Call by National Salvation Front to vote 'no' in referendum is a positive, responsible stance
Two crucial developments occurred in Egypt's political arena on Wednesday, the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi editorialisedyesterday: the dialogue session launched by Defence Minister Abdel Fattah Al Sissi, that was supposed to take place today, was cancelled for unknown reasons, and the National Salvation Front announced it would not boycott the referendum on the constitution under certain conditions.
Egypt's military spokesman said the planned unity talks, which were supposed to bring together President Morsi and his opponents, were postponed due to a lukewarm response, offering no details about the quarters that did not respond to the invitation, the newspaper reported.
"Missing such a golden opportunity for opponents to come together might cause escalation in the coming days," it noted. "Yet the Egyptian opposition … took every one by surprise when it urged supporters to vote against the draft constitution - a radical shift from its previous stance calling for boycott."
The salvation front has set conditions for its participation, including that the referendum be held on one day and should have full judicial supervision.
Yet the conditions do not seem to be viable and Mr Morsi is not to blame. Holding a two-day referendum - the first tomorrow in Cairo, Alexandria and Sinai, and the second on the following Saturday - was determined by the fact that the referendum is boycotted by a large section of the Egyptian Judges' Club, which will result in a shortage of judges to oversee it over one day.
If the salvation front wants a one-day referendum - a legitimate demand - it should have convinced the Judges Club to back away from the boycott.
The opposition's call to vote "no" in the referendum in protest at some articles of the draft constitution is a positive and responsible stance, according the paper.
"The ballot box … is the quintessence of democracy and civic behaviour," commented the paper.
Egyptians must all head to the ballot boxes and have their say on the draft constitution. This is crucial, because the result of the referendum could be a major step towards coming out of a crisis that portends destruction and bloodshed.
The Egyptian people expect the political elite to work together to entrench democracy, achieve economic welfare, offer jobs to the unemployed and uphold national sovereignty. They do not want them to fight one other and escalate the situation.
"It remains to be said that Egypt's popular activity is a healthy phenomenon; it is at the heart of democracy. Opposition is essential to set things right, hold the president and the executive power to account ... provided the Opposition adheres to the rules of democracy and steers clear from violence," the editorial concluded.
It's time for the West to support Syrian rebels
Jabhat Al Nusra, which Washington recently designated as a terrorist group affiliated to Al Qaeda, has provided the US and the West in general with an ideal pretext to hold on to their decision not to arm the opposition and the revolutionary forces in Syria, opined Zuhair Qusaibati, a columnist with the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat.
Despite increasing recognition of the National Coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people, world nations, especially the US, are wary of extremist groups that are fighting under the banner of the opposition.
In a letter to the opposition and the revolutionary forces in Syria, US president Barack Obama said that the international community, which could grant legitimacy to any transitional government in Damascus and contribute to the rebuilding of Syria, isn't prepared to lend a helping hand to extremists.
"Fear of delivering heavy weapons into the hands of radical groups is valid. However, allowing the conflict to continue to fester in Syria is the shortest way to civil war," suggested the writer.
Fifty thousand people have been killed in 20 months in Syria. Fear of empowering extremism doesn't justify the role of blind witness that Washington and Moscow have been playing in this crisis. The killing of more than a thousand Syrians every week doesn't encourage anyone to brandish the banner of moderation, the columnist wrote.
Israeli expansion will kill two-state solution
Last week, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu defied the international community by announcing plans for new settlement in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank in general.
More importantly, he declared that a large number of the new units would be located in the A1 area, which links the West Bank's northern area to its south and is the geographical basis for a viable Palestinian state in the future, reported the Palestinian Al Quds daily in its editorial.
The new set of settlement decisions followed the international recognition of Palestine as a non-member state at the UN.
"Settlement efforts are accelerating and increasingly jeopardising the Palestinian existence while the world stands by watching," said the daily.
"It seems bizarre and unreasonable, by all standards, that the international community continues to talk about a two-state solution at a time when Palestinian territories are being engulfed by settlement efforts. What territory will there be to establish the much-promised Palestinian state? Or is it to be created from thin air or on some unknown other planet?" asked Al Quds.
World powers should have pressured Israel to stop its expansionist plans in the occupied territories from the start, the newspaper said.
* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk