Arabic newspapers discuss Palestinian unity and Lebanese apathy

The Arabic News Digest looks at plight of the Tunisian policewoman who ignited Arab anger and the historical times the UAE is passing through

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The requirements for ending divisions

Ending differences among the main Palestinian factions is no longer the preserve of the political elite. It has now become the focus of popular demand, commented Hosam al Dijni in an opinion piece for the London-based newspaper Al Arab.

To this end, various national forces, irrespective of their political allegiances, are invited to support the calls of the people who wish to see their leadership unified in action. They also need to think of specific conditions to form a framework under which all Palestinians work together to achieve their ultimate goals.

The Palestinian Authority is still under occupation, and it continues to survive on aid in return for its security cooperation. This situation is not conducive to completing the national liberation project. So, to put the Palestinian cause back on the top of the international agenda, factions should observe the following conditions.

First, the Palestinian political system needs comprehensive reform, overhauling the PA's executive, legislative and judiciary powers, as well as civil society institutions.

Second, Palestinian forces need to agree on a national project to serve as a ground for reconciliation. Lastly, they are required to review the provisional constitution.

The success of any reform depends on the willingness of various Palestinian factions and elites to cooperate with the people, and to prepare for elections.

Lebanon can survive with no government

"The current political crisis experienced by Lebanon is unique,  as it has disrupted the normal functions of  ministries and public departments. Even during war time, the state has never come to a halt as it has  now," noted the Lebanese newspaper Al Anwar in its editorial.

"The Lebanese are used to similar situations, but previously, when conditions worsened, many would immigrate to other Arab countries. Today the situation is as bad at home as it is elsewhere. So there is nowhere to go."

Most politicians think that "reproducing" excecutive power is the real solution to the current problems marring the country's politics. They also think that this is the kind of procedure that can address the other pending issues. Perhaps that might have worked right after  the collapse of the government.

Lebanon has been without true executive power for at least six months, considering the cabinet has not met since last year. The very idea of having a functioning government is in many ways no longer relevant. The overall political situation is not likely to change whether a new executive team is formed in the near future or later.

After all, most of the country's services  are run by the private sector, leaving the Lebanese less dependent on the state. Manyare increasingly apathetic about politics in general and the timeframe for a new government.

Mercy for the Tunisian policewoman?

Fadya Hamdi, the Tunisian policewoman said to have slapped Mohammed Bouazizi - the young man who set himself on fire (and ignited the Arab spring) after being publicly humiliated - remains in jail pending trial for her deed, and her family has been protesting her incarceration, the pan-Arab Al Quds al Arabi newspaper stated in an editorial.

"The question as to how to handle the case of this policewoman poses quite a dilemma. On the one hand, we want the court to hand down the maximum sentence, because the accused in question abused her power and humiliated an honourable man, a university graduate for that matter, who was struggling to make ends meet. She slapped him and confiscated his modest fruit cart, which was his only source of income.

Meanwhile others want to see her released, with the past few months she spent in jail serving as punishment for what she did."

Considering the tremendous positive repercussions her otherwise shameful act has had in Tunisia and the Arab world, there is some ground to argue for her release.

"We are talking about the historic slap that changed the destiny of a whole nation and led to the overthrow of two major despotic figures so far: Tunisia's Ben Ali and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak. Just for that, she deserves mercy."

UAE is going through historical times

"The United Arab Emirates is currently going through an exceptional historical phase," wrote Dr Fatima al Saayegh, from the UAE University in the Dubai-based Al Bayan. Four main features define the UAE landscape today.

First, the economy: there are signs that the gloomy sky of the global downturn is giving way to some reassuring sunlight. The stock markets are showing signs of recovery, the real estate sector is looking up and inflation rates are decreasing.

Second, public policies: a host of these are being undertaken in response to "old-new community aspirations" to boost the role of federal institutions whose dwindling effectiveness has been noted lately, especially as local governments grow stronger.

Thirdly, regional consciousness: the UAE is aware of the fact that its stability and growth are tied to the stability and growth of its larger neighbourhood, so the nation is anticipating what the situation in the Arab world is going to yield.

And fourth, civil society: there is more action and awareness among the public regarding social issues, human rights and the environment. All of these features will propel the UAE to a higher international status by the time it celebrates its jubilee.

* Digesy compiled by The Translation Desk