x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Israel is America's top priority

The Qatari newspaper Al Watan featured a comment piece saying: "If Netanyahu agrees with the two-state proposal, Arabs need accordingly to give concessions like the status of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees."

The Qatari newspaper Al Watan featured a  comment piece by Ahmed Khalil who wrote: "Speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference, John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said: 'Times may change. But one thing we know: America's support for Israel's dream and Israel's security - that will never change!' And this is what has been reiterated by US presidents all throughout the years by US presidents, starting from Harry Truman to Barack Obama."

The latest remarks by the US president Obama were about revitalising the peace process through the support of  regional allies. In response to President Obama's speech, the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going to deliver a speech at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv. He said  he would  present the Israelis with his government's principles regarding the peace process.    "What we can expect at best from President Obama during his term is to put pressure on the Israeli government to accept the two-state solution proposal - no more, no less. If that happens, it  should not be seen as an all-out achievement. The previous Israeli government had, in fact, agreed in principle on this. Yet many consider that if Netanyahu agrees with the proposal, Arabs need accordingly to give concessions like the status of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees." 

"The Lebanese election results were determined by the political outcome of the last four years more than they are the basis for the next four years," wrote Satea Noureddine in his regular column for the Lebanese daily Assafir. "The fact that most Lebanese voted against the March 8 alliance means they rejected the resistance and its arms, the relations with Syria and its complications as well as any link with Iran and its taboos."

The March 14 alliance will need to prove they can be up to the challenge and bear the "burden" of this electoral victory. But the election outcome is less likely to correct the persistent security imbalance in favour of March 8 bloc and its allies. The latter will be reluctant to admit their defeat which they may take as a personal defeat of the Lebanese Shiites who have sought expand  their political role along with the Christians.  What we have witnessed was an electoral revolution against the legacy of the past four years. The course of converting this breakthrough into a political revolution is still seeded with endless internal and external obstacles. Yet they can be surmounted by Lebanese democracy, which has emerged this week victorious.

"I was surprised by the kind of language used during the electoral debate between the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his rival Mahdi Karrubi, not only because the two contestants were involved in an argument, but because at some point they started talking about their wives and exchanging accusations of financial crimes," wrote Abdul Rahman al Rashed in an opinion piece carried by the London-based Al Sharq al Awsat.

The author admitted, however, that the televised debates had some positive aspects as they gave the international audience a different insight into Iranian political life. "They are a platform to understand what is said in a  country where freedoms have increasingly been strangled since Mr Ahmadinejad took power."  Mr Karrubi was aware that the current president could not defend his record, nor be convincing to the Iranian people. The poor performance of the Iranian economy and abuse of the country's resources stand as a testimony to his government's failure to fulfill its obligations towards its citizens. Mr Ahmadinejad's last resort was a preventative attack, which is the only rhetorical trick he has mastered in his public speeches and it was the one he used against his rival, even if it cost him by using populist language.

"It has been  long time since Arabs have heard a speech like the one the US president Barack Obama delivered at Cairo University," wrote Dr Ahmed al Baghdadi in a opinion piece that appeared in the UAE-based Al Ittihad newspaper. "Although it brought forward nothing new, the speech was linguistically elevated and its political concepts were lucidly expressed. Why did the Arabs hail the new address?"

The writer suggested that Arabs found the new message more balanced compared to its counterparts during the last eight years. Under the former US president's administration, Arab regimes felt continuing pressure to collaborate in the global war against terror in exchange for US's changing its policy of promoting democracy and introducing political reforms. As for the Palestinian cause, Mr Obama was clear: the bonds between Israel and the US were deeply rooted and Hamas must recognise the state of Israel. He supports the two-state-solution.

Arabs, taken by the rhetorical power of words, have reacted emotionally to the speech. It seems that they have not yet learnt from past experiences. "I am wondering accordingly when will Arabs be able to make a distinction between reason and emotion as Israelis do?" * Digest compiled by Moustapha Elmouloudi melouloudi@thenational.ae