spiraling intra-Palestinian violence.
Rabbi Saul Kassin, a spiritual leader of the Syrian Jewish community in America, was sentenced to two years of probation for illegally sending money to Israel through a charity he operated.
Israel filed a complaint with the United Nations Security Council against Syria and Lebanon over the breach of its border by protesters.
While the French-initiated summit for the Union for the Mediterranean did not produce any major breakthroughs, French President Nicolas Sarkozy did recognize one achievement: every Arab country but *Libya sitting down with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Despite renewed international pressure on Israel and Syria to restart peace talks, people are not very excited by the prospects.
Once upon a time, a Syrian president calling for peace talks would have been met by Israeli leaders rolling out the red carpet.
But Bashar Assad's recent overtures toward Israel, first made in an interview with The New York Times, have failed to excite Israeli decision-makers.
The chief of Israel's military intelligence branch, Maj. Gen. Aharon Farkash Ze'evi, says Assad is serious and should be put to the test, but Prime Minister Ariel Sharon doubts the Syrian leader's sincerity and questions whether giving up the strategic Golan Heights in return for peace with Syria is as much in Israel's interest as it once was.
Judging from his public statements, Assad seems convinced that the Bush administration will not stop at Iraq, and that after a U.S. victory in Baghdad, he could be next on the regime-change agenda.
Therefore, when Assad vilifies the United States and openly aids the Iraqi war effort, he believes he is fighting for his life. In late March, buoyed by what he saw as initial Iraqi success in resisting the U.S.-led invasion, Assad explained the basis of his thinking in a fierce diatribe against Israel and the United States.
The war in Iraq, he told the Lebanese newspaper, As-Safir, was an Israeli-American conspiracy "designed to redraw the political map of the Middle East." In Assad's view, the United States would take Iraq's oil, and Israel would become the dominant regional power.
Administration officials were in stiff-upper-lip mode this week in the wake of the failed Geneva summit between President Bill Clinton and Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.
They were called "Syrian-Israeli" talks, but this week's second round of negotiations between the two countries was very much an American affair -- in a storybook small town chosen by the White House, with President Clinton playing host and mediator.
So it was no surprise that when the talks were snagged over a disagreements over what to talk about, it was Clinton who held the negotiators' hands, cajoled, nudged and pleaded.
Patrick Seale, President Hafez al-Assad's official biographer, predicted this week that Syria and Israel would conclude a comprehensive peace agreement within one year. Since Ehud Barak was elected six months ago, the veteran British Middle-East journalist has played a key role as the nearest to a Syrian emissary shuttling between the chronically hostile capitals of Damascus and Jerusalem.
Graham Greene and John Le Carré have been there before: A shadowy source with access to the highest reaches of an enemy regime. A vain, furtive secret service handler with a chip on his shoulder, who insists that the informant will speak to no one but him. A steady flow of alarming exclusive reports, plausible but inherently uncheckable. An intelligence community more concerned with protecting its turf than investigating all the way when suspicions were first aroused.