June 27, 2002
BUSH MIDEAST SPEECH: CRITICS CALL 'UNREALISTIC', SUPPORTERS SAY
President Bush's perceived interference in Palestinian affairs was the
most criticized aspect of his Rose Garden remarks, but his denunciation of
terrorism was praised in some quarters.
Israeli and conservative Canadian dailies welcomed a new calculus in
Official Arab media's initial positive spin on the speech turned
critical over the Arafat issue.
Bush's call for new Palestinian leadership drew
universal editorial fire, from the most pluralistic Western nations to the
democratically-challenged. London's centrist Independent
intoned, "Mr. Bush broke the first rule of statesmanship: non-interference
in other people's affairs." A Haitian radio station asked, "Why is it
necessary to win an election if the results don't seem to please the powers of
the world?" While all were pleased
to see the U.S. again engaged in the region, many worried about the feasibility
of a plan they perceived as one-sided.
For their part, Indian writers joined others worldwide in deriding
the U.S.' "history of supporting autocratic leaders." Meanwhile, Pakistan's Lahore-based national Daily
Times intoned that Pakistan will have a harder time expelling al-Qaida
"if the Pakistani mind is offended by a U.S. policy that favors Ariel
Sharon in the Middle East."
Nevertheless, his clear denunciation of
terrorism was praised in some quarters. Israeli dailies of all
stripes and conservative Canadian papers welcomed what they saw as a new
calculus in Mideast problem-solving.
They determined that the president broke new ground in linking Israel's
anti-terror fight to the U.S.' and establishing "a laboratory model"
for Arab democracy. Tel Aviv's
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot saw the Bush plan as
analogous to former President Reagan's characterization of the Soviet Union as
an evil empire. Canada's conservative National
Post determined that by directing "sternly anti-terrorist,
pro-democracy rhetoric" at the Arab world at large, Mr. Bush has served
notice that "Arafat will not get the regional war against Israel he
The official Arab media's initial restraint
turned sharply critical over Bush's 'rejection of the people's choice of Yasser
Arafat.' The disconnect between Arab rulers' initial
positive reception of the Bush "vision" and the Arab street's angry
rejection of it was troubling for some.
Moderate Riyadh Daily spoke of Arabs attempting to "save
face" while finding common ground.
Jordan's most widely-read columnist
observed that President Bush had asked Arab rulers "to help
implement reforms in Palestine that they do not carry out in their own
Gail Hamer Burke
This analysis is based on 78 reports from 48 countries, June 25 -
27. Editorial excerpts from each country
are listed from the most recent date.
"Arafat Stands Next To Saddam"
Popular, pluralist Maariv editorialized
(6/27): "In his remarks [at the G-8 conference Wednesday], Bush placed
Arafat very close to where Saddam Hussein stands in the eyes of the U.S.
president. True, Arafat is not
officially a head of state and the Palestinian state is barely a
state-in-the-making. Still, pretty
seldom does a U.S. president threaten an entity with military measures because
it is not turning itself into an organized democracy, a law-abiding regime and
a transparent government.... After
September 11, some members of conservative circles in the United
States...recommended that Western, mostly American, forces take over Mideast
states and force democracy upon them....
Another possibility hinted at by Bush is the use of American military
intervention...to separate Israelis and Palestinians.... Anyway, the picture emerging from Bush's
insistence on the issue of Palestinian leadership and the necessity for democracy
in the P.A. is that Yasser Arafat has definitely finished his
"A Warning For Arab Regimes"
Middle East affairs commentator Guy Bechor
observed in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/27): "Bush's speech called for building a
laboratory model for a new democratic and pluralist Arab regime.... Those
remarks undermine the Arab regimes, which have brought this upon
themselves. As Professor Edward Said has
declared, the Middle East is the only place...where there is not even one hint
of democracy, in a world that defines itself today by norms of human rights and
democracy. Contrary to the claim that
Bush's speech has not created a clear mechanism for an agreement, it has
produced an entire reward and punishment system.... Like at the evil Durban Conference, it has
again become obvious that the United States is the only beacon of justice,
truth and honesty, which does not hesitate to stand up for the entire world,
when necessary. As usual, the European
states are stuttering. But they will
eventually adopt the path that the United States is showing to all."
"A Palestinian Coronation"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post
editorialized (6/27): "With Bush
reportedly planning to push for Arafat's removal at the upcoming G-8 summit,
Arafat undoubtedly is growing concerned about his waning political
relevance. But, as any good dictator
knows, the best way to crown yourself with an aura of legitimacy is to turn to
'the people' and that, it appears, is precisely what Arafat has decided to
do. The danger, of course, is that many
in the international community will nevertheless fall prey to this transparent
ploy, naively assuming that the Palestinians will indeed be given a free and
fair opportunity to elect themselves a representative leadership. If past Palestinian electoral shenanigans are
any indication, though, next year's balloting is unlikely to be a model of
democracy in action."
"A Democratic Palestine, With No
Columnist Ari Shavit maintained in independent Ha'aretz
(6/27): "Thanks to George Bush, the idea of a democratic Palestinian state
this week became the complement to the idea of a democratic Jewish state.... If
there is no Palestine, by the end of the decade Israel will no longer be Jewish
and democratic. But if the future
Palestine is not democratic, sooner or later there will be no Israel: the
violent extremism that will erupt from this state will cause Israel to
vanish.... The fact that they [the
Palestinians] are under occupation does not grant them moral discounts.... And as long as their leadership does not
choose the democratic experience, it should be treated as an enemy of
freedom. As long as it lends a hand to
the collective aggression of murderous suicide-madness, it should be treated as
endangering world peace. Nothing
less.... This outline is a definition of
the purpose of the war and its theater: who is fighting who and for what. In this sense it is truly part of a broad
campaign. It is a prelude to the coming
attack on Iraq.... [But] the same cruel choice that Palestinian society must
confront in the coming months will shortly confront the Israeli right as
"Who’s Facing Reality?"
In the view of the conservative, independent Jerusalem
Post (6/26): "Bush's speech on
Monday was perhaps the greatest injection of realism into U.S. policy in 35
years. If anything has been proved by
Oslo's collapse, it is that basing a peace process on an unreconstructed
dictatorship was unrealistic, even utopian....
Bush, contrary to his critics, is among the best friends the
Palestinians have ever had. If he is
successful, future Palestinians will consider him their liberator. The genius of Bush's speech is that it
finally spoke the truth about who is standing in the way of Palestinian liberty
and independence. Those who continue to
blame Israel for Palestinian suffering are not doing the Palestinians any
favors, and they certainly are not realists.
The lesson of September 11, and the core of the still-evolving Bush
Doctrine, is that basing peace or stability on belligerent dictatorships is
like building on sand. Bush's new
emphasis on democracy is not starry-eyed naivety, but realism based on bitter
"A Clear Voice Against Terrorism"
Independent Ha'aretz's editorial declared
(6/26): "It must be recognized that by ruling out Arafat, with blunt
revulsion for him as someone who 'traded in terror,' the president gave
authentic voice to a broad and profound attitude that has swept across America since
September 11. No less important and to
the point, as far as Israel is concerned, was Bush's inherent acceptance of the
argument that the Palestinian Authority, under Arafat's leadership, 'rejected
Israel's outstretched hand.' With that,
and in the details of the President's vision about an Arafat-less future in our
region, the president appears not to have departed from the permanent,
long-standing position of the United States with regard to the conflict. It is not a Sharon-style, shrunken, truncated
Palestinian state that the president expects to see alongside Israel. Like all his predecessors since 1967, Bush
made clear that the day will come when Israel must leave the vast majority of
the territories.... There is logic in
the criticism voiced against Bush for presenting a vision without drawing a
road map to achieve it.... But the
speech's strength outweighs its flaws: it is the clearest voice yet to be heard
against Palestinian terrorism. The
president of the United States told the Palestinians that if they continue with
terrorism, they will not get a state."
"Bush's Vision, Reagan's Vision"
Chief economic editor Sever Plotker wrote in the
lead editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/26): "The Bush vision recalls another
turning-point speech made by a U.S. president.
On August 13th, 1983, then-President Ronald Reagan delivered a speech to
the British Parliament. Reagan called
the USSR 'an evil empire,' and said: the USSR will be crushed by the wave of
history rising against it...and that the march of freedom and democracy will
turn the Soviet bloc into dust and ashes....
Ronald Reagan's vision came true in its entirety: The USSR collapsed in August of 1991. The Soviet regime fell apart and communist
parties were made illegal. The evil
empire was vanquished by people who listened to Reagan. It is possible that in much the same way
Bush's vision will come true one day. A
Palestinian state will arise that will be democratic, liberal, tolerant, free
of Arafat and members of his gang, a country that will fight terror and live in
peace with Israel."
"Speech Is Out Of Touch"
Independent Al-Quds ran this editorial
(6/27): "To the misfortune of
President Bush's speech, it came right after Israel has completed its direct
occupation of all the Palestinian cities and towns, which are supposed to be
under full Palestinian control, in accordance with the Oslo accords. Thus, the president's speech was empty of any
worthy content. Most of the Palestinian
people are psychologically not ready to listen to the speech or to make the
time and effort to search for the positive and negative points in it. They are too busy dealing with the daily
suffering and distress caused by Israeli oppression. Undoubtedly, the fact that the speech has no
reference or condemnation of the latest massive Israeli offensive, which
Israeli officials said it will be a long-term occupation, has discouraged the
Palestinians from paying any attention to the U.S. presidential vision.... The main element missing in this vision is an
effective mechanism to end the 35-year-old occupation and settlements, which
have consumed most of the Palestinian land."
"A Speech Worth Considering"
Independent Al-Quds put forth this view
(6/26): "It is neither wise nor
possible for the Palestinians to ignore President Bush's speech, especially
since the Palestinian issue has become a regional as well as an international
concern. The United States' role in the
peace process is essential and unchallenged....
There are several positive points in the president's speech as viewed by
the Palestinians as well as the Israelis.... The President talked about
eliminating occupation, freezing settlements, and ending siege, closures and
restrictions imposed on the Palestinian people.
He also expressed understanding to the Palestinian suffering and
promised the Palestinians with a better and more prosperous future.... All in all, the president's speech has many
good points, which the Palestinians must consider very carefully."
"Bush's Speech: Bad Diplomacy"
Sam Bahour commented in the Jerusalem Media and
Communication Center's daily media summary (distributed electronically) and in
the Amin.org news website (6/26): "The long-awaited speech of President
Bush was supposed to set the pace for the Palestinians and Israelis to step
back from the vicious and bloody cycle of violence that has gripped them for
nearly two years. Instead, President
Bush and his administration have publicly adopted the Israeli agenda of
battering the Palestinians into submission. President Bush's illusion that the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict may be 'talked away' in a series of speeches is
not only a poor example of leadership, but seriously places U.S. interests in
the region at high risk.... To a naive audience President Bush's speech may
have sounded like a sensible framework for progress, but for anyone with any
understanding at all of the Middle East, it was clearly a shallow attempt in
diplomacy that amounts to U.S. surrender of its Middle East foreign policy to
the ranks of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Israel's lobby in the
United States. Indeed, the speech was
praised by Israel's right, which has rejected Palestinian statehood outright."
EGYPT: "Regardless Of
Take-It-Or-Leave-It Policy, What If Arafat Is Re-Elected?"
Pro-government Al Gomhouriya's
editor-in-chief Samir Ragab noted (6/27):
"Arabs and Palestinains are now required to consult frankly and
freely without sensitivities to take a unified position on Bush's ideas. They
should only be regarded as ideas, far from being a real program, and these
ideas are discussable and can be changed.
Arabs should not apply the American logic of 'take it or leave
"Yasser Arafat Is American"
Opposition Al Wafd's board chairman Abbas
Al Tarabily argued (6/27):
"Washington wants to create an American-made Arafat to implement
America's instructions and Israel's demands.... Thus, Washington wants to
cancel the will fo the Palestinian people, forgetting that araft has become a
symbol of their struggle and he alone can renew their trust in him.... By the same token, if Washington wants to
change the leader of Palestinian struggle for independence, why not we ask
America to cancel the names of its own strugglers after whom she named its
states and streets? Why can France not
delete the name of its heroic struggler Charles De Gaulle?"
"Balanced Statement, Awaiting
Leading pro-government Al Ahram's
editorial read (6/26): "President Mubarak welcomed President Bush's
statements as balanced, but noted some points need clarification.... Undoubtedly, the statement included positive
ideas which can be a light at the end of the dark tunnel for the Palestinians,
Arabs and Israelis in general. However,
implementation of Bush's ideas requires clarification. The statement on reform of the Palestinian
Authority and the finding of a new leadership were unclear as was how to
fulfill the obligations he imposed on the Israeli side. The statement did not mention anything about
the idea of an international peace conference.... Most importantly, the statement requires
strong will if it is to be implemented.
President Bush may have focused in his speech on what he called
Palestinian terrorism and the need for Palestinians to change their leadership,
but he failed to point to a political change required from Israel--an Israel
which is led by an extremist who merits an international trial.... The president's admission that any settlement
depends on UN resolutions, the settlement of the Jerusalem and refugee issues
and a final peace with Syria and Lebanon are all positive, but...real will
emanating from Washington and honest intentions from Israel are essential for
Media Treatment--Most Papers Critical
Most newspapers were sharply critical of the
Bush speech, reflecting either cynicism or pessimism. Pro-Syrian papers Al-Kifah Al-Arabi
and Ash-Sharq were particularly critical in their banners, with Al-Kifah
Al-Arabi sarcastically characterizing the speech as a "vision of war
for peace in the region." Ash-Sharq
highlighted President Bush's renewal of the option that "you are either
with us or against us" in the war on terrorism, claiming that President
Bush "adopted Sharon's principles."
Other papers were no less critical: pro-Sunni Al-Liwa
characterized the speech as a "contradictory vision for peace and
certainly biased towards Israel;" Hariri-owned Al-Mustaqbal opined
that the speech was "Sharonic in its form and content." The same paper also considered the speech as
an "American green light for Sharon to be excessive in the aggression
against Palestinians, and to broaden aggression against Syria and
Lebanon." Moderate, anti-Syria An-Nahar
and centrist Al-Anwar highlighted President Bush's "campaign
against Syria." All papers
highlighted the call for a new Palestinian leadership.
"Bush's Vision Worse Than Oslo"
An editorial by Aouni Al-Kaaki in pro-Syria Ash-Sharq
underscored (6/25): "George W. Bush
might have his own affiliations and religious beliefs. He might live in fear of being unable to
renew his term for a second time. He might be facing a real impasse regarding
the divisions of his administration between the hawks and the doves.... But his bias towards Israel is becoming
unacceptable...and his road map to peace is devoid of any objectivity. Bush packed his speech with conditions on
Palestinians and asked them to change their leadership. This is considered meddling in their internal
affairs.... Each article in Bush's
vision will require long and endless negotiations...similar to Oslo."
"Bush Ignores Arab Initiative"
Most widely read Jordanian columnist Fahed
Al-Fanek contended in semi-official, influential Al-Rai (6/27):
"The reforms that Bush asked exclusively of the Palestinians are correct,
and in fact they are demanded by the Palestinian people. But in reality, Bush is not concerned with
them because the United States is in the habit of dealing and making alliance
with the worst dictatorial corrupt regimes.
In fact, President Bush asked certain rulers to help implement political
and fiscal reforms in Palestine that they do not carry out in their own
countries. The other point is that the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and Saudi
Arabia made several visits to Washington and spent long hours with the
president explaining to him the Arab point of view, and they returned
optimistic, thinking that they managed to influence his thinking, only to
discover that he had closed his eyes and ears to them because he is committed
to Sharon’s vision.”
"Significance Of Ignoring The Arab
Columnist Mahmoud Al-Rimawi concluded in
semi-official, influential Al-Rai (6/27): “Despite the frequent meetings that President
Bush made with Arab leaders, and what the White House publicized about a
positive spirit in these meetings that were held at the highest levels, it is
evident that the American hawks--who would be better described as the American
Likud--were doing all that they could to make the administration’s views
compatible with those of the occupation government in Tel Aviv. This is the great danger of the speech. One has to be an imbecile to believe and
trust that the construction of the Palestinian state should start with the
destruction of its nucleus while closing the door against serious negotiations
on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks. Arabs
are now called upon to mobilize themselves to end this saga that uses the
pretext of fighting terrorism to prevent peace and abet the state terrorism
that is being practiced by the war criminals of Tel Aviv.”
"A No-Good State"
Former editor-in-chief of Al-Watan and
prominent liberal lawyer, Mohammed Musaed Al-Saleh, wrote in independent Al-Qabas
(6/27): “At last the American president
spoke of his vision for a solution to the Palestinian-Zionist conflict. We wish he had not spoken, because typical of
American politicians, he equated the murderer with the victim.... Will America allow the Palestinians to elect
some of those Palestinians unjustly imprisoned in Israeli jails or do they want
a Palestinian Hamed Karzai?... The
president said he understands Israeli pain and anger. He does not understand, however, that
(alleviating) such pain requires Israeli evacuation from Palestinian land and
requires an end to sending American weapons to kill Palestinian women,
children, and elderly citizens.”
"Self-Deception And Our Arab Reality"
Director of the Kuwait Information Office in
Washington, Shafeeq Al-Ghabra, asked in independent Al-Rai Al-Aam
(6/27): “How long will this Arab
self-deception continue? We pretend that
we are achieving victories on the Israeli front, yet in reality, we are
attacked and defeated. Pretending that
slogans and loud chanting are capable of replacing work and knowledge will not
change our situation.... Pretending that
the laws governing other societies do not apply to us, and that we are entitled
to make scores of mistakes and to lose political, economic, and ‘resistance’
opportunities, yet expect to achieve victory, is an over-simplification of the
current situation. Pretending that the
Arab voice must be heard worldwide because it is the rightful voice will not
alter our situation if we do not strengthen this voice with proof and the logic
of debate. If this does not happen we
will be pushed backward instead of forward....
We must put an end to this self-deception we have adopted throughout the
past two decades. Halting this
deterioration requires an in-depth reform of the Arab condition and seeking new
horizons we have not considered before.”
"I Didn't Hear Bush, I Heard Sharon"
Columnist Mazen Hamad wrote in semi-independent Al-Watan
(6/25): "Last night Bush was
speaking, but with Sharon's tongue. He has accepted all of Sharon's
demands. Even in the long-awaited vision
that he laid out for a Palestinian state, Bush gave its final approval to
Sharon. Yesterday, Bush gave Sharon the
authority to carry out operations of virtually any length and scope in order to
ensure Israel's security. Bush spoke
about halting the creation of new settlements, and he wished for an ultimate
withdrawal of Israeli Defense Forces from the Palestinian Authority areas. But he did not talk about dismantling the
current settlements, or consider such a demand to be any sort of precondition
for Israel. The Palestinian State will
remain hostage to Sharon's mood. We have
been forced to wait for Sharon to give us a 'terrorism free certificate' before
being able to establish our State--and I am sure that Sharon will never give us
"The Court And The Judge"
Abha-based, moderate Al-Watan held
(6/27): "Although President Bush's
initiative does not differ significantly with the Arab peace initiative in
regard to the Palestinian question, it was less than inspiring on the level of
comprehensive peace in the region. The
speech was ambiguous and required clarification from the U.S. administration in
order to formulate a final and precise opinion.... The most important thing is what Prince Saud
Al-Faisal said yesterday, that the Palestinian people alone are the judge and
the court of their cause."
Moderate Riyadh Daily asserted
(6/27): "The statement of U.S.
President George W. Bush on the Middle East conflict was controversial. It was warmly welcomed by Israel and was
accepted by Arafat. However, some Arab
countries voiced their reservations while others outrightly rejected
it.... On the Arab side, there are no
complete agreements nor differences.
This is the reality. It is hoped
that we develop a balance in our agreements and differences, even if it is only
for face saving."
"How Could Peace Process Be Unleashed"
Government-owned Tishreen held (6/27):
"President Bush's vision has excessively focused on generalities and
became distant from the essence of a solution.
It focused on Israel's security and ignored the continued Israeli
occupation and the atrocities that the Palestinian people are exposed to. Many Americans described Bush's plan as
ambiguous, lacking a clear map, and that it will be impossible to unleash the peace
process without a virtual American involvement in the peace process... President Bush has insisted on changing the
Palestinian leadership to please extremist right-winged Israelis. The logic of
affairs dictates he request a real change in Israel to ensure its involvement
in the peace process and its acceptance of Security Council resolutions that
require a full Israeli withdrawal to the June 4th lines."
"Waiting For Godot..."
Editor-in-chief Chokri Baccouche wrote in independent,
French-language Le Quotidien (6/26):
"A Palestinian provisional within eighteen months matched with
drastic conditions such as the explicit exclusion of Yasser Arafat. George Bush's famous peace plan has
disappointed a lot of people. From
postponements to hesitations, Palestinians will finally gain an independent
state...'when hell freezes over'. Yet
one thing is sure: The American president has wiped out the Oslo and
Sharm-Al-Sheikh agreements, by proposing a vision matching the Hebrew state and
in accordance with the Israeli prime minister's objectives."
"We've Missed The Point Of Bush's Middle East Policy"
The liberal Guardian stated (6/27): "It is usually a mistake to assume that
a world leader is off his head....
George Bush is no exception to this rule. His first solemn shot at bringing peace to
the Middle East is so one-sided, so absurdly unreal, that it's tempting to dismiss
it as the casual folly of a president who cannot be serious. But presidents need the benefit of the doubt
about their seriousness. Certainly Bush
proves he's nowhere near being a multilateralist. The long-promised speech was the result of
little consultation.... If you were an optimist, like Blair, you might also say
the speech, however blatant its bias, constituted at last a serious U.S.
intervention.... The European attitude
to U.S. intervention almost anywhere has often been paradoxical, not to say
contradictory. But another rationale for
Bush's sanity is more convincing. This
is that he cares more about the war against terror than bringing a just peace
to Israel/Palestine.... Europeans, by
contrast, still live in the old world where change occurs, nominally at any
rate, through more familiar modalities.... There's hardly an American
front-line politician who has come out against attacking Saddam, and hardly a
European who favors it. This grows from
differences of history, of culture and even--to American incomprehension--of
geography.... Europeans, for their part,
think Bush exaggerates. And even if he
doesn't, they think his answers, whether in Israel or Iraq, are
counter-productive.... He and his people
have their eye on a purpose. The danger
they run is that they think they can achieve it, if necessary, alone."
A Mideast Vision Without A Map”
The independent Financial Times contended
(6/26): “Mr. Bush has spelled out a
vision without a road map. He does not
have any new ideas about getting from here to there.... The good news is that Mr. Bush is determined
to engage in the peace process. He wants
the United States to be involved, with the European Union and the rest of the
international community, in building a viable and prosperous Palestinian
state.... Mr. Arafat has more popular
support than most, if not all, of the Arab leaders in the region. It is up to the Palestinian people to choose
their own leaders. Mr. Bush can urge
them to change but he cannot dictate the outcome.... What is missing in all of this is a real
incentive for the Palestinian people to behave as Mr. Bush would wish.... On that score, Mr. Bush will have to do
"Mr Bush...Has Broken First Rule Of
The centrist Independent stated (6/26): “It takes two to make peace, and neither
leader seems disposed to make the requisite concessions or show the requisite
concessions or show the requisite vision....
Mr. Bush’s speech, and the lead-up to it, risks making matters even
worse, if that were possible. By leaking
selective details about support for a ‘provisional’ Palestinian state, the
White House raised expectations and trapped Mr. Bush into having to say
something at a time that was not of his choosing.... Mr. Bush broke the first rule of
statesmanship: non-interference in other people's internal affairs. And he did it in a way that was politically
and practically counterproductive."
"Determination And A Vision"
Jean Daniel commented in left-of-center weekly Le
Nouvel Observateur (6/27): "The
speech President Bush gave on June 24 translates determination and a vision,
although late, very late.... The vision
is that of a man conscious of the international role played by his country. The
determination lies in the confirmation of a policy adopted by Clinton, Arab
nations, non-fundamentalist Muslims and the Europeans.... Bush proves he has learned two essential
things. First, that his battle against terrorism
must include an emergency plan giving Arabs and Muslims reasons to prefer
America's protection to Islamic fundamentalism.
Second, President Bush has come to realize that without peace in the
Middle East, where today's sources of anti-Americanism lie, there was no chance
for a political solution in the region or for an operation against
Iraq.... His plan might have been
inspired by Colin Powell's Arab, European and Russian interlocutors. This is Secretary Powell's victory over
Donald Rumsfeld.... To reach this point,
President Bush traveled a long road....
He was forced to listen to George Tenet, George Mitchell and especially
to Dick Cheney, who explained that the United States could lose its prestige in the Middle East
and its audience in Europe."
“Bush And Palestine”
Left-of-center Le Monde editorialized
(6/26): “President Bush has offered a
strange deal to the Palestinians: The
United States will help you to establish a state if you get rid of your
"What the United States is demanding of the
Palestinians under occupation--democracy, transparency, effectiveness--it does
not demand from many dictatorships in the region with whom it enjoys better
relations.... But this is not the
issue. In his speech, President Bush
endorsed one of Sharon’s principal demands when he asked for Arafat’s
departure. He endorsed what has been
Sharon’s obsession: the elimination, if only political, of the man who embodies
the movement for Palestinian liberation....
Yet Sharon’s enthusiasm for Bush’s plan is based on a
misunderstanding. For Sharon and his
allies, putting Arafat on the sidelines is striking a blow to the creation of a
Palestinian state, something they do not want.
Sharon hopes to remain vague and let Jewish settlements create a
situation from which it will be impossible to go back.... But this is not the logic behind President
Bush’s speech. Mr. Bush reaffirmed a
political perspective which happens to be the right one.... Sharon feels confident he can maintain the
status quo and gain some time. Mr. Bush
must tell him that the second part of his speech is as important as the
Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of
Munich (6/27) noted in an editorial:
"The allies at the G-8 summit have almost unanimously made it clear
that they do not like the idea to force a new leadership on the
Palestinians. The Palestinians have
reacted quickly by announcing reforms and a date for elections (whatever that
may mean in the end). Bush was not able
to gain much room to maneuver with his Middle East speech, which was just one
more sign of his lack of orientation. It
seems odd that there was so little coordination between Bush's Middle East
initiative and those countries whose support the U.S. president needs to get
things moving in the region. This is
what Bush does not understood: Arafat's (and Sharon's) removal would help the
peace process, but if a U.S. president explicitly demands such a change, the
opposite will happen. Bush's idea was
not wrong, but it was also not smart."
"One-Member Middle East Quartet"
Left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau
(6/27) judged in an editorial:
"Thanks to George W. Bush, the Europeans are finding themselves
between a rock and a hard place. If they
embrace his pro-Israeli policy, they will lose all credibility as mediators
among the Arabs and Palestinians. If the
EU continues to steer a neutral course in order to put together an
international Middle East coalition, a collision with the United States will be
inevitable. The best thing Europe can do
right now is to apply its old virtues of perseverance, sobriety, and
patience. The U.S. initiative has so
many flaws that it will soon have to be overhauled from top to bottom. Nothing will happen in the Middle East
without the United States, but the country is not strong enough to fix the
problem by itself, as the history of the region has taught us."
"A Superpower Takes Action”
Wolfgang Guenter Lerch noted on the front-page
of center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (6/26): “One cannot argue with Bush’s making an end
to terrorism a condition of negotiations....
Yet this is where the problem starts.
What is terrorism? Might it also
include some of the actions of the Israeli army, which have claimed more than
2,000 Palestinian lives since the start of the intifada?... Arafat and Sharon are each in their own way
hostages to Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder and leader of Hamas.... Bush’s second condition, new leadership and
democratic structures for the Palestinians, sound reasonable at first. But is it realistic?... The Palestinians insist, and rightly so, that
Arafat is their legitimately elected political leader."
"Embarrassment At The White House"
A commentary by Marcella Emiliani in Rome's centrist Il Messaggero said (6/27): "What
should have been the U.S. peace plan on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has
turned into deep embarrassment for President Bush.... It is certainly clear that the
Palestinians...have been able to push the 'game' back to the U.S. field, thus
nailing down the White House to its own contradictions. (In fact) Arafat did either turn a deaf ear
or pretend not to understand what Bush meant by demanding a new Palestinian
leadership not involved in corruption....
He (Arafat) then asked his chief negotiator Saeb Erekat to release the
information that Palestinian democracy continues, and that both presidential
and legislative elections will take place in...January 2003.... Will Arafat run for president?... In the name of democracy, Arafat's candidacy
is his best weapon...against the United States.
In fact, should he...be re-elected, the United States will be forced to
accept him holding its nose...or to say...openly that Arafat is not acceptable
as president, thus dangerously interfering in Palestinian internal affairs, and
with even more serious repercussions vis-à-vis the Arab-Muslim world."
"An Initiative That Needs To Be Carried Out
Ugo Tramballi judged in leading
business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (6/26):
“The real issue is whether the administration will limit itself to the
speech on the White House lawn and then turn its attention to Iraq; or whether,
beginning today, the Americans will give new substance to their policy in the
region. Rarely has a U.S. initiative
prompted such support or curious silence in the Arab world. Wakened by the international events after
September 11, and without ideas any more on the Palestinian issue, the Arabs
are basically happy that the U.S. superpower has something to propose.... Yasser Arafat is clearly a defeated
leader.... (But) if the Americans
believe that it will be enough to remove Arafat by international decree, they
will only push the Palestinians to proudly close ranks around their leader,
even though they are tired of him. If
the Americans believe that Palestine can be reformed upon command, they will
help Hamas achieve power. Since Arafat
has to disappear, it is necessary to help him find an acceptable way out. And even when that happens, if statements are
not followed by political pressure, Bush will find another obstacle on the road
towards his ‘vision’--Ariel Sharon....
In order to go down in history books as the great pacifier, the U.S.
president will have to find a way out for Ariel Sharon, as well.”
"Sharon's Big Moment"
Foreign affairs editor Gudrun Harrer opined in
liberal Der Standard (6/27): "With his speech, George Bush proved
that he has adopted Sharon's political position down to the last
detail.... Clearly, things are not going
to change in the near future, except for the worse.... Let there be no doubt about it: Arafat is definitely guilty and apparently
also incompetent; it is time for him to go....
But it would be dishonest or naïve, or simply a denial of historical
facts to blame the conflict's origin and its history exclusively on
Arafat.... After all--and of course this
is also an ideological issue--Israel itself has never clearly defined its
borders. And, to the tremendous relief
of Israel's right, the situation is not going to change for quite a
while--thanks to the United States."
Baudouin Loos stressed in left-of-center Le
Soir (6/27): "By inventing the
notion of 'provisional state'--by the way, does this mean that, depending on
the goodwill of some, that country will either become a normal country or
nothing? George Bush undoubtedly
innovates. He is even more innovative by
announcing, in his Oval Office, whom the Palestinians must force to resign or
refuse to elect. Let us point out that
these innovations flout international law.
In fact, all this only postpones the unavoidable
negotiations--negotiations which Ariel Sharon, who does not want to yield on
anything essential for him, is precisely trying to avoid.... Bush has chosen his own interests, the
November mid-term elections and, in a longer term, his own re-election in
2004.... The interest of the region--and
perhaps even of the world--would have justified an unconditional American
support for the Saudi peace initiative--the Abdullah plan--i.e., total peace
with the Arab world for Israel in exchange of a total Israeli withdrawal from
the occupied territories. This is a plan
which is simple but incredibly audacious.
By haughtily ignoring it, Bush gave a slap in the face of the Arab
world, which does not even seem to hold it against him."
"On What Basis Does Bush Call For Arafat's Replacement?"
Foreign editor Gerald Papy challenged in
independent La Libre Belgique (6/26): "What kind of legitimacy does
George Bush have to call for the replacement of a President who was elected
after a rare exercise of democracy in the Arab
world--Bush who, since September 11, has hardly restrained his unconditional
support for the Saudi feudal monarchy, in spite of the suspicion that some of
its princes are accomplices of the al-Qaida network? The call for Yasser Arafat's replacement is
another expression of American unilateralism.
It is also a strategic mistake.
There will be more Palestinians who will rally around their old leader
than Palestinians who will vote him out."
Center-right Jyllands-Posten commented
(6/26): "If Yasser Arafat knows what is good for him, he will welcome
Bush's plan for the Middle East and use it as a platform for the one thing that
he has be fighting for all his life--a free and independent Palestinian
"Bush Should Not Get Mixed Up In
Palestinian Leadership Question"
Left-wing Information judged (6/26):
"Several European leaders has underscored the fact that the Palestinians
are responsible for choosing their leader and not the United States. This is what we call democracy."
"Change Of Regime In Palestine?"
Leading Nepszabadsag emphasized
(6/26): "The disadvantage of the
Bush speech is that everything he said is simply unrealistic. The problem is the logic. Why does the U.S. administration think that
in a non-democratic regime, with Arafat still in power, those few Palestinian democrats who demand democracy,
freedom of speech and press, a multiparty system and a market based economy
would not be taken away by Arafat's national secret services. They could even celebrate if they escaped
being executed as 'collaborators' with Israel.
The Palestinian leadership is Arafat's back-up line. It has already rejected U.S. interference in
Palestinian internal affairs. The
Palestinian leadership has to come forward, with or without Arafat, and make it
clear whether it wants peace or war."
"Arabs View Bush Speech As A Victory For Israel"
The liberal Irish Times carried this
piece by Michael Jansen (6/26):
"The call by President George Bush for a new and different
Palestinian leadership has instantly boosted the standing of Mr. Yasser
Arafat.... (Bush) placed the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict squarely within the ambit of his 'war on
terror'. Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims
cannot accept this move. They make a
firm distinction between terrorism, which they oppose, and Palestinian
resistance to Israeli occupation.... Mr.
Bush made it impossible for the Palestinians to oust Mr. Arafat
democratically.... Palestinians are enraged
by Mr. Bush's attempt to dictate the outcome of this election.... Mr. Bush dealt with Israel's role almost as
an afterthought.... (Bush) did not put
forward a clear plan of action for Israel to follow or synchronise Israeli
moves with those to be taken by the Palestinians."
"Bush Peace Plan For Middle East Is One Sided"
Centrist Haagsche Courant has this editorial (6/26): "The positive point in the Bush plan is
its simplistic nature. Both Israelis and
Palestinians know exactly where they stand in the plan. Bill Clinton's backroom plans often lacked
such clarity.... The remarkable thing
about the Bush plan is that it is openly taking sides with the Israelis. By urging Arafat to leave, the Americans did
exactly what Israeli Prime Minister Sharon wants.... By doing this, the United States is ignoring
the fact that Arafat was elected by the Palestinians and that makes the
execution of his 'peace plan' controversial....
What really killed the plan was the Israelis cheering the United States' declaring Arafat
politically dead.... A peace plan that
so openly serves the interests of only one party cannot be the foundation of
"A Difficult And Important Bush Speech"
Newspaper-of-record, conservative Aftenposten
held (6/26): "What makes this
speech so important is that the United States, as a particularly strong figure
in this conflict, is now putting its full political weight behind the demands
for a Palestinian state... Correctly, it
is believed that the speech makes few demands of the Israelis... But this might
be too hasty a conclusion, because if a Palestinian state is created, it
will...make major...concrete and difficult demands of Israel.... The United States' demand that Yasser Arafat
must leave, conflicts with what must be an obvious basis for any
democracy--that the people must have the right to elect their own
leadership.... There are no ready
solutions on the table. But when the
United States engages itself for a
Palestinian state, it is a step in the right direction."
"A Free Way For Sharon"
Social Democrat Dagsavisen (6/26)
commented: "The hawks won the battle for the United States' Middle East
policy.... Ariel Sharon has been given
free hand to continue the occupation of Palestinian cities. But with certain goodwill it can be noted
that George W. Bush for the first time has promised to go for the establishment
of a Palestinian state.... Terrorism is
directing developments in the Middle East.
Everyone has the right to defend himself against terrorism.... Peace requires political solutions and
compromises. But the speech of George W. Bush has not cleared a single obstacle
on the road to peace."
"George Bush In Fantasyland"
Lukasz Warzecha asserted in center-right Zycie
(6/27): "Those who expected that
the U.S. administration would become more engaged in pursuing a realistic
resolution to the [Middle East] conflict were deeply disappointed. Even though Bush said that the United States
would support the creation of a 'temporary' Palestinian state, he specified
many conditions.... George Bush failed
to live up to expectations. It is not
easy to admit it, but, compared to him, Bill Clinton in his approach to the
Middle East issue was much more of a real statesman. Washington has been accused of a pro-Israeli
inclination for a long time. The Middle
East conflict requires a mighty external power.
But such a power cannot opt for one of the sides in such a blatant
way. Bush could have gained credibility
as an arbiter if he had demonstrated that he had a real concept of how to
resolve the conflict, and that--despite political closeness with Tel Aviv--he
tried to look at the arguments of both sides at a distance.... His 'vision of the Middle East' is a vision
of some ideal state without a single suggestion of how to reach this state by
"Part Of The Solution Or Part Of The Problem?"
Influential, center-left O Público's
editor-in-chief José Manuel Fernandes noted (6/26): "George W. Bush's 'vision'
for the Middle East sends a tough message to the Palestinians.... Formally, this message is unassailable. Formally one should only expect the United
States to support regimes that are democratic and committed to peaceful
relations with their neighbors.
Formally. In truth, we know that
the United States supports--namely in the Arab world--many regimes that do not
fulfill those conditions. And in
practice, we also know that President Bush's message had a concrete target,
despite never being named: Yasser Arafat.
On this point, however, Bush is right.... As head of the Palestinian Authority, he has
failed.... Yesterday, Sharon saw himself as the winner in getting Bush to proscribe
Arafat.... The worst is that, even with
Bush having revealed his 'vision' for the Middle East, he said little or
nothing about how to get there. Now,
rhetoric about democracy and peace does little good if the American
administration does not simultaneously have a plan to create conditions for a
change of leadership in Palestine--something that seems impossible if its
people continue to be surrounded by Sharon's tanks. Bush said nothing about such a plan--whence
the fragility of his 'vision.'"
"Major Consequences For Peace Process, U.S.-Arab Relations"
Editorialist Mihai Hareshian commented in the
English-language Nine O'Clock (6/27):
"Before publicly announcing his peace plan, Mr. Bush found himself
facing a pro-Israel Congress and the pressure of Christian Conservatives and
Jewish voters. As a result, the U.S.
president's speech on Tuesday had to take into account these institutional and
public pressures. The peace plan
announced by Bush envisages the building of a Palestinian state, but calls on
Palestinian voters to choose new political leaders and give up on Mr. Arafat,
whose name was not even mentioned. This
is a great change in U.S. policy, which is to have major consequences, not only
on the peace process in the region, but on U.S. relations with the Arab states,
Egypt and Saudi Arabia, first and foremost.
The request from Washington, doubtless, the most influential capital
with regard to the volatile region of the Middle East, that Palestinians
renounce Mr. Arafat, raises an expected challenge to Palestinian society and
the Arab world in general. The ball is
in their court now."
"Water Under The Bridge"
Boris Petrovich commented in reformist Noviye
Izvestiya (6/27): "The U.S. president thinks that he has done his bit
to restore peace in the Middle East. He
is ready to explain to the G-7 [sic] members in Canada why Yasser Arafat must
quit. George Bush is unabashed by the
predictable criticism of his initiative--for him it is water under the
bridge. In other words, the president
does not care very much about the fate of his own plan, letting the State
Department 'correct' the most odious parts of his speech. Thus cleansed, the United States' new policy
will look more acceptable to the partners and allies, who haven't exactly been
happy with Bush's principal tenet that, without Arafat, the settlement process
will go far better."
"U.S. Contributes To Butchery"
Vyacheslav Tetekin charged in nationalist opposition
Sovetskaya Rossiya (6/27):
"A co-sponsor of the peace process, the United States should have
condemned Israeli intransigence. Instead
the Americans have openly sided with the Israelis, holding the Palestinians
entirely responsible for what is going on.
Never before has the White House been so obedient, following in the wake
of Tel Aviv's policy.... As they call
for peace and denounce terrorism, the Americans contribute to a continued
massacre in the Middle East. Bush looks
pretty odd, speaking of his mistrust of Arafat--that coming from a
semi-legitimate president won't sway the Palestinians. Arafat is one of the greatest politicians of
the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. Bush can't hold a candle to him in personal
authority. Arafat and his cause, the
cause of Palestinian independence, enjoy enormous support within and
without. So Bush's arrogant attempts to
act as the ruler of the world are doomed."
"Checkmate To Arafat"
Conservative ABC declared (6/26): "The plan is lame. It does not make any reference to an
international conference that would work
towards both parties' agreement on a definition of a future State; it does not
present a calendar and does not foresee a mission of Colin Powell to work on
the details previous to starting this new process.... The fact is that Arafat deserves his status
of a discarded leader. He did not take
firm measures against the terrorist groups because he feared the street's
reaction. He has turned the Palestinian
Authority into an ineffective, corrupt structure and he has lead his people
into a counterproductive war and his repeated attempts at playing the victim
have stopped having an impact on Europe....
Sharon and Arafat want to achieve peace through war. It may be time for both leaders to
"The Bush Plan"
Mass-appeal Hurriyet's Brussels-based
columnist Hadi Uluengin argued (6/27):
"Apart from international objections--from the EU to China--the
fact of the matter is, the Bush plan is not a realistic one. First of all, his promise for a Palestinian
state remains very evasive. Besides, the
procedure for implementation of the plan is an unrealistic dream: Arafat will go; there will be a democratic
regime in Palestine; terrorism will end; Israel will not only withdraw from the
West Bank but also start negotiations with the Palestinian state.... The only positive and realistic point to make
is that the United States has at last become
involved in the region."
"The Bush Plan: Palestine Without Arafat"
Izzet Sedes maintained in mass-appeal Aksam
(6/27): "President Bush has created a model for unusual diplomatic
rhetoric. Why does the United States
interfere with the leadership of a movement?
There is a double standard in this.
The president of the United States is interfering with Palestinian
affairs by clearly asking for democratic and transparent leadership, while, at
the same time, the United States sees no harm in being in close cooperation
with many dictatorships around the world....
Bush is hoping to exert pressure on Arafat, but is only making Arafat's
position even stronger than before....
It seems like nothing will change in the Middle East in the foreseeable
future, and unfortunately the bloodshed and agony in the region will
AUSTRALIA: "Mideast Plan Is Vague But
The business-focused Australian Financial
Review (6/26) editorialized:
"President George Bush's long-awaited statement on the Middle East
is welcome because it provides the possibility, faint though that possibility
may be, of serious U.S. re-engagement in the region. What is controversial about the Bush
statement is his demand that the Palestinians elect a 'new'' leadership and put
behind themselves leaders tainted with terror.
Of course, he is referring to Yasser Arafat, but whatever might be the
view of Mr Arafat's role as an encourager of terror it is extraordinarily
presumptuous to seek to impose a new leadership on a sovereign people simply
because you don't like the present one.
This is dangerous stuff, especially in light of the Americans' ragged
history of constructing puppet regimes."
"Bush Tells Arafat To Eat His Own
Tony Parkinson, international editor for the
liberal Age, contended (6/26):
"What began as a vision became an ultimatum. Yesterday George Bush delivered an explicit
warning to the Palestinian leadership that international support for their
aspirations for statehood will stand or fall on whether they are prepared to
renounce terrorism as a tool for achieving political aims. The 'with us or against us' rhetoric of
September 11 is being sharpened. In the
first instance, it appears, the ball is in Arafat's court."
CHINA: "Bush Gives
Free Hand To Sharon, Pushes Palestinian Statehood Off Horizon"
The official, English-language China Daily insisted
(6/27): “U.S. President George W. Bush's
recent Middle East policy speech has given Ariel Sharon a freer hand to combat
the Palestinian uprising and has pushed Palestinian statehood off the immediate
horizon, political analysts said.
Analysts agreed that the stringent demands placed on the Palestinians,
and the absence of parallel demands on Israel, offered the sides no immediate
exit from nearly 21 months of bloodshed.
Bush's outline of a provisional Palestinian state, with permanent
borders possible only after three years of reform and peacemaking, was a vague
response to their desire for independence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Analysts said the blank check from the White
House did not extend to Arafat's expulsion, a strategy urged by some members of
coalition government but opposed by others.”
CHINA (MACAU SAR): "To
Put The Fire Out Or Pour Oil On It"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News
said in an editorial (6/26): "The
U.S. government is inclined to take a tough stance on Middle East policy. One example is that the United States is mixing
up the Middle East issue with the war on terrorism. This is exactly what the hawks in Israel want
to see, because then they can unscrupulously kill people on Palestinian
territory and call it by the fine sounding name of 'combating
terrorism.'... Israel does not attack
Syria because there has been a tacit agreement between the U.S. and Israel for
more than ten years. This tacit
agreement has successfully prevented a regional war. If the United States does not restrict Israel
in its Syria policy any more, the Middle East issue will no longer be just a
conflict between Palestine and Israel.
It may become a Middle East war....
At this stage, the United States should put pressure on Israel and
demand that it withdraw from Palestinian
territory. It should increase
co-operation with countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and should support Arafat's efforts to reform the
Palestinian Authority and combat terrorist acts. As long as there is a good atmosphere, the
planned peace negotiations in September will succeed, and the fire in Palestine
and Israel can be put out."
"Bush Peace Proposal Creates A Stir"
An editorial in business-oriented Nihon
Keizai held (6/27): "Although
the Palestinians reacted negatively to President Bush's new Mideast peace
proposal that 'implicitly' calls for the removal of Chairman Arafat, Prime
Minister Koizumi lauded the peace proposal as positive during his one-on-one
meeting with the president. Now a focal
point at the Kananaskis G-8 summit, which started early Thursday morning (Japan
time), is how other world leaders will react to the proposal. The Bush proposal is designed to put an end
to the current tit-for-tat suicide bombings-reprisal military operations. But there will actually be many twists and
turns ahead over the U.S. call for Arafat's removal. Secretary of State Powell made a remark
suggesting that the United States would not turn down Arafat if he were again
elected chairman in a fair election. UN
Secretary General Annan expressed his skepticism over Mr. Bush's call for
Arafat's resignation, saying the Palestinians would most probably elect another
radical as leader, even if an election were held. There are global expectations placed on the
Kananaskis summit's effective role in ending the Israeli-Palestinian standoff
and restoring peace to the region."
"Bush's Coup d'État Against Arafat"
Independent Koran Tempo maintained
(6/26): "By campaigning a coup
d'état against Arafat, President Bush has despised a basic principle in
civilized international relations, if not showing an antidemocratic
stance. Only the Palestinian people have
the right to determine their own leader.
The requirements that Bush proposed would only prolong the suffering of
the Palestinians. His support for the
ousting of Arafat can be interpreted as a green light for Sharon to kill
Arafat. Or, is that the real motive of
the United States, i.e., facilitating permanent occupation for the
Israelis? Seasons have changed, but the
stance of the United States remains the same.
It becomes more difficult for us to trust the United States as a just
peacemaker in Palestine."
"Bush Calls For Change"
According to the independent Manila Times
(6/26): "The long-awaited speech of
President...Bush that outlines his peace plan for the Middle East was finally
articulated on June 24. Its main theme
was the battle against and the defeat of terrorism.... The speech was long on rhetoric but short on
concrete proposals that will move the Middle East process to a final political
solution.... There is precious little to
go by to guide negotiations and action....
Although...Arafat rejected them when President Bill Clinton outlined
them in the July 2000 meetings at Camp David, perhaps President Bush can use
the Camp David proposals as the starting points in elaborating his own vision
for peace in the Middle East."
"This Is Vision?"
The pro-government Straits Times held
(6/26): "U.S. President George W.
Bush's overdue plan for a Palestinian settlement is an odd bag of practical
bits, wishful thinking and a virtual nod to Israeli militancy. There must be puzzlement how these can add up
to the 'vision' that had been touted, still less a workable plan.... It may be shown in the fullness of time that
all that the Bush plan can accomplish is to reward Israel for its unremitting
disavowal of Palestinian dreams. Mr. Bush
should explain how that can make it palatable for a Palestinian leadership to
engage the Israelis. He warned the
Palestinians that 'Israel will continue to defend itself'...if they continued
to use terrorist methods. That will sound to a neutral party like condoning
force and land grabs. Already, an
adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has declared boldly that Mr. Bush's
delicate wording about Israel being entitled to 'secure and recognized' borders
was acceptance of its position that it did not have to pull back to pre-1967
lines. Things are getting worse."
“U.S. Should Respect Palestine’s Sovereignty”
Conservative Segye Ilbo held (6/26): “Mr.
Bush’s Mideast peace plan deserves praise as a major step toward resolution of
the Middle East crisis, since it presents a concrete timetable for the creation
of an interim Palestinian state through democratic procedures. However, because the plan calls for the
removal of Yasser Arafat as Palestinian leader, it will inevitably come under
fire for interfering in domestic Palestinian affairs.… Unreasonable U.S. attempts to replace the
Palestinian leader, who still enjoys public support, might aggravate the
conflicts between Israel and Palestine and undermine the Mideast peace
process.... In addition, the United
States should participate in an international conference on the Mideast peace
process that would include the UN, Arab nations, Russia and the EU, as well as
Israel and Palestine, to explore a better diplomatic solution.”
"New U.S. Plan Will Shatter Hopes For Peace In Middle East"
Nguyen Khac Duc wrote in Cong An Thanh Pho,
the mouthpiece of Ho Chi Minh City's Police (6/27): "The so-called new
Middle East peace plan actually just reflects the traditional carrot-and-stick
policy of Uncle Sam.... By playing an
interfering role rather than a mediating role, the U.S. government is once
again pouring oil on the fire in the Middle East.... The demand to replace
Yasser Arafat is a blatant intervention into the internal affairs and
self-determination of the Palestinian people.... World public opinion strongly objects to the
new U.S. policy because it very dangerous to the global and regional
"Arafat Responds With Poll Schedule"
An analysis in the centrist Hindu (6/27)
by Bahrain correspondent Kesava Menon stressed. "Arab leaders are still trying to come to
terms with the 'vision statement' of U.S. President George W. Bush...but in
their initial reactions, these leaders have viewed the speech as positive
overall.... There seem to be few in the
Arab world who dispute Mr. Bush's view that the PLO Chariman's leadership has
been less than adequate. But they do
strongly resent the view that the United States or anyone else should be the
ones to decide the Palestinian leadership....
Mr. Arafat and other Arab leaders seem to have some hope that he will be
able to retain his status though he sheds most of his powers under the reforms
of the Authority demanded by Mr. Bush."
"America Against Arafat"
Left-of-center Malayalam Mathrubhumi held
(6/27): "American President George
Bush's statement for a change of leadership in Palestine promising an
independent Palestine in three years is in bad taste. This is not the first time an American leader
has made a statement violating international regulations. It's for the people of Palestine to decide
whom they should elect (as their leader.)...
America has a history of supporting autocratic leaders, including
Musharraf. By suggesting change of a
people's leader like Arafat, America has fallen in the eyes of many, including
of its own people."
The Lahore-based independent Daily Times
held (6/27): "Bush has supported
the establishment of an 'interim' Palestinian state, but has made it
conditional on changing the present Palestinian leadership.... America's inability to formulate a coherent
policy in the Middle East is going to entail costs in the long run. Its allies are going along but one can
clearly see the chinks in their 'interpretive' statements.... The 'Get Usama' and 'Get Arafat' campaigns
are both a part of a domestic-driven agenda, but the latter has more acceptance
globally than the former. What the Bush
policy does to the Arabs in particular affects attitudes in states like
Pakistan. Al-Qaida is, after all, an
Arab outfit brought into the region by America's earlier policy. Its ouster from Pakistan will become more
problematic if the Pakistani mind is offended by a policy (or a lack of it)
that favors Ariel Sharon in the Middle East."
"Sharon's Eyes On Syria Now"
Islamabad's rightist, English-language Pakistan
Observer declared (6/27): "It
seems that Bush and Sharon are bent upon pushing the Middle East into a wider
conflict with sinister motives. As if
their joint venture of unethically delaying the establishment of the
Palestinian State on one pretext or the other is not enough to keep the Middle
East in turmoil, they have now conceived another conspiracy to ensure Jewish
domination in the region by launching aggression against Syria. Bush's latest plan to deprive the
Palestinians of their real leadership by entailing Yasser Arafat's removal as a
pre-condition to the process of Palestinian State has already exposed the
Israel-U.S. axis to establish Jewish hegemony in the Middle East region.... The Muslim leadership has to wake up to the
objective realities so unambiguously staring in its face as a result of the
U.S.-Israeli nexus of evil. History
bears testimony to the fact that nations and empires, failing to respond to the
challenges posed to their survival with dignity and honor, have always
perished. Let the OIC/Arab League
"Moderates Losing Ground To Hardliners In Mideast"
An op-ed page article by Lynn Ockersz in the
government-owned and -controlled, English-language Daily News noted
(6/25): "Israeli and her Western
backers have been quick to point an accusing finger at Arafat and the
Palestinian Authority for failure to rein in the forces of extremism in the
Palestinian camp, but the simple truth is that the moderates have been upstaged
by the hardliners in the Palestinian resistance.... The voices of extremism are bound to drown
out those of political moderation in the Palestinian camp as long as Israel and
its Western backers prove unyielding on the principal demands of the
Palestinians. Hawkishness on one side will generate corresponding tendencies in
"Colonisers Of The World"
Harruna Attah stated in the pro-ruling party
(NPP) Accra Mail (6/26):
"President Bush has spoken and Arafat must go.... Between the Arabs and Jews, many people of
the world have been colonized through the adoption of religious names. These two tribes that so colonized the world
with great monotheistic religions are today probably leading in the effort to
blow up the planet. It is not fair. What then is there for the rest of us to keep
holding on to the religions they bequeathed us?... Sharon.
Arafat. What to make of
them. Now the American, Mr. Bush says
one of them must make way. I am holding
NIGERIA: "A Far Away
Lagos-based, independent ThisDay ran this
commentary by Paul Reynolds of BBC News Online (6/26): "A state of Palestine is only a distant
prospect. Mr. Bush did not promise one,
as Britain once promised Jews a 'national home' in the Holy Land. So even if reform takes place, and new leaders
are elected, a long negotiation remains with no certainty at the end.... Mr. Bush says he hopes for an agreement on a
state of Palestine in three years. As
things stand, that is an impossible dream.
There have been so many similar moments of 'vision' before--the
Begin-Sadat agreement led to a White House handshake and peace between Israel
and Egypt but to nothing for the Palestinians; another White House lawn
handshake between Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin also led nowhere. Realism indicates that the conflict will go
on. The Americans have planted a
Palestinian flag on a hillside but it is far away. It might be reached one day and if its is,
then the Bush speech will be an important marker in Middle East history. But a Promised Land for the children of
Palestine is not inevitable."
"Clearing A Roadblock"
The right-of-center Calgary Herald
editorialized (6/26): "President
George W. Bush's Middle East prescription removes a contradiction of U.S.
policy, that while condemning Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, it still
expected Israel to negotiate with him.
It was futile: Even if one could
ignore Arafat's terrorist past, he has conspicuously failed to deliver on any
of his promises to end attacks against Israel.
His credibility, even with his own people, is slender. He must go.
Finding a better alternative will not be easy, of course. Commitment to justice, accountability and
peace--the basic tools of hope for an end to violence--is seldom accompanied by
the ruthlessness needed to contain extremists for whom terrorism has become an
end in itself. Still, it is time for new
voices to say, 'Enough.'"
"Arabs Put On Notice"
The conservative National Post pointed
out (6/26): "In one sweeping brush stroke, President George W. Bush
painted his vision of an Israeli-Palestinian peace on Monday.... First comes security. To this end, Mr. Bush
addressed Palestinians directly: Dump
Yasser Arafat and his cronies--for Israelis will never be secure living next to
a regime run by professional, life-long terrorists.... Though the bulk of the speech concerned
Israeli-Palestinian matters, Mr. Bush's sternly anti-terrorist, pro-democracy
rhetoric was clearly meant for the Arab world at large.... Mr. Bush is quite correct to situate the Arab-Israeli
conflict in a larger context: Many Arab
nations treat the terrorist war against Israel as a proxy conflict to prove
their militant bona fides. So long as
Palestinians get cash from Riyadh and Damascus, the terror will
continue.... By putting them [the
Islamic Republic of Iran, the Palestinian Authority and Hezbollah, the
Syrian-supported Lebanese terror-group ] on notice, Mr. Bush is saying that the
United States will not let Mr. Arafat get the regional war against Israel he
wants. Mr. Bush said many things that
needed saying in his Monday speech. He is to be congratulated for delivering
"Words Sharon Wanted To Hear"
Paula Lugones, leading Clarin's
international columnist, opined (6/25):
"After September 11 and under international pressure, Bush seems to
choose the idea of a quick establishment of a Palestinian State. Now, after months of hesitation, he decided
to 'get rid of Arafat' and bet on a new leadership. The problem is that there are no clear
leaders in sight. And there is another
risk at stake--the possibility that extremist sectors reach the highest levels
of Palestinian power."
BRAZIL: "Balancing The
Conservative O Globo ran this opinion
piece (6/26) on its international page:
"Arafat may be one of the obstacles to a peaceful coexistence
between Palestinians and Israelis. But
when President Bush links U.S. support of a
Palestinian State to Arafat's removal, he is directly interfering in
Palestinians internal affairs. After
all, Arafat is a legitimate leader, having being elected president of the
Palestinian National Authority and confirmed by a plebiscite. To be perfectly consistent, Bush should also
demand the other legitimate leader,
Sharon, to leave his post as Israel's prime minister. That would be impracticable as well."
"A Danger Named Bush"
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo's political
columnist Clovis Rossi intoned (6/26): "Yasser Arafat... is the
Palestinian Authority's legitimate president...as opposed to the countless
leaders enjoying full support and sometimes financial aid from the United
States. This is why George Bush's
disqualification of Arafat is intolerable....
Actually, it is the international community that would have the right to
disqualify George Bush for at least two important reasons: 1) He removed Bill
Clinton's signature from the Kyoto Protocol...
In other words, he superimposed the supposed interests of the U.S.
industry over environmental protection; 2) He does not support the creation of
the International Criminal Court.... He
has clearly signaled that human rights must be respected (and their violations
punished) only when U.S. troops are not involved. A president with such a record has not the
slightest moral support to say who can and who cannot rule Palestine or any
"Powerful Encouragement To Relaunch Talks"
Top-circulation, popular La Tercera
observed (6/25): "Arafat's reaction
to Bush's remarks, to sign a decree announcing a presidential election the
beginning of next year, is positive.
Arafat, in any case, had no other choice. His position as an interlocutor is weak, he's
been unable to stop the attacks by fundamentalist movements, and he needs
administratively to reform his organization.
But Bush's intervention does not necessarily guarantee there will be
less violence.... The United States and
European countries must commit themselves to long-term support ... Secretary of
State Colin Powell's upcoming trip to the Middle East is a good sign. After all, the White House's proposal is the
fist step to addressing the challenge of pacifying the region after months of
battles, death, and hostilities."
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: "U.S. Is Overdoing It"
Left-of-center, independent, leading afternoon
tabloid El Nacional opined (6/26): "The United States is overdoing
its role as the navel of the world, by assuming the right to install or remove
governments using the pretext that it is being done in the name of peace or to
combat terrorism.... President Bush
recently admitted that he had on agenda the idea of ousting Saddam Hussein. A little while ago, Bush also urged Fidel
Castro to launch a democratization process in Cuba 'Washington-style'.... Now it is Yasser Arafat's turn, president of
the National Palestinian Authority....
Bush demands Arafat's resignation for permitting or supporting
terrorism, but he forgets that Israeli cannons are pointing to the neck of the
president of the Palestinian Authority.
He also forgets the massacre of Sabra and Shatila."
"Bush Enters The Middle East"
Hernan Perez Loose declared in Guayaquil's (and
Ecuador's) leading, center-right El Universo (6/25): "It was about time President Bush
abandoned the attitude he had with regards to the Middle East, in the sense of
placing himself on the sidelines, leaving the events to progress on their own. After all, the campaign against terrorism and
the road to Baghdad in particular, go through a lasting solution of this
"Mr. Bush's Candor"
Radio Melodie FM editorialized (6/25): "When the Palestinian people will have
new leaders, new institutions and new security agreements with its neighbors,
the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian
state.... Elections are important, but
what is more important is having the support of the Bush administration. Elections or not, without the support of the
Bush administration, well, you follow my thought... What is becoming of popular sovereignty,
which the United States defends with so much energy?... Moral of the story: In Washington or in Paris, in the Middle East
or in Madagascar or anywhere, why is it necessary to win an election if the
results don't seem to please the powers of the world? At this time, why is it necessary to have
elections at all?"