x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Netanyahu can't ignore a political solution

The Israeli leader must eventually allow Palestine to achieve non-member-state status at the UN, a newspaper says. Other topics: piracy off the Horn of Africa and freedoms in Morocco.

Netanyahu's hardliners can no longer bank on their strategy of ignoring a political solution

Palestinians of the West Bank aren't allowed to belong to a normal state like the rest of the world and the Palestinians of Gaza aren't allowed to live in their national environment. The West Bank can't claim the status of a non-member state at the UN, and Gaza can't break its stifling siege, said the columnist Walid Abi Morshed in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

"Simply, this is the decision of the leader of the right-wing Likud Benjamin Netanyahu, and anyone who disagrees with it is immediately branded a terrorist."

It is a collective political, humanitarian and economic imprisonment imposed on an entire population. What was viewed as colonial dictatorship back in the 19th century is, in the 21st century - in the era of democracy and liberty - now a normal phenomenon that falls under Israel's "right to self-defence" against its own prisoners.

The wisdom behind the Israeli prime minister's attitude towards the Palestinians is a mystery. He refuses to naturalise their situation by granting the Palestinian Authority some form of international legitimacy.

At the same time, he insists that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, yet he desperately looks for ways to negotiate a ceasefire with them every time he wages an aggression on their territories.

Mr Netanyahu isn't looking to hold talks with Palestinians because he has no desire to reach any settlement over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This suggests that he is convinced that the colonial settlement plan that he is implementing on Palestinian territories would be sufficient to delete Palestine from the world map and end the Palestinians' claim for their land.

"It is evident from the successive Likud governments' wars on Gaza that Israel doesn't want peace. All it wants is the security of its people, towns and settlements. Hence, it would be safe to deduce that the more Hamas rockets deprive them of this security, the more ready they would be to talk about peace," the writer suggested.

The latest Israeli aggression on Gaza is but another chapter of a disproportionate confrontation. However, this last chapter wasn't the same as all the ones that came before it. This time around, Israel couldn't confine the battle to the strip and the few kilometres around it. This time around, Hamas rockets reached Tel Aviv.

How long would Likud be able to coexist with the new Hamas military formula, especially that the latest confrontation brought Palestinian factions together?

"Netanyahu's 'favour' in reuniting the Palestinians would compel him sooner or later to find a new way for dealing with them: either he classifies them all as terrorists or he agrees to think of them as citizens under an authority that holds the status of a non-member state of the UN," the writer opined.

Piracy issue sidelined for 'hotter' news

In the midst of a high-speed news cycle that is fraught with coverage of uprisings, global economic woes and, more recently, Israeli killings in Gaza, the critical issue of piracy off the coasts of the Horn of Africa keeps falling through the cracks, commented the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan in an editorial yesterday.

"Media interest in this issue has waned considerably over the past two years, as news from Syria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and, lately, from a Gaza under attack, have overshadowed the importance of international efforts to combat piracy."

The UAE's stance is clear: it wants international action against piracy. It made this clear during a UN Security Council session on the issue earlier this week, reiterating its commitment to support any regional or international effort that aims to stop armed pirates from hijacking tankers.

"Piracy is still a very real impediment to stability in the critical Horn of Africa region … a place where instability affects the rest of the world," the paper wrote.

"Joining international efforts is requisite if the international community wants to put an end to this worrying phenomenon, which costs the global economy hundreds of millions of dollars a year."

Piracy is not the kind of problem that can be waited out. It only festers, potentially hiding "disastrous consequences", the newspaper concluded.

Freedom of the press prevails in Morocco

Freedoms of press and expression have suffered a succession of setbacks in Morocco in the past decade, said the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi in its editorial on Thursday.

Newspapers have been shut down, television channels banned, journalists arrested and foreign reporters made to leave.

"However, it seems that these horrid policies that have distorted Morocco's democratic image are being reviewed," said the paper.

On Wednesday, the government announced that Arabic news channels such as Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Sky Arabia and BBC Arabic would soon be allowed to broadcast in the kingdom.

"Major developments are behind this surprising decision ... mainly the Arab Spring revolutions that toppled dictatorships that practised the oppression of freedom of expression," added the paper.

The reformist movement has been gaining strength in Morocco. Through persistent protest, it has managed to make some achievements in terms of freedoms.

More importantly, the present Moroccan government is an outcome of the revolutionary movements across the Arab world. It would be illogical for it to remain a prisoner to the ways of past governments.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk