Arab Press: Accountable before all
From Egypt's street demonstrations to Israel's nuclear arsenal Doaa El-Bey and Rasha Saad had the week covered
The 2010 review conference of the parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which opened in the United Nations this week was hailed by Arab pundits as a possible first step towards holding Israel accountable for its nuclear arsenal for the first time on the international level.
The five world powers at the UN released a statement at the end of the meeting committing themselves to full implementation of the decision to make the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone.
In "Holding ambiguity and arrogance accountable" Walid Choukair wrote that the final statement is a "fundamentally important development in international policy towards the region."
In his article published in the London- based Al-Hayat newspaper, Choukair wrote that "when it is time, and conditions permit, the declaration permits the holding of Israel accountable for its nuclear arsenal for the first time at the international level." Choukair notes that this follows years of "international, and particularly American, accountability of Iran over its nuclear programme in a way that appeared flagrantly biased due to the double standards involved."
While acknowledging that Tehran's attempts to acquire a nuclear capability was to use it as regional bargaining chips and to interfere in the region's countries, Choukair also charged that Israel "for decades has used nuclear ambiguity to enjoy regional superiority and deterrence in order to pursue policies that are the most hateful in and harmful for the region.
Choukair explains that the logical approach indicates that Tehran's progress in obtaining nuclear technology has been an incentive for the big powers to take a stance that could lead to holding Israel accountable for its nuclear programme. However, Choukair argues, we should also take note of the changes in international public opinion when it comes to "Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people and their huge sacrifices in terms of blood, lives and property, which cannot be compared to any other sacrifice. These have served as key factors in prompting international change in terms of the possibility of approaching the issue of Israel's nuclear arsenal."
In its editorial, the United Arab Emirates newspaper Al-Bayan wrote that "putting the term 'Israel's nuclear weapons' for the first time on the agenda of the UN nuclear meeting in itself was an important development."
In the editorial "It's time to withdraw [Israeli] privileges", Al-Bayan wrote that the move was "a turning point and a breaking of the barrier of silence and secrecy that has always surrounded this issue and made it taboo."
More than one attempt was made to include this topic on the agenda of such a meeting, but it was not feasible due to US pressure, Al-Bayan wrote.
Al-Bayan noted that even though putting the issue on the agenda was not final and could face strong opposition from Israel "the issue is now halfway from taking place. This was not possible in the past."
The adoption of the UN statement this week shows that the international community is leaning towards putting an end to double standards in dealing with the Israeli nuclear arsenal because it is no longer acceptable, Al-Bayan wrote.
"Arabs are now required to make the maximum effort to at least keep the item on the agenda as a first step towards total abandonment of the taboo," Al-Bayan added.
The indirect peace talks between Palestinians and Israel were also the focus of the pundits. In the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, Bilal Hassen wrote that despite failed Palestinian-Israeli negotiations throughout the past 17 years, it had never happened that when a round of negotiations was about to begin, it was met with such an overwhelming sense that it will inevitably fail even before it starts.
Hassen explains that "each party now knows the stances of the other and can speculate in advance what the other party will put forward, and what it will accept or reject."
What makes this all the more clear, Hassen continues, is that Netanyahu and his government do not feel embarrassed to publicly reveal their secret stands. In fact, they see this revelation as a means to garner and widen domestic support.
The Saudi newspaper Al-Watan agreed. In its editorial the daily wrote that "all indicators show that the indirect negotiations will be doomed to failure." It said the negotiations will not have a better chance than the direct talks which were interrupted by the Palestinian side in protest against the continued Israeli policy of Judaising Jerusalem and building settlements in the West Bank.
Al-Watan also wrote that among the negative signs is that Israel is entering into such negotiations "while banging the drums of war on many fronts, and threatening countries such as Lebanon and Syria. At the same time the Israeli Knesset votes for an alternative Palestinian homeland in an apparent attempt to create tension between the Palestinians and Jordan."