x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hamas is putting its Muslim Brotherhood ties ahead of the people of Gaza. Other views: Egypt's minimum wage needs to wait for stability and it is time Israel admitted its nuclear arsenal

There is no big discovery in saying that the basic needs of average Gazans will be dependent on Egypt unless somebody can force the Israeli government to lift its siege of the Gaza Strip, said Abdullah Iskandar, the managing editor of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat.

“It is a simple truth that the leaders of Hamas, the rulers of the strip, have turned into a source for all sorts of confrontations with Cairo,” he said.

Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood branch in Gaza, has mixed geographical reality and interest with ideological affiliation. They didn’t heed the hefty price the residents of the strip would have to pay as a result of such lack of distinction, which counts as a serious political mistake on the part of the Hamas leadership, since they must be aware of the deeply negative repercussions on Gazans and on their ability to secure their basic daily needs.

It isn’t sufficient on the part of Hamas officials to deny the Egyptian government’s serious accusations that Hamas is interfering in internal Egyptian affairs by siding politically with the Muslim Brotherhood and its military wing by training Islamists how to set bombs and, in some cases, even taking part in military operations against government forces in Sinai.

“These are official accusations and they require that the Islamic movement, Hamas, provide Egyptian authorities with any documents and reports that could refute the claims beyond any reasonable doubt,” the writer added. “However, Hamas didn’t show any preparedness to even look into the matter.”

This suggests that the leadership of the Islamist movement in Gaza, or at least part of it, is plotting with extremist militias that are seeking revenge from the Egyptian authorities in Sinai.

It is also possible that Hamas officials aren’t aware of the exceptional importance the Egyptian authorities lay on stability and security in Sinai.

In both cases, Hamas is committing a grave error with Cairo.

Back in the day when Hamas could rely on the strategic depth it drew from the Syrian regime, Iran and Hizbollah, its leadership felt confident to show animosity to the Mubarak regime. Today however, their support system has weakened acutely with the ongoing situation in Syria and Iran’s abatement towards Syria.

Egypt accuses Hamas of causing the rift, which Cairo deems harmful to its interests.

“Regardless of the ideological relationship between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, taking a biased position vis-à-vis the internal conflict in Egypt is no longer a political position.

“It is part of a bloody confrontation in Egypt. And this is what Hamas is doing at the moment,” the writer concluded.

Minimum wage call needs to be delayed

Many will be angered by the Egyptian interim government’s deferral of a decision to reassess minimum wage in the public and private sectors, but workers must accept this deferral because it makes sense, the Cairo-based newspaper Al Ahram said in its editorial.

“There are so many questions that have yet to be answered before a realistic plan can be pushed forward,” the newspaper said. “One huge question is: Where would the private sector have to dig for funds to cover an increase in minimum wage?”

Factories and businesses are going through hard economic times in Egypt, not to mention the political instability and general sense of insecurity that have affected the whole economic cycle, the paper noted.

“We all know that thousands of factories have closed down, and that the country no longer receives enough inflows of investments to bring life back to these factories,” Al Ahram said.

Faced with a decision to increase minimum wage, the factories that remain in operation will certainly consider laying off workers, if not stopping their businesses, the paper argued.

What about civil servants?

“Well, we are already suffering from a huge budget deficit, and there is no room whatsoever for new financial burdens.”

In this environment, raising minimum wage has to be studied with extra care, the paper concluded.

Time Israel admitted it has a nuclear arsenal

It is high time Israel has abandoned its policy of neither denying nor admitting that it has had a stockpile of nuclear weapons since the 1950s, wrote columnist Mazen Hammad in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

As analysts even within Israel argue, that policy of equivocation has exhausted all its purposes and, given the current regional context, the author said Israel can benefit from admitted it has dozens of nuclear warheads.

The columnist cited unidentified reports by American experts that Israel possesses 80 nuclear warheads, not 200 as previously thought. It also reportedly ceased producing nuclear weapons in 1984 but could double the stockpile within a short timeframe in needed.

“Almost no one in the world today buys Israel’s denial of its nuclear bombs, and everyone agrees that Israel is a nuclear power and that it has started the production of those bombs in 1948, the very year it has established itself on Palestinian land,” the columnist said.

Now the benefit for the international community in Israel admitting its possession of a nuclear arsenal is that it will be further pressured to abide by international conventions regulating the possession of weapons of mass destruction.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk