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Israeli campaign reflects a dead peace process

Arabic language newspapers consider the upcoming protests in Egypt, and the failure of the democratic model in various Arab states.

Israeli result means the two-state future is dead after a campaign that ignored the Palestinians

This week's national elections in Israel may have been the most boring in the country's history, and yet they may have grave consequences for Israel and the entire region, the London-based daily paper Al Quds Al Arabi claimed in its lead editorial yesterday.

The event as a whole didn't involve any surprises that could change political equations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud-Beitenu coalition emerged as the winners, with a majority of seats in the Knesset and the warrant to form a new government.

The real competition this time was between the radical extreme right, represented by Yisrael Beitenu, and the more radical and more extreme right, represented by the Jewish Home party with its leader Naftali Bennet, which stands for expanding settlements still further.

Interestingly, during the electoral campaign the winners didn't deem it necessary to talk about peace plans to woo voters.

Instead, settlement plans pressed ahead with the confiscation of Palestinian territories and the breaking into Al Aqsa Mosque to appeal to religious sensibilities.

"These elections, their outcome and the anti-Arab provocations that accompanied them mark a distinct turning point in the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict," the paper said.

"They ended the two-state solution and the peace process that was supposed to lead to it," said the paper.

The British foreign minister, William Hague, known as a staunch supporter of Israel, stated before his House of Common on Tuesday that the chances for a two-state solution are slipping away due to increased Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank.

Mr Hague warned that such actions might cost Israel the support of the international community.

"Powerful nations such as the UK and the US have done nothing but issue warnings and criticism to Israel," Al Quds Al Arabi said. "This [restraint] has encouraged its settlement ambitions and led to the death of the two-state solution," added the paper.

These nations, the US in particular, don't hesitate to mobilise their forces against any country that dares to violate international law and threaten world peace. But when the culprit is Israel, attitudes change completely.

In two to three weeks, the prime minister will have completed his consultations with the various radical parliamentary blocs and will form a new cabinet, one that is expected to be push for accelerated settlement activities in Palestinian territories.

"The new government will be a war cabinet: war on Palestinians and a regional war aimed to annihilate the Iranian nuclear power and put an end to the threats from Hamas in Gaza and Hizbollah in Lebanon," concluded the paper.

Protests this Friday will test Egypt's police

The protests this Friday will be a decisive test and a golden opportunity for Egypt's police to reconcile with the people and with history, Wael Kandil wrote in the Cairo-based paper Al Shorouk.

The ministry of interior must mull over the meaning of the choice of this date for major protests. Egyptian youth have chosen that day to proclaim that their uprising targets state oppression and insults to human dignity.

It is no overstatement to say that credit for the revolution goes to Khaled Said, Sayyid Bilal and others who were tortured to death byHosni Mubarak's brutal police forces, the writer said.

Everyone must remember that the violent clampdown at the start of the revolution accentuated Egyptians' anger, drew more to join in and led eventually to the revolution's success.

And so Egypt's police must deliver a different performance on Friday; they must focus on protecting people more than buildings and respecting people's dignity while strictly enforcing the law against vandals.

He added: "The police must, above all, be aware that people will be rallying to mark the two- year anniversary of the revolution and to demand its goals be completed."

In a nutshell, he concluded, Egyptians look forward to seeing a different police approach, one that does not see demonstrators as mere troublemakers and vandals.

The factors that killed Arab democracy

Arab scholars have for decades advocated democracy as a solution to all kinds of problems besetting the Arab world. But all their endeavours have failed due to religious extremism and tribalism, wrote Massoud Daher in the UAE-based paper Al Bayan.

Arab scholars have put forth several forms of democracy: Lebanese- style consensus democracy; Shurocracy, which has sought to combine Islamic Shura and western democracy; and Bedouinocracy which has sought to combine the positive traditions of Bedouin Shura councils with some democratic principles.

Unfortunately, all these attempts failed, because religious extremism and tribalism have remained at the heart of the Arab state's dictatorial structure, the writer argued.

Hence the failed attempts at moving from tribal and sectarian affiliations to national belonging in a rule-of-law state where all citizens enjoy public and individual freedoms, human rights and equality, he added.

Theoretical studies have posed many questions about the causes of failure of Arab political institutions to adopt democracy, while it has succeeded in the West.

Democracy in the Arab world today is besieged by sectarianism, tribalism and a mindset that holds Arab nations back, the writer observed.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk


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