A summary of news stories published this week in the Arab English language press- January 9, 2009

Hamas: We will win war in Gaza

Musa Abu Marzouq, the deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, [based in Damascus] told Al Jazeera why he believes his organisation is on the verge of victory against Israel.

Al Jazeera: Under what conditions will Hamas agree a ceasefire with Israel?

Abu Marzouq: We have three conditions for any peace initiative coming from any state. First, the aggression of the Israelis should stop. All of the gates should be opened, including the gate of Rafah between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Finally, Israel has to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. We are not saying we will stop firing rockets from the Gaza Strip to Israel – we are only talking about stopping the aggression from the Israelis against the civilian population in the Gaza Strip. When others talk about a ceasefire, they are saying all military operations should stop. But we are sending a message [by firing rockets]: “We will not surrender. We have to fight the Israelis and we will win this battle.” We know we are going to lose a lot of people from our side, but we are going to win, inshallah. – Al Jazeera. January 9, 2009.

Egypt’s Gaza ceasefire plan ‘not valid’ say Palestinian groups

DAMASCUS/CAIRO: Palestinian groups based in Syria, including Hamas, believe the Egyptian plan aimed at securing a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip “has no valid basis,” a Palestinian official said on Thursday. “Palestinian organizations, notably Hamas, see no valid basis in the Egyptian plan for a solution to the crisis” in Gaza, Khaled Abdel-Majid, spokesman for Palestinian groups based in Damascus, told AFP. He said the common position came after a meeting of eight Palestinian movements based in the Syrian capital. “The Franco-Egyptian initiative does not contribute towards finding a solution since it is a threat to the resistance and the Palestinian cause, allowing the enemy to continue its aggression,” the groups said in a statement. The Damascus-based movements “reject the presence of international forces or observers in Gaza, since this is aimed at defending the security of the occupation and reinforcing the blockade against the resistance.” – Daily News, Egypt. January 8, 2009.

Muslim governments failing to stop Gaza bloodshed: Iran

TEHRAN: Iran’s Supreme Leader has accused some Muslim governments in the region of not to do more to stop Israeli attacks on Gaza and would face “humiliation” in future at Israel’s hands for failing to act. “Muslim nations and governments should realise that the nature and main goal of the arrogant system, (reflected in) Israeli crimes, is to completely destroy resistance in the region and dominate the Middle East,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in comments reported by state television. Iranian officials often refer to Israel and its allies, such as the US, as arrogant powers. “Everybody should know that, just like in the past, when the Islamic Republic has offered all its help to the oppressed Palestinian people, from now on it will do anything necessary in this regard,” he added, without saying what that support would involve. Israel accuses Iran of supplying arms to Hamas while Tehran, which does not recognise the Jewish state, says it gives moral, financial and humanitarian support to its Palestinian ally. Iran’s regional allies also include Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Syria. Analysts say that Iran’s outspoken backing of Hamas is designed to show off its regional influence to Arab states and the new US administration. – Gulf Times, Qatar. January 9, 2009.

Arab TV channels differ over Gaza coverage

DUBAI: Israel’s onslaught on Gaza has taken over the screens of the two main Arab news channels, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, but each with its own perspective on objectivity and the airing of disturbing footage. “Gaza Under Fire” is the title adopted by the Doha-based Al Jazeera television for its round-the-clock coverage of Israel’s all-out offensive. According to Gaza medics, more than 700 Palestinians have now been killed since Israel’s offensive began on December 27. To some, the Qatari-funded channel may seem pro-Palestinian in its coverage by describing the dead as “martyrs”. But its editor-in-chief, Ahmed Al Sheikh, has no apologies. “Instead of asking why we call the dead ‘martyrs,’ we say stop the killing so that there would no longer be any martyrs,” he said, insisting the channel remains objective, allocating airtime for Israeli officials. “We broadcast images of bombing and victims, but we also give Israeli officials ample space to express their views… Our audience accuses us of collusion with Israel because of that,” he said. “We are not covering (the war) because we are Arabs or Muslims, but because we are journalists.” – The Peninsula, Qatar. January 9, 2009.

Qunoot prayers reflect Saudi anger over aggression

BURAIDAH: With Israeli warplanes, warships and ground troops pounding unarmed civilians in Gaza for the second consecutive week, Muslims in Saudi Arabia expressed their anger and dissatisfaction over the unacceptable situation in Gaza by performing Qunoot prayers almost daily in all mosques of the Kingdom. “Oh God! Support our Muslim brothers in Gaza. Make their hearts and feet firm. Support them over those who show animosity to them. Destroy their enemies and shake the earth beneath their feet” are the words of this special prayer. This kind of prayer is a prophetic tradition, or Sunnah, performed at times of hardship, difficulties and wars such as the one taking place against Muslim civilians in Gaza. – Arab News, Saudi Arabia. January 9, 2009.

Abbas says hopes Lebanon rocket incident isolated

MADRID: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he hoped rockets fired from Lebanon to strike northern Israel on Thursday was an isolated incident and would not exacerbate the current conflict. “I hope it was an isolated incident, that will not make things worse,” he said at a press conference following a meeting with Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. – Gulf News, UAE. January 8, 2009.



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