"Last week, protestors in Ramallah called for the anullment the Oslo Accords and an end to Palestinian divisions," observed Fayez Rasheed in a commentary for the London-based newspaper Al Arab. "These two demands summarised the pressing tasks that Palestinian politicians need to address immediately." If these demands are met, the Palestinian national struggle is likely to revive and with it a stronger unity among various Palestinian factions.
The Oslo agreements have been disastrous for the Palestinians. They cancelled the entire armed struggle term in the Palestinian National Charter, and led to twenty years of fruitless negotiations that have resulted in further concessions.
Moreover, they have not prevented Israelis from expropriating more land, building more colonies, arresting more activists, erecting the separation wall, and altering the cultural and religious identity of Jerusalem.
The Oslo Accords were supposed to set the ground for final settlement, but that has not been achieved. The Palestinian Authority is to blame for continuing to attach hope to these treaties to achieve their national aspirations.
There is no doubt that various Palestinian forces have different strategic goals, yet they can reach a compromise on the most important fundamentals of the Palestinian cause if they can ignore the Oslo limitations.
Biased humanitarian relief policies revealed
The report issued by Oxfam International offered startling facts about humanitarian and relief work, pointing to the abuse that surrounds the distribution of aid, noted the Oman-based newspaper Al Watan.
The report emphasised that many donors give away money as grants to poor countries, but these are directed to serve the contributors' security and maintain their vital strategic interests. One third of total international aid intended for development programmes in vulnerable states was granted to three states out of 48. These are Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Oxfam report highlighted many loopholes in the international aid and relief programmes. Yet there are also other contradictions. Denying the Palestinians the right to receive more help under the request of Israel is unacceptable. Instead, grants were directed to Somalia on grounds of countering terror. This is also the reason why Afghanistan receives the bulk of aid. The report says that most of the money spent in this country has been on building military capabilities and not on economic or civil infrastructure.
On another note, many of the aid programmes are conditioned on a set of requirements that beneficiaries have to abide by. And most of the time they are not favourable. In many cases, countries have to conclude purchasing contracts with companies dictated by the relief agencies.
Arabs must reevaluate economic policies
"Is it time for Arab countries to reevaluate their economic reforms?" the columnist Issam al Jurdi posed in an opinion piece for the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej.
"This is a relevant question in light of accelerated political developments in the Arab world."
Certainly they were the by-products of poverty, unemployment, and lack of social trust between governments and the public. Since independence, some states implemented a socialist approach and others a combination of a free market and a state economy. In both cases, no solid productive economic foundation has been established that is capable of meeting the domestic demands and creating enough jobs.
As an alternative, most countries turned to a rent economy based on less sustainable sectors. Thus they have remained dependent on others to meet their needs, and to make decisions about their economic policies.
And even when some sectors were deregulated to private enterprise, there were excesses that created an uneven distribution of investment across production sectors and a wide gap in wealth distribution. Now individuals need to be assured of an effective role in both policy-making and production. Governments have to rebuild trust and take serious action to reduce the gap between the poor and the rich.
Europe must invest in its Arab neighbours
"Europe must be keen on continuing democratic change in the Arab region and especially in North Africa. This is because it is directly affected by any unstable situation there," noted the London-based daily Al Quds al Arabi in its editorial.
The biggest mistake Europe makes is supporting US foreign policies, which back authoritarian and corrupt regimes. The threats to Europe shall come from illegal emigration and religious extremism. And to minimise their effect, there is a need for balanced and fair foreign policies. To address extremism, Europe needs to sustain democracy and ensure the respect of freedoms and a fair distribution of wealth. Military intervention should be avoided, because it escalates waves of violence.
This week, the new Tunisian government set a good example by preventing illegal immigrants heading to Italy's southern shores. In return, Europe should value these efforts and similar ones by the Maghreb countries, which stand as the front line defence against emigration that greatly threatens the security of the northern countries.
Europe should also encourage the implementation of sound financial and investment policies in North Africa.
* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi