x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

A diagnosis of three threats to Israel

In a recent article, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz analysed three main policies adopted by Israel that represent existential threats to itself, wrote Mazen Hammad in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

In a recent article, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz analysed three main policies adopted by Israel that represent existential threats to itself, wrote Mazen Hammad in the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. The first perilous Israeli policy Haaretz points to is the 43-year-old occupation of the West Bank. The newspaper argues that ruling the Palestinians through coercive and undemocratic processes undermines the image of Israel in the international community and fuels extremist Israeli nationalist sentiments.

The second development is the expansion of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish base, whose members are becoming a burden on the country's finances as they refuse to work, enlist in the military, pay taxes or let their children receive formal schooling. The discriminatory treatment of the Israeli Arabs is the third Israeli policy that represents an existential threat. Israeli Arabs are ostracised in Israel. Their rights to education and work are hindered by Israeli regulations, which impede their integration into the social fabric. The current right-wing government promotes these three policies. Haaretz then concludes by calling on the opposition leader Tzipi Livni to take "two strategic decisions": defend the two-state solution and force ultra-Orthodox Jews to go to school and enter the job market.

The way the Palestinian Authority handles negotiations has been the subject of a long national debate in the Palestinian territories, wrote Atef Abu Youssef in the comment pages of the Palestinian newspaper Al Ayyam.

Up to this day - and let's be reminded that the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks kicked off more than 30 years ago - the results are measly and grim. Parleys on the Palestinian side have never really been channelled towards the greater good of the national cause. Instead, one faction, claiming to represent the resistance and denying other factions that same role, cloaks its ideology in rhetoric so as to release tensions within its own camp, not to manage the more consequential conflict with Israel, which by definition involves all Palestinians, including the diaspora.

True, the negotiations are a potential gateway towards achieving the demands of the Palestinian people. "But, just as true, negotiations alone will hardly ever drive an occupier away from the spoils." Due to Israeli arrogance and inter-Palestinian strife, Palestinians haven't been effectively negotiating for the past 10 years. So, the question is not only how to negotiate, but also how to manage the periods when negotiations are impossible, which are part of the struggle just the same.

"What do the 'new sanctions on Iran' really mean?" asked Jameel al Ziyabi in a comment article for London-based newspaper Al Hayat. Does it mean that zero hour is nearing and a new war in the Gulf region is in the works? In a recent statement, the US vice president Joe Biden said that the leaders of the Iranian regime are isolated now more than at any time before from their people and neighbours. However, there are many Iranians who support the president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's ideology, and they are joined by numerous allies around the world.

Sanctions will be futile, especially if they are implemented as they were in Iraq under the "food for oil" slogan, which left the people in poverty and the leadership in the lap of luxury. Ever since Mr Ahmadinejad came to office, he announced his country's desire to expand its regional influence. This target is widely evidenced by Iran's intelligence and diplomatic activities. The latest Pentagon report about Iran and its growing ballistic power - as informative as it is about the country's real military might - does not state anything new, but it is vividly reminiscent of the pre-Iraq war scenarios in all their details, which pretty much means that the region, sooner or later, awaits a new war in the Gulf.

In its editorial, the Emirati newspaper Al Bayan spotlighted the international Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) decision to place, for the first time, the Israeli nuclear file on the agenda of its upcoming meeting in June, which marks a turning point in the hitherto "taboo" issue. There have been many endeavours to discuss the Israeli nuclear power at the IAEA's council meetings before, but US pressure managed to leave it outside of scrutiny. Israel does not even countenance the mention of its nuclear plants, let alone open them for inspection.

But now it seems that the bar of confidentiality is lowered and it is possible to tackle the subject upfront. The "Israeli nuclear capabilities" entry was included in the agenda as an initial step. It is not definite yet, and the agenda is still open to modifications. The challenge now is to trump any attempt to remove that item from the list. A concentration of Arab efforts in this new direction will be necessary, if not to win the round, then at least to permanently fix this item on the agenda of future IAEA meetings. That is the way to deny Israel the privilege of secrecy that has been protecting its military plans for more than half a century.

* Digest compiled by Achraf A ElBahi @Email:aelbahi@thenational.ae