x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

No avail to overreact to Nethanyahu's speech

Washington said that the Israeli prime minister had taken a step forward to ending Middle East conflict, while Europe stated that he had brought something new and positive but his speech included many conditions and details that need more clarification.

Tariq Alhomayed, editor-in-chief of the London-based daily Al Sharq al Awsat wrote: "The US and EU gave a cautious welcome to the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech in which he outlined his vision regarding the peace process and an independent Palestinian state." Washington said that the Israeli prime minister had taken a step forward to ending Middle East conflict, while Europe stated that he had brought something new and positive but his speech included many conditions and details that need more clarification. In the Arab world, however, the speech's proposals were rejected. The writer warned Arabs to be cautious and not to rush in expressing their opinions. "Otherwise, they will put themselves into a position of blame since Mr Netanyahu did not announce anything new, except his conditional backing for a Palestinian state. More than that, the whole message was primarily intended for the US president Barack Obama. If Arabs continue expressing random responses, they may find themselves in a clash of interests with the Europeans and Americans. And this is just what Mr Nethanyahu would like to see happening." Arabs need to be demonstrate a high degree of self restraint in order to avoid being put into a line of confrontation which may prompt the Americans to lift their pressure on Israel's prime minister to pursue the peace process.

"Regardless of whether the latest Iranian elections were fair and free, or whether they were manipulated, the region might have to withstand another four hard years," wrote  Saleh al Qalab in a comment article for the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida. It is out of the question to think the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will change. Nor will he come eventually to recognise that those illusions that possess him may drag Iran into a real tragedy, which would affect the whole region. "While we cannot oppose the results of the elections because that is purely an Iranian internal affair, we have to bear in mind that those who supported Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had in fact voted for his policies that Iran should be the key regional player, even at the expense of the welfare of its citizens. "This approach underlies the policy dictated by various religious, military and security institutions in Iran. Its persistence will only heighten anxiety in the whole region during the next four years." "Undoubtedly, it would have been far better if Mir Hosein Mousavi had won because he is different at least in terms of his general qualities although not in terms of the core foundations of the revolution. After all, who steers the governance in Iran will always remain the supreme leader."

"The visit of the Libyan leader Col Muammar al-Qaddafi to Italy came to seal forty years of difficult relations between the two countries," wrote Tawfik al Madini in an opinion piece that appeared in the UAE-based newspaper Al Bayan. The visit came also to consolidate the Italy-Libya friendship treaty of 2008, an event described  by Libyans as historic after Italy had apologised to Libya for its colonial rule in the country. Besides compensation and  investment terms, the treaty also constitutes a legal framework for co-operating in security, especially countering illegal immigration. Many observers also considered the Libyan leader's visit as a major step towards developing his country's relations with Europe. Yet some Europeans are still reluctant to fully engage with Tripoli on the grounds of its attitudes and policies. "Many link promoting Europe's relations with Libya with the latter's action to improve its human rights record." "Generally, improving comprehensive European-Libyan relations is still faced with two obstacles. First, while Libya has introduced some reforms, it needs yet to further privatise many sectors of its economy. Second, Libya needs to engage in political reform because it can neither develop its relations with Europe nor open up to the globalised economy while its policies are rooted in the Cold War era."

"Arab reactions against the plans suggested by the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu underscored the fact that his proposals not only contradicted the principles of a just and comprehensive peace, but are also aimed at disrupting the very basis of the Arab plan for a two-state solution. Moreover, Mr Netanyahu outrightly refused to heed the call to stop settlement expansion," reported the leading article the Qatari newspaper Al Raya. Unfortunately, the Americans, who had expressed their will to give an impetus to the peace process on the basis of the Arab peace initiative, primarily the two state-solution, reacted unexpectedly by hailing Mr Netanyahu's speech. American remarks contradicted all previous US official statements, "which push us to question to what extent the US is objective in its efforts to achieve peace". All that Mr Nethanyahu stressed in his speech were but anti-peace programmes that are likely to topple previous efforts to secure peace and security in the region. "Truly, it was a disappointing speech for all Arabs, and reveals that to bet on Israel for a peace deal is a bad choice." * Digest compiled by Moustapha Elmouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae