|Office of Research||Issue Focus||Foreign Media Reaction|
Media observers saw two world views emerging on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Washington and PM Sharon on one side, and, "a rather mixed coalition of the EU, China and the Arab League" on the other. But for many, the Bush administration's "open" support for PM Sharon's anti-terror tactics and its criticism for PA leader Arafat constituted a watershed moment. The majority in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America endorsed the Arabs' long-standing grievance that the U.S. "bias" in favor of Israel has undercut Washington's effectiveness as a mediator. Many urged the U.S. to specifically address the perception that it is "aligned with Israel's hard-liners" and make it clear that the U.S. is also interested in a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They also argued that the U.S. needed to dispel the view that the war against terrorism is directed at Arabs. These were salient points:
ARAFAT AND THE ARAB DILEMMA: Arab writers contended that while the U.S. has never been neutral regarding Israel and the Palestinians, the current administration's bias in favor of Israel is unprecedented. All attacked Washington's "anti-Arafat," "anti-peace" request that the PA leader uproot terrorism while under "virtual house arrest" by Israel. Many took the U.S. position as proof that, from the superpower's vantage point, "maintaining the American-Israeli partnership" is paramount, even above achieving a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Writers urged Arab leaders to move beyond the usual anti-Israel denunciations to express the extent of Arab anger, not only at Israel but also at its arms merchant and co-aggressor of the Palestinians, the U.S. Some posited that if the Bush anti-terrorism doctrine is transplanted from Afghanistan to the Middle East, Arab regimes face a stark choice: Either accept "the American-Israeli viewpoint" on terrorism or join the U.S.' list of enemies.
INTROSPECTION IN ISRAEL: Only the conservative spectrum of the media exhorted Israel--and the U.S.--to "pull the plug" on Arafat's political career. Centrist and leftist dailies, on the other hand, offered a glimpse of the public's hesitance to abandon Israel's main interlocutor for, perhaps, a more violent, extremist alternative. Many challenged Sharon, as the more powerful negotiating partner, to make some gesture toward the Palestinians that will motivate them to begin a dialogue.
EUROPE SEES FEW OPTIONS: Arafat's considerable supporters in the European media applauded the EU's endorsement of the PA leader as Israel's peace partner. Many were quick to question, however, how much EU support matters if Israel and the U.S. decide that Arafat's era is over. Most regretted Washington's recent criticism of Arafat, arguing that while "endorsing" Israel may be understandable from a military point of view, "it won't help to stabilize the region" or offer a "perspective for the future." Some suggested that among the few remaining diplomatic options left for ending the violence was Washington's reiteration of its support for Palestinian statehood and its support for a UN force in Israel.
EDITOR: Gail Hamer Burke
EDITOR'S NOTE: This report is based on 63 reports from 35 countries, January 25-30. Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.
ISRAEL: "War Zone"
Chief economic editor Sever Plotker wrote in the editorial of mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/29): "Terrorism has taken over the Palestinians'...life culture and is dictating their fate. Terrorism is poisoning the Palestinian discourse and repressing any independent Palestinian thought of accepting, and conciliating with, Israel. It would be wrong to say that Israelis are eager to annex the West Bank and Gaza to Israel, whatever the hidden intentions of various [Israeli] governments. The opposite is true. The 'territories' are currently perceived as a heavy, painful burden on the Israelis' shoulders.... Land for peace, settlements in exchange for [the abandonment of] the right of return--this is the yearned-for compromise most Israeli Jews are prepared for.... Unfortunately, as it appears today, the great majority of the Palestinian people is not willing to accept such a concession. The Palestinians adhere to their own artificial 'justice' which stands for the dismantling and the end of the Jewish state. "
"Occupation And Disobedience"
Veteran journalist Dan Margalit wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (1/29): "For the very reason that Ariel Sharon enjoys the rare supports of the United States, which understands what the far left refuses to see: that Yasser Arafat is the driving force behind terrorist activity, he should not be blinded by diplomatic victory, Sharon beat Arafat in the fight at the outskirts of Ramallah and in the battle for Washington's heart, but Winston Churchill's saying: 'The problems of victory are more agreeable than those of defeat, but they are no less difficult' still applies to Sharon."
"Time To Pull The Plug"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "So what is the United States waiting for before closing down the PLO offices in Washington and cutting off all contact with Arafat? The answer seems to be that, as much as Washington wants to see Arafat go, there is concern over what comes next. This concern--and confusion--is greatly compounded because Israel has not sent unambiguous signals in this regard.... The United States and Israel have nothing to lose by jointly pulling the plug on Arafat.... Arafat's likely successors will be no friends of Israel, but they will not inherit Arafat's aura of indispensability."
"Extending A Hand To Arafat"
Liberal columnist Gideon Levy wrote in independent Ha'aretz: "In Arafat's most difficult hour, it is in Israel's best interests to extend him a helping hand. No less relevant than Sharon, Arafat is Israel's only partner, period."
"Conciliatory Gestures Would Help"
Independent Ha'aretz editorialized (1/25): "It is not clear what Sharon meant when he said that a speech by the speaker of the Knesset in Ramallah would 'cause Israel political damage.' On the contrary, any effort to sabotage an initiative for reconciliation by Israeli leaders would portray Israel in the world as the party that is not interested in a political solution for the conflict. Opposition to initiatives that are only aimed at calling on the Palestinians to cease violence, raise suspicions that the government is not interested in peace, preferring to evict Arafat and erase the last remaining chances for a compromise based on the Oslo framework and the agreements reached in its wake."
"An Intentionally Missed Opportunity"
Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (1/ 25): "Not long ago, before the assassination of Raed Karmi, there was relative quiet. Israel could have taken advantage of it to declare its entrance into the Tenet-Mitchell track, encourage the moderates, continue to calm the situation and hope the momentum will gain speed. This is what Shimon Peres wanted. This is what the United States hoped. This is what the Palestinians wanted. But Israel, in a thought-out decision, gave up the opportunity--Israel, i.e., Ariel Sharon.... So what happened? The story is simple: Sharon is no new Shimon Peres; he is not even a new Sharon. He is the same Sharon, with the same attitude toward Arafat."
"The Bulldozer's Last Chance"
Senior columnist and long-time peace campaigner Yoel Marcus noted in independent Haaretz (1/25): "Arafat is not alone in this siege. All of Israel is with him. No tourists are coming, the economy has taken a mighty blow and people go out less for fear of terrorist attacks.... Israel may be a member of the Five Strongest Armies Club and the Eight Nuclear Nations Club, but it has reached the point where it has no military solution for the dispute with the Palestinians. In this reality, Sharon, as the head of a military power and the leader of the stronger side, can, and should, break the stalemate. This can be done by initiating a political compromise that will give the Palestinians hope and the motivation to begin a dialogue.... True, all Israeli prime ministers have had miserable ends, but a few of them have gone down in history for the great things they have done for this country. This is the Bulldozer's last chance to wind up his career in the ranks of the bold and the brave."
WEST BANK: "EU Statement: A Glimpse of Hope"
Independent, moderate Al-Quds editorialized (1/29): "The EU statement clearly supports the Palestinian Authority and President Arafat and refers to him as an essential partner in the peace process. This statement comes as a bold reaction to the American position, which reiterates Israeli claims and blindly adopts the position of Sharon's government towards Arafat. The European foreign ministers dared to demand that Israel end its attacks against EU-funded Palestinian infrastructure projects and warned that it will make Israel pay for the destruction of those projects. The question to be asked here is: Will this EU position affect the biased American position towards Israel, or will Washington carry on with its slanted and unjustified campaign against the Palestinian Authority and President Arafat?"
"Yasser Arafat And PA One Entity"
Hani Al-Masri opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (1/29): "White House officials have been talking about breaking relations with the Palestinian president while maintaining contacts with [other officials in] the Palestinian Authority. This can never happen. No one can ever separate Yasser Arafat from his authority, people, or Palestinian rights. Arafat is the historical, legitimate, national, and elected symbol of the Palestinian Authority and people. The Palestinian response to this new American idea will probably be that all Palestinian officials will break contacts with the U.S. administration if it does decide to render Arafat irrelevant."
Media Treatment--"Anti-Arafat, Anti-PA Statements"
Palestinian dailies ran banner headlines across the front pages (1/26-27) highlighting "anti-Arafat" and "anti-Palestinian Authority" statements by U.S. officials. Independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam led with a report titled, "Bush Exerts Political Pressure On Arafat." Another headline quoted Secretary Powell as saying that "we are reviewing our policies toward the Palestinian Authority and Arafat." Independent, moderate Al-Quds reported that the administration was considering taking measures against Arafat in light of the Karine-A ship incident.
"Washington Threatens Palestinian Authority"
Independent, moderate Al-Quds editorialized (1/27): "The recent statements by American administration officials, including President Bush, Secretary Powell and spokespersons for the White House and State Department, can only be characterized as extremist towards the Palestinian cause in general and the Palestinian Authority in particular. The recent statement by Powell, in which he stated that Arafat was facing his 'moment of truth,' was a declared threat against the Palestinian Authority. Adding to previous [biased] American positions, it confirmed that the American administration chose to align itself with the Israeli extremist parties and coalitions, thus weakening its credibility as a sponsor of the peace process, and placing it on the verge of destruction."
Independent, moderate Al-Quds editorialized (1/25): "The statement of the Qatar Foreign Minister, Hamad Al-Thani, regarding the weakness of the Arabs exposes a bitter fact.... After the September 11 attacks, the United States adopted positive positions. President Bush talked about Palestine as a fact, and later on, he reiterated the U.S. vision of a final solution based on a Palestinian state beside Israel. This idea was also emphasized by his secretary of state, Colin Powell, and other American officials. Nevertheless, Arabs failed to follow up on this American position, which seems to be vanishing by the day after the American massive military victory in Afghanistan, the collapse of the Taliban regime, and the dismantling of Al-QaIda without any major losses among the American forces."
EGYPT: "U.S. Benefits From Macabre Death Game Between Cousins"
Aggressive, pro-government Al Akhbar's senior columnist Mahmoud Abdel Moneim Mourad contended (1/29): "The world continues to watch indifferently as Arabs and Israelis kill each other still after half a century. No one wants to make a serious effort to stop the bloodshed, the demolition of houses, the spoiling of arable land and the Israeli daily aggression--as if there is a global conspiracy to annihilate Palestinians, and Israelis as well. Each Israeli terrorist operation received a Palestinian suicide operation in response. Even a Palestinian woman student conceded her right to life and set herself to bomb 150 or 140 Israelis.... Israelis will certainly respond violently. The good father Sharon...will handle the liquidation of a prominent Palestinian figure himself.... Everyone is watching the death game between these cousins. Someone is certainly benefiting from this game.... Americans have relieved Israelis of having to practice 'martyrdom' and sent them thousands of F-16's to kill Palestinians.... One day we will read news that American planes are responding to Arab suicide operations...by planes, missiles and tanks.... The result is that millions of dollars enter the treasuries of the spectators [i.e., the United States], oil flows to them at the lowest prices, and peace will never be achieved."
"Arab Public Will Reject Their Leaders' Surrender To Sharon""
Aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar's columnist Mahmoud Abdel Moneim Mourad asked (1/28): "Why are Arabs waiting for March to meet, while every day the press speaks about Israel's terrorist acts in Palestine?... Sharon is telling the world that he can do what he wants with Arabs and he and America can choose Arafat's successor and decide the end of the Arab-Israeli dispute, by force or by negotiation. Nothing in the Arab horizon indicates that they will take a new action. I do not expect the new choice will be war, which will contradict their choice of peace as a strategic option. However, everyone knows that peace can only be done according to Israeli and U.S. demands. This means that 22 Arab countries agreed to bow to Sharon.... However, the Arab public will reject this.... We will get harmed, but we will not surrender."
JORDAN: "Grave Consequences Of Washington’s Abandonment Of Its Peaceful Role”
Daily columnist Mahmoud Rimawi wrote on the op-ed page of semi-official, influential Al-Ra’i (1/28): “The American sponsorship of the negotiating process is slowly becoming a recipe for launching war and a tool for escalating the Israeli war.… The Republican administration is now in the same trench as Sharon.... The Americans have really and in effect abandoned their duties and responsibilities in sponsoring the negotiating process and have moved towards launching a military and political war against one of the parties. It is therefore the right and duty of the Arab world to stand up to this war with all the possible legitimate means as part of their solidarity with the campaign against terrorism.”
LEBANON: "Arafat And The Image Of Arab Terrorism"
An editorial by Nizar Abdel-Kader in independent, non-sectarian Ad-Diyar remarked (1/29): "During the last few weeks, some changes took place within the Israeli political milieu and in several media outlets. It appears that there are new Israeli movements that are demanding a stop to Sharon's policy, which is provoking the Palestinians and pushing them into committing suicide operations.... Israeli newspapers are carrying several articles that condemn Sharon's strategy and criticize the practices of the Israeli Army.... Despite these changes in Israel, the United States is continuing its campaign against the Palestinian Authority and Arafat himself.... This American concentration on Arafat and disregard of the Israeli open war against the Palestinians, raises questions about the reasons for this American position.... The United States seems to need a new terrorist image because the stardom of Bin Laden has started to fade.... Apparently the United States wants to move its campaign against terrorism from Afghanistan to the Middle East and is using Arafat as a representative of 'Arab terrorism.'"
"At The Edge Of The Edge"
Sahar Baasiri commented in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (1/26): "The Bush administration also understands Israel's need to defend itself, is thinking about severing its relations with the PLO by closing its office in Washington, might end General Zinni's mission, and is planning to present evidence that prove Arafat's involvement in the arms shipment to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.... The American administration is making a big mistake because it is dealing with Arafat in the same manner it has been dealing with Afghanistan.... Arafat is confronting an occupation and is asking for his people's legitimate rights. Arafat is neither the al-Qaida nor the Taliban because he is not the one who is blocking the peace process.... If America wants to get rid of Arafat, then it is really heading for a catastrophe."
MOROCCO: "No Signs Of Powell's Vision For The Region"
Medi-1, semi-independent radio with an audience of about 25 million, commented (1/28): "In November, 2001, Secretary Powell said that the United States had a vision of a region where Israel and Arabs can live together in peace, security and dignity, with recognized borders, a region where people can worship God in a spirit of tolerance and understanding. Where is the U.S. vision in the framework of the double-standard policy that the United States is carrying in the region in the name of its war against terrorism? And when will the United States engage to help the Palestinians and the Israelis make this vision a reality?"
"Israel's Friendship With U.S. Apparently Has No Limits Or Conditions"
Columnist Abdullatif Jebrou wrote in independent, Al Ahdath Al Maghrebiya (1/28): "Israel has managed to win the friendship of Americans without any conditions. Americans consider themselves connected to Israel through a strategic alliance; allowing Washington to give itself the right to use double standard in everything concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.... The United States uses the veto at the Security Council to block any resolution to send international forces to protect Palestinian civilians confronted with
daily aggressions by the occupying Israeli army.... America does not say a word to Israel and ignores all international legitimate resolutions when it comes to Israel but intervenes in all places under the pretext of respecting that same international legitimacy."
QATAR: "Arafat--A Mafia Godfather?"
Faisal Al-Batout, columnist for semi-independent Al-Watan argued (1/29): "American officials have never used such rough language about Arafat before. His credibility has been put into question due to his alleged involvement with the seized weapons shipment. Maybe this is why General Zinni described him as a Mafia Godfather. Zinni's choice of words shows how biased the United States is towards Israel. At the same time, Arafat's personal involvement with the weapons shipment may also reflect how he perceives himself--as a revolutionary leader and not a statesman."
"We Will Not Abandon The Palestinians"
Semi-independent Al-Sharq contended (1/29): "Holding the Arab League foreign ministers' preparation meeting in Ramallah would send a message to the United States and Israel that Arafat is still the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. The Palestinians need the Arab states to work with Washington to stop Israeli aggression, and at the same time they need to see more Arab officials meeting with Arafat in his 'prison.' It not acceptable to see so many European delegations meeting with Arafat while Arab leaders are not even telephoning him, with the exception of the Emir of Qatar a week ago. We must show Washington and Tel Aviv that we are not going to abandon the Palestinians."
SYRIA: "The Trap"
Fouad Mardoud, chief editor of government-owned Syria Times, editorialized (1/29): "If Sharon's agenda is to provoke Palestinians, trap them and destroy the peace process, what is President Bush's agenda? But how the Bush administration fell into Sharon's trap is more disturbing.... For particular political reasons it gave the Israeli forces all the green lights they needed to do whatever they want in the occupied territories. Therefore, it is no surprise that retired General Zinni's mission in the region did not yield matching results. Mr. Zinni's latest description of Sharon as a 'good father' and Mr. Bush's latest 'disappointment' with Palestinians incensed all Arabs and demonstrated U.S. ignorance of Middle East realities. The Americans, as well as the Palestinians, fell into the trap. The only beneficiary is Sharon."
Yahia Aridi, Director of Syrian TV Channel 2, commented in government-owned Syria Times (1/29): "The Chief of Israeli police in Jerusalem suffered a heart attack as a result of Sunday's attack [Palestinian suicide operation]. He is not the only one in Israel torn up by fear. Everyone in that garrison state lives a continuous nightmare not knowing when death may strike.... The person who is running scared more than anyone else is Sharon. He is doubly frightened: from those he promised--but failed--to provide with peace and security; and from the Palestinians to whom he has left no option but death. A third source of his fear comes from the United States that gave him a green light to do whatever he likes. The United States could withdraw this favor any minute--not out of generosity nor morality but out of international embarrassment. The fourth source of fear (300 million Arabs) is possibly building up."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Arafat And The Arab Dilemma"
Jeddah based, conservative Al-Madina opined (1/29): "Israel has succeeded in cornering all neighbor Arabs after the September 11 events. The U.S. media has succeeded in portraying Muslims and Arabs as supporters of terrorism. Those who wish to obtain a certificate of good behavior must go first through Tel Aviv. Proof of Israel's success, was the ultimatum issued by
President Bush to the quasi-imprisoned, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, either to uproot terrorism from the Middle East or face war with the United States, Israel and their world allies, willingly or unwillingly. The heavily armed United States has been engaged in a war in Afghanistan for more than three months without succeeding in eradicating the roots of terrorism there. Furthermore, it has failed to capture bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri, or Mulla Mohammed Omar. While the U.S. demands that Arafat, who is shackled by Israel and the United States, uproot what they term as terrorism...it is most likely, that the president of the United States understands, more than most others, that neither Arafat nor anyone else could halt that cycle of bloody violence."
"The Benefits Of Silence"
London based, pan-Arab Al-Hayat's editorial judged (1/28): "It is not true that Arabs are incapable of changing the path of the current Palestinian crisis. Certainly they can do something other than beg the United States to interfere, especially when the American interference takes a destructive direction. Arabs should stand by their basic beliefs regarding the Palestinian conflict and remain supportive of Palestinian's struggle so that they can move forward, rather than collapse and surrender. This may just sound like talk, but it is the least we can do in our current situation. Arab silence now is the preferred alternative. It is better than getting involved in the American-Israeli scenarios of fighting terrorism or searching for the right leadership for the PA. Israel is taking advantage of the American mood. Finding the right leadership means finding someone who would accept the expanding Jewish settlements and keeping the Palestinian resistance quiet. Fighting terrorism, according to their definition, means destroying any legitimate Palestinian resistance against Israel.... Silence may be a benefit these days, otherwise we would have to sign agreements and accept Israeli-American solutions.... We are not defending silence nor are we encouraging it, we are only trying to prevent Arabs from committing a deadly mistake."
"What The U.S. Wants And What We Want"
Jeddah-based, moderate Al-Bilad published this op-ed by Abdul Kader Tash (1/28): "The voices of the U.S. administration are getting louder, calling for getting rid of Arafat.... No country would dare use this kind of policy except the United States.... The United States wants Arafat to surrender to Israel...and the Palestinians to halt their resistance.... The message that the United States wants the Arabs and Muslims to understand is clear. 'You have to accept what Israel is doing and stop supporting the Palestinians, or you will not receive any of the U.S.' benefits, and you might be accused of being terrorists.'... It is not important to know what the United States wants, what is more important is what we want.... How can we answer the message from the United States? Are we going to obey or we will take action? We have to answer the United States' message as soon as possible."
TUNISIA: "American Alibi"
Editor-in-chief Mustapha Khammari wrote in independent French-language Le Temps (1/29): "American officials claim, and the interview of the American Ambassador [Rust Deming] in Le Temps, confirms and supports the idea, that the United States is unable to impose peace on both Palestinians and on Israelis. Based on this alibi, Washington adopts a laissez-faire attitude, which allows the Israeli government to undertake illegal actions, in particular to remain hostile towards any peaceful and just rule. The American alibi might have misled the world if Washington refrained from encouraging the Israeli State in its colonial enterprise.... President Bush is concerned about the Palestinians receiving the alleged self-defense weapon cargo ship, while the American cargo ships deliver tons of American weapons to Israel. These same weapons... kill Palestinian women and children.... Everybody knows that America could, at the very least, force its troublesome ally, to accept the presence of an international force, which is the only one able to put an end to the violence."
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: After 9/11, The Arab World Is Washington's Enemy"
Largest Arabic-language and pan-Arab Sharjah-based Al-Khaleej opined (1/27): "Bush's position on Friday...demonstrates that Washington has selected Sharon as its choice in the region in its war against the so-called terrorism in the region, that is, against the Palestinian people and the others listed in the American terrorism list. The United States did well to reveal its position, sparing the Arabs the need to wait and say where the American position would lead in the post-September 11 era. The game is clear: The United States has decided to wage Israel's war. The battle will include the entire Arab world, not only the Palestinian Authority. All that is required of the Arabs is...to await a decisive and bitter war to counter the American-Israeli scheme aimed at changing the face of this region and turning it into an American-Israeli sphere of interest... Will the Arabs do anything?"
BRITAIN: "Bush And Arafat"
In the view of the independent Financial Times (1/28): "[President Bush] is now contemplating further measures to demonstrate disapproval of Mr. Arafat, including the possibility of severing ties with the PA. [These actions] have been welcomed by the Israeli government, but they are unlikely to further the prospect of peace or stop the suicide bombers. Breaking ties with the PA would not, however, help the path to peace. It would give Israel a free rein to destroy what remains of Mr. Arafat's authority. The alternative to the P.A. is a further fragmentation of Palestinian society. The Palestinian groups that have gained most in popularity since the outbreak of the intifada are the radical Hamas and Islamic Jihad. A Hamas takeover may suit Ariel Sharon, Israel's Prime Minister, since his objective seems to be to delay any possibility of a political settlement. It surely cannot be in America's best interest. The only option left for the Palestinians is to end all attacks and hope the United States will then put pressure on Mr. Sharon."
GERMANY: "The EU Is Getting Involved"
Martina Doering maintained in an editorial in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (1/29): "The EU's criticism of Israel is overdue.... If the United States is giving up its role as mediator voluntarily, the EU must become active. The Europeans' formal protest is a first step, which could easily be followed by others: There exists, for example, an EU import ban for products from Jewish settlements. So far, it has simply never been implemented."
"Nothing Will Improve Without Arafat"
Michael Stuermer observed in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (1/29): "The Middle East will not become any safer without Arafat.... Washington knows that a compromise in Israel is necessary in order to stabilize the Middle East, the oil markets, and the Arab regimes. The region is riddled with conflicts that are kept under control mostly by U.S. influence. Washington must be careful not to end relations with the Palestinian authority. Such a breakup is exactly what Hamas and Jihad are waiting for. There is a chance that PLO pragmatists will rely on the United States and take up arms to control Islamists and terrorists. Such a scenario would open up new negotiating options for Bush, and it would also help the moderate Arab regimes."
FRANCE: "Washington Against Arafat"
Alain Frachon remarked in left-of-center Le Monde (1/29): "For the first time in many years, Washington, thanks to President Bush, is openly advertising its partisanship. Israel is the ally, Arafat the adversary.... The United States is no longer the neutral mediator and does not care
if this is out in the open.... Arafat is being boycotted by the Republicans: Condoleezza Rice is not even trying to hide her dislike for Arafat, and Secretary Rumsfeld has proven how ignorant
he is about the conflict when he says that 'Arafat has never done anything for his people.'... Rarely has there been a U.S. president under the influence of advisors who so share the positions of the Israeli right."
"In Europe, A Handshake For Peace"
Gilles Delafon wrote in right-of-center Le Journal du Dimanche (1/27): "America and Europe have not often shared the same idea of a 'just peace' for the Middle East.... That is certainly the case today.... If Europe continues to support Arafat, it is not out of devotion for him but out of respect for his people. While the Americans continue to pressure (Arafat) and think up sanctions without a long-term strategy, Europe tries to find real solutions.... While the Europeans try to listen to peacemakers such as Israel's Avraham Burg, the Americans prefer to listen only to Ariel Sharon.... George W. Bush should remember that his father's conditional support of Israel made the Madrid Conference possible. Seeing Washington's alignment with one of Israel's strongest hardliners is a cruel regression."
ITALY: "Europe Warns: You Should Not Drop Arafat "
Maria Maggiore filed from Brussels for Turin's centrist, influential La Stampa (1/29): "'Israel needs the Palestinian Authority and its President Yasser Arafat.'... The European foreign affairs ministers' message could not have been clearer than this.... The message was issued in two copies: One for the Israeli PM who, since December, has been forcing Arafat to live isolated in his residence in Ramallah. The other one is directed to those people in the international community who decided to drop Arafat, such as the U.S. Special Envoy, Anthony Zinni."
"Arab Nations 'Rediscover' Arafat"
A report from Dubai in Rome's center-right Il Tempo remarked (1/30): "Something is moving in the Arab world. Rich countries--those that have not participated with their armies, but only with their finances, in Arab-Israeli conflicts--are beginning to send out signals against Arafat's 'imprisonment.'"
BELGIUM: "Welcome Support For Arafat, But Is EU Up To New Initative"
Foreign affairs writer Kristien van Haver opined on the front page of financial De Financieel-Economische Tijd (1/29): "The EU wants to take a new initiative to break out of the spiral of violence in the Middle East. The EU foreign ministers reached an agreement yesterday after a remarkable united front between Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel and his Italian colleague, Silvio Berlusconi. Europe also threatens to demand compensation from Israel for the infrastructure that it destroyed in Palestinian territories. The EU foreign minister expressed strong criticism yesterday against the United States. With overly clear positions against Arafat, Washington destroys all hope for peace, they said. Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh termed George Bush's policy dumb and mad. But now Europe threatens to become disqualified as a partner in the peace process, her Belgian counterpart Louis Michel said. "As Europe(ans), we simply cannot afford not to react to what is happening.'"
AUSTRIA: "Arafat In A Vacuum"
Foreign affairs editor Gudrun Harrer contended in liberal Der Standard (1/28): "The latest suicide attack in Jerusalem only proves that the current U.S. approach to dealing with the Middle East conflict is nothing but the denial of reality. Washington seems to believe that pulling out (of the Middle East peace process) again will only hurt the Palestinians. Endorsing Israel's policy may be understandable from a military point of view, but it won't help to stabilize
the region, nor does it hold any perspective for the future. In fact, Washington has also failed Israel and all its potential victims of future attacks."
BULGARIA: "Vicious Circle"
Center-left Republika held (1/29), "The Israelis have never been so afraid. Everyone out there is a potential victim. Everyone in the crowd is a potential suicide bomber.... Sharon and Arafat are acting childishly.... One of the two must make a compromise. It would be appropriate for the U.S. president to encourage such a compromise by treating each of the sides in the conflict equally. How can you claim to be a mediator when all you do is tolerate Israeli actions and pressure the Palestinians?"
HUNGARY: "New Crisis?"
Senior columnist Hanna Szalay commented in influential, business-political Vilaggazdasag (1/29): "The world is being maneuvered into the 'hall' of a pretty big international crisis, thanks to the 16-month long Palestinian intifada and to leapfrogging American politics. It seems that today official Washington and Sharon stand on one side, and a rather mixed coalition of the EU, China and the Arab League on the other side. The Israeli government and its supporter, the Bush team, can only think in the simple 'victory-or-defeat' paradigm. So the global international united front seems to be disintegrating."
IRELAND: "Cool Heads Needed To Calm Mideast Terror Spiral"
According to the centrist Irish Examiner (1/29): "With President Bush sharply critical of Mr Arafat, hopes of an early return of the U.S. envoy to the region have evaporated.... Apparently, Israel is hell-bent on making life impossible for the Palestinian people and it is increasingly difficult to see how Arafat can produce positive results in the present maelstrom.... Inherently, this is a highly dangerous strategy.... It is time for an early return to the negotiating table and talks between America, Israel and the Palestinian Authority to bring the violence to an end."
POLAND: "The Palestinian Knot"
Ryszard Malik wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita (1/29): "Israel blames Arafat for each [terrorist] attack. Maybe this is right, maybe not.... Perhaps it is time to make some kind of decision, such as: We do not want to cooperate with Arafat any longer. To make this decision would be all the easier because the Americans...are now saying that they are disappointed with Arafat and his attitude. This, however, would raise the question: What will happen then? If not Arafat, then who? It will not be possible to banish a million Palestinians."
THE NETHERLANDS: "Hellish Chain Reaction In The Middle East"
Centrist Haagsche Courant had this editorial (1/25): "The eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, according to Old Testament custom, continues unabated in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.... Meanwhile, the United States is an onlooker. It is uniquely able to force the two parties to the table, but the priorities of interest of the sole remaining superpower at present are internal. It is clear as day that progress in resolving the current conflict can only occur if both opponents, Sharon and Arafat, have disappeared off the stage. As long as they are at the helm, even the beginning of a solution will prove elusive."
RUSSIA: "Talking To Arafat Is Pointless"
Viktor Myasnikov commented in reformist Vremya MN (1/29): "Both sides are driven by hunger for revenge and a desire to make the other side stop fighting. With such an approach, they may well start a full-blown war. Locked up in Ramallah, Arafat, it seems, has become a hostage of his own palace guard, as well as of the Israelis. As Palestinian military leaders
smuggle arms from Iran and connive with terrorists, the head of the administration covers for them so he does not lose face with his embattled people. Talking to him is pointless, since he is not in control. Arafat's hopes that international peacekeepers will protect the Authority from
the Israelis' retaliatory strikes are groundless, too. Nobody wants to be a 'live shield' for terrorists."
Boris Petrovich noted in reformist Noviye Izvestiya (1/29): "The U.S. administration, plainly cannot cope with the Middle East problem. But Washington must keep trying, even if it has to redouble its diplomatic efforts."
SLOVENIA: "Wrong Friends"
Middle East correspondent Barbara Surk pointed out in left-of-center Delo (1/29): "Before they began the war in Afghanistan, the Americans had put Sharon [on a sidetrack]. They needed support of the Arab countries ruled by...'moderate regimes'.... They ordered Sharon to erase the killing and humiliation of Arabs...from TV screens; in exchange, [the Americans] fulfilled [Sharon's] wish: They demanded that Arafat settle accounts with (Islamic) extremists.... Americans are convinced that the issue of the Middle East has been [settled]. Otherwise they would not have allowed Sharon to equate the liberation war--in which Palestinians have been using acceptable and unacceptable means--with terrorism. But [the Americans] are wrong. They have chosen the wrong friend for the realization of their interests."
"Drowing In A Bloody Bath"
Foreign editor Boris Jausovec told readers of left-of-center, independent Vecer (1/29): "[The] simple political arithmetic of ascribing guilt and responsibility is the most comfortable; particularly if the world's policeman cannot or does not want to comprehend more complicated explanations. Arafat--regardless of how sick and impotent he looks--is not innocent either. His cooperation with Iran...is real. But, [the fact is] that violence will [intensify] if Israel eliminates Arafat, expels him, or disables him in another way.... A cease-fire can be reached and violence stopped if only the Palestinians and Sharon's Israel...sincerely desire it."
SPAIN: "Arafat, On His Last Legs"
Conservative ABC editorialized (1/29): "Yasser Arafat, cornered militarily by Israel in Ramallah, hounder diplomatically by the United States, parked until further order by the EU, forgotten as usually by his Arab brothers, is perhaps--this time--on his last legs. Ariel Sharon is in luck. Not even the deaths of those buried every week in the Jewish cemeteries undermine his popularity.... The terrible events of 9/11 could have been used by one side or the other--with pressure from Washington and Brussels--to relaunch the peace process in the Middle East. At first, it seemed like it was going to be that way.... The reality is that the war against terrorism has reached the limits for Palestine. The United States stopped being a neutral mediator a long time ago and the EU is unable to manage the situation by itself.... Dialogue is needed urgently."
"Way Out For Palestine"
Leading economic La Gaceta de los Negocios concluded (1/29): "Far from recognizing the rights of Palestinians, the United States is on the brink of turning its back on Arafat.... The only thing remaining is the recognition of the EU, which continues to regard him as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.... Perhaps the international community should demand that the Security Council take action and try to impose a solution. The United States should not continue to prevent the UN from (exercising) its legitimate leadership role."
SWEDEN: "Small Elephant In A Big Glass House"
Conservative Stockholm morning Svenska Dagbladet opined (1/29) "The fact that the U.S.
Vice President Dick Cheney has questioned Arafat's seriousness, stresses the need for a new Palestinian leadership. Both sides need younger leaders, who are not burdened with the weight of the old warfare, in order to bring about meaningful talks.... The situation might grow even more serious, since worsened Arab-U.S. relations might be the result of the visit to the White House by King Abdullah of Jordan.... In this critical situation Sweden's Foreign Minister, Anna Lindh, barges in and in public statements, on the radio, says that the United States is taking an inappropriate, foolish and dangerous approach, and 'rewarding Sharon's violence.' This one-sided view is not in accordance with the Swedish prime minister's understanding of Israel's exposed position.... The situation for the Palestinian people must be improved, but not on behalf of the security of the state of Israel."
"Arafat's Fall Must In No Way Appear The Result Of U.S. Manipulations"
Nathan Shachar commented in independent, liberal Dagens Nyheter (1/29): "The reason why Arafat's militia in Nablus and Gaza ignores his instructions is the deepening ideological crisis within the popular movement that has been Arafat's power base. However those Israeli politicians who have fantasies about a nearby U.S. diplomatic rupture with Arafat will soon sober up.... Although President Bush and Vice President Cheney have lost confidence in Arafat, a total break of relations with him is unlikely since such would unnecessarily hurt the U.S. position in the Arab world.... Should Arafat fall, his fall must in no way appear as the result of American manipulations."
TURKEY: "Desire For Peace"
Izzet Sedes noted in mass-appeal Aksam (1/29): "The level of trust between Israel and Palestine is less than zero. And this fact cannot be changed with the help of others; neither Americans, Europeans, nor the Russians.... Despite all of these negative developments, neither side desires war. The question is still finding the way for peace, or more specifically speaking, finding a political solution to the Middle East problem. It is important that political solution be sought even in the most difficult time."
"History Rewritten In The Middle East"
Cengiz Candar commented on the Mideast developments in Islamist/opinion maker Yeni Safak (1/29): "It seems the United States has pushed the button to eliminate the historic figure of the Palestinian cause.... It has always been a known fact that Sharon wanted to see Arafat dead. And the events of September 11 gave him a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Sharon deliberately used the political tactic of influencing Washington by equating the names Arafat and Osama bin Laden with terrorism.... Things in the Middle East used to work against Sharon vis-a-vis the Washington administration, now things are completely working for the benefit of Sharon."
CHINA: "Violence Cannot Resolve Palestinian-Israeli Disputes"
Xu Ping held in the official Communist Party People's Daily (Renmin Ribao, 1/29): "The intensified Palestine-Israeli disputes are related to the United States' biased policy favoring Israel.... The United States and Israel should understand that use of force cannot resolve the problem. Nor can it bring tranquility and stability to Israel.... Since the United States has expressed its agreement to establishing Palestinian statehood, it should put its words into action and make the Palestinians realize that an independent Palestine can be established through peaceful means."
"Middle East Situation Really Dangerous"
Ming Dajun insisted in Xinhua Daily Telegraph (Xinhua Meiri Dianxun, 1/28): "The United States' biased policy favoring Israel has boosted the right-wing Israeli forces and further fueled the Israel-Palestinian dispute.... Analysts widely believe that if the United States cannot change its biased policy at the earliest possible and the international community cannot take some effective measures, the situation in the region will be out of control, and larger-scale bloodshed may occur. Moreover, the Palestinian National Authority may fall in the possible conflict, and the disputes may even extend outside the Middle East region."
JAPAN: "Arafat Seeks Japan's Contribution To Middle East Peace"
Business-oriented Nihon Keizai's Ramallah correspondent Yokota, who interviewed Palestinian leader Arafat, observed (1/28): "Chairman Arafat asked Japan to play a major role in mediating between the Palestinians and Israelis. Arafat's request reflected the increasingly difficult political and diplomatic situation facing his autonomous government following a move by the peace-broker United States to take a tough stance toward Arafat's leadership amid a rash of Palestinian suicide bombings against Israelis. Following the United States' change of heart, Arafat appears to be placing high expectations on Japan, the largest donor to the Palestinians, to play a positive role in mediating an end to the current tit-for-tat bloodshed and restoring peace in the Middle East."
THAILAND: "How To Douse A Burning Rage"
Imtiaz Muqbil concluded in the top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post (1/27): “What Mr. Bush has not yet done is examine more introspectively both the reason and the cause of September 11. It is never too late to do so and take the far easier way out. Let him repeat after me: ‘The United States demands that Israel make a full and unconditional withdrawal from occupied territories, as clearly stated in UN Security Council Resolution 242 and 338. This should begin immediately and be completed within one year. Palestinians should respond to this by ceasing, also effectively immediately, all acts of violence so that at the end of that one year, they may have an independent state.’... If the Taleban were the oppressors in Afghanistan, the Israelis are the oppressors in Palestine. Yet, just see the double standards in the way the two forms of oppression are being treated by the so-called ‘honest broker’ and it becomes easy to realize why the violence will continue for years to come.”
VIETNAM: " When President Bush Turns His Back On President Arafat"
Danh Duc asserted in the Vietnam Youth Association daily Thanh Nien (1/29): "There are some signs that the United States now completely turn its back on Palestine.... Liberation newspaper of France also revealed that hawks in the Bush administration, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, gave the green light for Mr. Sharon to shut out President Afrafat. Israeli missiles are now reaching very near Arafat's compound. The question is: Will a comprehensive peace or war will come to the Middle East once Arafat is killed? Why is one side [ Israel] armed with modern weapons to crack down and terrorize the other, while the other side [ Palestine] is banned from doing that?"
CANADA: "After Arafat"
The left-of-center Winnipeg Free Press remarked in an editorial (1/23): "Mr. Arafat cannot or will not control Palestinian terror and so he endangers the whole concept of Palestine. His authority among Palestinians is doubtful, his credibility internationally is shattered. Israel will not deal with him. Neither should Canada nor other Western nations. His martyrdom would mean nothing. His resignation, however, although it would create uncertainty and danger, would at
least open new opportunities for his people. That is the sacrifice Mr. Arafat should make."
BRAZIL: "Back To Prior To September 11"
Rio's conservative O Globo asked readers (1/29): "Is Arafat's Palestine National Authority a terrorist organization--as Prime Minister Sharon has asserted and President Bush seems to believe?... It's easy to connect the seized smuggled [armaments] with the series of suicidal attacks and conclude that Arafat and the whole Palestine administration are terrorists. To include them in the list of enemies of the United States, of the West and the world order is an irresistible temptation. But one should take into consideration that Arafat...has no maneuvering space to do what Sharon and Bush demand. Israeli tanks surround his headquarters in Ramallah and to demand drastic measures from him is absurd and useless. The existing signs of general political re-alignment in the region are not by chance: Iran and Hezbollah with the Palestinians; Saudi Arabia uneasy and in a difficult situation with the American position. An already confused situation gets even more complicated, and returning to the negotiating table becomes even more distant. One is back prior to September 11."
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo opined (1/29): "Attitudes such as those of Ariel Sharon, of humiliating Arafat, only prolong the conflict and provoke the Palestinians, allowing an escalation of terrorism. The Palestinians must have their own nation to recover the right to dream. This is the only way for the Israelis to enjoy the peace they dream about."
MEXICO: "Sharon, Israel And Barbarism"
An editorial in far-left La Jornada emphasized (1/26): "President George W. Bush continues to try to convince the world that the terrorism perpetrated by desperate Palestinians is the danger in the Middle East, while he overlooks the terrorist campaign carried out by the Israeli government.... Fifty-two Israeli military personnel have signed a newspaper add to the effect that they would defend Israel, but would not go beyond the border line between Israel and the occupied territories.... As long as the Palestinians face death, destruction, discrimination every day, and the denial of their most fundamental rights, peace will not take root in the Middle East.... The international community should demand the Israeli withdrawal and the deployment of an international peace force that would prevent terrorist actions and provocations.... The European Union should speak out on this, regardless of Sharon's or the United States' stand on the issue."
UGANDA: "U.S. Must Be Balanced"
The government-owned New Vision put forth this view (1/25): "Israel is not morally superior to Palestine. If anything, it is more to blame for the renewed conflict. Yet it is striking that the United States constantly condemns the Palestinian Authority for failing to stop terrorists yet remains silent when Israel assassinates militants. The United States is taking Israel's side in the conflict. This is longstanding American foreign policy, but it is not acceptable in the post-Taliban world. All the nations of the world rallied behind the United States in its war against the Taliban in the hope of a new world order free of injustice and terrorism. If the United States continues to condemn Palestinian 'terrorism' and condone Israeli 'terrorism', this new world order is going to unravel very fast."