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1-15 October 2012                          13-28 Zaiqadah 1433 Hijri

Note: Using editorials as an indicator, this series presents views, understanding and attitude of the Urdu periodicals in India towards various developments concerning the Middle East. The selection of an item does not mean the endorsement or concurrence with their accuracy or views. Editor, MEI@ND

Dawat Online (Invitation), New Delhi
Editorial, 1 October 2012, Monday
1. The Palestine Issue

The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has appealed to the world to work towards the realization of the State of Palestine. During his address to the sixty-seventh UN General Assembly meeting, he demanded that Palestine be given an observer state status. The Israeli refusal to accept a two-state solution and its efforts towards limiting the Palestinian Authority were also brought to the notice of the General Assembly. He also mentioned the problem of continuing settlement construction in West Bank and East Jerusalem. During his speech, he further accused Israel of sabotaging the Middle East peace process. The Palestinian leader received support from many other countries. As far as the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is concerned, it is agreed that it can be resolved only through a peaceful process. Similarly, it is accepted that unilateral moves cannot resolve the conflict. If Israel wants the Arab-Muslim world to recognize it, then it should also recognize the free and independent State of Palestine. It is important that both sides agree to enter into negotiations and work towards maintaining an environment conducive for talks. It is also important not interfere in the status of disputed territories. This principle was devised by the UK and the US and has been agreed upon by others.

The Palestinians have been at loss in every condition; nothing is left for them to lose anymore. They have already lost their lands, which they are struggling to retrieve. They are ready to talk with Israel upon the condition that prior commitments are fulfilled. The first commitment, which is yet to be fulfilled, is that Israel withdraws from all the lands occupied during the 1967 war. It should stop any construction of Jewish settlements in West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem so as not to alter their situation. Israel has declared Jerusalem to be its capital and yet this has not been recognized by any country including the US. The Jewish settlements are also considered illegal according to international laws. Until now, Israel has refused to withdraw from lands it occupied during the 1967 war. The UN resolutions have demanded the return of these areas to the respective countries but Israel refuses to accept such a principled stand. It has also not accepted the right formation of a State of Palestine. The Israeli proposals do not recognize the need for the establishment of a State of Palestine. The US until now had taken a principled state towards the need for such a formation but the latest address of the US President in the General Assembly indicates that the US has also changed its stand. It has instead aligned its stand to that of Israel. This also diminishes the chances for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Dawat Online (Invitation), New Delhi
Editorial, 4 October 2012, Thursday
2. A Statement by the Israeli Minister of Defence

Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, in a recent statement, has targeted his cabinet colleague, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, saying that Lieberman does not understand the eventuality of decline in popularity of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian leader Salam Fayyad. In addition, this will definitely lead to a rise in popularity of Hamas. If Mahmoud Abbas loses power, Hamas will take control of the West Bank as well. Is Lieberman ready for it and will it benefit Israel? According to the statement, Lieberman wants Abbas and Fayyad to leave because they are responsible for the lack of any agreement between Israel and Palestine. Lieberman also feels that the Abbas-Fayyad duo have no interest in the restoration of peace. They, according to him, are not capable of bringing peace. According to Barak, Lieberman’s stand does not reflect the policy of the government of Israel and is not going to benefit Israel. According to him, the only roadblock between Hamas and the West Bank is Mahmoud Abbas.

The Israeli Foreign Minister has made such statements numerous times previously and has demanded from his government that it stop patronizing Mahmoud Abbas in search of peace. He reiterated his stand during the ongoing General Assembly meeting saying that until Mahmoud Abbas remains the chairman of the Palestinian Authority there is no chance of peace because he is not interested in peace. He does not have support even among Palestinians. Rather than trying for peace, Abbas is instead involved in creating a negative atmosphere against Israel. His visits abroad are focused on targeting Israel. He targeted Israel during his address in the General Assembly, saying that Israel is following a racial policy, it wants to promote an atmosphere of war and is working towards annexing the occupied lands. Ehud Barak responded that rather than focusing on a person who criticizes Israel in his speech, Israel should focus on the real threat. Though this, according to him, is not the ideal condition, it has to be followed as a tactical manoeuvre. Barak says that Israel should focus on its real interests and threats. There is no need to be worried about appearance; one should understand the real situation.

The Etemaad Urdu Daily (The Confidence Urdu Daily), Hyderabad
Editorial, 15 October 2012, Monday
3. Turkey-Syria Tensions

The relations between the two former allies, Turkey and Syria, have fast deteriorated since the start of protests against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, which have also affected other countries as well. Recently, Moscow accused Turkey of forcing a civilian Syrian aircraft coming from Moscow to land in Turkey endangering the life of Russian civilians. The Turkish Prime Minister, on the other hand, said that the aircraft was transporting defence equipments to Syria and thus, was forced to land. Erdogan was of the view that civilian aircrafts should not transport defence equipments yet Syria has accused Turkey of aerial piracy.

Turkish military jets surrounded the Damascus bound A320 Airbus plane in its air space and force-landed it after receiving intelligence inputs about it carrying defence equipments. The incident has further raised tensions between the two countries. The tension can spread to Russia after it demanded a clarification from Turkey. Turkey and Syria have also indulged in the exchange of fire and mortars during the past few weeks, which have led to deaths on both sides. The Turkish Prime Minister has ordered the military to be prepared for war and has got consent from the Parliament to counter-attack Syria. There have been incidents of shelling inside the Turkish border, which was criticized by members of the UNSC.

NATO has also criticized the shelling but the situation looks to be under control for now. Article 5 of NATO charter, which mandates members of NATO to provide for security of member countries, would not be invoked for now. It shows that NATO is not in favour of spreading the conflict. However, Turkey has been allowed to attack targets inside Syria. The problem is that the Turkish government will face criticism from opposition groups inside Turkey if they undertake military action inside Syria. The opposition has already said that support to the rebels has in effect worsened the situation.

Russia has supported Syria since the beginning of the problem. Erdogan understands the repercussions of any irresponsible action from Turkey, though he had made clear that Turkey would react to any Syrian action. Any major problem in the region will open gates for external powers. More than 30,000 people have been killed inside Syria since the beginning of protests against the Bashar al-Assad government. Turkey has tried to help resolve the crisis without any success. The Syrian government has refused to talk to the rebels, it being strengthened by Russian support. Bashar al-Assad has put the condition that the rebels first stop their armed fight, then only will the government talk to them.

The only chance for a resolution of the Syrian crisis is a peace deal between the Syrian government and the rebels. The continuing fight can lead to external intervention from big powers. It will cause further mayhem and the people in the region will have to bear the brunt.

Compiled and Translated by Md. Muddassir Quamar

Md. Muddassir Quamar is a Doctoral Candidate at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

As part of its editorial policy, the MEI@ND standardizes spelling and date formats to make the text uniformly accessible and stylistically consistent. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views/positions of the MEI@ND. Editor, MEI@ND: P R Kumaraswamy.