The following are selections from articles which appeared in the Egyptian English weekly, “Al-Ahram” of Al-Ahram Weekly 30th April – 6th May, 1998

“The Criterion: a Palestinian State”
by Salama A. Salama

[Heading:] As Israel celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, Mohamed Sid-Ahmed argues that the establishment of a Palestinian state is the real criterion by which progress in the Middle East peace process should be gauged.

Actually, the establishment of a Palestinian state is not only a qualitative issue that involves combining certain ingredients to justify the claim that a Palestinian state exists, but also a quantitative issue, related to the dimensions of that state and the configuration of its frontiers, and not only what sovereign prerogatives and security safeguards it will enjoy.

It is worth noting in this respect that a number of prominent Israelis, such as Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin, are now calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state. provided it remain demilitarised and without real sovereign prerogatives. They are joined in their call by leading Jewish figures outside Israel, notably in the United States. The problem is that a state is a state only if it enjoys full and unrestricted sovereignty and calling an entity which does not enjoy such sovereignty is a sham.

… The rationale here is to satisfy the Palestinians formally with a passport and a flag, while denying them real power and political parity with the state of Israel, as required under the provisions of the UN General Assembly’s 1947 resolution.

… Some Arab parties are also interested, for reasons of their own, in foiling the Palestinians’ ambition to establish an independent state. One reason is that it will be difficult to reconcile sovereignty for the Palestinian state with its subordination to pan-Arabism. According to the tenets of pan-Arab ideology, the Palestinian issue concerns all the Arabs and not only the Palestinians. Accordingly, the latter are not entitled to have the final word on key decisions related to the Palestinian issue. Another reason is the difficulty of drawing a line of demarcation between the Kingdom of Jordan and the Palestinian Authority on a number of particularly touchy issues, not only in the West Bank, but more particularly concerning Arab and/or holy rights in East Jerusalem. True, Jordan has given up much of the previous prerogatives it enjoyed in the West Bank, but issues are much less clear when it comes to Jerusalem, all the more so with Israel’s open practice of playing off the two Arab parties against one another.

“A Question of Implementation”
by Amira Ibrahim

[Heading:] Arab interior and justice ministers have signed their first anti-terrorism treaty but, as Amira Ibrahim writes, much will depend on the parties’ commitment to implementation.

After five years of studies and debates, Arab interior and justice ministers gave their stamp of approval last week to the first Arab Treaty for Combating Terrorism. The treaty was signed on 22 April at the Arab League headquarters.

… The League’s Council of Interior Ministers issued a statement lambasting Israel as one of the main sources of terrorism in the region. “Israel pretends that it embraces democracy and combats terrorism only to achieve its colonisation schemes, on the one hand, and distorts the image of Arabs and Muslims on the other,” the statement said.

… While Arab human rights groups were studying the legal consequences of the accord, a statement by an Egyptian militant group condemned the treaty as hostile to the Islamist movement.

The statement signed by Abdallah Al-Mansour, secretary of the Islamic Jihad — Vanguards of Conquest group — said the treaty aimed at “encircling ” youths of the Muslim nation.

“Arab governments should reconsider their positions and refrain from implementing the treaty,” said the statement, which was faxed to the London-based, Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayar.