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16-30 November 2012         1-15 Muharram 1434 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

Hindustan Express (Daily Hindustan Express), New Delhi
Editorial, 16 November 2012, Friday
1. Oppressed People of Palestine

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened that the attacks on the Gaza Strip can be expanded beyond Hamas. The statement has come at a time when the Gaza Strip is suffering from the ongoing attacks that have killed a number of people including Hamas leader Ahmed al-Jabari. The current operation is another example of Israeli intentions to turn the region into a battle field and endanger peace. The unprovoked killing of the Hamas leader and further linking him to terrorist activities reflects the Israeli attitude towards the use of violence for meeting their unsolicited political ends. This has been the most high profile assassination in the past four years and Hamas has warned Israel to expect equivalent reaction.

Following these events, the UN Security Council has agreed to hold a closed door meeting upon Egypt’s request. The Israeli attacks have only reinforced the opinion that Israel aims to push the Middle East towards a war. The Gaza Strip is under intense attack and fresh Israeli-Palestinian violence can escalate into a war. Hamas leaders have projected the Israeli attacks as senseless impacting security agencies, government buildings and day-to-day traffic on the road due to the shelling.

The latest bout of Israeli aggression is not different from its past excursions in which innocent civilians, children and women were targeted and killed. However, the situation in the region has changed and according to experts, this can be problematic for Israel because now, in addition to Iran and Lebanon, Egypt has also become a Hamas supporter. Egypt has shown urgency in dealing with the situation and has demanded emergency meetings of the UNSC and the Arab League. The Egyptian reaction to the Israeli attacks is important because Hamas has good relations with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. It has been reported that the Foreign Ministers of the Arab League countries are meeting coming Saturday to deliberate upon the issue. Meanwhile, the US President Barack Obama had a telephonic conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the issue.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who has been a strong advocate of peace with Israel has also condemned the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. According to a statement released by official Palestinian news agency, WAFA, Abbas has said that the Israeli attacks would prove to be counterproductive. The UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has emphasized upon the need to de-escalate the tensions after the attacks. The Muslim world is aghast at the Israeli attacks, whilst the rest of the world is trying to look the other way. The US, the UN and other Israeli friends have not dared to call ‘a spade a spade’ when it comes to Israeli terrorism. The so-called advocates of human rights do not see any human rights violation on Israel’s part when it comes to the violations of the rights of Palestinians. Israel routinely indulges in racist violence against the Palestinians, which are then conveniently termed as security measures by Israeli supporters. The great powers have failed the people of Palestine with their continuous support towards Israeli attacks and adventures in the region.

The Etemaad Urdu Daily (The Confidence Urdu Daily), Hyderabad
Editorial, 17 November 2012, Saturday
2. Israeli Oppression and the Indian Stand

Peace will have no chance until the Palestine issue is resolved and Israeli oppression upon Palestinians continues unabated. The UN has not done anything save for shedding some tears. The so-called advocates of human rights are blind to Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip and the killings of children and women. The Gaza Strip is ruled by Hamas which is perceived to be a threat by Israel. Hamas commander Ahmed al-Jabiri was killed in the latest attacks. The Gaza Strip has been under Israeli blockade for a long time. The Rafah border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt had stayed closed during Mubarak’s rule and had forced the Palestinians to dig tunnels to bring in food and other necessary goods. The people living in the Gaza Strip have had to face immense challenges to fulfil their daily needs. When the international community tried to provide aid and necessary materials, Israel blocked it and even attacked a Turkish ship carrying food and medicines for Gazans.

The Rafah border has now been opened up. Though the people of the Gaza Strip want to live in peace, Israel continues to build its Jewish settlements and the people are not even allowed to pray in Haram al-Sharif. The people of Palestine have suffered a lot but their will to secure a Palestinian state is still not dampened. Israel has attacked the Gaza Strip once again without any provocation, killing the Hamas leader Ahmed al-Jabiri. Though Israel has installed an anti-missile system at its borders, Palestinian fighters can still launch rockets inside Israel including upon the capital of Tel Aviv. Israeli arms cannot match the enthusiasm of the Palestinian people. The attacks after the Arab Spring could prove costly for Israel. The Muslim world has come forward in its support and aid for the people of Gaza. Egypt has taken numerous measures to end the fighting. President Mohamed Morsi sent his Prime Minster to the Gaza Strip where he was met by Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh. The Egyptian President also demanded the convening of an emergency UNSC meeting to discuss the issue.

The US President who has now secured a second term could not do much for the Palestinian cause during his first term. It is because of the support of the West that Israel has continued its barbaric and oppressive behaviour towards Palestine. The Non-Aligned countries including India have always supported the people of Palestine in their national struggle. However, India has moved far away from its earlier stance and the situation has reached a point where more that 30 percent of India’s Defence needs are now fulfilled by Israel. Moreover, ties with Israel in the industrial and agriculture sectors have gotten a boost in the past few years.

The way India is cozying up to Israel under American pressure is a complete diversion from the Gandhian philosophy of non-violence. India needs to do more than give statements against the Israeli aggression and must review its defence and trade ties with Israel.

Hindustan Express (Daily Hindustan Express), New Delhi
Editorial, 20 November 2012, Tuesday
3. Israeli Aggression in the Gaza Strip

The Gaza Strip is at the threshold of another bloody war. The Arab world is going through a turbulent time and Israel has attacked the Gaza Strip which can further escalate into a regional war. Heavy casualties have been reported on the Palestinian side. The fighting between Hamas and Israel is not a war of equals but none have shown any sign of withdrawal. The situation has become more problematic because more Israeli cities have come under Hamas rocket attacks. Tel Aviv, which is the Israeli capital and its major business hub, has also come under the attacks. It is time for the international community to enhance its efforts and stop the warring sides and reprimand Israel for its aggressions. Israel needs to be told that any further aggression can lead to withdrawal of international aid.

Israel has destroyed government buildings in air attacks. On the other hand, the US has stated that they support any Israeli action taken in self defence. According to Israeli sources, Hamas has launched as much as 700 rockets upon Israel among which 250 were intercepted by the Missile Defence system; while Israel has targeted as many as 600 places inside the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the Arab League has met in Cairo and a decision to send a delegation under its Secretary General Nabil Elarabi has been taken. The UN has also appealed for restraint from both sides.

The Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said that Israel has launched attacks upon the Gaza Strip because it aims to prevent the Palestinian statehood bid in the UN. Abbas has also accused Israel of actively undermining his diplomatic efforts. He reiterated his resolve to work for the people of Palestine and continue with his diplomatic efforts to achieve the Palestinian state.

Inquilab (The Revolution), Mumbai
Editorial, 20 November 2012, Tuesday
4. Fresh Israeli Attack on Palestine

In the just concluded American presidential election, Israeli leadership was keen to see Mitt Romney elected rather than the incumbent President Barack Obama. However Obama easily overcame Romney’s challenge. Romney was closer to Israel while Obama appeared to be more pragmatic, and thus Romney’s loss is a loss for Israel. Obama may not want to antagonize Israel but he might not extend unconditional support.

The fresh attack on the Gaza Strip has another reason; Israel is going for election in January. Politicians, not only in Israel, nowadays do not shy away from using violence to win elections. Bibi is indulging in the politics of violence. The attack on Gaza will reinforce his image as a tough Prime Minister who is not ready to compromise upon the security of the Israeli people. Netanyahu had earlier indulged in similar tactics.

Benjamin Netanyahu is also worried because of the change in the political scenario in the region. The coming into power of Islamists in Egypt on the top of Hamas and Hezbollah’s domination in Lebanese and Palestinian politics has left Israel feeling edgy. Iran on the other hand, is also a major problem for Israel. Tel Aviv is extremely uncomfortable with the turn of events because a collective effort from neighbouring Muslim countries can cause a major embarrassment for Israel.

In short, Israel can only hide its excesses as far as Palestine is concerned. One of the reasons Israel gets away with such behaviour is because of the lack of unity among Palestinian factions. The division among the Palestinian leadership helps Israel while the silence of the Arab leadership makes it bold and brutal. Mahmoud Abbas has demanded an Arab League Summit to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip but any such activity will be futile until and unless there is a unity of purpose among the Arab leadership.

The Siasta Daily (The Politics Daily), Hyderabad
Editorial, 21 November 2012, Wednesday
5. Palestinian Fighters and Israel

Israel has mounted fresh attacks on Palestine amidst the burning Middle East. The so-called global power, the US, has behaved expectedly in its backing of Israeli attacks while expressing concerns on the condition of the peace process. Israel has assassinated the Palestinian commander Ahmed al-Jabiri in the Gaza Strip and the UN has appealed to Israel to stop its aggression on Palestine immediately. The UN however has become a slave of the US and Israel; if it is worried about the loss of life in Palestine, it should use force and stop Israel from killing innocent people including women and children. The neighbouring countries of Syria, Lebanon and Egypt have until now refrained from direct confrontation with Israel on this issue. Egypt is trying to bring the situation under control but the international effort lacks the necessary urgency and all diplomatic efforts have failed. The US administration does not want to lose its support base among the Jewish lobby. The Israeli action can escalate into a regional war and can endanger international peace but the world powers have time and again failed to control Israeli actions. The international community has remained a mute spectator to Israeli excesses and its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. It should be ready to deal with the repercussions of Israeli actions, which can further involve the entire world. The Palestinian leadership has also been found completely off-guard in dealing with the Israeli aggression. They have refrained from responding with force and Hamas leaders have indulged in diplomatic statements. If small rockets made by ill equipped fighters can haunt Israel to this extent, what could be the result of a concentrated effort by Palestinians and neighbouring Arab countries?

Dawat Online (Invitation), New Delhi
Editorial, 22 November 2012, Thursday
6. Israeli Action

President Obama has been re-elected for a second term and will take the oath of office on 20 January. The change in office has also been effected in China where a new leadership has taken control of the country. General elections are about to be held in Israel, most likely to be in January 2013. Presidential elections are also to be held in Afghanistan while there are other big events waiting for their time in the near future. Islamabad will host the D-8 leadership summit in the coming days that will include Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Malaysia. The UN General Assembly meeting was also held where the proposal to enhance the status of Palestine was put on the table. Things have changed in the neighbourhood of Israel as well. Egypt has witnessed a regime change while the situation in Lebanon is also not in Israel’s favour and Syria is going through turmoil. Thus, the conditions in the immediate neighbourhood and the larger world have changed.

In this backdrop, Israel has once again attacked Palestine. Why is Israel desperate? Did the earlier action in the Gaza Strip fail to achieve the required goal? The Palestinian rockets which hit Israel this time or which hit it earlier were all symbolic because it did not cost any Israeli life. Why is Israel so desperately trying to escape the problem? Israel is very proud of its defence system and thinks of itself as an unassailable power but more often than not, Palestinian missiles have landed in Israel. The missile defence system failed the last time and this time too it has not been able to destroy all of them. In fact, this time round, the Palestinian rockets have even reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. This indicates that on the one hand, Israel has failed in improving its system, while the Palestinians have successfully enhanced their system. This indeed is a major concern for Israel.

Inquilab (The Revolution), Mumbai
Editorial, 23 November 2012, Friday
7. Gaza, Israel and Morsi

Mohamed Morsi has succeeded in working out a truce between Israel and Hamas, which is an achievement for his nascent government. Both the sides have claimed victory after the truce but independent observers have said that the fighting is a lesson for Israel as it could not prevent nearly half the rockets that were launched from the Gaza Strip. The people of the Gaza Strip have definitely suffered due to Israeli bombings but their resolve to fight has not been broken. Israel must be extremely uneasy with the outcome of the fighting. However, the most important thing that this fighting revealed was the leadership abilities of Mohamed Morsi who silenced those critics who were questioning his ability to deal with the domestic, regional and international issues. The more important question however is with regards to the durability of the truce. The answer to this lies in the statement made by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak who said that the truce will continue either for “9 days, 9 weeks or 9 months”. It means that Israel was somehow not able to deal with the Palestinian response to the attacks and thus accepted a truce to launch another attack some other time. It is important because the coming year is an election year in Israel and any demonstration of weakness against the Palestinians can be harmful for the incumbent government. But some reports have indicated that the Israelis are not happy with the truce and may not vote back Netanyahu to premiership. Many people have expressed their sentiments that Netanyahu should ‘go for the kill’ against Hamas. Even though this reflects the kind of hatred Israelis harbour against Palestinians, it can prove to be a politically bad move for Netanyahu. The Obama administration has continued its partisan role when it comes to the Israel-Palestine issue. He was moved with Netanyahu’s acceptance of the truce yet was not impressed with Morsi’s success. This is an indication that Obama will not be able to come out of the Zionist lobby during his second term. A just solution to the problem of Palestine can be found in the unity among Palestinians and its allies and not through the US.

The Etemaad Urdu Daily (The Confidence Urdu Daily), Hyderabad
Editorial, 28 November 2012, Wednesday
8. Political Crisis in Egypt!

The political crisis in Egypt is an outcome of the autocratic behaviour of the executive’s functioning. Mohamed Morsi’s presidential order to seek expanded powers is unacceptable until all parties reach a consensus. Morsi’s decision has created confusion and the talks with Supreme Judicial Council cannot yield any result without the necessary political consensus on presidential powers. The situation is still very unclear and it is yet to be seen if the people of Egypt will allow their rulers to function above constitution. A Morsi spokesperson has however said that the president has not acquired any new powers and that these are old provisions that have been passed by the judiciary.

Morsi has maintained that these powers are necessary to deal with the problems that have erupted due to the confrontation among the remnants of the old regime in the Judiciary. The Constituent Assembly is dominated by the Islamists like the parliament that had been dissolved by the Judiciary.

The situation however remains unclear despite talks between the court and the president. The opposition is preparing for a long fight on the issue that can create further divisions in the Egyptian society and will adversely impact the already weak economy. Mosri has succeeded in subduing the military but the judiciary has remains belligerent whilst the opposition continues to demand Morsi’s head and have said that they will not rest until his resignation. The political repercussions of the move by Morsi can be huge; he must understand that this will divide the Egyptian society and it can never be beneficial for the Muslim brotherhood. At a time when Morsi has been successful in mediating a truce between Israel and Hamas, such a display of autocratic behaviour similar to his predecessor is not a sensible move. If he wants to stabilize his government then he should work towards gaining the people’s confidence through economic stability rather than indulging in Mubarak like authoritarian behaviour.

Egypt has a sizable number of liberal and secular people. That apart, the Coptic minorities also have a sizeable population. It is important for the president to gain confidence of all the sections of the people. The president’s individual faith and practice should not affect his duties as president. Morsi will have to demonstrate that the Islamic system of governance has the space for the various spectra of political opinion. This would be a major challenge for Morsi and his successors - to maintain a system that is Islamic and plural at the same time.

Inquilab (The Revolution), Mumbai
Editorial, 29 November 2012, Thursday
9. Palestinian Membership of the UN

The people of Palestine will once again put their case in front of the international community. Last year, PA President Mahmoud Abbas had brought the proposal for Palestinian statehood before the UN, but his proposal was rejected. The Obama administration was not ready to take any risk that time because of the ensuing presidential elections. A positive development for Palestine could have affected Obama’s chances among the Jewish lobby. Mahmoud Abbas has now applied for an observer status like the Vatican and it will come for vote in the UN General Assembly today.

This indeed will help Palestine in having an independent status at various international fora. Chances are that the Palestinian Authority will succeed in its bid this time because very few countries have opposed the proposal and many countries like France, China, Norway and Spain have indicated that they will vote in the affirmative. If Palestine achieves an observer status at the UN, it will be a big diplomatic achievement for Abbas and his team. Abbas has expressed confidence that as many as 130 among the 192 members will vote in favour of Palestine.

Israeli opposition is guaranteed, but American opposition is beyond understanding. If the Obama administration cannot support Palestine for such a small step then all its claims for better relations with the Muslim world are meaningless. President Obama has to take a decision as to whether he wants to be remembered as someone who worked for peace and justice or someone who achieved a Nobel Prize for a promise he never fulfilled. If Palestinian people succeed in acquiring an observer status in the UN, it will be slap on the face of the US and Israel.

Roznama Rashtriya Sahara (National Sahara Daily), Delhi
Editorial, 30 November 2012, Friday
10. Palestine and the UN

By the time this editorial will reach you, Palestine would have achieved observer status in the UN. According to reports, 150 out of 193 members of the UN have agreed to vote in support of the proposal. Israel tried all it could to prevent a vote and not let Palestine gain a foot in the UN. The Obama administration was working overtime to prevent Mahmoud Abbas from going to the UN with the proposal but he was determined. The Israeli Foreign Minister has said that Israel will not try to block the proposal and will not take any punitive action against Palestinians. However, it had tried all it could by bombing the people of Gaza and killing hundreds of innocents. The British government also tried various means to dilute the text of the proposal so as to let Israel have an upper hand but nothing worked. Abbas was told that if he promised that no case would be filed in the International Criminal Court then Britain would support Palestine in the UN. Britain also tried to pull its weight so as to secure a consensus in the EU for voting against the Palestinian proposal but when France announced that it would support the Palestinian bid, the others followed suit. Even though Palestine cannot file a post-facto case in the ICC, it will be a major victory for it. The people of Palestine had wanted to achieve full membership, but were rejected by the UNSC due to American pressure. Israel is worried that these developments could possibly clip its wings and prevents it from acting with impunity against Palestine. This is indeed a major achievement for Palestine and all the peace loving people of the world and should go a long way to eliminate the injustices committed against the people of Palestine for such a long time.

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.