x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Palestinians have nothing left to trade

"The attitude that has shaped Israeli public opinion is the assumption that Israel should have exclusive rights over the whole land," observed Mazen Hammad in the opinion section of the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

"The attitude that has shaped Israeli public opinion is the assumption that Israel should have exclusive rights over the whole land," observed Mazen Hammad in the opinion section of the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. Bearing this in mind, how would the Israelis look at indirect negotiations with the Palestinians? The Israeli journalist Ariel Shaul answered by calling on Benjamin Netanyahu to remould the way Israelis consider their dispute over land with the Palestinians.

To progress in talks, Israelis need to think of Palestinians as equal partners and, most importantly, they should follow UN resolutions about the boundaries of the future Palestinian state. Mr Shaul also asked Mr Netanyahu to stop accusing previous governments of giving too many concessions to Palestinians.  Rather, the Palestinians have been forced to accept disadvantageous offers whereby Israel preserved major settlement clusters. They also agreed unwillingly on compromises regarding critical issues of refugees, the status of East Jerusalem and sovereignty rights of a future Palestinian state. These concessions, backed by Arab countries, have encouraged Israel to ask for more to the point where Palestinians are left empty-handed with nothing to trade with. "For these reasons, it is difficult, if not impossible, for the indirect talks to see any breakthrough."

As intermediary discussions go on between the US envoy George Mitchell and the Israelis and Palestinians, some recent provocative acts by Israeli are counterproductive, observed the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds in its editorial. The newspaper decried statements by Israel's deputy prime minister Silvan Shalom, who lashed out at the Palestinians. Mr Shalom said his government would examine expanding a settlement in Ramallah.

Israel was skating on thin ice when it encouraged a right-wing extremist organisation to hold a press conference attacking the Palestinian Authority and the media. Having assessed the situation, the Palestinian leadership was right in not officially declaring their stance regarding the launch of indirect negotiations. It decided rather to wait until after a meeting between the Palestine Liberation Movement and Fatah's central committee to state their position. The Palestinian Authority should collect as many assets as possible and have a clear vision on future talks. As there is no change envisaged in Israeli policies towards the Palestinians, it is of no use to engage at present in indirect negotiations. Mr Mitchell should address this situation first.

In a provocative interview with the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel, the Libyan leader Col Muammer Qadafi, lashed out at Switzerland, praised his relationship with Italy and described the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "revolutionary but not progressive", according to the version of the interview reprinted in the London-based newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

Asked about his country's recent animosity towards Switzerland, Mr Qadafi said the European country's behaviour lately was "bad", citing the Swiss parliament's legislation to ban the construction of minarets last year, the reproduction of caricatures of Prophet Mohammed and the ill treatment his son received during his stay in a Swiss hotel about two years ago. "Large-scale money laundering takes place in Switzerland," Mr Qadafi said. "Every tax evader goes to Switzerland and whoever wants to open a secret bank account ends up in Switzerland, and many holders of these accounts later die in mysterious circumstances. "That's why I'm calling for the dissolution of Switzerland as a state. The French part should go to France, the Italian part to Italy and the German part to Germany. Even Ayman al Zawahiri took al Qa'eda's money to Switzerland, and it's still there."

"Accusing Syria of sponsoring terrorism is a US attempt to justify imposing new sanctions. Such a move is a lie and the same policy adopted towards any state which opposes American plans for political control and domination," noted the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej in its leader.

The newspaper considers the charges against Syria as baseless, describing them as an act of "political blackmail". The US's statement on sanctions was manipulative because it referred to its own security, even though it is really concerned with Israel. The attempt to impose new sanctions on Syria reveals that there has been no change in US policies under the president Barack Obama. "As previous administrations did, the US considers Israel's security as an extension of its own. The statement is yet again an order to Arabs to submit to the will of Israel.

"If Syria truly supports the right to confront the occupation and deserves the sanctions, what does Israel deserve when it exercises state terrorism and commits war crimes as documented by international reports?" * Digest compiled by Mostapha El Mouloudi melmouloudi@thenational.ae