Hamas leader Kahled Meshaal's visit to the Gaza Strip is nothing short of a political earthquake, an Arabic language columnist writes in today's roundup of regional opinion. Other topics: hard days ahead for Palestine, and protecting the majority in Syria.
Gaza's political earthquake
Hamas leader Kahled Meshaal's visit to the Gaza Strip is nothing short of a political earthquake
For Khaled Meshaal, the chief-in-exile of Hamas's political bureau, to arrive in Gaza on his first-ever visit to take part in the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the movement's foundation on Saturday is by all measures a historical event that calls for present and future contemplation, said the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi in its editorial.
The Gaza Strip is the first Palestinian territory that forced Israeli military forces to withdraw. It may be the only host environment for the Palestinian resistance and its affiliations.
"It is true that the strip is besieged from the land, the air and the sea by the Israeli occupation forces and that it can't be qualified as wholly liberated," the newspaper said.
"But it is also true that the Israeli forces don't control individual movement through the Rafah passage as they used to in the past."
Mr Meshaal's visit is highly significant for more than one reason. The most important of them is the fact that it indicates that there has been political and personal reconciliation between Mr Meshaal and a number of his detractors from within the Hamas leadership in Gaza.
This internal Hamas reconciliation paves the way for a Hamas-Fatah reunion that would bring together all Palestinian factions under one banner.
"In fact, a sizeable Fatah delegation was present at the welcoming ceremony given to Mr Meshaal at the Rafah passage and they later took part in the anniversary festivities. This is a notable indication of an imminent and anticipated rapprochement between the two poles of the Palestinian political equation," added the article.
Equally important is the fact that the resistance chief's visit followed a victory by his movement in the latest Israeli aggression against Gaza.
It was a military triumph that could lay the political groundwork for a possible recognition of Hamas as a viable political party, the paper said.
It is worth mentioning that Mr Meshaal wouldn't have been able to travel to the Strip if it weren't for Egyptian cover and Israeli approval. This means that Tel Aviv's veto over him has been lifted.
This, in turn, leads to the conclusion that Israel is seeking to validate the truce agreement and to encourage Hamas to uphold it, too.
Mr Meshaal's wing within the resistance movement is the more moderate and Israel is clearly seeking to promote it over the other more extremist wings that insist on continuing the fight and launching missiles.
"Mr Meshaal's visit to the Strip, the UN recognition of Palestine as an observer member state and the resistance's recent triumph are three important factors that put the Palestinian issue on the world's political map once again," concluded the newspaper.
Palestine state must not rest on its laurels
Dizzy from their historic accomplishment at the UN General Assembly last month, Palestinians must not let their sense of achievement bog down their struggle, wrote Barakat Shlatweh, a columnist with the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej.
Nothing has fundamentally changed on the ground with Palestine's new non-member observer state status at the General Assembly, he said.
In fact, Israel was quick to make the point that it is the dominating force in the occupied Palestinian territories. Immediately after the declaration of Palestine as the 194th member of the international community, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was already working to push through fresh settlement plans - about 3,000 new illegal housing units.
Mr Netanyahu has defied the whole world when faced with international objections to his new settlement plans in Occupied Jerusalem, the columnist added.
"So when Palestinian officials say that they will be able to make further gains on the basis of Palestine's new status … they must also realise that there is no time to waste," the columnist wrote, noting that the Palestinian people's struggle should not stop at a "protocol state".
Palestinian leaders should not expect anything concrete to come out of the recent verbal objections expressed by European countries regarding Israel's settlement plans. "These Western threats are for PR purposes only," he argued.
Who is protecting Syria's majority?
Calls to ensure protection for Syria's minority have been on the rise, but nobody has bothered about protection for the majority who are being bombarded by the regime, wrote Mazen Olaiwy in the UAE-based newspaper Al Roeya yesterday.
The Syrian regime has been seeking to force the majority into sectarian retaliation through all kinds of provocative acts. But the wise majority has steered away from any such acts against minorities, the writer said.
In response, the regime concocted in minority-populated areas destructive acts such as exploding car bombs near churches and cutting off water, electricity and communications in majority-populated neighbourhoods in multi-sectarian cities.
The current sectarian provocations are unprecedented in Syria - a place where people of all faiths and sects have coexisted peacefully. It has been home to Arabs, Christians, Kurds, Assyrians, Turks, and other Muslim and Christian sects and orders.
The fact that the tension started to appear following the outbreak of the revolution proves it is not from the people but from a regime which is trying to sow dissent among them so that minorities rally around it against the majority - its top enemy, the writer noted.
* Digest compiled by Translation Desk