x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

EU's Jerusalem stance is 'half a step'

As expected, Israel has succeeded in putting pressure on European states to make the recent EU decision regarding the Palestinian question no more than "half a step" on the right track, commented Jalal Arif in the opinion pages of the Emirati daily Al Bayan.

As expected, Israel has succeeded in putting pressure on European states to make the recent EU decision regarding the Palestinian question no more than "half a step" on the right track, commented Jalal Arif in the opinion pages of the Emirati daily Al Bayan. The draft decision started off claiming eastern Jerusalem as the prospective capital of the Palestinian state. But later the phrasing of the decision became rather ambiguous and the future of Jerusalem was left up to the Palestinians and the Israelis, on the premise that the Holy City is to become the capital of both states.

The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, expressed his disappointment with how some European countries have abandoned clearer and stronger positions that they had previously held in the 1980s and 1990s of the past century. "The other question that we and Mr Abbas must bear in mind is: Was it really the European position alone that has changed? Is the current Palestinian-Arab position itself up to the level of more solid stances held in the past?" The main part of the issue is not necessarily Israel's influence as much as it is the porous nature of the Arab front and the deplorable division of the Palestinians. "Given the circumstances, it would make sense for us to shout a half-cheer to a half-positive European decision."

A group of armed Israeli settlers stormed a Palestinian mosque on Thursday night in a town near the city of Nablus in the West Bank and burnt copies of the Quran and other religious reference books before setting the mosque on fire, the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi reported in its editorial.

"Eyewitnesses said that the settlers broke the doors of the mosque and wrote on its walls a message that threatens to burn 'everything', which means that similar attacks may take place in the next few days." The Israeli authorities are well aware of the misdeeds of the settlers but hardly ever respond to them. It would be no exaggeration to say that the Israeli state offers them protection because they are the ones who have supported the current right-wing government's ascent to power.

This is not the first time that settlers have broken into a mosque and set it on fire, and it won't be the last. But the question is the role of the Palestinian security forces who never hesitate to confront Palestinian demonstrators who take to the streets to voice their anger. Why would they even be called "Palestinian" forces if protecting Palestinian mosques and citizens is not their prerogative?

The Lebanese president Michel Suleiman is on a three-day visit to Washington on an invitation by the US president Barack Obama, wrote Nizar Abdul Qadir in the editorial page of the Lebanese newspaper Al Diyar. Of course, the visit will not be limited to a meeting between the two presidents at the White House. Mr Suleiman is also scheduled to hold talks with prominent figures of Congress and the US administration in order to, first, flesh out the Lebanese position regarding the new US peace proposals for the Middle East; second, get a true sense of the American standpoint concerning Beirut's refusal to grant citizenships to the Palestinians residing on Lebanese territories; and third, negotiate the kind of support that the US may still be committed to provide for Lebanon, especially in terms of training and equipment for the Lebanese army.

Just as importantly, Mr Obama's invitation comes as a rebuttal to rumours that the US administration is no longer concerned with Lebanon's sovereignty and rather is considering to halt support for Beirut now that Washington's ties with Syria are slowly starting to mend. There are contrary reports, however, about the US administration's readiness to continue providing equipment and training for the Lebanese army despite the staunch opposition of Israel and its friends in Congress.   

After more than 30 years following the Khomeini revolution, Iran is witnessing cultural and political movements led by intellectuals and university students and bolstered by some of the most prominent religious figures of the landmark spiritual city of Qom, noted Abdul Malik al Sheikh in the comment section of the London-based newspaper Asharq al Awsat. All these members of the Iranian intelligentsia are putting back into question the principles of the Iranian revolution. The Supreme Leader - a position that was created in 1979 after the success of the Khomeini revolution and is currently occupied by Ali Khamenei - is one of the most targeted figures by this political, religious and popular movement of rethinking.

"Voices of religious men are increasingly louder in their criticism of the Supreme Leader and his political decisions. Some are even going beyond the person of the Leader and are questioning the very position he is holding." This radical change in the stance of religious and intellectual figures, and the Iranian public opinion as a whole, regarding the institution of the Supreme Leader is proof enough of the deterioration of its prestige, sanctity and religious-political legitimacy.

* Digest compiled by Achraf A El Bahi aelbahi@thenational.ae