x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Israeli settlements ­expand and kill peace

By starting the licencing procedure for building new 1,400 housing units in occupied Jerusalem, Israel has absolutely thwarted the peace process in the Middle East, noted the Emirati newspaper Akhbar al Arab.

The late move signals again that Israel is less interested in  responding to the international calls for freezing settlements and creating an atmosphere conducive to promoting peace.

The Israeli intransigent attitude is, however, counterproductive. It sparks reactions from many groups, and eventually creates a breeding ground for extremism to grow. Unlike its treatment of terror in Iraq and Afghanistan where Washington has adopted a decisive approach, it takes on a softer stance, if not a passive role, in the Middle East.

This is supported by claims published in a pro-Israeli research centre in the US that Palestinians in Occupied Jerusalem would prefer to have and maintain their Israeli citizenship than a Palestinian one. It is a cheap publicity stunt to assess the reaction of the Palestinians because Israel aims to select only the desired ones and deport the undesired from Jerusalem.

To counter the ongoing settlements, this newspaper calls for a unified Arab position and halting any naturalisation of relations with Israel.


The division of Sudan is destined to failure

The referendum in southern Sudan was a formality; its outcome had been decided long before its scheduled date, observed the columnist Jihad al Khazen in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

The entire experience of the past six years, since the idea of the referendum was agreed upon, was orchestrated in a way leading up to the south demanding separation.

The second outcome to the referendum is also decided. An internationally recognised state will be established, but it will fail as it lacks the necessary state institutions.

The worst is that the division of Sudan will happen on a sectarian basis between a Muslim North and a mostly Christian South. The division will be the result of decades of oppression, persecution and a civil war that left two million casualties.

There are no positive aspects to the referendum that could imply that the future of either north or south would be bright. All conflict issues between both sides were left to a popular consultation process including all parties, which aren't expected to agree on any of the issues any time soon.

The situation would be difficult, for southern Sudan secedes in a state that has no maritime borders, with a population of nine million people, 85 per cent of whom are illiterate.

"I expect that the new southern state will fail and I also expect that the new north will fail too."


A brain drain in the ministry of health

"The brain drain taking place in the Ministry of Health as a result of resignation of scores of doctors and technicians is a reality that should not be ignored," observed Maysa Rashed Ghadeer in a commentary for the UAE newspaper Al Bayan. "Losing medical and technical staff because of the salaries and privileges the ministry has failed to provide reveals our inability to develop one of the most important sectors in the country."

The author mentioned four cases of doctors of different specialities who chose to quit medical practice to work in administration and banking sectors. Why was the minstry reluctant to respond to the demands which medical staff in the ministry of health have made since the 1980s?

Some complain that Emirati medicial personnel leave the ministry and are hired by external contracts, which offer salaries that surpass even that of the ministry undersecretary. Many of these special contracts are granted to doctors with limited skills, who formerly worked for the ministry at lower salaries.

It is certain that the ministry of health has problems retaining medical and technical staff because the working environment is no longer attractive, forcing many to leave. This  affects a most important federal institution. The state has spared no effort in supporting its budget to provide the best services to citizens and residents.


Jeddah to suffer less flood damage this year

"Once again, fears of flooding reigned over Jeddah after rains fell heavily," noted the Saudi newspaper Al Jazeerah in its editorial. Yet although this year's rains and floods paralysed normal activities in the city after the closure of main roads and tunnels that were submerged, they were less devastating than those of last year.

Rainfall rates have decreased, although the coming days are expected to bring new precipitation. This year, no deaths are reported and no major accidents happened in comparison to last year's tragedy. The new alarm defence systems and the overhaul of civil infrastructure have helped to counter the effect of flooding this year.

Even though the public works have not been completed, what has been done so far has contributed to lessen the destructive effects of flooding.

Last year was an alarming reminder to all of what a breach of trust can bring about. Jeddah was a site of public fund embezzlment, and as a result few budget allocations were left to develop the basic infrastructure. Now that those involved have been referred to justice and serious actions taken to address any eventual natural hazards, there is space of hope that things will improve.

* Digest compiled by Mostapha el Mouloudi