x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Obama's capitulation to the Israeli agenda

It was no surprise that the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas accepted the US president's invitation to hold a tri-partite summit yesterday with the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York, wrote Abdelbari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab daily Al Quds al Arabi.

It was no surprise that the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas accepted the US president's invitation to hold a tri-partite summit yesterday with the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York, wrote Abdelbari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab daily Al Quds al Arabi. What is surprising, however, is the expeditious collapse of Barack Obama's position regarding the Israeli settlement question, which this summit is meant to gloss over.

"Mr Obama's defeat... actually proves that Mr Netanyahu knows the United States and its power mechanisms better than the US president himself." It is astonishing how a changed Mr Obama has kept pressure on the Palestinians, who actually comply with all the stipulations of the road map agreement on security measures - namely, protecting the Israelis and their settlements from attacks by the resistance - instead of exerting more pressure on the Israelis, who have aborted every US peace initiative and scoffed at the multiple US entreaties. "We would have wished the US president had waited just a few weeks more, just a few days, before kneeling like that."

In the opinion section of the Lebanese daily Annahar, the columnist Emile Khoury asked: what on earth did Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah chief, mean when, he called on Lebanon, which still lacks a government, to maintain calm and prudence, arguing that "it is better to get there late than tip our country off the cliff"?

As many analysts have said, Mr Nasrallah's call urges the Lebanese people to opt for the "lesser evil" - in this case a governmental vacuum - rather than the "greater evil", which is the chaos that would ensue if a hastily formed cabinet excluded some parties. Lebanon has known similar situations before. When the Cairo Accord was signed in 1969, allowing Palestinian operations to launch from southern Lebanon into Israel, the Lebanese people had to either approve the agreement, with all of its failings, or ready for a devastating Palestinian-Lebanese war. In the latest repercussions from these dilemmas, Lebanon is represented by a caretaker government, not the desired national-unity government, in this year's UN General Assembly meeting. Naturally this affects the country's international standing.

The Emirati daily Akhbar al Arab carried a comment piece by Khaleel Hassan, a professor of international law at the Lebanese University, surveying the major structural weaknesses of the United Nations.

The UN has repeatedly failed when its supreme principle of promoting peace and security should have come into effect. This is partly due to the fact that the UN does not exclusively operate on the political level. With too many hats to wear - human rights, advocacy, culture, education, health, environment and so forth - the organisation ends up like a jack of all trades. The UN so far has failed to resolve major international issues in the Middle East, Kashmir, Cyprus and Bosnia. It's colossal size and the looseness of some its main principlesadd to its persistent financial crises as many countries procrastinate payments. The fact that only 10 member states cover more than 90 per cent of the UN's global spending also means that the organisation is prey to its key sponsors' whims.

Over the last week, Israel has been pummelled by three major international blows that show the world's growing impatience with the country, opined Ahmed Amorabi in the Qatari daily Al Watan. But will the Arabs capitalise on it?

The first blow was the official report of the UN fact-finding commission that charges Israel with war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the attack on Gaza last winter. The second blow came when the British trade union federation issued a decision to boycott Israel. The third was dealt by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which passed two draft resolutions urging Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty and allow international inspectors to visit its nuclear facilities.

"These three unprecedented developments signal a shift in the global support that Israel has enjoyed for over 60 years." To prevent these events from being forgotten by history, Arabs must pressure the Security Council to enforce the findings of the UN fact-finding commission; second, revive the pan-Arab boycott of Israeli products; third, garner international support, through the IAEA, to force Israel to allow access to its nuclear plants.

"This, by all means, is a rare opportunity that history has granted the Arabs." * Digest compiled by Achraf E El Bahi aelbahi@thenational.ae