Hot off the Arab press

A short roundup of what citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East

John Kerry in interview with MSNBC 370 (photo credit: Screenshot)
John Kerry in interview with MSNBC 370
(photo credit: Screenshot)
Israel in 2014 Al Watan, Doha, January 2 There will not be any for Israel in 2014, says writer Mazen Hammad who thinks Israelis are obsessed with predicting the future. A lot of New Years predictions and analyses fill the Israeli papers. Ha’aretz says reaching a framework agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis by the end of April, the date set for the end of negotiations, won’t be possible. However, neither party is interested in announcing the failure of negotiations, which will lead Kerry to extend the period of negotiations until 2015, according to the paper. 2014 won’t be the year when Israel attacks Iran, although the threats to hit Iran will continue. Israelis expect more European pressure, particularly regarding the issue of settlement building. Israelis are almost sure that there won’t be a third Palestinian intifada, but the protests will continue in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority will remain dependent on European aid and American-Israeli security support. The Egyptian regime’s pressure on Hamas will force the economy in the Gaza Strip to depend completely on Israel.
Fair and balanced Ideas Dar al Khaleej, Al Sharqa, January 2 US Secretary of State John Kerry claims he will provide terms for a fair and balanced settlement regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. Kerry doesn’t specify his standard of justice, and clearly United Nations resolutions and international law, often violated by the US, are not on his mind. Fair and balanced ideas have to be based on clear references, a set of laws and regulations recognized by all parties. The balance of power shows that the US is still a large power, and the US is still Israel’s strongest supporter, militarily, politically and diplomatically.
In this sense, anything presented to the Palestinians must be a concession, because the strong can also offer nothing. Palestinian refugees in this case have to pay the price of their weakness. Looking at the story from a human point of view, refugees won’t return but they can be rehabilitated. The religious dimension directing US policy on the issue of Jerusalem makes the US biased toward Zionist claims.
Israeli rudeness Al Quds, Jerusalem, January 4 There are fundamental differences between the Palestinians and Israelis. US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that Palestinians and Israelis both have to make tough decisions. Studying the positions, it seems that he meant that Palestinians have to make concessions while Israel is not required to. While Kerry is designing a framework agreement tackling the issues of borders, security, Jerusalem, and refugees, when Israel announced it will never withdraw from the Arab part of Jerusalem (east Jerusalem) that was occupied in 1967. It refuses the right of refugees to return, has asked to swap highly populated Palestinian cities with its settlements blocs, and demands that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Kerry has to be reminded that Palestinians have already paid a high price to make peace and end war. They recognized Israel’s existence on 22% of historic Palestine. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest remark that there is no Palestinian partner is another example of Israeli incitement against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The one insisting on settlement construction and illegal occupation is the side that doesn’t want peace.
Amid the fog, there is hope Al Ayyam, Ramallah, January 6 Writer Talal Okal says that the Palestinian and Israeli statements about the lack of a breakthrough in the peace talks, doesn’t mean that the American effort, coordinated with the EU, has reached a dead-end. There is an American-European determination to revive the peace talks, regardless of the American bias to Israel.
Everyone is pessimistic particularly the Palestinians and everyone says there aren’t written agreements.
At the same time, we can’t ignore Kerry’s optimism after his ninth round. President Obama also said that there has been progress in negotiations. The public remarks, the Israeli actions on the ground and Israel’s insistence that Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state, make observers believe that a peace deal is almost impossible. However, Israel cannot challenge the international community and UN resolutions, especially because Israeli cannot survive without US support. Kerry’s visit to Saudi Arabia, founder of the Arab Peace Initiative and the most important Arab country, increased his optimism. Okal concludes that any settlement will require financial and political support from the Arab states.