In its lead article, the London-based newspaper Al Quds al Arabi reported that the Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Abul Gheit, and the chief of the Egyptian General Intelligence Services, Omar Suleiman, have recently intensified diplomatic efforts to revive the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
They visited Jerusalem and met Isareli officials before heading to Ramallah, the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, and then to Amman to discuss the peace process with Jordanian officials. They also arrived yesterday in Washington to present the US administration with the outcome of their meetings.
"It is likely that the two Egyptian officials are drawing a new plan to save what has remained of the peace process." It was reported also that Egyptian, Palestinian and Jordanian diplomats had met in Amman and agreed on the stationing of Jordanian troops on the borders of the prospective Palestinian state to prevent the smuggling of weapons and the infiltration of militants into Israel."
This diplomatic move is being carried out behind closed doors and without the involvement of the Palestinian people. Palestinian leaders exclude the will of their people over their future by rushing to satisfy the requirements of the Israelis. Moreover, any Palestinian state that will be born on this basis is less likely to possess all elements of sovereignty, such as border control and an army.
Successful elections foretold in Jordan
"On Tuesday, Jordanians will go to the polls to elect their parliament, which consists of 120 members. According to estimates, the number of voters will exceed two million, while the turnout will be around 50 per cent," wrote Salah al Qallab in a commentary for the Jordanian newspaper Al Jareeda.
These projections indicate that the elections will be successful, while the composition of the new parliament, as seen from candidates' electoral portfolios, should be the best one since the resumption of legislative life in 1989. It is expected also to be an instrument to help the government in introducing change and necessary political, legal and economic reform.
It is worth noting that the government has initiated a number of strict measures to ensure the elections are fair and free. A media campaign launched two months ago has helped in encouraging youths to be active in this poll.
But not all political forces are taking part in the polls. The Jordanian Democratic Popular Unity Party, the Islamic Action Front and its ally the Muslim Bortherhood have boycotted the elections. Many of their members, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, decided to run for the parliamentary elections as independent candidates. This added to the many organisational and political problems the group has endured since 1999 as a result of the interference of Hamas in its internal affairs.
Algeria criticised over Tindouf camps
In a news report in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat, Talha Jibreel wrote that the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, strongly criticised the situation of Sahrawi refugees in Tindouf in southwestern Algeria. He also blamed Algeria for being responsible for what is happening there.
This came in an address to the nation on the 35 anniversary of the Green March on Saturday.
"The era of shirking one's responsibility is over," the king said. "Now is the moment of truth, when the international community will see the repression, intimidation, humiliation and torture suffered by our sons and daughters in the Tindouf camps, in violation of the principles of international humanitarian law."
It was the first time that King Mohammed VI referred to the Sahrawi refugees in Tindouf as "my loyal citizens". Unlike previous statements when King Mohammed VI usually called upon Algeria to open the borders between the two countries, this time he openly blamed Algiers for the miserable situation of Sahrawis in the camps. In this regard, he said: "I call on the international community and human rights organisations to shoulder their responsibilities by bringing an end to such unprecedented behaviour as Algeria's ongoing violations of international humanitarian law, particularly its refusal to let the UNHCR conduct a population census in the camps or protect the residents there."
Zero-based budget is the right decision
As the cabinet approved a zero-based federal budget for 2011 to 2013, the UAE leads other GCC countries in the best practices of public financial management, noted the UAE newspaper Al Bayan in a lead article.
"The cabinet's decision came to concretise the vision of the leadership which is aimed at achieving sustainable development within a comprehensive plan. The new budget marks a shift to multiyear fiscal planning, which is the most reliable system to manage public funds, and is consistent with the available resources. It will also control spending with a high level of transparency."
Previous methods of drafting the federal budget had some shortcomings because they presumed a stable economic environment where the cost of planned projects stays constant. The old approach to budgeting is also imperfect in the sense that it does not wholly match the rapid financial changes in the UAE. "For this reason, the zero-based budget is more appropriate for the future economic development of the state.
"According to experts, this approach is the best tool to achieve goals and to make the best use of public spending with the available resources. It will also enable the government departments to meet the needs of the present and the future alike, as well as to cope with changes."
* Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi