Arabic media review

Oman papers ignore Netanyahu-Omani FM meeting: 5 things to know from past week

Jordanian columnist defends kingdom’s participation in Warsaw summit; ex-PA minister laments Israeli Arab party disunity; former PA official says Hamas-Fatah detente stuck

Adam Rasgon is a former Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) greets Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah at the sidelines of a regional conference on the Middle East in Warsaw, February 13, 2018. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) greets Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah at the sidelines of a regional conference on the Middle East in Warsaw, February 13, 2018. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

1. Willful neglect?

At least two major Omani newspapers ignored a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah on Wednesday.

  • In their editions published on Thursday, both the Oman and Al-Roya newspapers made no mention of Netanyahu and Bin Alawi’s meeting on the sidelines of a US-Polish hosted conference on the Middle East in Warsaw.
  • Oman’s edition on Thursday featured articles on the summit in the Polish capital, including a story highlighting critical comments Hanan Ashrawi, a PLO Executive Committee member, made about it.
  • Al-Roya’s edition did not even print an article on the confab.
  • In October, Omani newspapers heavily covered a meeting between Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said and Netanyahu when the latter visited Muscat.

2. Kuwait’s cheerleader for normalization 

Fajr al-Saeed, a Kuwaiti writer, points out that one of Kuwait’s top officials, who recently said the Gulf country will be the last to normalize ties with Israel, was sitting a small number of seats away from Netanyahu at the conference in Warsaw.

  • Saeed, who supports normalized ties between Israel and the Arab world and made headlines last month when she appeared on the Kan public broadcaster, tweets on Thursday: “The deputy Kuwaiti foreign minister is sitting at the same table as the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the opening of the Warsaw conference…..Why has he not withdrawn from the session[?] Has the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry not said that we will be the last state to normalize with Israel[?]”
  • Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah told a Kuwaiti news outlet in January that “Kuwait will be the last country to normalize with Israel.”

3. Jordan bringing Palestinian issue to Warsaw

Fahed al-Khaitan, a columnist for the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad, defends Jordan’s participation in the conference in Warsaw that the Palestinians have boycotted.

  • “Jordan has never missed any conference or meeting discussing the region’s issues,” he writes in the Jordanian newspaper on Wednesday, adding that attending a conference does not mean committing “to what it yields.”
  • Khaitan also states that Jordan’s participation in the conference in Warsaw comes under the title, “There will be no peace or stability in the Middle East without a just solution [to the Palestinian issue] including the establishment of a Palestinian state along 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.”
  • Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi tweeted on Wednesday that he was participating in the summit in the Polish capital to affirm “Jordan’s permanent position that there will be no comprehensive peace without the fulfillment of the Palestinian people’s right to freedom and a state along June, 4 1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital.”
  • The Palestinians have strongly protested the conference in Warsaw, which Arab ministers, Netanyahu and White House officials attended on Wednesday and Thursday. Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, has called it “an attempt to bypass” the Arab Peace Initiative.
  • The Arab Peace Initiative calls on Israel to agree to a two-state solution along the 1967 lines and a “just” solution to the Palestinian refugee issue in exchange for Arab nations subsequently normalizing relations with it and declaring the Arab-Israeli conflict over.

4. Arab disunity

Ashraf al-Ajrami, a former Palestinian Authority prison affairs minister, laments the disunity of Arab-majority parties in Israel after veteran Arab-Israeli lawmaker Ahmad Tibi removed his faction from the Joint List ahead of upcoming Knesset elections on April 9.

  • “The Palestinian people’s calamities and problems related to the occupation, the confiscation of its rights and racist discrimination are not enough. In fact, there is another calamity which is connected to the internal situation and it is no longer limited to us living in the occupied territories,” Ajrami writes in Sawa, a Palestinian news site, on Wednesday. “The virus of division has spread to the Palestinian masses in Israel.”
  • The four major Arab-majority parties in Israel ran together on the Joint List in last Knesset elections in 2015. While some have speculated Tibi will ultimately return to the Joint List before the April vote, the Arab-Israeli lawmaker has vowed his party will make a bid for office in the forthcoming ballot on its own.

5. Intra-Palestinian reconciliation still stuck

Nabil Amr, a former Palestinian Authority information minister, says that Hamas and Fatah have not made progress in advancing reconciliation efforts, even though Russia hosted them and other Palestinian factions for a dialogue earlier this week.

  • “The reconciliation story has remained at a standstill,” Amr wrote in the pan-Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, on Thursday.
  • In Moscow, the Palestinian factions failed to agree to a joint concluding statement, which they typically issue at the end of dialogues in the Russian capital.

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