Hot off the Arab press

what citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East

Negotiating table (photo credit: REUTERS)
Negotiating table
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A real test for Israel Al-Quds, Jerusalem, November 18 With all of the settler violence and extremist attacks against our people and holy sites, Israel is making a mistake if it thinks that the Palestinian people are unable to defend themselves. Even children in Palestine know that negotiations are useless and are used by Israel to continue settlement building. The leadership’s decision to give peace a chance does not signify a lack of ability to confront the Israeli challenges. Therefore, the next few months left in the agreed nine months of negotiations will be crucial for the future of the peace process. Israel has been put to the test, in that it has to choose between abandoning the policy of expansion, colonization and occupation in order to achieve substantive progress towards peace, or continuing this policy. If it selects the latter, Israel will bear full responsibility in front of the world for the failure of the peace talks. In this case, Palestinians have many options and UN charters give them the right to struggle to end the illegal occupation.
Journalists and normalization Al-Ahram, Cairo, November 19 For the first time in the history of the journalists’ syndicate, an official delegation visited the Palestinian occupied territories, including Jerusalem. The visit poses many questions, especially in light of the syndicate general assembly’s decision not to normalize relations with Israel, says writer Fathi Mahmoud. It is not true that going to Ramallah on invitation of the Palestinian Authority has nothing to do with the Israeli authorities.
The PA sends the invitees’ details to Israel for approval. One end of the King Hussein Bridge (Allenby Bridge border crossing with Jordan) has an Israeli exit, and a PA official finishes the entrance procedures with the Israelis – who put their stamps on a different paper, instead of the passport itself. The visits to Jerusalem, although done in Palestinian cars, are watched by the Mossad. These visits are coordinated with the Israelis, to avoid their being stopped at checkpoints. All the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City and the Aksa Mosque are guarded by the IDF and security personnel.
Negotiations, where to? Dar Al-Khaleej, Abu Dhabi, November 19As the Palestinian president was saying he will continue negotiating “regardless of what happens on the ground,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was asking if Palestinians want peace, then asking them to make compromises. Netanyahu refuses to discuss Jerusalem, saying it is the eternal capital of Israel, and refuses to tackle the right of return.
Yet he wants the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and to make arrangements to ensure Israel’s security. This involves two conflicting demands – one insists on negotiations at any price, and the other has crippling conditions no one can accept. Netanyahu doesn’t care if negotiations continue for nine months or nine years, as long as he is still blackmailing Palestinians. Negotiations did not start three months ago, but 20 years before – with the same set of conditions. Hasn’t the PA grown tired of the futility of these negotiations? Israel won’t give Palestinians any of their rights and the US, the dishonest broker, won’t pressure Israel – if negotiations remain the only strategic option for Palestinians.
Iran talks: An Israeli presence and an Arab absence Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, November 18 The city of Geneva will host difficult negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program on Wednesday. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will not only face the P5+1 world powers, but also the most important behind-the-scenes party in these negotiations: Israel.
The Jewish state is waging a fierce campaign to prevent any easing of economic sanctions imposed on Tehran.
Confirmation by senior Russian and US officials that they are close to reaching a deal to freeze Iran’s nuclear activities, in exchange for lifting restrictions on about $1 billion from oil sales proceeds in international banks, has irritated Israel. French conditions on signing an interim agreement with Iran will make sense if Israel joins the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Western countries strive to reassure Israel and France is working to disrupt the negotiations to its own advantage, while the Arab countries are only observers. Iran’s abandonment of its nuclear ambitions might be in exchange for strengthening its regional role, which is something the Arab states have always complained about.
The face veil helps Saudi women go to therapyAsharq Al-Awsat, Riyadh, November 19 More Saudi women are seeking psychological therapy, and the face veil may be one of the reasons they can do so more comfortably. Prof. Tareq Habib told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saudi women are facing domestic violence as well as harassment at work, and there are no regulations to prevent violence and protect women. It’s difficult for women in Saudi Arabia to go to clinics, as they still are not allowed to drive; however, more doctors are saying the face veil is eliminating the factor of embarrassment that women might feel when visiting a therapist. Psychologist Badr Qahtani said the percentage of Saudis seeking therapy is still low, but is gradually increasing. Qahtani said there aren’t specific studies on psychological and mental health in Saudi Arabia, but thinks anxiety, panic and obsessive-compulsive disorder are the most common disorders in the kingdom.