x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Hamas adds spice to Middle East process

Hamas has fallen in line with the American political recipe that is cooking for the Middle East and sent sufficient signals that it will add a little spice to it, wrote Mazen Hammad in the Qatari daily al Watan.

Hamas has fallen in line with the American political recipe that is cooking for the Middle East and sent sufficient signals that it will add a little spice to it, wrote Mazen Hammad in the Qatari daily al Watan. The Hamas offer was announced by Khalid Meshaal himself and at the right time. The political leader of the Islamic movement said without equivocation that his group would positively help find a "just solution" to the Palestinian issue. He did not fail to praise the "new language" used by US President Barack Obama.

Meshaal also informed the Egyptian officials he met in Cairo over the last couple of days of his satisfaction in the "evident change" in the American position. In the meantime, Meshaal's deputy, Musa Abu Marzouq, invited Obama's administration to direct talks with Hamas as a representative of a large portion of the Palestinian people. The US administration's peaceful approach in dealing with the region is undeniably in need of the Islamic movement's blessing and involvement, the author argued, as the crackdown by Fatah on Hamas members in the West Bank undermines national reconciliation efforts and supports Israel's claims that there's no Palestinian partner to enter into any future negotiations with. Erasing Hamas from the political map might be dream contemplated by some parties, but it remains impossible to achieve.

American officials are putting forward a number of prerequisites for an acceptable peace deal, as part of the debate on the relaunch of the Middle East peace process, wrote Samy al Zubaidi in an opinion article published by the Jordanian daily al Rai.

US officials in Washington and their envoys to the region agree in their statements that Jewish settlements are a major impediment to any resumption of the peace process and consider any further construction as illegal. The Israelis feel the confrontation with Washington is looming and know, as a source close to the US administration said, that the Israeli prime minister who agrees with the US would be ending his political life. But the deadlock is approaching and the gap is widening between Israel and its Jewish friends in Washington. Israel cannot be the obstacle to a peace settlement sponsored by the US administration, which has the power to directly influence public opinion inside Israel.

In the author's opinion, the Americans are right in directing their criticism towards the settlement expansion policy which represents the backbone of Israeli government ideology. The suspension of all settlement activities by Israel, under American pressure, will then be the real test for Washington and will show how serious this administration is in seeking a just solution to the conflict, concluded the columnist.

In an opinion article entitled "Reading the Syrian position", run by the Beirut-based daily al Safir, Satei Nour Eddine quoted a western diplomat who said that he was "afraid it will take the Lebanese 30 years to realise that Syria, which reigned over their destiny for 30 years, has left the country and was not interested anymore in interfering in their internal issues".

This statement, wrote the columnist, was made just before the Lebanese headed to the polling stations and before a majority of them later celebrated an unequivocal victory over Damascus and its allies, particularly in the border regions, the four provinces which were part of Syria before they were annexed to Lebanon by the French. One of the main characteristics of the election was precisely the serious and unprecedented neutrality observed by the Syrians, who have never kept so distant since the 1976 incursion into Lebanon. Its intervention in favour of its allies was insignificant compared with other Arab and foreign parties interference. The fact is even recognised by its foes in their private meetings.

For the author, there was a clear commitment by Damascus to the US, French, Saudis and Turks not to interfere, should its allies lose the poll, as a sign of goodwill towards Washington and Riyadh mainly. So Syria is definitely out of Lebanon and above all the latter is no more considered as a source of concern.

In Kuwait, no one knows which member of parliament belongs to which group and who represents whom, wrote Wael al Hasnaoui, in his regular opinion column run by the Arabic Kuwaiti daily al Rai, responding to the question: when will the parliament be dissolved? The second session of the majlis, immediately following the first one, was thus called the parliamentary row session. Everyone was fighting everyone on any and all issues. A number of controversial questions on the agenda are always available to start a parliamentary fight: the Kuwaiti-Iraqi dispute, double nationality holders, etc, in addition to any old individual conflict between any two members.

Bearing in mind this scenario, one can imagine the atmosphere that will mark the coming sessions, particularly with a number of new members who have not had a chance to get into a fight yet. Once this happens, one can only expect the worse. The customary question will soon be asked again, and the public will start wondering when this parliament will be dissolved. * Digest compiled by Mohamed Naji