Review of the Arab press

March 28, 2007 at 8:34 AM
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AMMAN, Jordan, March 28 (UPI) -- Arab press roundup for March 28:

London-based al-Hayat said Wednesday the Palestinian issue was the "founder" of Arab summits for the past 61 years, as it was the central Arab cause. But since the 1993 interim Palestinian-Israeli peace accords, the Arabs have dealt with the issue as if it was a question of borders between Palestinians and Israelis, not as a wider Arab-Israeli conflict. The Saudi-financed daily argued in a commentary that many peace proposals have been floated in the past 14 years to resolve the Middle East conflict, saying the Saudis have managed to revive the 5-year-old Arab peace initiative ahead of this year's Arab summit, which starts in Riyadh Wednesday, despite Arab divisions on the peace process. The paper, distributed in many Arab capitals, praised Saudi efforts in succeeding in gathering most of the Arab leaders to meet and prepared the atmosphere to create optimism for common Arab action that could move forward Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. "But it is important not to raise the ceiling of expected results," it said, adding the initiative still has a long and difficult way to go before it can be implemented. It urged the Arabs not to deal with the upcoming negotiations from the "angle of bartering with Washington because the initiative is based on the principle of land-for-peace and normalization (with Israel), not Palestinian rights in return for improving the conditions of the American dilemma in Iraq." The Riyadh summit, it said, convenes amid clear and specific political guarantees supported by a united Palestinian position, adding this in itself is a Saudi success that calls for optimism.

The Palestinian al-Quds said while the Arab people anticipate the resolutions of the Arab summit amid unity, it is more important for the resolutions to be accompanied by mechanisms of implementation. The Jerusalem-based Arabic daily said such mechanisms should be based on "political and economic pressure cards" in the hands of the Arab nation to use to achieve the aspired Arab objectives. The mainstream paper, close to Fatah, added, "As Palestinians, we look for a clear implementation mechanism that guarantees breaking the unjust blockade imposed on our people and their national authority." It stressed in its editorial the Palestinians are looking for clear support for the national unity government and achieving peace and national Palestinian rights based on international resolutions. "If our previous bitter experiences with Arab summit decisions were nothing more than ink on paper written in a state of Arab impotence and fragmentation, we hope this Arab summit will constitute a happy surprise for the Palestinian people and all Arab peoples," it said.

Jordan's al-Rai commented those who don't recognize that Hamas leaders in the Palestinian Authority have given substantial concessions to Israel "must be politically blind." The mass-circulation daily, partially owned by the government, said it had hoped the concessions had been given due to direct Israeli pressure so that Hamas would have gotten concessions from Israel in return. "But the problem is that Hamas made these compromises in response to Arab and international pressures, so they were (given) free and didn't receive any Israeli concessions," it said. The paper argued that after Hamas gave in to the majority of Israeli and international Quartet conditions, Israel should respond, saying the Arab summit is the appropriate opportunity for a decisive Arab initiative to end the long Arab-Israeli conflict. "The time is right to resolve the Palestinian cause, requiring three conditions: An Arab decision, an Israeli desire for real peace and a balanced mediator," it said.

Qatar's al-Rayah remarked in its editorial the Arab leaders find themselves faced with unprecedented and enormous challenges as they meet in Riyadh. The pro-government daily said the biggest challenge facing the summit is to avoid coming out with the same resolutions of past meetings without finding mechanisms for implementation. If such mechanisms are found, it would gain the trust of Arab masses in common Arab action, it said. The paper stressed that before talking about the 2002 peace initiative, the Riyadh summit should do more than just give lip service, especially because this initiative was criticized by the Israelis and Americans. "The summit should come up with a tough political stand that provides a wall for the initiative to lean on; and at the same time find mechanisms to implement it," it said. The editorial added the leaders should also not forget to address the pressing issues of Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Lebanon. It urged the leaders to realize the summit "stands just a few meters from unprecedented looming dangers in the Arab world that require presenting unprecedented scenarios for solutions to all these critical crises."

The United Arab Emirates' Akhbar al-Arab, which describes itself as independent, published a cartoon on the uphill Arab struggle to reactivate the 2002 peace initiative. The cartoon in the Abu Dhabi-based daily shows a sweating man with an Arab headdress pushing a gigantic rock up a bumpy mountain. The rock reads: "Arab peace initiative," while a sign with an upward arrow posted on the mountain says "the summit."

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