x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Existential crisis for the PA

The resignation of Salam Fayyad has laid bare the real crisis of the Palestinian Authority, an Arabic editorial agues. Other topics in today's opinion round-up: traffic in Cairo, and Margaret Thatcher's legacy.

Fayyad's resignation sheds light on bigger problems within the Palestinian Authority

The resignation of Salam Fayyad, after almost six years as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, blew the lid off a structural crisis at the heart of the PA, the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej declared in an editorial on Monday.

"On the surface," the paper said, the resignation "may look like an issue of personalities or methods, but it couldn't be farther from that. The real issue is related to the very survival of the Authority".

The PA agreed to assume the responsibility of managing certain territories that had been occupied in 1967, in the hope that this would lead to reclaiming them and creating an independent Palestinian state.

The Palestinian Authority was created in 1994 as a five-year interim governing body, following the Oslo Accords between the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and the government of Israel.

Further negotiations between the two parties were meant to take place to agree on final status. But all these years later, that still has yet to happen.

Judging by the conduct of the Israelis, it is easy to see that they, regard the PA as a temporary body that serves as cover for their settlement project in the occupied territories.

Since its inception, the Authority has been functioning under the occupation, which raises many political, social and cultural issues.

However, one particular aspect of governance nags the Authority the most, and makes its life a living hell, the newspaper commented: "For the PA to perform its functions it requires funding. So far it relied on foreign assistance and whatever Israel transfers from the taxes it imposes on the West Bank.

"Both sources are unstable since they depend on the whims of western countries and Israel. Meanwhile, expenses have continued to pile up, eventually putting the PA under colossal debts," the newspaper explained.

The PA's ability to continue functioning is increasingly counterproductive, both politically and economically, as the only way it can receive foreign aid is by acquiescing to western political pressures.

At the same time, the dire economic situation compels it to make further concessions.

A crisis of this sort usually leads to strategic dialogue. But the dialogue witnessed within the PA is mostly tactical: how to get aid while making as few concessions as possible.

The Authority has yet to review its own foundations and its viability. This reassures the West and Israel as it allows them to continue their manoeuvres.

"What the Authority needs, and must look into now, goes beyond the issue of who is prime minister, which has no bearing on its structural crisis, but rather prolongs it and distracts attention from the real issues," the editorial concluded.

Egypt must deal with traffic issue seriously

"The huge problem of traffic in Egypt can no longer be ignored. It has reached the stage where it requires radical, emergency solutions, given the high toll it is taking on the nation," the Cairo-based newspaper Al Ahram said in its main editorial yesterday.

According to the latest World Bank report on the state of development in Egypt, traffic congestion costs the country 50 billion Egyptian pounds (Dh26.4bn) a year. Another15 billion Egyptian pounds are lost to traffic accidents that also leave 60,000 people dead or injured every year.

"The human and material losses are … a wake-up call for urgent action to remedy this tragedy on wheels," the newspaper said.

Hundreds of thousands of hours and countless tonnes of petrol go up in smoke, slowing down Egypt's development and hurting the tourism industry. And a rising number of patients are suffering from pollution-related illnesses.

Worse still, the World Bank noted that the authorities have no real strategy to deal with this situation, which it said will only worsen if not immediately dealt with methodically, Al Ahram went on to say.

Reducing the demographic density Cairo has, as a result of the concentration of government institutions, would be a good start, the paper said in conclusion.

"And that would entail some serious thinking about building a new, modern capital."


Thatcher an example of what women can do

Margaret Thatcher's successful career as Britain's prime minister brings up a question: can her achievement be attributed to her strong personality and her education, or were there other factors that lifted her to prominence in the second half of the 20th century, writer Zainab Hanafi asked in the UAE-based newspaper Al Ittihad.

Thatcher, who died at 87, was Britain's first woman prime minister and the only one of the UK's 20th century premiers to win three consecutive terms, the writer noted.

The success that she had in politics is evidence that women are fit for this sort of career, the column said.

No doubt personality plays a crucial role. But growing up in a supportive family, and having a thoughtful husband who was not consumed by the patriarchy complex, were equally important, the writer remarked.

Unfortunately, most Arab societies now don't want to be ruled by women.

Such a sentiment stems from a deeply-rooted culture that tends to perceive only men as qualified to take the lead.

Successful women do not come from some wonderland; they are simply those who have pursued their dreams since childhood in a positive environment.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk