Voices from the Arab press: Banning the US from the peace process

A weekly selection of opinions and analyses from the Arab media around the world.

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump participate in NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) Santa Tracker phone calls with children at Mara Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida (photo credit: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA)
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump participate in NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) Santa Tracker phone calls with children at Mara Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida
Al-Ayyam, Ramallah, December 21
PM Netanyahu"s remarks at his meeting with EU Foreign Ministers (YouTube/IsraeliPM)
“Washington has succeeded throughout the decades in turning the Israeli-Palestinian peace process into an American trademark. No peace deal can be negotiated, no war can be waged, and no crisis can be overcome without the US stamp of approval. This is no exaggeration – just think of the numerous iconic photos of American presidents embracing Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
“Yet it is fair to say that America has never been a genuinely honest broker. History has taught us that, when it comes to Israel, the US can never be neutral. American presidents, from George H.W. Bush to Barack Obama, have always consulted with their Israeli counterparts before speaking to the Palestinians. This favoritism has become even more pronounced under the current administration, which appointed three Orthodox Jews to lead its Middle East team. Leading Zionist figures have also made their way into the corridors of power of the State Department and the White House, where they have ensured that Israel will always benefit from America’s intervention in the region.
“In the US’s defense, this policy was never hidden, as Washington’s preference for Israel has always been clear. Nevertheless, it is we, the Palestinian people, who were blinded by so-called American ‘goodwill gestures.’
“Therefore, the time has come to ban the US from playing any role in the peace process. Following US President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem announcement, we can only hope that President Mahmoud Abbas stays true to his stated intention to cut ties with Washington and find a different – and truly nonpartisan – mediator.”
– Sliman Abu Arshid
Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, December 21
“Although the United Nations General Assembly last week rejected the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, this was merely a symbolic act. Israel was defeated in the vote, but the situation on the ground remains the same. US President Donald Trump is determined to establish a new order in the Middle East, and, sadly, the regional political climate is allowing him to do so. Syria and Iraq have been virtually destroyed, while Yemen is crumbling before our eyes. Egypt is still struggling to recover from multiple waves of political upheaval, whereas Gulf nations are boycotting and fighting one another. Iran and Hezbollah have become a threat not only to Israel but also to the entire Arab world.
“Where, then, in this list of regional issues, does one even place the Palestinian problem? The world has simply pushed the Palestinians to the sidelines, depriving them of their last remaining right – namely, to have their voices heard. The biggest beneficiary of this turmoil is the Israeli government. Relying on this chaos, Tel Aviv has been given carte blanche to act however it pleases. With the support of the White House, it has been working to sow irreversible facts on the ground to block the Palestinians’ path to statehood.
“This grim reality will not be changed with a simple UN vote, no matter how much of a victory it was. What the Palestinian people need is an action plan, one backed by Arab states and Palestinian allies around the world. The Palestinian factions must also unite in the name of Palestine, while the international community places the matter back on its agenda.
“Otherwise, our victories will remain merely symbolic. Israel, meanwhile, will continue altering the status quo on the ground.”
– Kamal Abd al-Latif
Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 13
“Last week, the Royal Saudi Air Force intercepted a ballistic missile launched from Yemen – and there is no doubt that it came from Hezbollah and Iran. The Houthi rebels might have gained extensive experience in warfare, but they certainly have not yet mastered the ability to develop these weapons. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah was quick to deny his organization’s involvement, but no rational person can truly believe that such missiles, capable of reaching Europe, were built by a guerrilla group that can barely maintain control over its own territory. The linkage is clear: the Houthis are fighting against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, while enjoying the support and backing of the mullahs in Tehran.
“Unfortunately, the United Nations has failed us on all matters pertaining to Yemen. Instead of enforcing a long-lasting cease-fire, the international community allowed the Houthis to assert their authority over the country. The grave humanitarian situation has been mostly overlooked. The UN Security Council succumbed to the extremists and empowered Iran.
“So far, this has been a big headache for Saudi Arabia. But with missiles now in the hands of the Houthis, the threat has become even bigger. The UN must step in now, before the consequences become too grave.”
– Mashri al-Zaidi
Al Jazeera, Qatar, December 23
“Commentators are struggling to explain what exactly is happening in Washington these days. While facing an investigation into his team’s alleged secret ties with Russia, US President Donald Trump has devoted most of his attention over the past few weeks to passing a new tax bill. Beforehand, he surprised some of his closest allies by publicly recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In between these two events, he instructed Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the UN, to wage a diplomatic war against any member state that dared to defy the US in the General Assembly.
“This has been accompanied by very mixed messages coming out of the White House. Just last week, Trump’s national security adviser openly threatened to use force against Iran and its proxies in the region. Then, a few hours later, Trump’s secretary of defense announced that America intends to deal with Tehran through diplomacy. Nothing can rationally explain these rapid changes – which have come to define Trump’s White House – other than to assume that the administration’s right hand doesn’t know what the left one in doing. Trump’s team seems to suffer from internal confusion and discord. Another possible explanation is that Trump and his advisers have significant disagreements on key policy issues, leading some of his closest aides to take strong stances against him.
“Either way, both of these explanations are bad news for America and for the rest of the world. We live in an age in which nobody knows what the US’s next move might be. Gone are the days of American leadership.”
– Ahmad al-Faraj