February 3, 2003
SHARON WINS 'RESOUNDING VICTORY'
** Easily victorious PM
Sharon will still find it "difficult to form a stable coalition."
** The election's results
will likely "change little in the bloody standoff" with the
** Many agree "America
should use its leverage with Israel" to achieve regional stability.
** Muslim writers believe
Sharon's victory is built on "mayhem and death."
Sharon's victory 'may prove Pyrrhic'-- After the election, Israeli papers focused on
coalition scenarios. Pluralist Maariv
contended Sharon "wants to establish a unity government." Erstwhile Labor-leaning Ha'aretz
lamented that Labor candidate Amram Mitzna's pledge not to join a Sharon-led
coalition means Labor has "abandoned Israel and left it in the hands of
the Right." India's right-wing Pioneer
agreed Sharon will "depend on the extreme right-wing parties to cobble a
coalition together," but one liberal Irish voice cautioned such a
coalition will not be "capable of commanding national and international
support." Israel's pluralist Yediot
Aharonot concluded Israel is becoming "more nationalistic,
security-oriented and anti-liberal."
'Pessimism worldwide' about the possibility for peace-- Leftist observers predicted that Sharon will
move to "escalate the military conflict with the Palestinians." European dailies agreed "Sharon will
block diplomatic initiatives as long as the intifada continues." One Israeli settler wrote that "the Right...won't
bring peace" but he, for one, preferred "realistic suspicion to the
Left's messianic generosity." Arab
observers predicted that the "cycle of violence in the Middle East will
continue" because of Sharon's "history of brutality." The leftist Japan Times warned,
however, that the violent "status quo is proving unsupportable."
President Bush 'must contain Sharon'-- Many wondered if a new Sharon-led rightist
government would accept a U.S. roadmap for peace. One Israeli daily declared that Sharon's
victory "set him on a collision course with America." Muslim papers blasted U.S. "apathy"
towards the "death and destruction in Palestine," blaming violence on
"the total lack of American focus on staying Sharon's hand." Egypt's leading Al Ahram accused the
U.S. of "conveniently facilitating" Sharon's "final
solution" to the Palestinian problem.
Many Arab dailies held that if America is "preoccupied" by war
with Iraq, "Sharon's war against Palestinians is likely to continue in an
Arabs say 'a majority of Israelis have given their voice to an
extremist leader'-- Muslim outlets continued
harsh criticism of "Israeli escalations" including
"massacres" in Gaza both before and after the election. Jordan's center-left Al-Dustour
inveighed against Israel's "crimes," while Syria's government-owned Tishreen
declared that Israelis "are voting for extremism." One Pakistani daily said Sharon's win forced
Palestinians to "choose between subjugation or death." Several said "continued resistance"
was the only "real roadmap."
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis is based on 73 reports from 27 countries over 24 January to 2
February. Editorial excerpts from each
country are listed from the most recent date.
"Just Not Unity"
Liberal columnist Meir Stieglitz wrote in mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (2/2):
"The Right's decisive and anticipated victory marks the future path
of Israeli history: nationalistic, security oriented and anti-liberal. Nationalistic, meaning the continued
perception of the conflict with the Palestinians as an uncompromising battle
and the continued investment of tremendous resources in bolstering the
Security-oriented, meaning the continued elevation of the narrow
'security interest' over any other national interest (aside from the
settlements), while perceiving the potential threats in the region in
'worst-case scenario' terminology.
Anti-liberal, meaning the continued investment in bolstering anti-modern
education for anyone who so desires and the continued conferring of legitimacy
on the various shades of fundamentalism.
Those who argue that the Labor Party, if it joins, will be able to stop
these processes suffer from opportunistic addiction to government and
unwillingness to wage a difficult struggle....
Throughout his entire political life Sharon has coerced Israeli history
into taking his path. Therefore, Mitzna
needs to think only about how to protect the defeated minority that is called
the Left. The battle is not about
victory but about survival."
"Time to Go It Alone"
Senior columnist and longtime peace campaigner Yoel Marcus wrote
in independent Ha'aretz (1/31): "On the night of his big win, Ariel
Sharon reminded me of the kid in the movie 'Home Alone,' who looks in the
mirror in the morning all joyful and happy, and then starts screaming his lungs
out when he realizes he's alone....
Sharon's landslide victory has handcuffed him, with the collective
wisdom of the voter creating more problems for him than solutions. It has set him on a collision course with
America. Sharon may boast about having
won a second term of four years and eight months, but the government in its
current configuration probably won't last out the year.... As a member of the
unity government, Labor was humiliated and hardly influenced the
decision-making. A national emergency
government is an ass-covering government.
Labor needs to get a grip on itself and build itself up as an
alternative in the opposition. Unity is
a trap it cannot fall into again. When
Sharon is ready to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate settlements,
Labor will be there, supporting him on the sidelines. Meanwhile, let the public that wanted Sharon,
and got him big-time, enjoy him to the hilt."
"The Voters' Will"
Independent Ha'aretz editorialized (1/30): "Sharon and
his advisers now propose to do what the Prime Minister could have done in the
previous government -- to support U.S. President George Bush's initiative that
speaks of an independent and viable Palestinian state alongside the State of
Israel, and to set in motion a diplomatic process that he has avoided over the
past two years. Sharon knows that no
diplomatic process is possible without the immediate removal of the illegal
settlement outposts and a settlement freeze immediately thereafter, or without
a willingness to evacuate settlements as part of a broader agreement.... If Sharon believes that he needs to act now
to advance an agreement with the Palestinians--with all the compromises and
concessions such an agreement entails--he deserves praise. But he will have trouble mustering the
cabinet support required for such a move--from either his own party, or from
the other parties on his side of the political map. Labor and the left-wing parties can support
any appropriate step in this direction from the Opposition. It is precisely because of his sweeping
victory that Sharon now faces so conspicuous a problem. The Likud's platform, which is a weaker
version of the platforms of the extreme right-wing parties ('the real Likud'),
is likely to make it difficult for him to take any action to promote peace,
even if he reaches the conclusion that this is essential."
"If You Form a Narrow-Based Cabinet, Forget About Loan
Columnist Akiva Eldar wrote in Ha'aretz (1/30): "Sharon...knows that the Labor Party's
presence in the government is enormously vital for coming up with an
alternative source of funding to deleting tax revenues. The only source on the horizon is the
American taxpayer, via the USD 8 billion in American loan guarantees. But without a political horizon, Labor won't
join the government and President Bush will find it very difficult to stick his
hand into the pocket of the American taxpayer.
Israel's friends in Washington, particularly AIPAC, have warned the
political echelon in Jerusalem that they should not regard the guarantees as if
the money was already in the Bank of Israel vaults. When Washington can barely remember such a
cold winter and such high oil prices, Congress won't be particularly
enthusiastic about placing Israel's poor before America's poor, whose numbers
are increasing. With the U.S. government
cutting USD 28 billion from the federal budget, even the most
friendly-to-Israel president needs some very good reasons to explain to his
public why he is giving money away to foreigners."
"Bush Also Has Something To Say"
Columnist Yehoshua Shemesh wrote in nationalist Hatzofe
(1/30): "The results of the
elections for the 16th Knesset revealed dramatic changes...but they don't
fundamentally present a clear, sharp picture of what the next government will
look like.... [Nonetheless,] the people
have said a clear 'no' to those who brought the Oslo accords and their
aftermath, an unambiguous 'no' to the Israeli left and its entire diplomatic
and military approach and a clear 'yes' to the 'national camp' and its
messages.... Israelis have not made a
decision concerning Sharon's plan, because they are unaware of its
nature.... Ariel Sharon said that 'the
people have made their statement'...[but] he believes that President George
Bush also has a message of considerable import to make.... In his State of the Union Address, President
Bush spoke about seeking an arrangement 'between a secure Israel and a
democratic Palestine.' It is unclear how
Bush would work to implement both parts of that blueprint. What is clear is that the Israeli government
won't be united in the way of 'digesting' this formula, regardless of the
"A Pyrrhic Victory"
Senior columnist and longtime peace campaigner
Yoel Marcus wrote on page one of independent Ha'aretz (1/29): "The
election exercise could yet turn out to be Sharon's Pyrrhic victory.... After Iraq, America will want a government
that will negotiate over a Palestinian state and dismantling settlements. And while there's understanding for 'Israel's
right to defend itself,' the elimination of Arafat, the wet dream of a
right-wing government, will be a casus belli for America.... The salvation of
Sharon Chapter 2, as a severely constrained prime minister despite his victory,
could come from the war in Iraq, which might serve as an excuse for a broad
"Friendship With Bush To Be Tested During
Sharon's Second Term"
Washington correspondent Natan Guttman wrote in Ha'aretz
(1/29): "Sharon's second term ... may prove problematic and test the
friendship with his White House buddy.
After the war [with Iraq], the United States is expected to reconsider
its approach to the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.... The
formation of a right-wing government could [also] somewhat complicate
Congressional approval of aid [for Israel], as the Congress will insist upon
securing promises to curtail from the aid funds every dollar the government
will transfer to the settlements."
"Now Or Never"
Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in
mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/29): "Sharon needs a
broad-based government which would include both secular and religious
Israelis. Without a national unity
government he will find it particularly hard to keep his pledge to the
president of the U.S. that he will act according to the Bush outline for the
solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
"A Defining Moment"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post
editorialized (1/29): "The question at this point is how Sharon can use
his mandate to recapture the initiative regarding Middle East diplomacy. The Prime Minister reportedly plans to do
this by drafting Israel's own 'road map,' not based on the Quartet's drafts,
but on Israeli needs and Bush's June 24 speech.
This is a good idea, because it will demonstrate to Israelis,
Palestinians, and the world that Jerusalem has a plan to end not just the
current war, but the Arab-Israeli conflict in general. Sharon has already laid out the key building
blocks of the Bush-Sharon road map: terror must stop, and Israel's negotiating
partner must be a Palestinian leadership that fights terror and has real democratic
legitimacy. Fleshing out a plan to do
this is the easy part. The larger
challenge will be to shake off the attitude that was dominant in both the U.S.
and Israel throughout the Oslo period....
The Right must go beyond defining itself by what it is against, and
explain and pursue what it is for."
"The Weight Of The Opposition"
Independent Ha'aretz editorialized (1/28): "More than anything else, Israel needs a
wise, realistic and courageous government that will give another chance to
dialogue with the Palestinians. It will
be a major surprise if such a government emerges from the tallying of the
votes. In the absence of such a
government, Israel needs an effective, determined and combative
opposition.... It is possible that the
coming weeks will show that Sharon won the elections but is finding it
difficult to form a stable coalition. Political volatility, diplomatic
reversals (mostly dependent on American initiatives) and developments in the
investigations of the legal affairs connected to the Sharon family could,
separately or together, dramatically advance the date of the next elections to
much sooner than their scheduled date. A
large, strong and rehabilitated opposition is also needed to get ready for
"When You Vote From The Gut"
Senior columnist and longtime peace campaigner Yoel Marcus wrote
in independent Ha'aretz (1/28):
"With or without a unity government, Sharon can count on Labor
supporting him in any move toward peace, no matter where it sits. But all the evidence points to the likelihood
that Sharon's first move will be to escalate the military conflict with the
Palestinians, with the ultimate goal of getting rid of Arafat. Only then will he deliver a 'Sadat speech' to
pacify post-Iraq America--before they pounce on him, tooth and nail. Sharon is pretending to be Labor and Likud
combined, which is a lot of baloney, of course.
So, instead of choosing between two alternatives, as befitting a
democracy, the public will elect Sharon today, as befitting a psychopathy."
Diplomatic correspondent and political commentator Ben Caspit
observed in popular, pluralist Maariv (1/28): "[Tonight,] people in the Middle East
will be listening carefully to Sharon['s acceptance speech]. The whole world will be listening to Bush['s
State of the Union Address.] The irony
of fate has fashioned a similar task for the two leaders: the U.S. President
and the Israeli Prime Minister are trying, each in their own arena, to form as
wide a coalition as possible. Sharon
wants to establish a unity government....
Sharon is pinning his life's hopes on the Iraqi move. So, too, is Bush. It is believed that they are coordinated as
to the moves that will take place afterwards, which will also change the face
of the region. On the other hand, this is
not the first time that Ariel Sharon has tried to alter the face of this
region. The last time it didn't end
well. Let us hope that this time it will end otherwise."
"Return From India"
Columnist Avirama Golan noted in Ha'aretz (1/28): "Three months before the elections,
Mitzna, who read the polls proving that most of the public wants to get rid of
the settlements, was convinced, with an innocence bordering on dangerous
naivete, that a large segment of the population would be in thrall to his
statements. Two months later, when he
understood he was heading to the opposition, he said that even if the public
doesn't understand now, it will understand the next time. That position may prove that he sticks to the
integrity of his positions, but it does not inspire much respect for his
political abilities and leadership.... Labor pretends it belongs to everyone,
but behaves like that small group of parents [representing the Labor Party's
hardcore constituency] whose kids have come back from India.... Between one dream and the other, they
abandoned the real Israel and left it in the hands of the right."
"Let The Majority Lead"
Columnist and satirist, settler Ori Orbach declared in
mass-circulation pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/28): "It is not that the right carries the
standard of probity. It won't bring
peace either. But I prefer bitterness
and realistic suspicion to the left's messianic generosity.... The latter has caused more deaths. I am fed up of the fact that a minority view
controls the press and the prosecutor's office, literature and the courts. I am fed up of the fact that academia and the
cultural world...despise the masses, the mob, the religious and all those who
aren't like them. There's only one place
where the 'national camp' can win and make its wishes heard: the Knesset."
Senior columnist Nahum Barnea opined in mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/28):
"In the days in which the Labor Party voters are ashamed of their
party, it seems as if Sharon is the only one who is aware of its good
points.... All that is a show, of
course. Sharon isn't interested in the
Labor Party's advice. He needs its
hands, its cooperation in the harsh economic steps that are anticipated this
year and maybe also as the thin fig leaf that it serves him in Europe. Richard III, the tragic Shakespearean hero,
cried: 'A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.' Sharon is not quite that generous, but he
does need a horse.... Foreigners who
come here for a visit wonder how it can be that after two such bitter years the
people prefer Sharon. The answer to that
is in the question itself: when the situation is difficult, people stick to
what they have. The Americans stuck to
President Bush after September 11, and the Israelis are sticking to
Sharon. And they will stick to him
either until a miracle happens or until the situation becomes so difficult that
people will grow sick of Sharon’s lack of a solution."
"Don't Confuse Us With The Facts"
Chief Economic Editor Sever Plotker observed in mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/27):
"Despite the short length of the election campaign, it still
managed to give birth to several claims that have already been taken for
granted as truths in the country's political dialogue.... In the 2003 elections Arafat hardly featured
at all. The terror attacks were also
present only in the background, not at the forefront of the electoral
debate.... The solid core of the Israeli
Left’s political thinking is an open Israeli-Palestinian agreement, land for
peace. Most people in Israel, according
to the polls, oppose this approach. The
public does not believe in an open peace and does not see the territories as a
bargaining chip. Peace has become a
liability and so have the territories.
Most people want to get rid of the 'peace' and of the 'territories' as
well. It wants to get out of this whole
mess with a display of power, muscle, and strength."
“Sharon: Victory With Many Defects”
Ashraf Ajrami opined in independent, pro-Palestinian
Authority Al-Ayyam (1/31):
"The American administration contributed to the victory of Sharon,
especially by postponing the declaration of the ‘Road Map’ until after the
Israeli elections out, of fear of pressuring and embarrassing Sharon [during
his election campaign]. Also, the EU contributed to Sharon’s victory since it
responded to Washington’s pressure regarding the postponement of the ‘Road
"Sharon And Symptoms Of His Failure"
Adli Sadeq commented in semi-official Al-Hayat
Al-Jadida (1/30): "Arab regimes
will have no choice but to deal with Sharon and his policy and will have to
interact with his distorted proposals regarding reaching a settlement for the
Palestinian issue. If contradicting of Palestinian strategies [by Palestinian factions]
continues to exist, we will no doubt fail to fight against Sharon's rigid and
unfair proposals. Moreover, we will be providing Sharon with more pretexts to
maintain his control and ruin our relations with the Arab regimes. Thus, there
should be a unified Palestinian position capable of engaging effectively in the
political process. Such a position, however, should not overlook the right to
resist occupation and achieve freedom and independence in the 1967 occupied
"Known Results Of Elections"
Independent Al-Quds opined (1/29) ”The
majority of the Israeli public was driven by the current chaos in Israel
towards the most extremist faction of the right. Meanwhile, public polls have been showing
that Israelis are convinced of the necessity of an independent Palestinian
state next to Israel. The current Israeli status will make the Israeli policy
go into empty circles, will the escalate violence and will proliferate
extremism in Israeli society. This will eliminate any chance of reviving the peace
process and of escaping the region’s agonies of confrontations, war, bloodshed
and destruction on various levels.”
“Israeli Elections’ Eve”
Bassam Abu Sharif commented in independent Al-Quds
(1/28): “The Israeli escalations in the
Palestinian areas, especially in Gaza, is an attempt by Sharon and Moufaz to
exercise drastic attacks against the Palestinians before the end of the
elections. Also, it [the Israeli
escalation] is an attempt to make the Cairo dialogue, which if successful would
embarrass Sharon, to fail. Sharon and Moufaz are aware that the United States
will resume, after the Israeli elections efforts to implement the ‘Road Map’
and will work in two parallel lines on security and reforms on the Palestinian
Authority in return for halting aggressions and building of settlements.”
“The Hot Steel Operation Confronting The Quiet Dialogue”
Samieh Shubieb opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam
(1/27): "The current Israeli
leadership is hoping for bombing attacks before the elections against Israeli
civilians which will be used in the elections to result in a massive victory
for the Likud. In addition, such attacks against Israeli civilians will help
this [current] Israeli leadership to prepare for a comprehensive incursion into
the Palestinian areas. The two goals of winning public support for the Likud
and of making the Cairo dialogue fail are the main goals on the agenda of the
Israeli leadership. Furthermore, the Israeli leadership will use all means to
achieve these two goals and, therefore, we should not be surprised by any
upcoming Israeli escalations aimed at instigating bombing attacks inside
“Israel Does Not Want Any Calm”
Independent Al-Quds editorialized (1/26): “At a time when delegates representing 12
Palestinian factions are meeting in Cairo to discuss the possibility of giving
the frozen peace process another chance and to discuss a joint Palestinian
strategy to calm the conditions of the Palestinian-Israeli arena, Israeli authorities
are moving in the opposite direction.
Israeli tanks and troops invaded Bet Hanoun yesterday, destroyed
Palestinian homes, blew up bridges and terrorized women and children in a clear
and blatant defiance to the Palestinian efforts under Egyptian sponsorship.”
“Sharon’s Victory Heralds Difficult Future For Peace Process”
Aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar’s
unsigned editorial read (1/31): “This
[Israeli election] result proved the Israeli voter is primarily concerned with
shedding the blood of Palestinians and with not peace.... Arabs should insist on further solidarity and
resistance against those who want to gamble with the way of peace.... Those who bet on the Israeli elections should
know it is a losing wager and know that the only effective pressure tool is
Leading pro-government Al Ahram’s
Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim Nafie noted (2/1):
“The re-election of Sharon with such a majority means one thing: he can
form a strong government like Begin’s in 1977 and can consequently led open
peace negotiations with the Palestinians to end a half a century of disputes as
this government will not be threatened by the blackmail of hardline religious
parties or the Likud.... Israel, over
the past two years, reaped 700 casualties and hundreds of injured; its economy
deteriorated; and hate against Israel among Arabs and Moslems--and even the
West--escalated. Despite all this,
Israelis chose Sharon. Arabs should consider this moment carefully and how it
coincides with the rise of the religious and political right-wing worldwide.
They should arrange their own home first and realize all our crises emerge not
from the pressure of others alone but from our own failure to progress as
“What is After Sharon’s Victory?”
Leading pro-government Al Ahram’s unsigned editorial read
(1/30): “If security was the main
concern of the Israeli voter and which achieved for Sharon this overwhelming
victory, the other side of the coin in this issue is that clearly, the
Palestinians are looking to establish their independent state, to live in
pride, freedom and safety. Any attempt
to force them to succumb to Israel’s will will only lead to further
bloodshed. For fairness’ sake, the U.S.,
the U.N., the E.U. and Russia repeatedly declared that this dispute cannot be
decided by military force, but there should be a political settlement to secure
the interests off the two parties.... If
it is true that the voters chose Sharon because he proposed an acceptable level
of co-existing with Palestinian fedaie operations, this means the coming
Israeli government would not bother to make any settlement with the Palestinian
people. This would naturally result in
continued blockade and curfews on Palestinians for the coming four
years.... Furthermore, the already
worst-ever economic situation in Israel would not be better.... Israeli dissatisfaction with Sharon would
increase and the bloodshed of Palestinians and Israelis would continue, and
this government will bear the responsibility.
Our sincerest advice is to warn against this option and encourage
finding a way for a serious settlement.”
“Butcher At the Helm”
English-language Al Ahram Weekly’s
unsigned editorial thundered (1/30):
“The international humanitarian organization Christian Aid this week
released a report detailing the plight of the Palestinian people.... the
results of the Israeli elections come as no big surprise...and all Arabs are
braced for the worst.... Sharon does not bother to hide his abhorrence for
negotiated settlements with the Palestinians and with his history of
brutality...there are no indications that he will ever change his mind. It is against this grim backdrop that U.S.
President Bush delivered his State of the Union address. To Arab ears, it sounded more like an
exercise in rabble-rousing. Sharon is
working on his ‘final solution’ of the Palestinians, and the U.S., with its
double standards, is conveniently facilitating his job.”
"The Israeli Elections And Fixed
Leading pro-government Al Ahram opined
(1/29): “Even as the chances for forming a hardline right-wing government led
by Sharon grow, peaceful efforts should enjoy the driving force from the
superpowers especially the United States.
President Mubarak stressed that interaction with Sharon should be
intensified. Thus, the roadmap should immediately begin on the ground.”
Opposition Al Wafd’s editor-in-chief
Abbass Al Tarabili wrote (1/29): “They are all criminals whether Likud, Labor
or Shinui.... We are witnessing a wave of extended antagonism against Arabs and
Moslems be it in the United States or in Israel...while Arabs and Muslims are divided.... Arabs are surrendering to an imminent strike
against Iraq...and to Sharonic massacres of our brothers in Palestine.... Only
the wise Egyptian voice called for a Palestinian dialogue.... How easy it is to
destroy peace agreements.... We should prepare for an Israeli policy...which
plots to survive after breaking the bones of Palestinians, and those who assist
them, even if that be Egypt.”
“The Wall Of Shame”
Leading pro-government Al Ahram columnist
Dr. Abdel Alim Mohamed declared (1/24):
“The wall Israel intends to build to separate it from the Palestinian
territories is a racist proposal...that is not only similar to the infamous
Berlin Wall, but is also, in fact, a reproduction of the psychological outcome
of the experience of Jews in the European and Arab exile. It is a reproduction
of the ghetto, which is the historic symbol of Jewish isolation, willingly or
forcibly. Apparently, Israel and Zionism have not learned the lessons of Jewish
history...simply because they have forged this history to accommodate Zionist
and imperialist visions. Human and
international experience clearly prove that security cannot be achieved through
walls, but through necessary political arrangements for co-existence and dialogue.”
“The Escalation Of Israel’s Madness”
Center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour
observed (1/29): “The weakness of Arab
and international reaction to Israel’s killings, destruction and terrorizing
actions have given Sharon and Mofaz the encouragement they wanted to continue
this policy of bloodshed, that seems to interest no one, not to mention worry
no one in countries of the west or countries of the east. The U.S.' serious political escalation
against Iraq and the resulting tension has whetted Israel’s appetite for
committing more horrific massacres in the West Bank and Gaza. This is especially true since the world is
preoccupied with the beating of the drums of the American war and with
following up on the Bush administration’s military and diplomatic preparations
for this more-than-likely war. If Israel
is committing these ugly and bloody crimes when the American aggression against
Iraq is still being anticipated, we wonder what sort of crimes will Israel
commit against the unarmed Palestinian people once the war and repercussions
actually prevail in the Middle East.”
“Bloody ‘Election Campaign Of Sharon’ Another Israeli Massacre In Gaza”
A front-page article in French-language
pro-government coalition Liberation declared (1/27): “The Israeli army has perpetrated again
massacres against Palestinians in Gaza. These massacres came two days before
the legislative elections that are giving other alibis to Sharon for more
escalations against Palestinian civilians.“
“The World And Sharon’s Slaughter”
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (1/28): “What is the view of Washington about the
Gaza slaughter? She never stops talking day and night about democracy and
nations’ rights in living in peace and her trials in applying those policies.
Is it only in Iraq? Is it that what is happening in Palestine isn’t related to
the freedom of nations and human rights? Are not laws and cannons related to
weapons of mass destruction applicable to Israeli?.... Washington is busy with the war on terror,
while Sharon is daily killing kids, old people and women...and the U.S. ignores
what is happening in Palestine because it is not happening on her planet, and
isn’t related to her world that has a lot of talking speakers about human
rights and fewer achieving them because they select between one nation and
The pro-government English-language Arab News commented
(1/27): "Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon might not gain new votes in tomorrow’s elections following
Saturday’s military incursion into Gaza City which killed 12 Palestinians and
wounded more than 50. But this biggest Israeli raid on the Gaza City since the
Palestinian uprising began more than two years ago will not hurt Sharon either.
He can only benefit as he runs on a platform of no negotiations with the
Palestinians and tough military reprisals.
Sharon is certain to defeat the new leader of the Labour Party, Amram
Mitzna, who has pledged to withdraw from the Gaza Strip within a year.... But the paradox of this election is that
under Sharon’s 23-month stewardship, five times as many Israelis have been
killed in the intifadah than in any two-year period of Israel’s history,
excluding wars. In two election campaigns, he made security his centerpiece but
he has presided over more than two years of escalating conflict with the
Palestinians with no peace or security in sight. And partly as a consequence of
his inability to end the intifadah, Israel is now in the throes of its worst
economic crisis in 50 years.... Despite
paying lip-service to the idea of a Palestinian state, he promotes a
settlements policy that absorbs into Israel large chunks of the land that would
be essential to such a state and, in the name of fighting terrorism, has
virtually destroyed any future self-governing authority.... A Sharon victory tomorrow will be certain but
limited. He will have to unite with parties that are worse than he when dealing
with the Palestinians, preventing any move that would increase security,
improve the economy or endear Israel to the rest of the world. So the cycle of
violence in the Middle East will continue. With an America preoccupied with a
possible war on Iraq, Sharon’s war against Palestinians is likely to continue
in an intensified form."
”Bloody Campaign Before The Israel Election”
Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira editorialized
(1/26): “With the dominance of the war
on Iraq on the international arena, Sharon will find his opportunity to
escalate his crimes, and therefore, creates more obstacles before any international
peace effort. The Israeli Prime Minister looks forward that his war against the
Palestinians an integrate part of the upcoming, and to enhance the Israeli
ambitions and to maintain what it has stolen for more than six decades.”
"Resistance Is The Real Roadmap"
Dr. Mahdi Dakhlallah, editor in chief of government-owned Al-Ba'th,
declared (1/30): "It is a
meaningful irony for our region that two significant events took place
simultaneously: the speech of the American President that was a kind of a
'declaration of war' and the re-election of Sharon to lead the ship of Israeli
terrorism. Bush's speech was not about
the 'state of the union' as much as about 'the state of Iraq,' the besieged
country thousands of miles away from the U.S.
The new American 'declaration of war' was clear, and this was
re-emphasized by Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfwitz when he said:
"American soldiers in the region are the last hope." So peace, it
seems, does not have any hope left! The
American President was the first one who voted in the Israeli elections. The
U.S. recently stopped its projects and 'initiatives' including the 'roadmap' in
order to serve the 'pure' Zionist Sharon who represents the real Israel. But enough is enough. Let us stop describing
well-known cases, be they the 'state of the union,' or the 'state of Iraq,' or
the 'state of Palestine' or the miserable 'state of the world. If we look back at the last decade we see
that we (Arabs) knocked on all doors, and showed willingness to sacrifice
everything for the sake of peace. But war mongers have always proved that they
want only aggression and occupation and nothing else!"
"Voting For Extremism"
An unsigned editorial in government-owned Tishreen said
(1/28): "It can be said that Israelis
have already decided in advance the outcome of their elections and gave the
majority of their votes to the extremist "Likud" party and its
leader, Sharon.... This confirms that
Israelis are voting for extremism and that their yardstick for that is the
Palestinian blood.... The problem with
the Israeli parties and voters is that they don't vote for peace in its
comprehensive sense but on rejecting of peace and insistence on occupation.... These Israeli elections, as previous ones, do
not indicate that Israelis are getting closer to just peace and realizing the
grave dangers of their extremism on themselves as well as the whole
TUNISIA: "Where Is
The Israeli Camp Of Peace?"
An editorial by Editor-in-Chief Mustapha Khammari in independent
French-language Le Temps argued (1/30):
"It is not just because Sharon and his Likud party won the
elections that the people in love with peace are outraged, it is rather because
a majority of Israelis have given their voice to an extremist leader whose
policy has brought to his compatriots neither peace nor security.... The loss of the Labor party and the triumph
of the Likud indicate that the development of the Israeli public opinion is a disaster
for Israel, Palestine and peace."
UAE: "Bush's Speech
Completes Sharon's Victory"
Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al-Khaleej
editorialized (1/30): "Bush's State
of the Union Address and Sharon's sweeping victory in the Israeli elections
come at the same time and complete one another in the war against
Arabs.... The war against the Arabs is
the implicit name for the War on Terrorism.
The inspectors of the American President did not find any evidence
against Iraq, so, instead, he tried to link Iraq with Al Qaeda ... to keep Iraq
within the framework of his war against terrorism or else.... Bush's speech and Sharon's victory pave the
way for a new era of wars and massacres."
" Predicted Victory"
Charles Lambroschini wrote in right-of-center Le
Figaro (1/29): “In Israel, Sharon’s victory was predicted. But what was eagerly awaited was President
Bush’s State of the Union message on Iraq… Without any real illusions about
their government’s ability to solve Israel’s problems, the Israelis opted for
the status quo. They continue to hold on to the idea that the United States
will finally find a solution to the Middle East conflict and impose its own
compromise. But first the U.S. President
has to win the war against Iraq and in a year and half he must be elected to a
second term. Having voted for Sharon, the Israelis are now waiting for George
W. Bush, like others who waited for Godot.”
"Sharon–Man Of The Hour"
Jacques Schuster maintained in right-of-center Die
Welt of Berlin (1/29): “Sharon is the incarnation of Israel’s current
reluctance to make concessions, its desire for security, determination, and
strength.... Nothing sticks to Sharon,
neither accusations of corruption nor the lack of success. None of his past election promises have come
true. He has brought neither security
nor stability.... Under no other leader
have the Israelis had to endure such level of terrorist activity, not to mention
the economic decline. The lack of
political direction has hardly ever been as pronounced as it is now. Nevertheless, Sharon is the man of the
hour. He knows how to take advantage of
people’s fears without giving in to the extremists who want to chase the
Palestinians away…. Nothing will change
under Sharon’s leadership over the next few months.... The war against Iraq, however, will bring
change to Israel–domestically as well as in relations with the
Palestinians. It remains to be seen
whether these changes will be good or bad.”
“Election Campaign In The Gaza Strip”
Jerusalem correspondent Thorsten Schmitz filed the following
editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (1/28): “The ‘principled yes’ of Premier Sharon to
the U.S. peace plan, which provides for a Palestinian state by 2005, can safely
be considered a ‘principled no.’ On the
eve of the Israeli elections, Defense Minister Mofaz said that his government
is considering re-occupying the Gaza Strip....
This threat is election campaign ammunition for still undecided
voters.... The Israelis feel deceived by
Yasser Arafat and hope for security from military operations. The bombing of the Gaza Strip over the past
few days and Mofaz’s announcement speak for a continuation of the previous
policy. Even in his second term, Premier
Sharon will block diplomatic initiatives as long as the intifada continues.”
Clemens Wergin opined in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of
Berlin (1/28): “In order to appear as a
man of the center, Sharon has committed himself to accepting President Bush’s
timetable for the Mideast.... Only a few
years ago, Sharon would have vehemently rejected such a plan. Now he must be tied down to this position,
but as a precondition, the Palestinians should meet the basic
requirements: an end to terror and a
reform of the autonomous authority, i.e. an authority without Arafat.... If the Palestinians do not want to forfeit
the chance for the own state again, this must change. Despite the loss of confidence which the
peace process suffered among the Israelis, a majority still favors a
territorial compromise.... The Americans
know that even a second Iraq war must be accompanied by such a peace
initiative. If this is not the case, the
great U.S. democracy project for the Mideast would fail right at the start
because of a lack of credibility. The
vote that will count the most following this election is the one from George W.
Bush. He will have to see to it that
Sharon does not find any pretext to thwart his Mideast plan."
ITALY: “Above All, America
A commentary by R. A. Segre in pro-government, leading
center-right Il Giornale read (1/29):
“If the forecasts of the exit polls are confirmed.... Sharon will be able to form a rightist
government without the need to resort to the more extreme parties, and very likely
he will manage to attract into his coalition the parliamentarians he needs and
who are already ready to betray their parties.... In the short term, the elections have not
changed the situation much, but they have shown that voters are tired and no longer
motivated.... The big elector in these
elections is, like a newspaper said, President Bush--whether he wages war or
not--not only for the political and military repercussions of his possible
initiatives, but because without the 12 billion dollars that Sharon asked
Washington for, no Israeli government can think of meeting the needs of his
“The Man Has Won, Not His Program”
Bernardo Valli opined in left-leaning, influential La
Repubblica (1/29): “Ariel Sharon has
not won, he has won by a landslide. It
is his personal success that emerged from yesterday’s vote.... In sum, people wanted Sharon and they got
him, stronger than he was before. And
what is being repeatedly said in the wake of his re-election is what had
already been said over and over before, i.e., that the Israelis would have
liked to vote for Sharon and for Mitzna’s program. Unable to reunite in a single person the two
former generals...they preferred to bet on Sharon.”
RUSSIA: "Winner Has To
Heed U.S.' Opinion"
Yekaterina Kudashkina contended in business-oriented Vedomosti
(1/29): "Whoever wins the election
will face the hard job of forming a stable government in a country that is
virtually in a state of war.... A new
government will have to listen to what the American ally has to say on the
issue of Palestine. So far, the
Israelis have not been enthusiastic about the Quartet-submitted settlement
plan. After the election Sharon may
soften his stand and suggest his own version of the 'roadmap.'"
"Victory May Prove Pyrrhic"
Aleksandr Reutov said in reformist business-oriented Kommersant
(1/29): "Winning the election is
half the battle. Forming a coalition
government is the other half, as prospects for it are quite vague. So the victory may prove Pyrrhic. Few Israelis believed the Prime Minister
yesterday, when he said that he will sure that the next election is not
"Likud's Campaign Slack"
Leonid Volkhonskiy said in business-oriented Kommersant
(1/28): "Overall, Likud did not
have to strain much--the incumbent had more than enough 'administrative
resources' to win the election, as is.
Predictably, Sharon, who does not particularly like to speak in public,
refused to take part in televised debates, claiming the pressure of
business. On Sunday the Israeli army
carried out an operation, its biggest since the beginning of the conflict, so
that there should no doubts in anyone's mind about Ariel Sharon's determination
to destroy the terrorist infrastructure."
"Living With A Broken Left Leg"
Sergey Strokan remarked in business-oriented Kommersant
(1/28): "Ariel Sharon's victory
signifies the onset of a new stage in Israeli politics, as the country seems to
have had its 'Left leg' broken....
Mitzna's ideas, not at premium today, may rise in value when there is a
demand for an alternative path. This may
happen if Ariel Sharon comes a cropper again."
"Internal Political Considerations"
Aleksey Andreyev declared in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta
(1/27): "It seems that the army
operation (in Gaza) was carried out primarily for internal political
considerations. It is to demonstrate
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's resolve and intractability as far as the
Palestinian radicals go. This is to become the main component of Israeli policy
toward the Palestinian National Autonomy if Sharon wins the elections
(something few doubt he will)."
“First And Foremost Keeping Bush’s Support”
Baudouin Loos commented in left-of-center Le Soir
(1/30): “Ariel Sharon’s main
obsession--that has so far rather worked for him--is to maintain the closest
possible relation with U.S. President Bush. The latter has another obsession,
i.e. invading Iraq. Everybody knows, and
Sharon to begin with, that once the Iraqi regime is taken care of, the
Americans will turn to Israel and ask for significant progress to solve the
conflict with the Palestinians. For the White House, this will, indeed, become
a priority, unless Washington accepts the risk of seeing the Arab world rally
against ‘American imperialism’ even more, giving motives to terrorists. Anticipating this American pressure, Ariel
Sharon has designed a ‘plan’ to reach peace. But what he so far said about it
is worrying those who are primarily concerned, i.e. the Palestinians. Indeed, although Sharon mentions the creation
of a Palestinian State, he considers that the removal of Yasser Arafat and the
end of all violence is a preliminary condition. And if this was not enough to
postpone his plan indefinitely, he seriously thinks about giving this
Palestinian ‘State’ only scattered pieces of territory, which he sees connected
by bridges and tunnels. If that is
really his plan, Sharon is not likely to enter history as the man who brought
peace. Will one be surprised by this?”
"Same Prime Minister, Same Problems"
Foreign editor Frank Schloemer in said
independent De Morgen (1/29), “One has the impression that the formation
of a government coalition will be difficult and that, again, it may be a team
that is not capable of dealing with the nation’s problems--just like all the
Israeli governments of recent years.
Saber rattlers in Sharon’s conservative Likud party are already raising
their voices: Only a military solution
is a good solution to the conflict with the Palestinians; the occupied
territories must be annexed again; the Palestinians must be expelled--Arafat in
the first place. If that option becomes
reality, they will once more be heading for a spiral of violence that may go on
for years and jeopardize stability in the Middle East. With a possible invasion of Iraq in the
offing, a new blaze is the last thing the region needs. There is only one country that Sharon is
willing to listen from time to time.
That is why the United States must make him understand that he must
forsake that military option.”
HUNGARY: “The Dilemma Of
How To Be A Winner”
Yehuda Lahav wrote in leading Hungarian-language Nepszabadsag
(1/27): "Almost everybody in Israel
considers the upcoming Tuesday elections over.
Because Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Likud Party will most probably
win. Then Likud has already started
celebrating but Sharon is more reserved.
He knows well that the real headache comes not at the night of the
elections but later, when he has to form a government.”
“The Suicide Attacks
Foreign affairs writer Ferenc Kepecs indicated in left leaning
Hungarian-language Nepszava (1/25):
"The crisis and the potential war against Iraq strengthen Prime
Minister Sharon’s position. Under the
current [international] circumstances the Israeli people are less inclined to
replace a tough-handed leader with a moderate politician.”
David Horovitz opined in the liberal Irish Times
(1/30): "It has to be a political
first: a prime minister who has just won re-election and doubled his party's
representation in parliament, arrives to deliver his victory speech to the
faithful soon after his opponent has called him to concede defeat. And he gets
heckled.... A seasoned and wily
campaigner, Mr Sharon is acutely conscious of how much better his next
government's international standing will be--its relationship with the Arab
world, Europe and, vitally, the United States--if he stands at the centre of a
coalition comprising both right and left elements, rather than at the moderate
edge of a right-religious alliance....Some of Sharon's hardest battles on the
way to a new coalition--and even after it is established--will be those he has
to fight with his Likud party. A sour victory, indeed."
The liberal Irish Times editorialized (1/29): "It will be extremely difficult for the
handsomely victorious Mr Ariel Sharon to form a governing coalition capable of
commanding national and international support, given the Labour leadership's
refusal to participate, despite reduced representation.... The dilemma Mr Sharon faces is where to turn
for support now that Labour refuses to extend it. He has several options. He
may try to split Labour. If this fails he must court coalition partners among a
variety of far-right parties--or with the radically secular but ultra-Zionist
Shinui Party, which has done so well in this election. Any of these partners will make it impossible
for him to gain international credibility as a peace partner for the
Palestinians--unless with a victorious U.S.-led coalition against Iraq. But
such a combination of victors would create many, many more problems in the
Middle East than it would resolve."
NORWAY: "With Sharon
For More War"
Independent Dagbladet commented (1/27): "It is not only the dove Mitzna that has
strengthened Sharon's position, but also the super hawk George W. Bush. Most Israelis support a war against Saddam
Hussein, in the belief that they can get rid of one of their worst
enemies. It is a dangerous game. Even if
Saddam Hussein gets toppled, a war where the civilians in Iraq are the losers
might increase Arab resistance against Israel. This might also create even
greater problems in the relationship to the Palestinians."
Victory And European Illusions"
The editorial in top-circulation centrist weekly Expresso
observed (2/1): "Ariel Sharon's
categorical victory...once again shows that Europeans understand what is going
on in that part of the globe poorly....
Much given to utopias, Europeans still don't perceive two elementary
things. First, that the Arabs can't
stand the presence of Israelis on their land--and because of that are always
ready to fight them, regardless of what attitude they take. Second, that an Israeli retreat will not
contribute to peace, but will rather stimulate the Palestinians--leading them
to believe they can even push the Jews into the sea.... So, if the Jews want to continue to live on
the land they occupy...they cannot show signs of weakness.... As long as there are Palestinian terrorist
attacks, the Israeli army cannot stop retaliating. It is this, very simply, that has created Ariel
Sharon.... Sharon appears to be a
monster in the eyes of many Europeans. But he is a monster who was re-elected in
democratic elections by a conclusive majority of votes--in contrast to some
heroes whom the West has idealized, and who were neither elected nor practice
democracy within their territories."
"The Paradox of Elections Out of Season"
In a signed editorial, influential moderate-left Público
editor-in-chief José Manuel Fernandes noted (1/29): "Many Israelis feel that these elections
are taking place at the wrong time, and will resolve little.... At least, as long as the Iraqi question is
not resolved, and until the United States, similar to what happened after the
first Gulf War, seriously takes a new look at the future of the territory
between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan."
Luís Delgado observed in respected center-left Diário de
Notícias (1/29): "It's
important right now not to deprecate or belittle the meaning of the Israelis'
votes, attributing to them--as is done with the Americans--the status of minors
or imbeciles. They made their choice
freely, and they are the ones who have to live in the region with its
problems.... For the uncertainty,
insecurity and terrorism, the Israelis gave Sharon more power and
Left-of-center El País wrote (1/29): "For those who believe that Israel won't
change its Palestinian view and its expansionist policies...Likud's victory is
the confirmation of their worse fears....
Iraq is the key question.... If
finally Washington takes the plunge against Baghdad to get rid of Saddam
surgically, as it says, around the corner there will be waiting the real
problem, the one that has been challenging the earthly powers for 50
years. Then it will be seen what role
Sharon will play."
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "Time To Reach Out"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
noted (1/26): "This week's general
election in Israel is likely to change little in the bloody standoff with the
Palestinians, even though it will present Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with an
ideal opportunity to reach out to his embattled neighbors. Assured of re-election, Mr. Sharon will have
to form a coalition government--but who he takes on board will be the key to
the process of searching for peace. The
only credible power-broker in the conflict, the U.S., is preoccupied with its
aim of toppling Iraq's President Saddam Hussein. U.S. President George W. Bush's attempts to
bring Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table has been erratic. This is despite the Palestinian uprising that
started two years ago and has claimed at least 600 Israeli lives. Israelis live in constant fear of suicide
bombings--an act of terrorism which the U.S. acknowledges but is unwilling to
deal with.... To ensure a secure future
for his country, win credibility in the world community and to send a signal of
peace to the Arab world, Mr. Sharon should make a real effort to co-opt more
moderate-minded politicians into his government."
JAPAN: "Why Does The
U.S. Sit Idly By And Watch Israel?"
Liberal Asahi editorialized (1/31): "Isn't it Israeli Prime Minister Sharon
who has won Israel's election by taking advantage of the Bush administration's
war on terror? As the world has become more concerned about the Iraq crisis,
leaving behind the Palestinian problem, there will be no progress on Middle
East peace for the time being. It is regrettable that Israeli voters, many
reacting strongly to Palestinian suicide bombers, voted for Sharon's hard-line
Likud Party. But can the world sit idly by and watch the Sharon government's
use of force to restrain the Palestinians?
We can understand that the Bush administration, which is engaged in the
antiterrorism war, is rather reluctant to criticize Sharon's strong-arm policy
toward the Palestinians. But the world cannot allow the U.S. to ignore Sharon's
policy, given the fact that the U.S. is the only country that can exercise
enormous influence on Israel. The U.S. has stopped acting as a fair mediator
between Israel and the Palestinians in order to prioritize dealing firmly with
the Iraq crisis."
"More Of The Same In Israel"
The leftist English-language Japan Times
opined (1/30): "The Likud Party of
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon won a crushing victory in Israel's general election
held earlier this week.... The results
do not hold out promise of progress in the violent confrontation with the
Palestinians. Mr. Sharon has shown no inclination to deal. And even if he did,
Israeli politics is still too divided to permit a bold overture to the
Palestinians.... A big loser was the
leftwing Meretz party, Labor's partner in peacemaking, whose representation was
halved from 10 seats to five.... Mr.
Sharon could form a government of right-leaning and religious parties that
would have a comfortable majority in Parliament. That is very unlikely...it
would drastically reduce the prime minister's room for maneuver and would
harden international sentiment against Israel. The Palestinians and the Arab
world would see it as a complete repudiation of the land for peace
formula.... It would also irritate the
United States, which does not want to see Israel do anything that complicates
the task of building an international consensus to support war against Iraq. What is difficult to understand is the
Israeli public's continuing support for Mr. Sharon. He came to power promising
peace and security for the Israeli people and has delivered neither.... Indeed, in the last year, Israeli actions
have destroyed the Palestinian Authority's ability to enforce whatever peace they
might have chosen.... Publics rarely
turn their backs on leaders in the middle of a crisis. There is security in Mr.
Sharon's pugnacious demeanor; Israelis may not like the man, but they know he
will defend them. Unfortunately, the status quo is proving unsupportable as
THAILAND: “Road Map For
Peace Still Missing”
The lead editorial in top-circulation,
moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post
“It appears that Sharon is counting on his country’s strong relationship
with the U.S. to keep him in a position where he can refuse to make
concessions. He may be making a
miscalculation, however.... The U.S.
badly wants and needs credibility in the eyes of the Muslim world now, and
joining in an honest and fair peace effort in the decades-long conflict is the
only sure way to get it.”
The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer
editorialized (1/31): "Given the
centrality of the issue of terrorism in the Israeli election campaign, the most
important question at the moment is whether Sharon's victory can lead to
peace.... Israel may well experience a
fresh spurt in terrorist outrages by organizations like the Hamas which may
want to put Sharon and his new Government on the defensive from the very
beginning...much would depend on whether the United States finally goes to war
with Iraq. Israel, having decided to fight alongside the US, will be deeply
affected by both the conflict and the outcome, particularly the pattern of
settlement that emerges. It will need a stable Government to cope with the
difficult challenges that lie ahead. Unfortunately, with the Labor Party
committed to staying away from any coalition government with Likud, and the
centrist Shinui party, which has won 15 seats, refusing to be part of any
coalition that includes the right-wing Shas party, Sharon will have to depend
on the extreme right-wing parties to cobble a coalition together. This does not
augur well for either stability or peace."
The centrist Times of India commented (1/31): "Tel Aviv appears to have outdone mentor
Washington in its swing to extreme and rigid right wing politics with the Likud
party racing to a smashing victory in the recent elections ... For a fearful
West Asia bracing for Washington's military strike against Baghdad, the Likud
victory is unsettling. All the region's
Arab regimes believe firmly that Mr. Bush's objective is not just to unseat
Saddam Hussein and secure Iraq's vast oilfields, but also to strengthen its key
ally Tel Aviv. Despite his country's
vulnerability, Sharon has readily fallen in with Washington's plans and has
begun preparations of the war in right earnests. Among the measures being taken
are constructing bomb shelters and upgrading gas mask kits. As a key ally in
the region, a wiser leader might have cautioned Mr. Bush against any hasty
aggression without exhausting all possible peaceful options. But restraint has
never figured in Mr. Sharon's lexicon ... Mr. Sharon has been proved
disastrously wrong; the greater the aggression he has unleashed, the more his
country has come under threat from suicide bombers and snipers."
"Ariel Sharon's Victory Is The Victory Of Mayhem And Death"
Popular Urdu-language Din declared (1/31): "The victory of extremist Jewish
elements led by Ariel Sharon and hectic U.S. preparations for an attack on Iraq
have darkened the West Asian horizon. Hopes of peace in the region have almost
been wiped out.... Israeli election
results must have made the Palestinian leadership--both moderate and
extremist--realize that there is no chance of being rid of terror in the near
future. Therefore, they must choose between subjugation or death. There is a
strong perception that soon after a U.S. strike on Iraq, Ariel Sharon would
launch an operation to make the Gaza Strip a part of Israel.
Karachi-based independent national Dawn
editorialized (1/30): "The victory
of Ariel Sharon's Likud Party in Tuesday's election in Israel must cause
pessimism worldwide. It reduces further whatever chances there were for peace
in Palestine.... What one foresees now
is continued violence. Only a revival of the peace process can halt the
spilling of blood. Unfortunately, the U.S., which was a co-sponsor of the Oslo
peace process, has chosen to bypass the real issue and focused instead on the
person of Arafat and the need for reforms in the Palestinian Authority. These
merely constitute a subterfuge to bypass the real cause of violence and strife
in the Middle East. The central issue is the Palestinian people's right to live
in peace and freedom in their own land. It is in this direction that America
should use its leverage with Israel if it genuinely wants peace and stability
in the Middle East.
"More Violence, More Terrorism Ahead"
The Lahore-based leftist Daily Times
observed (1/29): "The situation in
the Occupied Territories is not conducive to peace for a number of reasons--and
this is regardless of sincere efforts by the Israeli peace camp to drum up
public opinion against the policy of occupation. The foremost reason for
continuing violence is the total lack of American focus on staying Mr. Sharon's
hand when he went rampaging through his tenure after coming to power in
February 2001.... Still, the situation
could be controlled if the U.S. were prepared to push Tel Aviv to seriously
explore the peace option. But so far it hasn't done this. The U.S. has also
allowed the plan put out by Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia last year and
endorsed by the Arab League to fall by the wayside.... Reports and assessments emerging from the
U.S. indicate that most American analysts refuse to accept that there is indeed
a linkage between the Palestinian problem and the larger problem of unrest in
the Islamic world. This situation bodes
ill for the region and for the war on terrorism and the problem of religious
extremism--Islamic, Christian, Judaic or Hindu."
"Israel's Gaza Operation"
The Islamabad-based rightist English-language Pakistan Observer
maintained (1/28): "Ironic,
however, is the apathy of the international community, especially the United
States, towards the moving spectacle of death and destruction in Palestine.
Washington is practically and openly siding with the Israeli leadership in its
repressive operations in total disregard of the Palestinians' legitimate right
to statehood. The Palestinians are facing extermination at the hands of the Israeli
Army, as there is hardly any day when slingshot-carrying Palestinian youth are
not crushed by Israeli tanks or targeted by missile-firing helicopter
gunships.... If peace is really desired
in the Middle East region, the process will have to be hastened as the
situation is getting complicated with every passing day. Washington should stop
using Israel as a bully against the Muslim countries in the Middle East and
create an environment of mutual trust in the region for the sake of peace and
SOUTH AFRICA: "Can
Sharon Offer Hope?"
The balanced Business Day opined (2/2): "There is little doubt that last week
Israeli voters gave Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Likud party a
resounding victory. Now the question is
what he intends to do with his victory and whether it can create new hopes for
peace. Under the pressure of terrorism,
Israeli voters endorsed what they knew and the security strategy with which
they feel comfortable.... It is far from
clear that Sharon has a plan for peace, particularly with Yasser Arafat still
in control of the Palestinian authority.
Nevertheless there are signs of movement from Sharon.... It would be a shocking betrayal of American
and British indulgence of the excesses of Israeli policy in Palestine if Sharon
were to now match a war against Iraq with no real efforts to find a peace with
ARGENTINA: "Israel And
Elections, On The Verge Of Terror"
An editorial in leading Clarin read (1/31): "In an atmosphere of prolonged violence,
Israelis reacted to elections as any other society that, subject to fear,
prioritizes its security and elects those who can protect it. Sharon's victory
can be interpreted as support for the outcome of his policies as well as for his
inflexible position vis-à-vis the Palestinian claims and his harsh military
response to terrorism.... The prevailing
trend does not lead to understanding, even less with the prospect of a probable
new war in the Persian Gulf. But,
perhaps, Sharon's victory will serve as a cohesion factor for the Israeli
leaders to find a way to stop the dynamic of confrontation in Israel."
Leading popular, independent La Tercera ran an editorial
stating entitled (1/31): "U.S.
operations against Iraq would coincide with the talks to form a new Israeli
government at the end of February, which will heighten tension in the region. In this context, President George W. Bush
must contain Sharon, especially if Iraq attacks Israel. Although the Bush administration has chosen
to give priority to the elimination of the Iraqi leader rather than intervening
in the Middle East, Washington must play a decisive role in search of a
feasible peace plan for the region....
Everything seems to show that, just as after the Gulf War, the U.S will
intervene only once the Iraqi threat has been overcome. Ariel Sharon, for his part, should be the
most interested party in ending the uprising that has hurt Israel's economy and