x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

No opening for Israeli ethnic cleansing

The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made a "generous" offer to resume direct negotiations, which entails freezing settlement activities in the West Bank in exchange for a Palestinian acknowledgment of Israel as a Jewish state.

The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made a "generous" offer to resume direct negotiations, which entails freezing settlement activities in the West Bank in exchange for a Palestinian acknowledgment of Israel as a Jewish state, declared the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi in its editorial. 

His offer comes two days after his cabinet approved an unprecedented bill that requires anyone seeking Israeli citizenship to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

"This is blatant blackmail. At a time when Arab foreign ministers gave the US administration a period of one month to remove the hurdles that Mr Netanyahu's government has laid before the peace process, the prime minister comes up with this crippling and insulting condition that shows disregard to Arabs and the international community." The perpetuation of the Palestinian Authority's security agreements with the Israeli rightist government, especially pertaining to stifling uprisings and arresting Palestinian activists, encourages Mr Netanyahu and his cabinet to issue discriminatory laws as a prelude to evicting more than one million Palestinians living in occupied territories.

Ethnic cleansing is a crime that contradicts all international laws. The perpetrators must not impose their own conditions nor be rewarded for their crime; they must be properly sanctioned by law. 

A speedy decision needed by tribunal 

The Special International Tribunal for Lebanon is required to reveal the names of the suspects in the assassination of former PM Rafiq Hariri as soon as possible to diffuse tensions and their repercussions in Lebanon, wrote Abdulrahman al Rashed in an article for the London-based daily Asharq al Awsat.

Indictments were expected last September, but their announcement was postponed in order to clear the atmosphere first. However, with every passing day, tensions rise and fears increase. Had the tribunal issued the indictments before, the conflict would have been moved to The Hague. Rumours surrounding the indictment list seem to agree that it would name members of Hizbollah. It is also rumoured that the main perpetrators are already dead, such as Hizbollah's military leader Imad Moghnieh.

The important issue at this moment isn't the pursuit of the dead as much as it is the protection of the living. The victims' families wake up every morning to explicit threats to withdraw their claims and halt the tribunal. Families of the assassination victims can be proud now that the whole world knows the truth. They know that the criminals weren't the Israelis or the Americans. The criminals live among them and the case is clear.

"I say don't withdraw from the tribunal, but rather look into matter in detail. Options, if any, are limited." 

Iraqi power may soon veer towards Iran 

In an article for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan, the columnist Mazen Hammad wrote: "The Obama administration is worried about plans to integrate the Sadrist movement into the new government coalition that Nouri al Maliki is likely to form, despite his affirmation that he would not give the Sadrists any security or military portfolios."

Moqtada al Sadr's support to Mr al Maliki has annoyed the US as it wants a comprehensive government coalition that doesn't grant power positions to the Sadrist movement which fought the Americans for years in Iraq, especially since Washington is still unclear on whether the movement is a political faction or an armed militia that wants to reach its objectives through any means possible. The delay in forming a new Iraqi cabinet has impacted US strategies in the country, including trade deals and the details of the US military role in the future, while the Sadrists have expressed strong opposition to any US long-term military relationship with Baghdad. Washington is trying to resist any inconvenient changes in Iraqi policies toward the US.

Increasing Iranian power in Iraq is a source of many fears, but recent political analyses show that the Iraqis are developing a sound sense of sovereignty that allows them to hold balanced relationships within their region. They have become more resistant to foreign pressure and interference. 

Two Iranian presidents in stark contrast 

In anticipation of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon this Wednesday, the columnist Hazem Saghieh wrote in an article for pan-Arab daily Al Hayat that Mr Ahmadinejad's visit cannot be compared to that of his predecessor, Mohammed Khatami, a few years ago.

In fact, the serene atmosphere that accompanied Mr Khatemi's visit is a far cry from the chaotic ambiance surrounding the arrival of Iran's current president. The characters of both men are at extreme contradiction, and the mere transfer of power from the former to the latter reflects the degradation of the political system in Tehran. It was a transformation that was dictated by regional changes, mainly the Iraqi war in 2003. As a result of this war, Iran tended to marginalise "Khatemism" that represents the maturity of the Iranian revolution, and to promote the "Nejadism" of the followers of Mr Ahmadinejad that represents the return to the early beginnings of the same revolution. "'Nejadism' emerged from the power of fear and the fear of power as a system in constant tension."

The Iranian guest will find it difficult to address Lebanon, a country of various sensitivities, as did his predecessor, when he respected the Lebanese community's pluralism and focused on it as a lab for the dialogue of cultures. 

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem