Hot off the Arab press 483044

What citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East

Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump (photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)
Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump
(photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)
America’s 4+2 Alliance
Al-Khaleej, UAE, February 24
Several leaks have been circulating across international news outlets in recent days regarding Washington’s intention to launch a security alliance that would consist of four Arab countries, Israel and the United States. The purpose of this “4+2” alliance would be to counterbalance the growing Iranian influence in the region, which poses a threat to all parties involved.
So far, we have yet to hear confirmation of these reports from a single Arab government. But if Arab governments are efficient at one thing, it is to deny allegations of possible collaboration with Israel. The silence we are witnessing is thus worrying. What are these governments trying to achieve? It seems like the only plausible reason for an Arab state to join this alliance would be to strengthen its ties with the United States. But at what cost? Why is partnership with Israel a precondition to warming ties with Washington? What about the Palestinian cause? It is obvious that if such an alliance were to be formed, Israel would use it as a tool to legitimize its continued occupation of the Palestinian people. With four Arab states by its side, it will have all the international legitimacy it needs to act is it wishes.
As far as I can tell, the only beneficiaries of such a deal would be two opposite sides: the Israelis on one hand, and extreme Islamist organizations on the other.
Both will take a stab at the moderate Arab regimes in order to promote their own interests. Both will leave the Arab public mistrusting its governments and questioning its loyalties.
To those Arab regimes that are contemplating the offer, I will simply say: If you play with fire, do not be surprised when your fingers get burned.
– Arib Rantawi
The price of being Palestinian
Al-Quds al-Arabi, London, February 21
Every Palestinian resident in Jordan coming from the Gaza Strip now needs to pay the equivalent of $150 a year to renew his or her permit of stay. This new fee marks a dramatic surge from the old price, which stood at less than $20 a year. In other words, being a Gazan Palestinian in Jordan today costs $13 a month – or what the average Jordanian pays monthly for water and electricity.
To make matters worse, these numbers grow even larger when one takes into account that very few, if any, Palestinian families consist of one single person.
More household members mean more fees, which means that, in reality, Palestinians spend thousands of dollars a year on bureaucratic fees that allow their stay.
Without this fee, Gazans are at risk of being detained or arrested by the police, they cannot register to universities or seek healthcare services, and they certainly are not able to move freely in and out of the country.
This is a true crisis. Jordan is home to thousands of Palestinians who are Jordanian passport holders but are treated as second-, if not third-class, citizens. These individuals are not only deprived of their basic rights in the kingdom, but are also barred by the Israeli occupation authorities from traveling to the West Bank.
The Egyptians, similarly, prohibit them from returning to Gaza.
Thus, they are living in a constant state of transit.
They are citizens of nowhere. They are perpetually refugees, no matter how hard they work to build a new future for themselves and their families.
– Muhammad Ayish
Human shields and the law of war
Al Jazeera, Qatar, February 19
Quietly and with very little media attention, hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in Iraq and Syria at the hands of the US-led coalition operating against Islamic State. In fact, entire cities have been destroyed from the air, leaving nothing but piles of rubble and dust where they once stood.
When confronted about civilian casualties of war, American and British military officials often hide behind the excuse of “collateral damage.” They explain that in order to block Islamist forces from taking over entire regions, some civilian populations will inevitably be “affected.”
What they neglect to mention is that human shields have become an acceptable practice among Western forces operating in Syria. Killing innocent civilians is not their goal, but it is, however, viewed as a necessary evil in the battle against ISIS.
The United States and Britain are not alone. The colonial Zionist entity has been using this exact doctrine for several decades now against the Palestinian people.
That there exists explicit international law outlining what is and isn’t permitted in war does not bother Western armies. They continue acting as they wish, using terrorism as an excuse to violate every article of the Geneva Convention.
One cannot claim to fight against barbarism and fundamentalism, while indiscriminately bombing and killing entire civilian populations as if this is a legitimate tool of war.
Hassan Abu Haniyeh
Kushner, the new Middle East envoy?
Asharq al-Awsat, London, February 23
US President Donald Trump seems to have delegated the Israeli-Palestinian file to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is busy devising a Middle East peace plan.
There are plenty of ideas and suggestions on how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They range from the one-state solution to far-fetched ideas like forming a confederation with Jordan and Egypt. The problem isn’t with ideas; it is with on-the-ground implementation.
Kushner can be an avid supporter of a negotiated peace deal, but nothing will be achieved until the situation on the ground improves for Palestinians.
On the Palestinian side, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must put aside his own interests of political survival and work to achieve national unity. Instead of devoting his time and effort to weakening his political rival Muhammad Dahlan, he would serve his people better by reconciling with Hamas.
But the situation, of course, is not simply Abbas’s fault. The main beneficiary of the current stalemate is, obviously, Israel. While some deals are certainly better than others, any deal is better than none. When the two sides turn their backs to each other, the only beneficiary is Israel, which continues its covert annexation of Palestinian land by setting facts on the ground.
The Palestinian issue is one of the most burning ones of our time. But simply appointing a Middle East envoy who will drop a new solution from the sky won’t change a thing.
The problem, in other words, is not with the mediator but with the leadership on both sides. Both leaders are stuck to their chairs, worried about their survival, and refuse to take action, despite sitting on a ticking bomb.
– Abdulrahman al-Rashed