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ARAB WORLD: Media take aim at Palestinian Authority over renewed settlement expansion


Images of Israeli settlers cheering as the first cement for a new foundation was poured dominated much of the Arabic news cycle on Monday, the day after a 10-month partial moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank expired.

The tone of the coverage was subdued but also pointed. Pan-Arab satellite channels such as Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and Al Hurra reported that construction began "within hours" of the settlement freeze "despite" pleas from the United Nations for Israel to extend the ban.

Al Hurra, which is funded by the U.S. government, appeared to make a half-hearted attempt to highlight some Israeli opposition to the government's decision to allow the ban to expire, while the Doha, Qatar-based Al Jazeera focused on the current government's dependence on its right-wing base.

In the eyes of regional media, the resumption of settlement construction threatens to seriously undermine the Palestinian Authority, which recently entered into peace talks with the Jewish state despite widespread skepticism among Arabs. The authority has not pulled out of talks so far, but has already lost considerable face.

The London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi published a scathing editorial on Sunday that basically accused the leadership of selling out the Palestinian cause.

"The settlers wasted no time beginning construction yesterday throughout the settlements, while [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's government committed itself to silence and the Palestinian Authority, its leadership and spokesmen disappeared from view, and there was a hushed agreement with their Israeli counterparts not to make statements to the press," the editorial said.

"Most Palestinians lost trust in the authority after it lost what was left of its credibility, and they no longer believe the statements and positions of its leadership," it continued. "What does [President Mahmoud] Abbas want then? To stay in power even as the Palestinian Authority quickly becomes a tool of the occupation for the suppression of the [Palestinian] people, the protection of settlers and their expansionist projects, the burning of farms, confiscation of land and the complete Judaization of Jerusalem."

Samih Shbeib, writing in the West Bank-based Al-Ayyam on Monday, expressed frustration over the U.S. position and noted Arab disillusionment with the peace process, but refrained from laying full responsibility at the feet of the authority.

"What will be the position of the United States after President Obama, from the podium of the United Nations, asked Israel to halt settlement expansion?" he wrote. "Will it hold Israel responsible for stopping settlement, which is what we want and support?"

He predicted a fragile peace easily destroyed by extremists. "There will be multiple parties who have an interest in undermining the state of relative stability and raising the temperature," he said.

Some critics lamented the overall weakness of the Arab states, including Egypt, which is backing the talks. Essam El Eryan, a prominent figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, penned a cynical piece for Egypt's leading opposition daily, Al Dostor. He struck at the Egyptian regime, which he called "a frail and disorganized Arab regime, taking its final breaths and giving political cover and legitimacy to all indirect and direct negotiations in the presence of the American ambassador in Cairo."

But some despaired not just over the peace talks but the overall situation. George Semaan, writing in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat, noted that  negotiations may be the only means of staving off a complete breakdown in the peace process.

"Even those opposed to the negotiations from within the 'resistance movement,' what alternatives are they offering, and haven't they all been tried and tested?" he wrote. "The only alternatives are a return to the cycle of violence, which does nothing except strengthen hardliners on both sides ... or to wait for the next all-out war to reshuffle the deck and push everyone to the negotiating table for a comprehensive settlement."

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut and Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Israeli settlers and their supporters on Sunday celebrate the resumption of settlement construction. Credit: EPA

Comments () | Archives (8)

Hey Norm,
So if Israel is so interested in peace, why doesn't it just stop building houses on other people's occupied land as an end in itself, just because it's the right thing to do and in accord with international law and demands by the United Nations, United States and Europe?

The fact of the matter is that there was a freeze on settlement construction for 9 months and during that period Abbas stubbornly refused negotiations until a couple of weeks ago just as the freeze was about to expire. The end of the freeze on settlement construction is a useful excuse for him to end negotiations and get Israel blamed for it. Netanyahu is tired of agreeing to the Palestinian games. He is now showing that he is not playing those games any longer. Obviously the Palestinians do not want peace. Thats why they continue incitement against Israel. Thats why their school text books teach hatred of Jews and Israel.

A peace treaty and two states is do-able. Israel is smaller than New Hampshire with its back up against the sea and the proposed Arab entity is going to be about double the size of Leichtenstein! with its back up against Palestinian populated Jordan and Gaza is up against muslim Egypt. If there is peace between peoples, why not peace? the Arabs have all the land already and if they don't want to do business and trade with Israel, they can do what little business there is to do with adjascent Jordan or Egypt (and starve). But they can have their independant little 'Andora' sized country. What they are unable to do is create a vibrant modern economy like Israel as long as they stick to the old ways and old thinking which is encouraged by Muslim extrteemists.

Checkout this current map of Israeli settlements in West Bank to see why two state solution is almost impossible, one state solution anyone! say Amen!

These peace talks are jokes, fact of matter is Israel will not go back to 1967 borders and Palestinian won't accept a state which resembles a Swiss cheese, temporary freeze meant to fool Arabs and their supporters in UN to help US pass a few and block few NPT resolution for benefit of Israel in this year UN meetings, only US can pressure and save Israel since time is not on Israel side since world have changed from few decades ago when dirty Harry was a hit and apparently still is with Israelis, now more people have access to pictures and news of civilian death and daily abuses in occupied territories and are becoming aware of humanitarian causes and everyone is getting tired of Israel delaying tactics, after all Palestinians will not go away and they're only bound to be more of them as years go by with eventual integration of both side in to new state much like today state of South Africa which is being respected by all for her 180 degree turnaround on racist policies!

Ten months passed since Israel extended its hand in peace and only reluctantly after ignoring the offer for nine months did Abbas deem to show up for peace talks to talk about how to structure talk about peace talks. Now they want to continue the unproductive talks about talking that have thus far accomplished nothing.

It would appear that rather than agree and enter in to a real peace treaty its a Hudna (10 year truce and opportunity to regroup and re-attack), Abbas is simply defaulting and acquescing in the Israeli plan rather than offering real peace. The Arabs get Zone C, which they already govern; Israel gets Zone A, which it governs and where the resettlements are located, and Zone B is the only dispute and will act as a buffer where the Barrier is not located. Its not worth going to war over Zone B and a peace treaty can't be entered into by Abbas as he doesn't have elected authority to sign a treaty that can't be rescinded by a later Arab administration claiming he was not legitimately authorized to act.

Their problem is, I suspect the Israelis have yet another few items up their sleeve; population transfer of Israeli Arabs to Zone B and Behouins, too. Then there is the matter of the Golan. Acquiescence is also not an option for Abbas.

Where are the stories on Darfur-Yemen-Thailand?
They are being killed by radical islam everyday..

Speaking of the Arab media, they're not all slanted towards the exclusion of normalized relations with Israel or, for that matter, Jews, are they?

Paste in the address below and see how Jews are portrayed in newspapers throughout the Arab world.

In short, I'd take everything posted from Arab media with a grain of salt the size of Gibraltor.


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