x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Palestine needs a bottom-up approach

The Kuwaiti-based daily Al Jarida carried a comment piecestressing three points as the main obstacles to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

The Kuwaiti-based daily Al Jarida carried a comment piece by  Shlomo Afinri, a professor of political science at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in which he stressed three points as the main obstacles to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. First, the civil strife between various Palestinian political constituents makes a peace accord an unforeseeable idea for now as long as the Palestinians themselves have not surmounted their differences and promoted national reconciliation.

Second, "the  accession of  Benjamin Netanyahu as  prime minister reduced chances that Israel would give concessions, mainly evacuating hundreds of thousands of settlers from the West Bank." Third and foremost, the 1993 peace accord between Israel and PLO failed. The writer acknowledged that the Oslo accord attempted to establish a Palestinian state on a solid basis. The attempt, however, was not worth it. "All it got was a corrupt  and weak Palestinian Authority which was unable to meet basic needs for Palestinians." In view of this, it is high time now that a traditional top-down attitude is abandoned for a bottom-up approach to handle Palestinian internal issues by strengthening civil society institutions and devoting more efforts to economic development.

The UAE-based Al Ittihad newspaper featured an opinion article by Dr Abdul Rahman al Manea who outlined the Arab people's aspirations on the eve of the US president Barack Obama's visit to Cairo and later to Riyadh.

"There is no doubt that President Obama has expressed good intentions, which have earned him the respect of Arabs. Yet policies of international powers, like  the US, do not stand alone on the wishes of their leaders, nor on their good qualities. Rather they draw on a predetermined foreign policy forged by a number of other institutions: political, military and various lobby groups. "President Obama should understand our causes and come up accordingly with comprehensive policies that place the Palestinian issue at the core of them."

President Obama is welcome to constructively contribute to the peace process in the Middle East and his administration should not be under pressure from the right-wing Israeli government of Benjamin Nethanyahu. "As the Arab people are looking forward to President Obama's visit and its outcome, they do not expect to be asked to fully normalise their relations with Israel if the latter does not comply with the Arab peace initiative."

In an opinion piece that appeared in the Saudi newspaper Al Watan, Ahmad Mahmoud Ajaj asked: "Why did Turkey suddenly become interested in the Arab world issues after a long period of separation?" The answer is simple. "It is natural that when a country feels stronger it would seek to mark its presence on the international scene. Now Turkey is trying to create friendly relations with Arab countries after a long period of disinterest that has followed Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's era. Turkey now yearns to play a greater regional  role, claiming it has all the necessary requirements for doing that: strong cultural bonds with the Arab and Muslim world, a strategic location and a non-interference policy."

Yet Turkey's recent rapprochement should be taken with a grain of salt. It is not a genuine one. "By reviewing its record, one can easily recognise that Turkey, as soon as it settles its differences with a country and achieves its own interests, shrinks all of a sudden into its shell. Unfortunately, it is following a policy that  bears only seeds of weakness and contradiction." All in all, and no matter what  Turkey's real intentions are, it  should  respect its obligations, given the historical and religious relations that bind it with the Arab world.

In an opinion article for the UAE-based daily Al Khaleej, the columnist Ahmad al Murshed wrote that it was hard to determine the political outlook of Lebanon which  might only take full shape after generations, requiring a change of values and attitudes. Lebanon, like any other democracy, consists of majority and an opposition where a conflict constantly plays between immediate interests and  national  interests.

At issue is a fear that Lebanon may drift towards a "structural collapse" that can affect all its constituents, political and economic. Then comes the question: will the next elections mark a turning point in the history of a modern Lebanon and create a new political system that breaks with political sectarianism? Certainly, there is hope that the new elections will determine the political future of Lebanon for the long term by yielding a government that reflects the ethnic, political and religious "mosaic" of this country.

On that account, the winner in the next elections needs to bear the responsibility of demonstrating the value of Lebanon and maintain its stability. The loser needs to contribute from its position by positive oversight of the government's performance. * Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi melmoulloudi@thenational.ae