Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Behind the Headlines Egypt’s Leading Semi-official Newspaper Reacts with Reserved Judgement to Israe

August 16, 1984
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Egypt’s leading semiofficial newspaper has reacted to the results of the recent Israeli elections with reserved judgment, despite an apparently growing pessimism over the chances for a renewal of the peace process any time soon.

In its numerous reports, analyses and editorials, the newspaper, Al Ahram, has avoided the appearance of favoring one form of coalition government for Israel over another. This is in contrast to press coverage before the elections, when, for a period, Ezer Weizman’s campaign on the new Yahad Party ticket enjoyed such favorable coverage that the paper’s less informed readers may have concluded that his party, rather than Labor, was the principal rival of Likud.

Toward the end of the campaign, statements by Labor Party leader Shimon Peres suggesting he would breath new life into the peace with Egypt, were given prominent placement, together with reports based on Israeli polls of a projected overwhelming Labor victory.

But the only exception to the overall neutral tone characterizing the reactions of this government guided daily to the election results, was an article by a PLO official who frequently writes for the paper, calling for increased support of the “resistance” against Israeli forces in Lebanon. “This is an auspicious time,”said Ahmad Sidoi Al-Dajani, the official, “for Arabs to give the Israeli expansionists a lesson they won’t forget.”


The attainment of a Knesset seat by Meir Kahane — the American-born rabbi who calls for the expulsion of all Arabs from Israel and the release of Israeli Jews charged with terrorist activities — was reported and criticized in the press, but without the sensationalism that might have been expected.

An editorial headline in Al Ahram that read “By Force”referred not to the new parliamentarian’s threat to use coercion against Arabs, but to his vow to employ any means to ensure that he would be included in the Israeli President’s agenda of consultations with leaders of parties that won seats in the new Knesset. ( As it turned out, President Chaim Herzog refused to meet with Kahane.) The editorial criticized Israel for permitting Kahane to run in the elections in the first place.

But it did not overlook the efforts made in Israel to try to bar him from the race or the objections to Kahane’s Kach Party and tactics voiced by leaders of the governing coalition and others, including former Prime Minister Menachem Begin.


Analyses of the election results and speculation on what form the new government will take did, however, reflect pessimism, in light of the new distribution of Knesset seats among numerous small parties, over the intentions or ability of either Labor or Likud to agree to any concessions to the Arabs that might give the peace process a boost.

Having concluded that a fragile coalition government in Israel means no new Israeli initiatives in the near future for negotiating the status of the West Bank and Gaza one article suggested that the Arabs themselves respond with new proposals and heightened pressure on Israel.

A recent editorial in Al Ahram went further in exhorting Arab states to take the initiative. In an apparent reference to Egypt’s exclusion from the Arab League, effective since the conclusion of peace with Israel, the editorial called upon Arab states to take an example from talk of a national unity government in Israel, by returning the Arab cause “to its proper scope, in order to broaden the ?rena with a view toward the formation of a strong Arab alliance.”

Recommended from JTA