Arabic newspaper comments on Israel's 'hardliners'

Editorials also comment on the Arab Culture Summit, the Turkish-Iranian duel for power and tension in Sinai.

Israel's "alternative state" froth is back

Every time the Palestinians attempt to involve the larger international community and its institutions in a diplomatic action to defend their legitimate rights, so-called "hard-line" voices rise in Israel to distract international attention from the main stakes, commented Amjad Arar, a columnist with the Emirati Al Khaleej newspaper.

The closer we are getting to September - when the Palestinian Authority is planning to lodge a request with the UN General Assembly for a recognition of full statehood - the louder these disturbing voices are getting.

"You have those who want to simply annex the West Bank [to Israel], those who want to kick out the Palestinians from their land, and the others … namely party leaders who are touting again the 'alternative state' plan, which says Jordan must be the home state of the Palestinians," the writer said.

Knesset member Arieh Eldad is one of those Israeli politicians who are trying to renew talk about this plan. News agencies like to qualify Eldad and others like him as "hardliners", not exactly to shame them but rather to make them look like "exceptions" that are not representative of Israel's position, the writer went on.

Western media outlets sometimes forget that Ariel Sharon, who headed a number of Israeli ministries before becoming prime minister, was a proponent of such an "outrageous" plan.

Arab Culture Summit is needed but unlikely

The General Union of Arab Writers (GUAW) discussed during a recent meeting in its Cairo headquarters the possibility of holding the Arab Culture Summit, which was due to be held this year but was suspended until further notice due to the Arab Spring, wrote Fakhri Saleh in the London-based daily Al Hayat.

The secretary general of the GUAW, Mohammed Salmawi, said the union was in touch with the Arab League's chief, Nabil al Arabi, to try and revive this pan-Arab cultural initiative, which was to tackle problems of education and the status of culture in the Arab world, in the presence of Arab heads of state. The idea was to diagnose similar issues faced by Arab nations and take action accordingly.

Now, with the Arab uprising, the initiative was shelved for obvious reasons, the writer said. "If Arab leaders could not even get themselves to hold a conference to discuss political turmoil, how would they be willing to discuss educational and cultural issues, and the need to disseminate books, including those kept at bay by the censor's paper shredder in most Arab capitals."

Mr Salmawi sees holding the summit at this juncture as possible and necessary, because the Arab world needs cultural reform too. Still, his idea of bringing Arab rulers and intellectuals together this year is unfortunately unlikely to materialise, the writer concluded.

Turkish-Iranian power battle over Syria

Turkey's top diplomat, Ahmet Davutoglu, has revoked the two week grace period that PM Erdogan had issued to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad to halt all military operations against pro-democracy protesters, said the columnist Rajeh al Khouri in the Lebanese Annahar daily.

Within 24 hours, a barrage of requests from Washington, London, Ankara, Riyadh and the Palestinian Authority poured over the Syrian regime to immediately stop the aggression.

"However, it is unlikely that the assault will stop any time soon with tanks still besieging and moving on Syrian towns and cities, which confirms that the cycle of protests will not end despite six months of sheer violence."

Mr Davutoglu recently addressed a firm last ultimatum to Damascus amid reports that his country is prepared for a military intervention in Syria.

In the meantime, Iran is intensifying its logistical, military and financial support to the Damascus regime, as promised by Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who granted Mr Assad US$6 billion and 20 thousand oil barrels per day, in addition to urging Mr Nouri Al Maliki in Iraq to assist Mr Al Assad with US$10 billion.

"Clearly, the Syrian crisis has become the ring for a wrestling match between Turkey and Iran. Both countries realise that this is a most strategic location with important regional dimensions for them."

Egyptian sovereignty reinstated in Sinai?

Egyptian military forces are continuing their offensive in the northern part of the Sinai desert against extremist Islamic groups in order to secure the gas pipeline that exports gas to Tel Aviv at the lowest prices, reported the pan-Arab Al Quds Al Arabi daily in its editorial.

It was a step instigated by the US and Israel, especially that recent reports revealed that these groups that have been gaining in power adopt an Al Qaeda-like ideology.

Although the Camp David agreements clearly state that the Sinai desert should remain a demilitarised area, spokesmen of the Israeli government are now insisting that tanks and no less than two thousand Egyptian troops be dispatched to secure the area, all upon prior coordination between Tel Aviv and Cairo.

Such a development could be viewed as an indication that the new Egyptian leadership is fully committed to the terms of the Camp David agreements and that any previous speculations regarding the revocation of these agreements are no longer valid.

"It is still unclear at the moment whether the return of Egyptian tanks and troops to that dangerous area is temporary or permanent. It all depends on Israel and the US."


* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk

Published: August 18, 2011 04:00 AM


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