International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

Commentary from ...
Middle East
East Asia
South Asia
Western Hemisphere
October 11, 2000

Middle East: 'Peace Process Has Become, Regrettably, A War Process'

As violence continues in the West Bank and Gaza, editorialists worldwide focused on the intensive diplomatic efforts to lead Israeli Prime Minister Barak and PLO Chairman Arafat back to the negotiating table. Most judged that while it may still be too early to resolve the parties' key differences, the prospect of an apocalyptic "religious war" compels them to at least meet soon. Several observers--including many Arab and Muslim commentators--unabashedly looked to the U.S. for "leadership," judging that President Clinton's efforts to mediate the current crisis and his availability to go to the region would prove decisive for the Middle East's future. Prominent Israeli author A. B. Yehoshua wrote in Tel Aviv's mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "Nobody in the world knows the Palestinian-Israeli issue as well as [President Clinton].... His political freedom in coming months makes him the ideal person for the completion of the peace opus." That said, Palestinian and other Arab commentary was characterized by growing criticism of overall U.S. policy toward the current crisis. The West Bank's independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam served notice that the U.S. "will discover that it cannot continue protecting its interests in the region and playing the role it seeks in the achievement of peace as long as its policy of ignoring Palestinian and Arab rights does not change." Elsewhere in the Arab press, some took note of the "unusual" U.S. abstention on the Security Council resolution condemning Israel for provoking the current violence but found the U.S. stance "insufficient" to alter the perception that the U.S. is "biased" in favor of Israel. These were major themes:

'ARABS VS. WESTERN CIVILIZATION': Many in the Arab press saw Arab enmity against Israel as affecting relations between the Arab and Islamic world and the West. A Saudi writer warned that Arabs and Muslims may extract their vengeance against Western countries through "oil crises, or the blockade of maritime passages." A Bahraini writer claimed that the heightened Arab "desperation...will create new enemies for America who will be tougher than Osama bin Laden."

'HELL ON EARTH'?: Writers in Israel and Europe also worried that the Muslim world, "from Indonesia through Nigeria and to the United States itself," may be bracing for a "holy war." With such a turn of events, "even an American knight on a white horse would be unable to defeat the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," an Israeli paper said. Some posited that such a conflagration would hold dire consequences not only for Islamic-Western relations but also for Arab and Muslim societies themselves. An influential Dutch paper wondered, for instance, whether "the young leaders in Jordan and Syria...or even the Egyptian government...will manage to stay in power once mass and radical protest movements in the entire Arab world get going."

EDITOR: Gail Hamer Burke

EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 66 reports from 44 countries October 6-11. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.


ISRAEL: "Clinton Vs. The Knights Of The Apocalypse"

Senior analyst Hemmi Shalev wrote in a page one commentary in popular, pluralist Maariv (10/11): "In America, the saying goes, 'A friend in need is a friend indeed.' Bill Clinton is the best friend Israel has ever had. Thus, three weeks before he starts wrapping up his business...Clinton is not giving up. Even though he faces risk--a personal one to his image, and a political one to his spouse--Clinton is making a tremendous effort to save Palestinians and Israelis from themselves.... Clinton is presently trying to impose a total cease-fire...on Arafat and is prepared to come all the way to verify its implementation.... In spite of the relatively quiet atmosphere that prevailed Tuesday, Clinton knows that the situation is still extremely volatile.... Clinton's greatest scare may be about religion, a development through which the...Middle East has been sent the Middle Ages and even to earlier times, to a holy war over religious symbols, stones, graves, mosques and the Temple Mount. The fire ignited in Jerusalem and Nablus could spread to one billion Muslims, from Indonesia through Nigeria and to the United States itself. The world would then whisper: 'Allah help us'.... Should this situation continue...even an American knight on a white horse would be unable to defeat the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."

"Address The Nation Tonight, Mr. Prime Minister"

The independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (10/11): "Israel is facing one of its darkest hours. At no time since the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War has our country feared more for itself and its future.... Of all his mistakes, Barak's decision to waive his sternly issued ultimatum may prove to be the most costly.... Prime Minister Barak...was not elected to weaken the deterrent capability of Israel's armed forces nor was he chosen to relinquish national sovereignty by subjecting vital security decisions, such as the ultimatum suspension, to the approval of a foreign power, namely the United States. Time is running out for Ehud Barak."

"Self-Justification All the Way To The Grave"

Analyst Akiva Eldar wrote in independent Ha'aretz (10/11): "From the very start, the Jewish settlers have warned that the Oslo agreement would end in disaster, and they themselves have made a major contribution toward the fulfillment of that prophecy.... The American mediator (a.k.a. President Bill Clinton) is prepared to invite Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Arafat to yet another summit conference, which might be the last. That meeting, if it takes place, should not be wasted on the kind of tactical give-and-take typical of a Middle Eastern bazaar.... True, Arafat is not an easy customer to satisfy; however, he is the only 'partner' out there in the field. Replacing him with Sharon is a surefire recipe for a cocktail consisting of one part Algeria-style guerrilla warfare in the territories and one part Bosnia-style civil war inside the Green Line. When that scenario materializes, both the rightists and the leftists will have been proven correct. They can then justify themselves all the way to the cemetery."

"The Right Man For The Toughest Job"

Prominent author A. B. Yehoshua wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (10/11): "The future looks bleak and harsh. But there is one possible solution that lies with outside intervention that would be both efficient and moral. There is only one person who could do that---Bill Clinton, the outgoing President of the U.S. Nobody in the world knows the Palestinian-Israeli issue as well as he does.... As a politician, he is now free from American public opinion, from congressional considerations, from the Jewish and Arab lobbies.... He still has two and a half months in office--a rare political moment in time.... He can succeed by virtue of the great trust both sides have given him in recent years.... His political freedom in coming months makes him the ideal person for the completion of the peace opus."

WEST BANK: "When Washington Speaks In English"

Akram Hanniyah opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (10/11): "Washington still has not recognized that Ehud Barak has succeeded in a very short time in burdening American policy with many losses in the Middle East. Those losses can be seen in the public outrage in the Arab countries. Washington is not trying to curb the Israeli rashness that is polluting the atmosphere with racism, rancor and extremism, caused by the settlers' attacks against Palestinians in Israel. Instead of curbing these practices, Washington is defending and justifying Israeli policy and exerting efforts to save Barak's government and policy. This American position makes Washington an equal partner with Israel in its aggression against the Palestinians. It would be fruitful for the U.S., for the Palestinians, and for Israel, if Washington realized the meaning of the popular explosion in the Arab countries and reconsidered matters from the point of view of its own interests."

"UN Facing Its Responsibilities"

Independent, moderate Al-Quds editorialized (10/11): "Until the UN possesses the effective tool that would enable it to overcome the dictates of the superpowers of the new world order, the possibility of its success in protecting the rights of nations exposed to aggression and suppression, including the Palestinian people, will remain limited by the willingness of the superpowers, especially that of the U.S. The Security Council deliberations on a resolution that would condemn Israeli violence against the Palestinians is just one example of this fact."

"Continuation Of Intifada Is The Way To A Just Solution"

Talal Okal opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (10/9): "The United States will discover that it cannot continue protecting its interests in the region and playing the role it seeks in the achievement of peace as long as its policy of ignoring Palestinian and Arab rights does not change."

EGYPT: "U.S. Mistakes"

Abbas El-Tarabily held in opposition Al Wafd (10/11): "We were surprised by an American proposal for a quadrilateral summit in Sharm.... The issue is not about holding a summit or not. The issue is that the U.S. and its president have made two major mistakes. They determined the place of the summit and the time, as if imposing it on us and Egypt had to agree. This is unacceptable. In its endeavor to achieve peace, the United States can propose a summit, and then the Egyptian state can determine the place and time that suit it.... Is the real aim of the quadrilateral summit peace? Or is it its main aim to abort the urgent Arab summit to which Egypt's president called and nearly all Arab countries responded? Is it to prevent a unified Arab decision in the face of Israel?.... Is it not to maintain Arab weakness and division?.... That is the real aim.... The proposed quadrilateral summit is nothing but an attempt to open the way for Israel to return to the negotiating table under U.S. sponsorship and on Israeli terms. We say 'no' to the quadrilateral summit."

"Arabs And Western Civilization"

Ashraf Zeidan stressed in pro-government Al-Akhbar (10/6): "The entire civilized world, led by the United States, has fallen under the footsteps of the new Mongols. The fall of the Palestinian child Ramy is the last nail in the coffin of a Western civilization that takes double standards. One party [Israel] continues to spread illusions about being civilized, seeking to spread liberal ideas and human rights in backward countries which should seek the American dream...of welfare and democracy.... Then the Western countries sold us tons of weapons, along with the culture of the hamburger, but we have seen no welfare. It the end, in the American world of peace, we watched a movie about the new Mongolian troops killing a Palestinian child in his father's arms.... Even the Western press spoke about [this.]... The pictures of martyr Ramy and the rest of the Palestinian children killed by Israeli barbarism reminded us of the victims of the Vietnam War, the children who were stepped on by huge American feet. These true pictures prove that Western civilization, of which Israel is presumably an extension in the Middle East, has fallen again in the West Bank and Gaza. There will be no consolation for us until we wake up from the American dream and break all our shackles."

LEBANON: "Barak's Hollow Arrogance And Arab Unity"

An editorial by Awni Al-Ka'ki in pro-Syria Ash-Sharq said (10/11): "The Saudi position (against Israel) is to say that an Israeli attack against an Arab state means an attack against all Arabs. The United States and Europe should try to curb the Israelis...because an explosion in the region will gravely damage American and European interests in the Middle East."

JORDAN: "Alternatives"

Columnist Mahmoud Rimawi wrote on the op-ed page of semi-official, influential Al-Ra'y (10/11): "As the Arab summit is closing in, public statements were made by Arab leaders reflecting skepticism about the point of holding the Arab summit if it fails to declare war or to re-establish the Arab economic boycott.... Whatever happens, the important thing is that any thoughts and discussion that take place should bring us closer to our objective, namely achieving badly needed legitimate and fruitful pressure on Tel Aviv and not to exhaust energies and efforts in futile disputes within the Arab framework. Positive action should be adopted, like subjecting the Israeli policy to international investigations, guaranteeing protection for the unarmed people and supporting the right of this people to freedom and independence."

"The Summit Resolutions"

Columnist Jawad Bashiti wrote on the op-ed page of independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (10/11): "Time does not go backwards and we, us and them [Israelis] have to adopt new positions that go hand in hand with the new facts that were created on the ground by the killing and injuring of many unarmed Palestinians. The Al-Aqsa Intifada, being the Palestinian national war of independence, must continue under the balance of negotiating power shifts, forcing the Barak government to adhere to a peace where there are no red lines and great no's.… To respond in practice to the Israeli language of threats and warnings, we could and we must declare the establishment of an independent Palestinian State and urge the Palestinian people to place their sovereignty over all the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. Declaring the Palestinian State should take place before convening the Arab summit, not during or after, so that when the Arab summit convenes, it would have the task and responsibility of recognizing the declared state."

SYRIA: "Towards A Unified And Active Arab Role"

Government-owned Tishreen declared (10/11): "The magic has turned against the magician. Barak believed that he could take advantage of Arab fragmentation and strike the Palestinian people and terrorize them into surrendering Jerusalem and holy sites.... Hence the provocative scheme he set forth with Sharon that enflamed the situation in the Aqsa, Jerusalem and the occupied Palestinian territories.... Western capitals realized that these Israeli massacres have awakened the Arab giant from its slumber and that there is no alternative to contain the explosive situation in the region."

"Israel's Brigandage--Where To?"

M. Agha, a commentator in government-owned Syria Times, maintained (10/11): "Israel is no longer interested in reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is paradoxical that Washington, which claims to take the position of honest broker, continues to side with the aggressors and supply them with all means of aggression and terror, moral and material.... Whenever the Israelis get involved in an aggressive action against the Arabs, the United States increases its backing for them!... They brand the stone-throwers as terrorists, while Israeli aggressors who are heavily armed with sophisticated weapons receive U.S. sympathy and support.... The United States must use its influence on Israel to stop the escalation of tension. The United States has to shoulder its responsibility as a main broker of the peace process. Washington is to be blamed for any further escalation of events, which are getting worse due to its support for Israel's violation of the international community's resolutions."

BAHRAIN: "Arab Summit Conspiracy Theories Are Nonsense"

Semi-independent Arabic daily Akhbar Al-Khalij published this view (10/11) by Radhi Al-Sammak: "Some Arabs, including chief editors, believe that it is better that the Arab summit does not convene because if does convene, its agenda will be filled with new conspiracies against the Palestinians and the Arab people. This is not true. Perhaps it is right to say that the summit may not take strong decisions, as Arab peoples hope. But to say that it will be held to conspire against the Palestinian cause is simply nonsense."

"Strong Summit Resolutions Needed"

Semi-official Arabic daily Al-Ayam published this comment (10/11) by Ahmed Kamal: "In light of the high price paid by over one hundred martyrs, Arabs' positions and reactions should change and the resolutions adopted by the summit should be different (from those which were taken before.)"

KUWAIT: "Advocates Of Inflammatory And Zealous Speeches"

Hamed Turki Bu-Yabis wrote in independent Al-Seyassa (10/11): "The cheap calls for America's downfall and the burning of its flag are an assertion of peoples' increasing naivete. This will tamper with the stability of our political entity, which already has its share of problems. Stop tampering with our national security by crying for Palestine's loss and remember he who dwells at our northern border. America, dear gentlemen, was, is, and will continue to be master of this world."

OMAN: "Why Did Washington Close Embassies In 13 Arab States?

Sami Hammed, political editor for independent Al-Watana, told readers (10/6), "Although no American embassy in any Arab state has ever received any serious threat, nor an American embassy or any other embassy, including israel's, has been attacked by the Arab people, we find that Washington has taken a precautionary measure by closing its embassies in 13 Arab capitals. This measure could be considered as evidence of America's sense of guilt and feeling of responsibility for what is happening to the Palestinian people in the occupied Arab territories by the Zionist gangs. No one ignores the fact that these days America's hands are tied, due to the forthcoming presidential elections and the competition between the Republicans and Democrats to win the Jewish vote.... It is in Washington's best interest to reconsider its stand right now, and to revere the holy shrines and respect the feelings of the Arab and Muslim people with whom it shares essential mutual interests. It has to embark upon a fair stance."

QATAR: "We Do Not Want A Timid, Frightened Arab Summit"

Muhammed al-musfir, political science professor at Qatar University, commented in semi-official Al-Watan (10/10): "The Arab people do not want their leaders to convene a meeting to discuss the explosive situation in Palestine if the leaders themselves are self-defeated. The people do not want their leaders to waste time conducting extensive deliberations on how to confront the evil power of Israeli aggression. The Arab leaders, if they meet, are likely to abort the intifada and destroy the spirit of jihad currently sweeping across the Islamic world. Their final communiqué will be a call to undermine the Palestinian uprising. The Arab summit will not take place without the approval of the United States and the latter will not allow the summit to convene without seeing the final communiqué in advance, after having removed all words and phrases denouncing Israel.... We beg Arafat not to suppress the intifada, but to cultivate and save it from penetration. We urge Arafat to cleanse the Palestinian Authority from corruption and collaborators, and to stop all official meetings with Israelis. On the Arab side, we urge President Mubarak to stop his mediation efforts between Israelis and Palestinians. He should remember that he is a partner (with the Palestinians) and not a mediator. We also urge all Arab leaders to support the Palestinians financially, militarily and morally. Arab countries should immediately expel the Israeli ambassadors in their countries and recall their ambassadors from Tel Aviv. They should stop all normalization activities. Arab countries should also immediately lift sanctions imposed on Iraq and normalize ties with Baghdad."

SAUDI ARABIA: "A Summit For Three Soldiers"

Riyadh-based, conservative Al-Riyadh said (10/11): "Several envoys will come to the region, including President Clinton, the UN Secretary General, the Russian foreign minister, the European envoys, and the Germans. This isn't a new phenomenon, but the reason for it is not the slaying of the Palestinians, but rather the capture of three Israeli solders who have become the main impetus for the guests about to visit the Arab capitals. The most important question is: Are America's calculations not too far removed from the sensitive Arab situation and conflict with Israel? And wasn't it logical for America to close its embassies in friendly countries simply because it knew of the outraged reaction to its policies? Doesn't America know that this is a sensitive region where dangerous developments may lead to war, oil crises, or the blockade of maritime passages? Clinton...has put Israel's interests ahead of U.S. interests with the Arabs. This might be due to the advice of his senior advisers."

"Arabs Want To Go Beyond Mere Expressions Of Condemnation"

London-based, pan-Arab Al-Hayat ran this commentary by Riyadh Bureau Chief, Dawood Al-Sharayn (10/8): "Arab citizens do not expect the Arab summit to launch a war against the Israeli enemy, but they want it to go beyond mere expressions of condemnation and freeze all activities of economic and political normalization."

"America Carrying Political And Moral Responsibility For Its Bias"

Ahmad Al-Rabaal wrote in London-based, pan-Arab Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (10/08): "The closing of 13 U.S. embassies in several Arab states, including friendly ones, is a matter the wise persons in Washington should take note of. The Israeli Army is killing the Palestinians, and America is carrying the political and moral responsibility for its bias toward what is happening in the occupied lands."

TUNISIA: "America Takes Another Step"

Editor-in-chief Mustapha Khammari remarked in independent, French-language Le Temps (10/10): "Washington abstained during the Security Council vote on a resolution condemning Israel for provoking the current violence in the occupied territories. This was an unusual move for the United States.... America's decision to abstain from voting is insufficient. However it does acknowledge--ever so slightly--the suffering that the Palestinians are enduring.... Even the United States could not ignore the abuse and pitiless repression that the Palestinians have been experiencing. As the American presidential elections approach, the United States seems determined to push Israelis and Palestinians to reach an agreement. The American abstention at the Security Council was a first step. Palestinians, Arabs and other people who value justice and freedom…are waiting for the United States to take more."

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: "Three Are More Important Than One Billion!"

Sharjah-based, Arab nationalist Al-Khaleej front-paged this editorial (10/9): "Clinton and his secretary of state called everyone, and it is said that she used threatening language, especially with the Arab parties, in keeping with the warnings which Barak the same day sent in all directions--Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians. Putin also participated in the call, along with the UN secretary general, Germany and the Red Cross.... Do the lives of three soldiers deserve all this attention, while no one bothered about the loss of lives of a long convoy of those martyred and wounded by the Zionist occupiers?... We hope the Arabs and Muslims recognize their value and understand their size in this world and make their stands in accordance with this at least once."

"War Option Not An Easy Matter"

Dubai's Al-Bayan editorialized (10/9): "The ball is in the court of the Arab leaders to take a unified and decisive decision to emphasize to the leaders of Israel that the entire Arab nation stands by the just cause of the Palestinians. The summit has a number of choices which can be taken to pressure the Israeli government, including an economic boycott, expelling its representatives from Arab capitals and the closure of its offices. However, the war option is not an easy matter, as President Mubarak explained yesterday. The situation requires us to behave wisely to save the situation."


RUSSIA: "U.S. First Fiddle"

Reformist business-oriented Kommersant (10/11) pointed out in a comment by Leonid Gankin and Aleksandr Reutov: "To Israel, according to a local newspaper, the visits by the Russian foreign minister and UN Secretary General are 'purely symbolic.' The Americans are still first fiddle."

"It Feels Like A Pre-War Situation"

Sergei Guly judged in reformist Noviye Izvestiya (10/10): "Formally, Russia co-sponsors the talks in the Middle East, along with the United States. But its real participation in the process is infinitesimal. Unlike his predecessor, Putin has a strong liking for Barak.... Moscow, with its direct links to Hizballah leaders, might help secure the release of the captured Israelis, thereby easing pressure on Barak from the Israeli public unhappy about the government being too soft on the Arabs' provocation. But then, Russian assistance may be late. The rightists have skillfully been egging on Barak to strike at the Palestinian autonomy."

BRITAIN: "Peace Groups Unheard Amidst The Clamor"

The liberal Guardian stated (10/11): "In vain do Israeli peace groups insist upon the necessity of coexistence. Their voices are lost in the clamor of hate raised by racist bigots on both sides of the growing divide. With the weekend desecration of Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, another boundary is crossed. For this crisis began with Likud leader Ariel Sharon's supposed defilement of the Haram Al Sharif (Temple Mount) and thus tit-for-tat confrontation becomes not only one of race but of religion, too. The prospective descent into chaos, should Kofi Annan and the Americans fail to patch up some sort of deal, has destabilizing implications for the whole region."

FRANCE: "Kofi Annan Tries To Put Out The Fire"

Luc de Barochez said in right-of center Le Figaro (10/11): "UN Secretary General Kofi Annan,

who is trying to put out the fire in the Middle East, said he was optimistic. He met with the protagonists of the crisis.... On the other hand, American efforts at trying to organize an Israeli-Palestinian summit seemed to fade away; while Egypt, where public opinion is heating to white-hot against Israel, has refused to welcome such a meeting.... President Clinton, who has shown extraordinary patience about Middle East problems, does not admit to himself that he is beaten. Last night he had new talks with Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat by telephone, and Israeli television did not exclude the possibility of a visit (by Clinton) to Israel and Gaza."

"Breathing Space In The Middle East"

Daniele Kriegel wrote from Jerusalem in right-of-center France Soir (10/11): "Someone close to Ehud Barak was saying yesterday afternoon: 'There is no light at the end of the tunnel, only darkness.'... This was a reference to the summit the United States has been trying to arrange for the past 48 hours. This summit should gather the main players of the crisis around Bill Clinton. It might take place in Sharm el Sheik, Cairo or Rome. For the time being all efforts remain in vain."

GERMANY: "Holy War"

Right-of-center Rheinische Post of Duesseldorf (10/11) argued: "The attacks of Jewish settlers against Arab Israelis are creating deep dismay. Jews of all people who had to accept humiliation and violence in the long history as a minority in many countries of the world, are attacking as a majority a minority in their own country. Israel's leadership has recognized the danger. It must now take courageous steps to prevent even worse developments. If synagogues and mosques are burning, it will not take too long before a religious war breaks out."

"Intifada At All Fronts"

Right-of-center, business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg claimed (10/11): "Even a successful Middle East summit will be unable to heal the wounds which the latest outbreak of hatred has caused. But Yasser Arafat is also guilty in this serious setback. Not one single time since the outbreak of the unrest did we hear moderating words from him. It seems that the clashes come at the right time for him to be used as a means of pressure. They serve to direct emotions toward the Israeli enemy--away from his meager performance as government leader. But it would not be the first time that Arafat went too far with his tactical games. In addition, solidarity with other Arab leaders will hardly be of any help to him in the peace process. He must make compromises with the Israelis if a Palestinian state is to be founded during his lifetime. But this dream is now receding into the distant future. The door to negotiations has not yet been shut, but it is only open a crack."

"Can Barak And Arafat Keep Pandora's Box Closed?"

Right-of-center Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten opined (10/11): "A new summit and an extension of the ultimatum: these moves are creating new hopes that Barak and Arafat could succeed in keeping Pandora's Box closed. But can they be successful? It is certainly true that both sides can only lose in a war but do they really still control events in their camps? International mediation is indispensable but one question remains open: What can and what will Barak and Arafat put on the negotiating table? What can they offer that they did not offer during previous meetings? In brief: Will negotiations that again focus on maximum demands make any sense? The answer is as obvious as it is depressing: No."

ITALY: "First Signs Of Truce In Israel"

Rome's centrist Il Messaggero front-paged these remarks by Eric Salerno (10/11): "If Israelis and Palestinians resume negotiations, they will have to carry out a thorough review of past mistakes in order not to fall into the trap that brought the Middle East to the brink of destabilization. Their main reference the agreement reached in Oslo and signed by Arafat and former Israeli Prime Minister Rabin at the White House.... The parties were close to an agreement on the future of the Palestinians in Jerusalem, on settlers, and on borders. A crucial isue, the holy places in Jerusalem, marked the failure. Now Clinton has new proposals to offer. In many respects, leaving the future of Jerusalem unsolved would mean repeating Oslo's mistake. In order to obtain a signature from Arafat that would formally put an end to the conflict, Israel must recognize a Palestinian state that has a part of Jerusalem as its capital. And the two countries, if they want to keep the struggle from turning into a religious war, need to recognize some form of joint or international sovereignty over the holy places."

"Peres In Rome To Prepare For Summit"

Maurizion Piccirilli observed in conservative Il Tempo (10/11): "Diplomatic sources let us understand that the American president planned to have the meeting in Sharm el Sheikh...but that Egyptian President Mubarak rejected the proposal.... That is why the possibility of a negotiating table in Rome remains very likely."

AUSTRIA: "Slim Chance Between Yom Kippur And Ramadan"

Mass-circulation Kurier (10/11) ran a commentary by foreign affairs editor Norbert Mayer: "A summit in Egypt is supposed to get the seemingly irreconcilable hatred under control...after massive intervention from the United States, and with the support of the EU, Russia and the UN. The chances are slim, because the next phase of escalation is already looming.... Yasser Arafat in particular should now make use of this window of peace.... The Palestinian leader reacted very late to the violence of his radical followers. It almost seems as if Arafat would even risk a final rupture just to find out whether...Ehud Barak could be forced by an uproar to make further concessions. This attempt was a complete failure.... Arafat should keep in mind that he can rely on nothing but stones and guns, many young martyrs and the volatile solidarity of the Arab world. Israel, on the other hand, has a modern army, which is determined to combat the terror--and a prime minister, who is still searching for a dialogue."

BELGIUM: "Israelis' Intransigence And Provocations"

Independent Le Soir (10/11) ran this op-ed piece by Belgian Green Senator and Vice President of the Foreign Affairs Commission Jose Dubié: "Like the Jewish people of yesterday...the Palestinians are now demanding a country where they could live in peace without having...'to depend on the charity of foreigners.' Today, the Jewish people have this country. How can they not understand that they cannot deny to others what they wanted for themselves?... The Palestinians' demands are not only legitimate, but they also correspond with the UN principles which condemn the seizing of territories by force, as Israel did in 1967.... The intransigence and the provocations of those in Israel who refuse to trade the occupied territories for peace leads once again to an escalation of violence and a burst of hatred which works in favor of fanatics in both camps."

DENMARK: "Historic Chance"

Center-left Politiken editorialized (10/11): "Barak has nothing to lose. If he does not go on the offensive now, he will be defeated at the next election. However, if Arafat opts for peace, it is likely that Barak will remain in power. The time is right for Israel to go the extra nine yards for a solution. If Arafat chooses to continue the conflict, Israel will at least be safe in the knowledge that it did its best for the peace process and for Israel itself."

FINLAND: "Russia Trying To Get A Foothold In Mideast Negotiating Scene"

Liberal Hufvudsstadsbladet held (10/11): "There are many pieces to the complicated Mideast puzzle. One of them is the violent antipathy against Israel in the Muslim countries. The other is great power politics. By sending his foreign minister to Syria just now, Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to get a foothold in the Mideast negotiating scene. Russia is trying to reduce the U.S. dominance in international efforts to broker peace in this crisis area."

HUNGARY: "Without Giving Peace A Chance"

Foreign affairs writer Csaba Csontos contributed this op-ed piece (10/10) in conservative Magyar Nemzet: "Neither of the two sides would have expected the clashes to be that bloody, and the Arab world that full of anti-Israel sentiment. On the top of all that, now the UN has to interfere. It is becoming obvious that neither Barak nor Arafat is able to take things under control. And the most scary in the situation is their helplessness at home.... What makes the peace accord most unlikely is if the influence of intransigent forces, wanting confrontation, becomes stronger in both camps. In this case, things will get decided not at the negotiating table but out on the streets."

IRELAND: "On The Brink Of War"

The conserviative, populist Irish Independent featured this editorial on (10/10): "Madeline Albright's leadership summit call must be taken up. The key players may be growing weary of talking, but their collective histories should have taught them such talks are infinitely more productive than spilling more blood on the desert floor. Arafat's demand for an international inquiry into the events of the past 12 days seems like a good place to start. Yet the UN has watered down this appeal and has instead offered an 'objective inquiry,' falling short of the International Commission--which is the least [Arafat] might have offered his incensed followers. In any event, Israel has rejected both calls. Both leaders are committed to the partnership for peace, yet neither appears to brook compromise on the Temple Mount impasse. The international community can only hope to focus their attention on addressing this inconsistency."


Influential, liberal De Volkskrant said in its editorial (10/11): "Israeli PM Barak decided to extend the ultimatum to the Palestinians by a few more days.... This was the wise thing to do. Barak is giving himself a little more time. One should hope that the Palestinian leaders would see this as reaching out to them, to work together in finding a way out of the current cycle of violence.... However, one could question whether there is still a basis for further talks-- isn't the peace process dead already?... The tragic thing is that Barak was willing to give the Palestinians more than any of his predecessors were.... One should hope that international mediation will manage to revive the peace process and make something out of nothing. For the alternative is very dangerous; not only for Israel and the Palestinian areas but for the entire Middle East. There is reason to wonder whether the young leaders in Jordan and Syria will manage to stay in power once mass and radical protest movements in the entire Arab world get going. There is even reason to fear whether the Egyptian government will be able to cope. The Middle East continues to be a powder keg."

NORWAY: "The Spiral Of Violence Must Be Broken"

Newspaper-of-record, consarvative Aftenposten (10/9) commented: "After a dramatic weekend we are now in a week that will be decisive for developments in the Middle East…. President Clinton, Prime Minister Barak and President Arafat all have political prestige and hopefully also their political conviction linked to a continued peace process…. It is a very heavy responsibility to let this crisis develop to a full confrontation. And it is the Israeli occupying power as the strongest party that must carry that responsibility. No occupier has the right to demand that they who are being occupied shall not make rebellion."

POLAND: "Reason And Fear"

Monika Slowakiewicz opined in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (10/11): "Reason says there should be no bloodshed.... Violence will change nothing. A dispute in which two nations claim the same strip of land cannot be won with stones or tanks.... The Palestinians are venting their longtime frustration, and the Israelis are responding with fear-inspired force. Should a war break out, there will be no winners. And after the war, it will only be even more difficult to talk."


Deputy editor-in-chief António Ribeiro Ferreira pointed out in Diário de Notícias (10/9), "[It is] in this climate of [international moral] slackness and complicity that one can understand the condemnation of the government in Jerusalem by the UN Security Council, the extreme courtesy of the UN forces in South Lebanon in delivering to the kidnappers of the Israeli soldiers the vehicles used in the coup, and the silence greeting the Palestinian Authority's liberation of Hamas terrorists. The so-called community of Western democratic nations utilizes human rights, morality and principles à la carte.... Money and petroleum, in Africa, the Gulf or the Middle East, dictate the West's holy wars. Under this sad scenario, Israel--a democracy amidst dictatorships--counts ever more on the power of its weapons and of its enormous diaspora."

SPAIN: "Mideast In Front Of The Abyss"

Independent El Mundo commented (10/9): "War is in the interest of no one. The abyss has a limit and this cannot be crossed. Time is against them. Diplomacy is the only solution and the only way to reclaim the harmony reached with the Olso Accords in 1993."

"Opportunity For Peace"

Centrist La Vanguardia posited (10/10): "Now, if the violence is not controlled, those who will lose the most in Israel will be the current Labor Party, who is inclined to negotiate, but at the same time is in the minority in parliament. Arafat and the Palestinians are playing with fire and may destabilize the government with which they have negotiated.... Arafat has to give signs of pragmatism, but the government of Barak is also obligated to listen to the international pressure and give peace another opportunity."

SWEDEN: "New Start A Must For The Mideast"

Stockholm's independent, liberal Dagens Nyheter concluded (10/10): "The opponents to a peaceful Mideast solution have the initiative in the Middle East. This trend must be broken, a major breakthrough is needed.... All over the world the Middle East is high on the foreign affairs agenda. President Bill Clinton is personally engaged in the matter and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is visiting the region. Although the EU is keeping a low profile, counting on the United States to row the boat ashore, it has sent Javier Solana, the Council's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), to Damascus and Beirut. What will happen is difficult to discern through the rain of stones and gunpowder smoke. It is a long way to go and time is short. But hope for peace is not gone. It must not be. To give up is to play into the hands of the implacable ones; to allow violence to win over reason."

TURKEY: "The Palestine Tragedy And Turkey"

Fehmi Koru wrote in pro-Islamic Yeni Safak (10/11): "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has the potential to cause bloodshed in a wide region. Because of its military alliance with Israel, Turkey has been conveying the image of taking sides with the oppressor.... Turkish foreign policy, which is dysfunctional, has started to damage our national interests. Turkey has adopted Israel's 'strategic concept' of 'internal enemies' by inciting enmity against the Arabs at home. This joining of principles places Turkey right behind Israel. President Sezer, PM Ecevit, and Foreign Minister Cem must stop the senseless telephone diplomacy and do something to end the tragedy of Palestine."


BANGLADESH: "Violence In Palestine And The Arab Summit"

The independent, English-language Daily Star maintained (10/11): "The Arab leaders will be meeting at a summit in Cairo to discuss Palestinian issues after a period of four years. People in the region do not expect much from such summits, as they have proved to be mostly ceremonial with big talk and vague commitments. However, ironically, it is the Israeli leadership that by default is trying to unite the Arab leadership again. The outcome of the summit is likely to be a non-binding resolution, like the UNSC's, that might put the blame on Israel.... The United States government has softened its attitude toward Arabs in recent years not because of Arab diplomacy, but because of the growing number of Muslim votes in the United States. New York Mayor Giuliani, who strongly opposes the rights of the Palestinian people to have a homeland of their own and considers Yasser Arafat a terrorist and Jerusalem the rightful capital of Israel, hurriedly arranged a peace agreement between the Muslim and Jewish leaders of New York to avoid violence in the state. Ehud Barak's government is in a shaky position, and Clinton will become a 'lame duck' president soon. The uprising in the occupied territories is a protest against the attempt by Israel and its mentor, the United States, to impose on them an unequal peace, in which Palestinian-Arab rights could be forfeited indefinitely."

INDIA: "Intifada Again"

An editorial in the nationalist Hindustan Times held (10/9), "The United States has made the required moves, condemning Sharon and sending Madeleine Albright to the Paris talks attended by Barak and Arafat. But what could not be achieved under more salubrious conditions at Camp David last July could hardly have been expected to bear fruit in the present tense circumstances. It goes without saying that unless there is a miraculous improvement in the situation, the Israeli-Palestinian relations will fast reach a stage where a reconciliation will be virtually impossible, turning the Middle East into a virtual hell-hole."

PAKISTAN: "Saudi Warning"

Regarding Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's statement that his country would respond if Israel strikes against Syria or Lebanon, Islamabad's rightist, English-language Pakistan Observer said (10/11): "Only the United States can persuade Tel Aviv to be reasonable and go for an equitable settlement with the Palestinians and the Arab world. Anything of this sort would add another feather to Mr. Clinton's cap and ensure him a memorable and glorious exit from the White House. However, something far bigger--the illusive Mideast peace--is at stake. It is hoped that Clinton as well as others will play their role and prevail upon Israel to agree to a genuine peace settlement which will serve the cause of all well."

"Playing With Fire"

The Peshawar-based, independent Frontier Post said (10/11): "Israel continues to add fuel to the fire ignited by its own unprovoked arrogance and aggression.... Israel had better not overplay its hand with any miscalculation.... No less significant is the Arab and Iranian leaderships unifying in a common cause on the Palestine question. Israel has to note that it is likely to be a different Islamic world that it is accosting this time."

"U.S. Should Not Make Islamic World Its Enemy"

Second-largest, Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt insisted (10/9): "U.S. policies are causing an increase in anti-U.S. sentiment in the Islamic World. Protest demonstrations were held in almost all Muslim countries against the killings of Palestinians at the hand of Israeli troops; demonstrators also criticized the United States, which resulted in the closing down [of U.S.] embassies and consulates in the Middle East.... A review of its policies would be better for the United States; it should make a conscious effort to make Muslims its friends."


CHINA: "Stop Conflict And Resume Peace Talks"

Zhu Mengkui commented in the official Communist Party People's Daily (Renmin Ribao, 10/10): "The Barak administration will make a most terrible mistake if it is bent only on political struggles at all costs including the achievement of the Middle East peace talks.... Any road back from peace is a dead end."

AUSTRALIA: "Arafat, Barak Must Seize Peace Chance"

An editorial in the national Australian stated (10/11): "At no time during the past seven years has the Middle East peace process been so close to collapse.... Any call for calm from Israel will be treated suspiciously by Palestinians and Mr. Arafat has not been won over by Mr Barak's promises. Neither is likely to embrace willingly a U.S. initiative for a peace summit.... Both leaders have staked their political futures on achieving a workable peace deal...yet as the past 12 days have shown, the negotiating table remains the best place for both sides to satisfy their interests in the long term. They must now satisfy the United States that conditions are ripe for a productive meeting between the two sides. The motivation is no longer just ending the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians--the peace of the region is at stake."

"New Intifada Drives Out Peace"

Melbourne's leading Age contended (10/10): "A grave responsibility now rests with the United Nations, and with the principal mediator in the peace process, the United States. At this time a U.S. president would ordinarily be preoccupied with the approaching election and the transfer of power to his successor, but Mr. Clinton must use every means at his disposal to bring Mr. Arafat and Mr. Barak back to the conference table. If he cannot, the world may witness the most disastrous war yet between Israel and her Arab neighbors."

HONG KONG: "Middle East Mayhem"

The independent South China Morning Post pointed out in its editorial (10/10): "President Bill Clinton is exploring the possibility of a quick Middle East trip to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The presidents of Egypt, France, Russia and Syria, plus UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, among others, have become directly involved. There is no shortage of would-be peacemakers, all eager to halt the unrest. But an old and basic problem remains--there is little evidence that the parties themselves are willing to strike a deal that both Arabs and Jews will accept.... Neither side is yet wholly reconciled to the concept of accepting major compromises as the price of peace and political stability.... The Middle East parties have seldom shown the political courage and foresight needed to resolve differences on their own. Once again, their fate depends largely upon what outsiders can do for them."

MALAYSIA: "Arab-Israeli Conflict Shows Up Washington's Double Standard"

The government-influenced, English-language New Straits Times averred (10/7): "While the world watches in horror how the Tel Aviv administration carry put its ruthless genocide on the Palestinians, year after year, one wonders why the United States, which struts around in its self-appointed role as the global policeman, has not pushed for sanctions or other punitive measures against Israel.... But...discussing the double standards of Washington is like listening to a broken record.... The best way to deal with the Washington administration is to look at its as a capitalist without a conscience--there is no altruism in whatever they do in the name of humanity, freedom or equality."

PHILIPPINES: "America's Uneven Human Rights Record"

Columnist Willie Ng wrote in the top-circulation Manila Bulletin (10/11): "America's abstention from the Security Council's vote on the resolution condemning Israel's violent putdown of the Palestinian uprising speaks badly of its human right record. Hardly a day passes but American politicians condemn human rights violations in China, citing such violations in Tibet and in the treatment of its own citizens such as members of the Falun Dafa. At least these people are not being killed. A balanced handling of human rights violations by America...can only shore up its image and give it moral strength when it speaks out."

SOUTH KOREA: "Peace Still Far Off"

Senior columnist Kim Young-hee declared in independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (10/11): "Israeli Prime Minister Barak has chosen to protect his regime rather than the Middle East peace process. That much is clear from the actions he took in the last couple of days. A full-scale war, however, which the world currently fears might break out in the region, will not take place. That is because a war is not possible between Israel and Palestine. Palestine's 30,000 strong police force is no match for Israel's 600,000 fully armed forces.... The only road to peace is for the West to use its influence in Israel in order to prevent hardliners such as Netanyahu and Sharon from coming back to power."

THAILAND: "Mideast Needs One Giant Push"

The lead editorial of top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post warned (10/8): "Prime Minister Barak and President Arafat may get along well personally. But they have been timorous about making these final decisions for peace. Each fears a backlash from the extremists in their country. But that is the wrong reaction.... It is likely that Israel and the Palestinians will need outside help to negotiate peace, and then to administer it.... All nations must offer their good offices. Peace in the Mideast will have a huge, positive effect throughout the world. Israel can affirm the right of small nations to exist. The Arabs will show they have truly peaceful, open intentions to all. The case of extremism will take a huge step backward, everywhere. The decisions still needed are huge, but few. One push by brave statesmen could do the job."


SOUTH AFRICA: "Economic Considerations May Prevail"

The independent, liberal Natal Witness emphasized (10/9): One is tempted to conclude that precious little of the Oslo agreement exists any longer. The levels of mutual hatred are too high and the passions too easily inflamed for a peace based on the right to mutual coexistence. A more likely prospect in the short term is the reluctant acceptance by both Israelis and Palestinians that the only result of their continuing conflict will be economic ruin for them both."


CANADA: "Mideast Crisis Calls For Sober Second Thought"

The liberal Toronto Star judged (10/11): "Certainly, Israelis remain strongly committed to a peace deal despite the carnage. Despondent though many are, and disaffected with the Barak government, they still hope he can pull peace from the cinders. If Barak has gone further than previous leaders in offering concessions that many Israelis find hard to accept, it is because he was elected with a mandate to make peace. Barak now seems prepared to accept a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem, to share sovereignty in the Old City, and to let Palestinians control some Arab neighbourhoods. This in addition to withdrawing from Gaza and almost all of the West Bank. This is more than Barak was reportedly prepared to offer three months ago during hardball talks at Camp David.... Arafat has every reason to explore this shift on the Israeli side, and he planned to do that before this latest crisis.... Arafat could have done more to defuse the riots.... Instead, he allowed Palestinian frustration to rage unchecked. A terrible price has been paid in lost life, lost time, and lost trust. But worse awaits, unless both leaders pick up the pieces, and move forward."

"It's Arafat's Move"

The conservative National Post insisted (10/9): "What was once a Middle East peace process has become, and we make this observation with the greatest regret, a war process. The death toll in the Jerusalem riots that began two weeks ago now approaches 100.... But where does responsibility for this gathering storm lie? According to the UN Security Council...Israel has failed the peace process.... Reversing the war process will require a demonstration by Mr. Arafat that he is truly interested in permanent peace. A good place to start would be to deliver on the previous deals he has signed.… Until this happens, any peace missions by Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, or Bill Clinton, the U.S.president, will be premature and ineffective. Obviously there will be no lasting peace as long as military force is necessary to maintain order on the streets of Jerusalem and elsewhere. But until both sides show an equal commitment to ceasing hostilities, Israel should have no obligations other than its own military defence. Peace is not failing because Israel did not try, but because it has no interested partner."

ARGENTINA: "Israel Extends Deadline To Arafat"

Elisabetta Pique, on special assignment in Jerusalem for daily-of-record La Nacion, asserted (10/10): "Violence does not yield. Moreover, it is getting worse. Maybe due to this, and due to the strong pressure of international diplomacy, last night Israel's government decided to extend for an indefinite period--one or two days--the deadline imposed on Arafat so he can stop violence.... This extension...signals a drastic change in Israel's up-to-now intransigent position and indicates that there is some kind of 'hope for peace' in the air.... [Yet,] far from stopping violence, as it was intended, Barak's extended deadline... produced a totally counterproductive effect, and the situation has deteriorated even further. The violent outbursts, passions and emotions do not belong to one side only--the Palestinians--but are also visible in extremist Jews and settlers, who are adding fuel to the spiral of violence."##

This site is produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State. Links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Back To Top

blue rule
IIP Home  |  Issue Focus Home