Hot off the Arab press 385091

What citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East

A man votes in the Likud’s internal elections. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A man votes in the Likud’s internal elections.
A concern surrounding Israeli Elections
Al-Khaleej, United Arab Emirates, December 12
The upcoming Israeli elections, scheduled to take place in mid-March, are particularly concerning for one main reason: Benjamin Netanyahu. This interim period of transition between one government to another allows the prime minister to rule his country with loose hands and no restrictions, particularly towards Palestinians.
In order to position himself as a worthy candidate over the hawkish Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Liberman, Netanyahu will do whatever he can to gain symbolic political victories. After dismissing his two dovish ministers, Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni, Netanyahu can now invest his energy in his alter ego: his instinctive racism and Talmudic-based myths of racial superiority of the “Chosen People” over the “Promised Land” of Palestine. This could be done through settlement expansion, land confiscation, house demolitions, widespread arrests and the seizure of Islamic and Christian holy sites. Netanyahu might also feel free to carry out military adventures in Gaza and the West Bank, or perhaps in neighboring Arab countries, under the pretext of “security concerns.”
–Sliman al-Anizi
Why are Arabs awaiting the results of Israeli elections?
Felesteen Online, Ramallah, December 8
In the past, not only have Arabs closely monitored Israeli elections, but some have also tried to influence their trajectory: certain Arab leaders sponsored paid advertisements in Israeli newspapers, some talked about the Arab peace initiative, and others met with moderate Israeli politicians to promote their stances.
Why is the Arab world so obsessed with the Israeli democratic process? The reasons are varied. First and foremost, democratic elections do not exist in any Arab country, with the exception of Tunisia and Lebanon. Second, the results of Israeli elections genuinely reflect the mood of the Jewish people, and thus the political attitude in the region for several years to come. Third, one Israeli leader often looses power to another, without bloodshed or violence erupting – a phenomenon unbeknownst to Arabs; the same goes for the losing candidate, who apologizes and admits his failures – unlike Arab leaders, who regard themselves as saints.
Arab and Palestinian leaders do not believe in democracy, except for in one case: that of Israel. From the comfort of their palaces and leather seats – as if it were an entertaining reality show – they watch Israeli leaders fight for their place in a truly democratic process.
Meanwhile, they use excessive force and behave with unbelievable arrogance towards their own oppressed people.
– Dr. Farz Abu Shamalah
Before the Israeli elections
Al-Ittihad, United Arab Emirates, December 12
Until elections in mid-March, the Israeli political scene will exist in a state of extreme activity – with primary elections, the formation of new parties and the defection of politicians from one list to another. On top of all of this internal activity, there is another important political process taking place: one outside Israel.
In both American and European communities, external campaigns have been launched to influence Jewish public opinion. This is important because Jews can influence the voting decision of their relatives and friends in Israel, and change the results of the elections. In 1999, for example, the American administration led by president Bill Clinton supported Labor candidate Ehud Barak over that of the Likud. Some believe this eventually brought Barak to victory and Israel to participate in the Camp David negotiations with the Palestinians.
Today, it is quite obvious that President Barack Obama prefers to see any candidate but Netanyahu win the elections; perhaps we will see some public American support of the Isaac Herzog-Livni alliance, with the hope of more moderate Israeli politics. The US now recognizes the religious character of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and understands that Netanyahu’s policies – from the Jewish Nation-State bill to the continuous attacks on al-Aksa Mosque – ignite religious tensions in the region. Will Obama finally be able to overthrow Netanyahu’s extremist government?
– Dr. Ibrahim al-Bahrawi
Israeli Right Accuses White house of Attempts to topple Netanyahu
Asharq Al-Awsat, London, December 11
Israelis are busy these days with allegations made by right-wing forces, accusing the White House of intervening in Israeli politics – in an attempt to over - throw Netanyahu. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, for example, in a closed talk with high school students earlier this week, criticized the Obama administration for trying to influence domestic Israeli policy, using harsh rhetoric against Netanyahu. In the conversation, leaked to the press, Ya’alon claimed that “even our very close allies are attacking us.” This joins several other hawkish remarks made by the defense minister regarding the Americans, most notably his personal attack on Secretary of State John Kerry’s “obsessive at - tempt to win a Nobel Peace Prize.”
US Ambassador Dan Shapiro responded that the US will “continue to work on achieving the two-state solution” and indirectly warned Israel that the midterm elections will not dissuade Obama from promoting a political process in the region. Israeli officials, meanwhile, found these remarks very disturbing, and added that American officials in Israel conduct numerous polls in an attempt to study public mood before the elections.
– Nazir Majli
Israeli elections – An attempt to overshadow Gaza
Al-Dostour, Jordan, December 10
The cease-fire signed between Israel and Hamas included a six-month period of negotiations, during which Israel was to facilitate international aid flowing into the Gaza Strip and rehabilitate its infrastructure.
But now, with the decision to dissolve the Knesset and conduct early elections, Gaza will most likely be overshadowed by the Israeli political battle over popular vote. Now that it is dissolved and heading towards parliamentary elections, the Israeli government has the best excuse to make to the international community for its inability to make any political decisions, let alone negotiations: there is no government in place.
Some Palestinian spokesmen even suggested Netanyahu would take advantage of this transition period to “escalate the aggression against the Palestinian people,” and revoke standing international commitments or obligations. In any case, it is safe to assume that the increasing focus on domestic political processes in Israel will diminish public attention towards the events of the recent summer in Gaza, and the agreement mediated between the two sides in Cairo, according to which the blockade was supposed to be eased and the Strip rehabilitated. Perhaps those paying the biggest price for the Israeli political race will not be the Israelis, but those still living under the rubble in Gaza.
– Al-Dostour staff