US failed as honest broker of peace

Updated 04 December 2012
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US failed as honest broker of peace

This refers to the news report, “Israel to expand settlements’ (Dec. 1), which says that Israel has revealed plans to build 3,000 settler homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in response to the Palestinians’ historic success in being recognized as a non-member state in the United Nations.
Exactly 65 years ago, after the UN resolution divided the state of Palestine and established a state of Israel, the UNGA (UN General Assembly) members in vast majority set the stage for the ‘rebirth’ of the state of Palestine by elevating its status.
We see the upgrading of the status of Palestine from that of a non-member ‘entity’ to a non-member ‘observer state’ of the UN as an overwhelming endorsement of the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own. If it was a showcase of international support for Palestine it was equally a harsh rebuff to the US and Israeli diplomacy, particularly that of US as regards to Palestine as well as the Middle East. It was observed that the Palestinian Authority victory was more than just a symbolic one. From now on, all Palestinian areas illegally occupied by Israel are in fact territories that belong to a UN member state.
However, the moot point is where the two parties – Israel and Palestine – go from here. We feel that the development must be seen in the right perspective, more so by the US and Israel that opposed the resolution and it is on them that rests largely the future direction of peace in the region. But, while the reactions of the two are expected, it would be well for both US and Israel not to be dismissive about the upgradation of the status of Palestine. Israel must abjure its coercive policies toward the Palestinians if it really wants the two-state solution to succeed. As for the US, it must understand that it has failed to be the honest broker of peace in the Middle East, and it is the US double standard in the region that has largely shaped the psyche of the international community, particularly of the Islamic world, toward it. It is time for the US to be more equitable in its Middle East policy.
By the same token it’s time too for the Palestinians to integrate. There must be a meeting of the minds between Gaza and Ramallah and both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas must close ranks to work for implementation of the two-state solution if they want to avoid being blamed for turning their backs on peace.
Naser Mullah
Riyadh


EDITORIAL: Jeddah floods a reminder of why we need the anti-corruption drive

Saudi drivers take a flooded street in Jeddah on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 22 November 2017
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EDITORIAL: Jeddah floods a reminder of why we need the anti-corruption drive

It has happened again. The roads, streets and many underpasses in Jeddah were flooded with rainwater on Tuesday. Many areas were turned into lakes because of the heavy, though forecast, downpour. In some areas, water was knee-deep while in others it was chest-deep. People were stuck in their vehicles and many were seen pushing their vehicles to the side of the roads with great difficulty. In low-lying areas, citizens struggled to remove their belongings from flooded houses.

For the residents of Jeddah, rain has, more often than not, brought trouble and devastation. Whenever the skies open up, thoughts go back to that “Black Wednesday” of November 25, 2009, when more than 100 people lost their lives and property worth billions of riyals was destroyed. An investigation was opened into the disaster and some of the guilty were taken to court and tried; some of the small fry were even jailed. As has been the case in the past, the mighty arm of the law could barely touch those at the top who enjoyed immunity from prosecution.

And so it was business as usual until the rain began to wreak havoc again, reminding us that the laws of nature take their course and that hiding your head in the sand does not chase the clouds away.

Having said that, it must be admitted that, yes, lessons were learned. A disaster management team was set up. The weather forecast department became active in issuing alerts. In fact, Tuesday could have been far worse had it not been for the timely alert from the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) and a prompt decision by the Ministry of Education to suspend classes, schools and universities in and around Jeddah. That helped in keeping people and vehicles off the streets. At noon on Tuesday, it looked as if the city were under some kind of curfew.

The questions that are on everyone's minds right now are: Why is it that rain renders the city helpless and immobile at this time every year? Why have efforts to create effective rainwater drainage systems not borne fruit despite pumping billions of riyals into new projects such as dams and canals? Why is it that the authorities are found wanting whenever heavy rain occurs? More importantly, what is the solution?

Here is the answer. These floods are a stark reminder of why the current drive against corruption is so essential. It is required in order to instill the fear of law into high-ranking officials and heads of construction companies and civic bodies who have failed in their responsibilities. Those who have cut corners and have pocketed public money, those who have not delivered on the projects and who have provided substandard services must pay for their sins of omission.

This is exactly what is happening. No one is above the law. The guilty, whoever they are, however high up they are, will have to pay — and they are. In this new era of transparency and accountability — initiated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — word has gone down from top to bottom that no one is immune. If you are guilty you will be punished. Those responsible for the havoc of the floods on Tuesday will have no rest either.