x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Hamas shows signs of new pragmatism

Khaled Meshaal, the political head of Hamas demonstrated a pragmatism during his latetst speech that has become characteristic of the group, argued Ali Bedwan in the opinion pages of the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

The latest speech by Khaled Meshaal, the political head of Hamas, before the sixth round of talks between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo, addressed four major issuess. He demonstrated a pragmatism that has become characteristic of the group for quite a while now, argued Ali Bedwan in the opinion pages of the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat. First, Mr Meshaal hailed "the new tone" from the US in the Arab world, but also called for tangible action to accompany words.

"In the name of Hamas, Mr Meshaal has declared a willingness to reach a settlement with the Israelis whereby a sovereign Palestinian state will be established within the 1967 borders." His second point was addressed to the Arab world, calling for a stronger official Arab stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mr Meshaal then lampooned Benjamin Netanyahu's foreign policy speech, which he claimed "reiterated Zionist principles in arrogant, boastful and insolent language".

Fourth, Hamas claimed that no inter-Palestinian settlement would be reached unless three steps were taken: Hamas political detainees had to be released by Fatah; the Palestinian dialogue must become separate from so-called "commitments to Israel"; finally they had to stop focusing on partial, temporary solutions and address "the predicament as a whole".

Those protesting against the results of the presidential elections in Iran have not been trying to overthrow the regime established by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. Nor is there any clear evidence that the system will indeed collapse, as the power of the country's institutions remains stronger than that of the activists, wrote Ali Ibrahim, in his regular column for the pan-Arab daily Asharq al Awsat.

But, the widespread popular anger at the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, while it looks like it is going to abate soon, makes it quite inconceivable that the system will come out of it "unscathed". Internationally media attention via new technologies, the "green anger" and the ensuing violence by riot police have forced the Iranian regime to make a number of concessions. So far, it has agreed to recount 10 per cent of the ballots, accept the presidential candidates' complaints and negotiate proposals to solve the crisis with the rival candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, in addition to Mr Ahmadinejad's latest decision to investigate the murder of the young Neda Sultani, who became an icon of the green revolution. Thus, Iran is now living through a decisive arm-wrestling between pragmatists and conservatives which will set the tone for a balanced Iranian political platform in the near future.

In the wake of a motion to question the Kuwaiti interior minister Sheikh Jaber al Khalid last week by the MP Muslim al Barrak, parliamentarians have taken the subject of the motion outside the walls of parliament into the street, wrote Shamlan Youssef al Issi, a regular commentator for the Kuwaiti daily Al Watan.

The fact that the minister's interrogation was intentionally vulgar marks the beginning of the end for democracy and endeavours to create a national institution, which seems not to be fully apprehended yet by the members of parliament. "Democracy in Athens collapsed when Greek philosophers allowed the street to take part excessively in the political process, which led to chaos and disarray due an uncontainable multiplicity of disagreements."

The fledgling Kuwaiti democracy is stuck in an endless political maze. Neither the government nor the parliament understand the true meaning of democracy. The government conceives of it as a way to wield exclusive power and make key decisions without taking the societal landscape into account. While the people and their representatives in parliament think of it as a means to make the most profits from the state's wealth. Now, action must be taken against Kuwait's pseudo-politicians, legislators and executives alike, who are simply after wealth and influence, only claiming to uphold the people's interests.

The Emirati daily Al Bayane described the latest Israeli offer to freeze the settlements for three months as "nothing more than a cheap, deceitful buzz". This bid by Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet aims to deviously respond to two demands from the US and the Arab world: halt settlement activity and resume peace talks with the Palestinians, the newspaper said.

Far from proving Israel's goodwill, the three-month deadline rather confirms its insincerity. The settlement freeze is becoming not a preliminary move towards solving the Middle East crisis but a precondition to it, while, on the Palestinian side, the freeze has no value whatsoever unless it is maintained, at least as long as the negotiations last. According to the Israeli press, the defence minister, Ehud Barak, will pitch this new offer during his current visit to Washington. In a long statement he made before his departure, Mr Barak reiterated his purported support for the "comprehensive solution initiative" without once mentioning a Palestinian "state."

What Al Bayane finds most outrageous is the Israeli government's claim that "it has no legal prerogative to stop the construction" as some 2,000 new housing units are "in a very advanced stage." * Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi aelbahi@thenational.ae