July 11, 2003
ABBAS BATTLES EXTREMISTS--AND ARAFAT
** Abbas badly needs
"visible and tangible results" to maintain support from his
** "Almost everything
depends" on strong U.S. participation in the process.
** Skeptics say prospects
for the roadmap are growing "markedly pessimistic."
** Arab dailies decry
Israel's ongoing "humiliating treatment" of Palestinians.
Abbas' resignation would result in 'nothing but extremism and
terrorism'-- The U.S. decision to
directly grant aid to the PA reflects how badly Abbas needs "the means to
really fight Hamas"--as well as Arafat, who is "waiting for his
comeback." Israel's left-leaning Ha'aretz
agreed, "Israel has great interest in strengthening Abu Mazen." Jordan's center-left Al-Dustour
praised Abbas' efforts to "reconcile" the Palestinians' "various
contradictions," while Saudi Arabia's conservative Al-Madina
contended that assuring unity among Palestinians was "a direct
responsibility of the Palestinian leadership."
Euros, Asians praise Bush for being 'so positively
involved'-- President Bush's
"determination" to make peace received widespread praise. Germany's center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine judged that "Bush has got what it takes," while a Thai
paper called U.S. involvement "the first reason to hope" for
peace. Canada's leading Globe and
Mail warned extremists not to "underestimate the President's
resolve." Arab dailies more
critically blasted "American silence on Israel's procrastination." Tunisia's independent Le Quotidien
assailed the "White House hawks" who make policy by "total
osmosis with Zionist phalangists."
The roadmap is 'full of deficiencies and flaws'-- A sizable minority of editorials were
"markedly pessimistic" because recent events "put into question
the roadmap's implementation." An
Israeli writer downplayed the cease-fire, advising that "no Palestinian
state...will be established until Hamas is dismantled." The West Bank's independent Al-Ayyam
countered that violence will not end until "occupation ends and
settlements are dismantled."
China's official World News Journal concluded, "Today's
peace is still fragile."
Hardline Arab papers accuse Sharon of trying to 'torpedo the
roadmap'-- Hawkish Muslim writers
termed Israel's plans regarding its fence and Palestinian prisoners a
"real mockery." Lebanon's
pro-Syria Ash-Sharq declared, Sharon "wants to destroy all
possibilities that might lead to a peace settlement." Despite the roadmap, said the UAE's
pro-government Gulf News, Palestinians are still "suffering from
the ravages of occupation." The
West Bank's semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida assailed Israel's
"vicious and barbaric" thinking.
Conversely, Israel's nationalist Hatzofe opposed any Palestinian
prisoner release when the PA has not taken "significant measures against
terrorism and its infrastructure."
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis is based on 49 reports from 22 countries over 5 - 11 July 2003. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
FRANCE: “The Middle East:
Bush’s Financial Weapon”
Economic-oriented right-of-center Les Echos held
(7/10): “Presidential campaign or not,
according to the White House spokesperson, Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush is
personally committed to the Middle East....
While discussions over the famous Road Map are getting nowhere, the U.S.
administration is faced with a difficult choice: to give financial aid to the
Palestinian authority.... This decision
would mean a complete political about-face....
The American president’s goal today is to give the new Palestinian Prime
Minister a reason to trust...and the means to really fight Hamas.... The U.S. is far from united on the
subject.... And Bush Jr. cannot forget
the consequences that a personal commitment to the peace process had on his
father’s campaign in 1991.”
GERMANY: “Abbas At The
Charles Landsmann opined in center-right Der Tagesspiegel
of Berlin (7/10): “Prime Minister Mahmud
Abbas is fighting for his political survival.... He is fighting against an internal opponent
apparently superior in strength: Yasser Arafat, the old guard of former exiles
of the Fatah movement (of which Abbas is a member) and its young hotheads, the
radical Islamists rejecting compromise, and not least the unyielding Israeli
government. Abbas urgently needs visible
and tangible results for his population.
Most of his ministers support him as does the increasingly impatient
American government and--the Israeli Prime Minister Sharon if only in word at
the moment. Abbas’ non-Palestinian
supporters can help him in two ways: to show Arafat, cunning obstructionist,
his limits in order to weaken or eliminate him politically--a so far
unsuccessful attempt--and to support Abbas with concrete measures. The U.S. with the help of the EU can do the
first; the second task falls to Sharon.
When Washington will now provide funds for the Palestinian territories,
although not via channels controlled by Arafat, this is a long overdue start of
a reasonable process, which the EU should join too. And when the U.S. exerts pressure on Sharon,
to be serious about the dismantling of the hundred settlement outposts and to
release a larger number of prisoners than the 350 announced, then there will be
hope that Abbas has a real chance to win his fight for survival. That he succeeds is in the interest not only
of the American and Israeli governments but above all in the interest of his
Palestinian compatriots. For without
Abbas their plight will worsen, the horror pictures of massacres and revenge
attacks will return, and there will be no longer any prospects for them and an
“Arafat’s Shadow Over Abbas”
Heiko Flottau judged in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung
(7/10): “President Bush Sr. said after
Saddam’s defeat in the first Gulf war that there was a unique chance for
solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The Oslo peace accords were made.
They foundered because the problems about refugees, borders, and
Jerusalem remained unresolved.... Today,
the solution is not called ‘Oslo’ but ‘roadmap’, which is not to be upheld by
Arafat but by Abbas--but a re-edition of Oslo will hardly lead to peace. For again, the solution to difficult
questions has been put off. Abbas
already threatens to step down because his co-fighters in the Fatah
organization expect Israel to make more concessions. In effect, just a fraction of the 6,000
Palestinian prisoners has been released.
The people in the towns, especially in Gaza, which still are all
cordoned off by Israel, are disappointed.
They too feel like prisoners. The
only remaining supporters of the Palestinian prime minister are the authors of
the peace plan, in particular the U.S.
Meanwhile, Arafat, isolated by Israel, is operating behind the
scene. If Abbas fails, he can reject any
blame. Arafat, reputed to be politically
dead not for the first time, is waiting for his comeback.”
“The Vision Of The Third Force”
Joerg Bremer said in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine
(7/8): “Europe, Washington, Moscow and
the UN have closed ranks. The roadmap of
the Quartet has incorporated initiatives by moderate countries and the Arab
League; apparently the whole world seems to support the new plan.... Now all previous requests--from Camp David,
from Taba--are back on the table.... But
which compromises need to be made?....
Most Israelis want to give the peace plan a try, but few believe that
the ceasefire will last for long. The
Palestinians, too, want the ceasefire, but their doubts are greater. If the checkpoints and the street blockings
remain, and farmers continue to be prevented by Jewish settlers from sowing in
fall, the extremists will seize control again.... President Bush has committed himself to a
Jewish and a viable Palestinian state, thus indirectly supporting a border
along the Green Line of 1967.... He
determines the course, which both sides accept.
Both sides tend to go America’s way....
The roadmap only points the way, the objective, however, was indicated
in Camp David and Taba. The Sharon
government still bets on a long period of time, and wants to withdraw from as
little territory as possible, not to mention half of Jerusalem, and to
dismantle just a few isolated settlements....
The painful compromises promised by Sharon need to be mentally digested
first. Both sides must recognize the
historical roots, both sides live on the same land, and be in favor of
partition. Only then the extremists
wishing to claim the whole land for themselves will lose out.... A third force is needed to bring back to both
nations the hope for a just peace. Bush
has got what it takes.”
“Big Fences Make For Good Neighbors”
Daniel Dagan opined in right-of-center Handelsblatt of
Duesseldorf (7/8): “In Germany, it is
very difficult to take a view that pleads for the erection of barriers between
neighboring communities. Everybody, of
course, is for open borders between Israel and Palestine, close cooperation
with all Arab countries and the creation of a regional union along the line,
which has proved to be good for Europe....
This vision cannot be achieved in the Middle East for the time
being...due to the emergence of a new form of violence: suicide attacks.... Suicide attacks are potent and efficient
weapons; they can bring countries to their knees, destroy societies and wipe
out whole cultures.... Israel is forced
through this kind of threat to erect barriers, which will make it far more
difficult for suicide attackers to infiltrate towns and villages. One can argue about the position of the
fence.... Like the Wall in Germany, the
fence in the Holy Land can and will disappear one day. But now, it is a necessary requirement--not
least for economic cooperation, which only works in a state of peaceful
coexistence. Today and until the suicide
attacks are a thing of the past, the following prevails: high fences make for
ITALY: “Abu Mazen Threatens
Leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore declared
(7/9): “There’s a fracture between Abu
Mazen and al-Fatah. The Palestinian leader threatened to resign as prime
minister over disagreements with the proposals put forth by the organization on
the handling of the peace negotiations....
But the fate of the truce between Israelis and Palestinians is hanging
by a thread.... The U.S. runs to Abu
Mazen’s rescue and announces the first direct aid to the Palestinian
administration: 20 million dollars, which are destined to the water and sewer
systems and roads in the areas which have been left clear by the Israeli
contingent. This is an even more significant commitment given that President
Bush is supposed to furnish the first chunk of aid without Congress’ approval,
by placing the sum under the ‘unexpected expenses’ column. In the next few
months, the National Palestinian Authority could receive much more from
Washington, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars, to reinforce infrastructure
and public security. All of this on one condition--that progress be made in the
‘road to peace.’”
RUSSIA: "The Fate Of
Abbas Government Is In The Balance"
Alexei Andreyev wrote in liberal Nezavisimaya Gazeta
(7/10): "In short, recent events
again put into question the implementation of the Middle East settlement plan.
If Abbas manages to follow through with his resignation, the Israelis will
again have to deal with Arafat, something representatives of the Sharon cabinet
had previously refused to do."
"Where Will The Roadmap Lead?"
Valentin Prussakov maintained in neo-communist Sovetskaya
Rossiya (7/10): "It is obvious
that the American administration and President Bush personally have a big stake
in achieving progress on Middle East settlement: the US has to improve its
image in the Arab and Islamic world and this can only happen if
Palestinian-Israeli tensions are defused because public opinion in some
countries sees the issue as a gross injustice for which the Americans are
chiefly to blame. But how far is Bush prepared to go in becoming involved in
the current peace process? How ready is America for economic sacrifice in order
to help create a Palestinian economy? For without it a Palestinian state cannot
be viable. And one more thing: one should not forget that the US is entering
the election year and Bush will need the support of the pro-Israeli lobby if he
is to have any chance of winning a second term.... Assessments of the prospects of the peace
process in the Middle East are markedly pessimistic."
Ivan Danilin wrote in reformist weekly Profil (7/8): "By pushing through its plan of peaceful
settlement known as the 'Road Map' the US is seeking not so much to achieve
peace as to make up to the Arabs the moral damage of the Iraq war. Most
probably it will achieve neither aim....
No one can guarantee that a free election that is to be one of the
stages of the 'Road Map' will not bring radicals to power in Palestine and
Israel. Ariel Sharon is criticized for concessions to the Palestinians even by
the members of his own party. At the same time the popularity of radical
Islamic organizations in Palestinian territories is well known. Hamas and
others of its ilk may, when the opportunity presents itself, parlay that
popularity into an electoral victory."
DENMARK: “U.S. And Israel
Must Show Commitment To Change”
Center-right Politiken editorialized (7/10): “If the U.S. and Israel mean what they say
about their commitment to the roadmap...they out to show the Palestinians that
they respect their new leader and step up the tempo of the peace process. So far, the abandonment of some occupied
areas has been accompanied by new settlements in other locations.”
“Unfair Criticism Of Abbas”
Left-wing Information opined (7/10): “Abbas’ reward for his efforts to establish a
ceasefire has been that he has been accused of weakness from all sides. Ironically, these allegations of weakness could
damage his reputation further and lead to his fall.”
The center-right populist Irish Independent editorialized
(7/7): "It is still too early to
hail the week-old ceasefire announced by the Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah
with anything other than resignation. The move by move progression of measures
by both the Israelis and the Palestinians must encourage at least a retreat
from pessimism, if not a tentative move to optimism. One factor is President Bush's apparent, and
so far demonstrated, determination to keep the pressure on the two sides.
Palestinian peace was not the reason the US went to war, nor the prime
intention. But it could become one of the more beneficial results, as even
opponents of the war should hope. Peace
can ultimately be forged only out of mutual trust. And that is singularly
lacking at the moment. In the meantime, all that can be said--and it is no
small thing--is that, thanks to President Bush's determination to get the
parties started on the road map, the peace car is on the move, and so far, on
ISRAEL: "Camp David,
Sever Plotzker wrote in mass circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (7/10): "Three years
to Camp David, it is obvious that no such summit will be held again.... Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and
Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen--courageous statesmen, honest and
truthful--met and will meet in the Middle East, with no need to go far afield
to the cabins of Camp David.... And as
for the role of the US: its current president, George Bush, does not see himself
as the servant of two masters, Israeli and Palestinian, who must satisfy their
conflicting wishes. The reverse is true:
it is vigorously demanded of them that they satisfy his wishes. Jews and Arabs were not within 'touching
distance' of an agreement at Camp David, they were a war’s distance away. Only after the Camp David illusion died
completely, in the thousand days of fire, blood, terror and prevention, has the
time now come to begin a new and realistic political discourse between the two
Nationalist Hatzofe declared (7/10): "Abu Mazen who is cooperating with
Arafat on almost every issue...is asking to present before the U.S., Europe and
Israel hardships that stand in his way in order to squeeze more gestures--the
release of more Palestinian prisoners--from Israel. Arafat is interested is assisting Abu Mazen
so that Israel will release as many killers and terrorists as possible and in
parallel Europe and the U.S. would give money to the P.A. to make the lives of
those who plan the next terror attacks more pleasant.... Israel is now paying an expensive price for a
peace of paper called the road map when the other side is paying nothing."
"Calm Needs To Be Nurtured"
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized
(7/10): "The attack in Kfar Yavetz
[and].... The political events in the
Palestinian Authority...seemingly placed more obstacles on the road map, so
much so that it seems the tremendous effort invested to bring the sides closer
won't produce the desired results....
The cease-fire did not include an insurance policy. It needs nurturing and strengthening by both
sides so it can serve as a fulcrum for the road map and from there to
fulfillment of the political process....
The cease-fire has to be tested every day, and the frequency of the
attacks will determine if it is for real.
But its longevity not only depends on the Palestinians, but also on
political openness on Israel's part.
There is no substantive reason to distinguish between Hamas and Islamic
Jihad prisoners and those from Fatah when deciding on the list of prisoners to
be released.... Israel has great
interest in strengthening Abu Mazen and the PA so they can build a relevant
leadership that enjoys the support of the Palestinian public. Only thusly will it be possible to uproot the
"Entering The Depressive Stage"
Hemi Shalev wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (7/9): "Only a few days ago, we still basked in
the air of conciliatory summits and the first signs of the war on
terrorism. And within a few hours, after
an isolated terror attack and quarrels in the upper Palestinian echelon, we
sank into the pessimistic feeling that all was lost. In the swinging pendulum of manic-depression,
we have entered the depressive stage....
It seems that the announcement of the cease-fire burst the dam of
patience that characterized both sides over the three difficult years of this
Intifada, and now everyone is searching for instant, overnight solutions. Public opinion is irritable, and frayed
nerves will make life difficult for both leaders, Sharon and Abu Mazen, who
will need patience, nerves of steel and, it seems, also massive American
pressure, to keep from a quick tumble down the slippery slope, which will put
them and us straight back into the hell from which we have just begun to
Gideon Samet maintained in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(7/9): "The fear that a sweeping
release of prisoners will bring back the violence is an argument that
contradicts itself--because if the process does not move forward, it will
anyway sink. A season like this demands
a calculated risk. If the effect of
dramatic, high profile goodwill gestures brings good results, the risk will be
worthwhile. If not, the situation will
return to a depressing reality within a few weeks. Without such gestures, not only will the
hudna break down, early proofs of national improvements will also be cut
short. And we have a heavy national
agenda that is anyway difficult to deal with.... The state needs a renovation job. Without the
calm continuing though, labeled with the price tag of compromise, that job
won't have a chance."
"The Prisoner Release"
Nationalist Hatzofe editorialized (7/9): "There is no rationale for a release of
Palestinian prisoners when significant measures against terrorism and its
infrastructure have not been taken.
There is no rationale for a prisoner release when we hear threats in the
background such as 'There is no hudna without the release of all prisoners.' There is no rationale for a prisoner release
when the most important questions still remain open: the right of return, the
status of Jerusalem, the final borders.
Without Palestinian concessions on these subjects, it is clear as day
that terrorism will keep on striking, and all those released prisoners will
take part in it knowing that in the end, they will be released again, and so
on. The prime minister wants to make
gestures to the president of the United States, but these are gestures that in
the end will lead to Jewish blood being
spilled. Therefore, we should pass them
up, especially at so early a stage in carrying out the agreements."
"Temporary Will Stay Temporary"
Akiva Eldar observed in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(7/8): "Those who think, or hope,
the hudna--like everything else around here that is temporary--will turn into a
permanent arrangement, are wrong. Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon won a promise from U.S. President George W. Bush that no
Palestinian state--provisional, temporary or permanent--will be established until
Hamas is dismantled.... Abu Mazen and
his minister for security, Mohammed Dahlan, aren't even considering dismantling
Hamas.... Abu Mazen has already told
Bush that the PA rejects any attempt by any foreign element to dictate which
means should be used to impose law and order in the territories given over to
the PA. To prove this is no gimmick, Abu
Mazen's advisers are working on legislation that would severely punish anyone
caught carrying a weapon without a permit as well as have the weapon confiscated.... To win the street's support, Abu Mazen and
Dahlan have to get as many prisoners back on to as many streets as
possible.... Hamas has already announced
it has no intention of giving up its weapons as long as the reason for holding
them--the occupation--remains in force.
That means that if Israel continues building the separation fence and
avoids dismantling outposts and the peace process doesn't make any progress,
the cease-fire will go down in history as one of those rare occasions when
something temporary indeed remains temporary."
"The Prime Minister's Visit"
Ofer Shelah asserted in mass circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (7/8): "Throughout the
entire process in which Abu Mazen was elected the Palestinian prime minister,
political and military officials in Israel warned against giving the new leader
a 'bear hug.'.... It seems that this
period of caution is over. In the past
two weeks Israel has been hugging Abu Mazen so strongly one gets the feeling
that his bones are about to crack. On
the other hand, it isn’t clear just how much support he is being given in terms
of real steps on the ground.... It is
hard to be envious of the Palestinian prime minister, who is facing a difficult
leadership test. Israeli officials expect him to clash within a few weeks with
Hamas, people in the territories will judge him on the basis of the relief he
provides them from the distress of their daily lives. If Israel genuinely has an interest in
helping him, instead of celebrating the feeling of imaginary victory, perhaps
we ought to take real steps that will allow him to be seen as someone who can
get results instead of inviting him to the Knesset."
WEST BANK: "The
Prisoners' Issue: A Blind Israeli View
And Counterproductive Outcomes"
Ashraf Ajrami commented in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam
(7/11): "There are a lot of
indications that the Israeli government has not yet made up its mind to move
ahead toward a realistic and acceptable peace settlement. In fact, this government’s actions indicate
its indifference to achieving any peace agreement. Such actions include limiting its withdrawals
[from Palestinian cities], insisting on building the separation wall...and,
more importantly, refusing to free the prisoners.... It seems that the Israelis have not only
failed to understand the Palestinian view on the prisoners’ issue, which has
become clear to everyone by now, but also have failed to realize the importance
of this issue to their own security.
Their lack of understanding of this issue stems from the accumulated
feelings of revenge, hatred and racism that they have toward the
Palestinians. It is impossible for the
Palestinian people to see the efficacy of the peace process while a great
number of their heroes are behind bars.
Therefore, punishing the prisoners and maintaining the current status of
tension will only endanger the security of Israel and that of its own people.”
“Incitement Between Language And Reality”
Abdullah Awwad commented in independent, pro-PA Al-Ayyam
(7/10): “I don’t really know what the
joint committee on the prevention of incitement will discuss. What I know is that, firstly, there is no
connection between what’s happening on the ground and the issue of incitement,
and that, secondly, the incitement in the Hebrew press falls under the free
speech category, while when it comes to us, it falls under terrorism.... Anyway, all the talk about change these days
focuses on stopping the so-called incitement, referring to [Palestinian] calls
urging the public to resist occupation, be it through armed resistance or
peaceful means. This anti-incitement
campaign targets, first and foremost, writers, journalists and the Palestinian
media in general.... Stopping incitement
is a dream that can only be achieved when occupation ends and settlements are
dismantled. Otherwise, stopping
incitement will only be an attempt to create a new culture among the g
Such a culture will overlook facts on the ground as well as the
reasonable actions needed to change those facts.”
"Will The U.S. Succeed In Imposing
Democracy On The Arab World?"
Mohammed Yaghi contended in independent, pro-PA Al-Ayyam
(7/10): "There is no doubt that the
‘winds of change’ in the Arab countries started blowing as soon as the
occupation on Iraq began. It seems that
Arab regimes are worried that they will face the same fate as the old Iraqi
regime, and thus felt the need to preserve their existence. But changing public opinion is a totally
different story, for if a change is to take place, two main factors have to
come to pass. The [United States] must try to prevent drawing any resemblance
between [its occupation of Iraq] and the Israeli occupation of Palestine by
forcing Israel to withdraw its forces to the June 4 borders. Such a crucial action on part of the United
States will give a huge momentum to its efforts to promote democracy in the
Arab world. Once this happens, bridges
of trust between the two peoples will start strengthening through overcoming
the fear that the occupation of Iraq will support the [Israeli] occupation
instead of ending it. The other major factor [for changing public opinion] is
to ensure that the United Nations assumes the leading role in the rebuilding of
Iraq and the disbursement of its money and wealth.”
Yousef Qazzaz commented in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida
(7/9): "At a time when
[Transportation Minister Avigdor] Leiberman arrogantly expressed his
instinctive desire to drown the Palestinian prisoners in the Dead Sea, the
Palestinians were cleaning anti-Israeli graffiti off of the walls of homes and
stores throughout the Gaza strip all in the spirit of the truce.... This Israeli call of incitement to murder
Palestinian prisoners is just one form of the vicious and barbaric Israeli way
of thinking that reminds us of the old Israeli policy. Such thinking states that the only way to
deal with the Palestinians is through either murder or mass transfer.... The questions to be raised here are: How can
we counter these calls of Israeli incitement? And are Leiberman’s remarks just
the tip of the iceberg in a poisonous sea of racial discrimination?”
“The Palestinians’ Trust In Mahmoud Abbas Is
Based On Merit And Facts”
Faisal Abu Khadra opined in independent Al-Quds
(7/9): “We know that [Palestinian PM]
Abu Mazen realizes that by negotiating with Israeli officials directly, he may
be putting down Abu Ammar. But he knows
that Abu Ammar is actually ridiculing those who think that he is unhappy with
what Abu Mazen is doing. We also know
that Abu Mazen is aware of the pressure being exerted on him by the U.S.
through its support of the ongoing negotiations in order, among other things,
to marginalize Yasser Arafat.... We also
know that Abu Mazen recognizes President Bush’s need to appease the Jewish
American lobby in order to win a second term in office.... Regardless, what we really care about here is
the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state and for the
suffering refugees to be able to come back to their homeland. If President Bush can achieve this goal then
we will be happy to thank him and his father before him. In any case, we believe that Abu Ammar will
be among the first ones to congratulate President Bush if he’s reelected.”
“The Truce And The Question Of Defeat And
Hani Masri stated in independent, pro-PA Al-Ayyam
(7/8): "It would be difficult to
answer questions on victory and defeat regarding the 1,000-day confrontation
that has ended up in an unpredictable truce.
The answers to such questions require considering the reasons behind the
eruption of the confrontation and its objectives.... If the present truce is destined to be the
end of the confrontation, history will record that neither side has attained
its objectives. What led to the truce
was not victory by one side or the other; rather it is the extreme exhaustion
afflicted on both sides, as well as the intensive American pressure to impose
the truce.... But if negotiations are
not quickly launched or do not achieve a breakthrough, we will be facing the
possibility of renewed confrontations, probably in a bloodier and more violent
form.... If we take a closer look at the
results we have attained so far, we will find that they are far from what we
had hoped for. The ongoing negotiations
do not seem to be based on the outcomes of previous negotiations; instead, they
are totally based on a new platform, namely the roadmap. However, the roadmap
that we see is not how it was originally drafted. It is how Israel wants it to
be, and the American Administration has stated that it will take into
consideration Israel’s reading of the map.”
Adli Sadek commented in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida
(7/8): “Even before Israelis protest
against [Palestinian] incitement, many Palestinians complain that the
over-zealous language and ideologically-driven speeches about facts related to
the Palestinian issue delivered in mosques and festivals are incitement material
that must be stopped. However, I, for
one, don’t really believe that all the terms of incitement contained in the
[Arabic] language would make a difference one way or the other when it comes to
the level of Palestinian rage...caused by the continuing Israeli murders. These
days, for an example, in the midst of talk about calm, our people are being
humiliated at checkpoints and entry ports and are denied the most basic
rights.... Thus, I would like to warn
against being drawn into the over-usage of the term ‘incitement’ even though it
is stated in the roadmap. The
Palestinian political speech and language used to describe [occupation] are all
so there is no reason for them to be labeled as
incitement, which is supposedly based on falsehood. Maybe, [the Israelis] mean to ask us to stop
our motivational speeches aimed at fighting occupation.... Anyway, if the occupiers are really
interested in stopping incitement then they should take advantage of the current
opportunity and stop all their practices that inflame the [Palestinian] anger.”
"What Has Israel Offered So Far?"
Independent Al-Quds declared (7/7): "The humiliating treatment of
Palestinians and the great suffering they undergo at Israeli checkpoints
throughout the occupied territories are still in place.... Thousands of Palestinian POWs are still being
incarcerated in Israeli jails and detention camps, a fact that is causing
additional suffering to tens of thousands of Palestinian families. But despite all this suffering, the talk in
Israel still revolves around the conditional release of a limited number of
POWs, not to exceed 200 people.... We
maintain that Israel would be making a big mistake if it believed that peace
and security can be achieved by a mere decrease in warnings of possible
Palestinian operations or a decline in the so-called incitement against
Israel. It would also be mistaken if it
imagined that partial or limited measures of easing the Palestinian suffering
could yield in a substantial change in the situation. If Israel is really concerned with peace, it
has to take advantage of the current opportunity as the Palestinian side is
exerting every possible effort to support the ongoing peace efforts. Israel should also take substantial steps in
order to convince the Palestinians that it really wants peace. Such steps include lifting the siege and
closure, stopping the humiliating treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints,
halting settlements construction, and demonstrating true commitment to the
JORDAN: “The Stage Of
Center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour
observed (7/9): "Facts on the
ground in the Palestinian territory seems to be very complicated and
difficult.... The suffering of
Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas seems quite evident as he tries to
reconcile between the various contradictions on the Palestinian front and
manage negotiations with the Israeli side that continues to carry out maneuvers
in an attempt to jeopardize everything that Mr. Abbas is trying to achieve.... The Islamic Jihad Movement did well to
declare that the latest operation, which was done by one of its members, had
not been part of its program and that it is committed to the truce. Yet, as important as this clarification is,
there has to be total control over such action, in order not to give the
Israelis the pretext or the justification for refusing the release of prisoners
who belong to those Palestinian factions....
We continue to urge the Palestinian factions to block Israel’s way and
call for further American follow-up and direct mediation in order to remove the
obstacles that Israel is placing in the path to peace and help everyone
overcome this stage of difficult tests."
“When Mahmoud Abbas Resigns”
Semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai
editorialized (7/9): “The resignation of
the Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas from Fateh takes the Palestinian
domestic front back to square one, just when things have started to look like
they were heading towards calm and quiet....
Pushing Abbas against the wall and tying his hands behind his back
achieves nothing but what we think would be a not so noble objective, simply
because it means suicide. This is
because the hole that would be left by Abbas’ resignation from government will
prove to be a success and an opportunity for the Sharon government to portray
itself as the one that wants peace and the Palestinians as wanting nothing but
extremism and terrorism; Israeli charges by all means."
LEBANON: “Sharon Is Working
On Destroying The Roadmap”
Aouni Al-Kaaki commented in pro-Syria Ash-Sharq (7/7): “All of Sharon’s decisions are leading to the
destruction of the roadmap. He is
focusing on pushing the Palestinian factions to relinquish the truce.... Sharon did what seems to be a real
mockery. He announced his approval on
releasing about 450 out of 9000 Palestinians among them women and kids. Those who will be released are administrative
detainees who were not charged with anything in the first place.... The issue of the prisoners and the way Sharon
is dealing with it is a reflection of what Sharon is planning. He wants to destruct all possibilities that
might lead to a peace settlement.”
SAUDI ARABIA: "Test
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina editorialized (7/10): "The current negotiations between Abu
Mazen and the central committee of the Fateh movement must lead to solidarity
in the Palestinian position and unified goal. It is also expected to convince
the visionaries in Washington that the American silence on Israel’s
procrastination and unsatisfactory delivery on its obligations, will only lead
to tear apart of their Roadmap.
Washington said that it is envisioning a Palestinian state in 2005. The Palestinians are expected to believe
this. Not because President Bush, the
trustworthy, said so, but because we must trust them to test them. Trust them
to believe them."
Jeddah’s English-language pro-government Saudi Gazette
(7/10): "The Palestinian National
Authority (PNA) has every right to demand an explanation from the U.S. over its
envoy’s insulting remarks describing Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas
as a 'relatively weak person' who tends to 'run away from problems;' more so,
the PNA should get a public apology although neither act will put bread on the
table.... Daniel Krutzer’s remarks were
uttered in public forum while acting as the representative of the U.S. and as
such his insults were delivered in its name....
American foreign policy on the Mideast crisis is proven to be worse than
'relatively weak' in the face of the Zionists and their allies in Washington
DC, and there aren’t many who would argue about it.... With people like Krutzer representing the U.S.
Abbas may well be running away. Who in
his right mind will be willing to put their neck and that of his entire people
in the hands of a peace sponsor like that?"
"The Responsibility Of The Palestinian Authority"
Jeddah's conservative Al-Madina contended (7/9): "The latest suicide-bombing mission that
has been attributed to one of the Jihad Al-Islami cells could not have
benefited the latest truce and peace negotiations. Israel must stand along side
Prime Minister Abbas and comply with the Roadmap for peace terms and
obligations. This will help Abu Mazen foil the destructive attempts of those
who are trying to ruin the chance for peace. The unity of the Palestinian lines
is a direct responsibility of the Palestinian leadership. It is also an effective
weapon in the fight for peace."
"Maintaining The Cease-Fire"
Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira noted (7/9): "Palestinian compliance with the
cease-fire and their real intention are shown in practical actions on the
ground. Despite that, there are others trying to disrupt the Palestinian unity.
This requires the existence of an unbiased international party to monitor the
cease-fire, and to coordinate between the Palestinians and the Israelis for the
purpose of maintaining the progress achieved in the peace process."
"This Is How Washington Makes Enemies"
Abha's moderate Al-Watan editorialized (7/8): "The current American administration
could be the best at creating animosities at a time when it should be seeking
friendships and allies. For the sake of
protecting Israel's security, this administration has antagonized all of the
Arab and Muslim worlds. It described
Israel as a tame lamb who has become a prey to the vicious Arab wolf. In the aftermath of the war in Iraq the U.S.
administration assumed the role of an arrogant conqueror."
SYRIA: "The Map Of
Ahmad Hamadeh noted in government-owned Al-Thawra
(7/10): "Israel claims that it will
withdraw from the occupied territories out of its willingness to carry out the
Roadmap. Soon we find out that this a tactical and non-serious Israeli
step.... Israel claims that it will
dismantle Jewish settlements in some parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip; but
in practice, Israel is misleading the world opinion by talking about
unauthorized settlements.... The Roadmap
is full of deficiencies and flaws. It lacks objectivity in the way it deals
with Palestinian rights. It will be sentenced to death at Israeli hands."
"The Ideal Solution"
Ahmad Dawa commented in government-owned English-language Syria
Times (7/9): "The U.S. call to
establish a Palestinian state and its insistence on this in the Roadmap remains
hostage to the continuing Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.
The Roadmap is important as the region and the world are passing through a
critical and delicate period. If the US
is serious in this call, it must start to eliminate the main obstacle, namely
Israeli occupation. It also must avoid partial solutions that complicate the
situation, especially with Sharon doing his best to torpedo the Roadmap by
escalating tension in the Palestinian territories and playing the card of the
approaching US elections."
Chief Editor Fouad Mardoud wrote in the government-owned,
English-language Syria Times (7/9):
"The new crisis caused by Israel's tough terms over the release of
8000 Palestinian prisoners hovers now between tragedy and farce in its
repetition of past history. It will be foolish if Sharon thinks he can stop the
Roadmap by raising the temperature at this moment. Yet the US already backs his
attitudes.... UN diplomacy remains the
only intelligent way--especially if it is coupled with US and EU
Mohamed Khair Jamali held in government-owned Al-Thawra
(7/8): "The route to a real peace
in the region is still thorny, rough and full of Israeli obstacles.... Israel's political thinking represented by
symbols of extremism in the Israeli government is the source of blockade for
peace and foiling of its efforts."
TUNISIA: “Washington, A
Finger On The Trigger”
Mustapha Ben Ammar held in independent French-language Le
Quotidien (7/9): “Saddam Hussein’s
regime was considered as embarrassing and even dangerous to the Bush
administration only when it became a real threat to Israel.... The White House Hawks that run international
policy by a total osmosis with Zionist phalangists feel motivated to go further
in order to implement their concealed plan of breaking up this rich region and
controlling its enormous resources. This way they will kill two birds with one
stone--safeguarding Israel’s security and controlling the oil of the Gulf
region. Iraq, then, possibly Iran and then why not, as a third step, a direct
administration that will govern all the Gulf countries?.... It is the dream of the American evangelist
missionaries, who are deeply convinced that the third era should be
American. But history has its own logic,
which could distort the very ambitious plans any time.”
The pro-government English-language Dubai-based Gulf News
declared (7/8): "Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon is playing fast-and-loose with the emotions of
Palestinians. While holding on to hundreds of Palestinians, most of whom have
never been tried in a court of law, or even charged with any crime, the Israeli
government declares it will release 'some' prisoners, but not disclosing how
many, and only after they have been vetted and approved for release by Israel's
Shin Bet security service. At the same time, Sharon claims that if there is 'no
genuine effort to fight and eliminate' terror, then the releases, which have
yet to take place, will cease. This is
typical of Sharon, who gives with one hand a mere morsel, but grabs with the
other a hoard. Threats, accusations and intimidation are all part and parcel of
Sharon's methods of diplomacy, while acknowledging the blessings and cheers of
American politicians and those with vested interests in the U.S. Little wonder,
therefore, that the Palestinians doubt the integrity of any so-called peace
overture made by Sharon.... The
much-publicised manoeuvrings made by Sharon, to the general praise of the Bush
administration, need further examination....
The Israelis have, over many years, perfected the art of grabbing the
media's attention and hoodwinking the western press, generally, into believing
that any half-hearted attempts at compliance by the Israelis are magnificent
sacrifices.... Closer examination will reveal
that the only sacrifices being made are those made daily by the Palestinians,
suffering from the ravages of occupation by an unfriendly power."
CHINA: “How Long Can The
Peace Last This Time”
Chen Zhuang commented in China Radio International-sponsored World
News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (7/7): “As for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from
Bethlehem this time, the situation and environment has changed greatly compared
with last year.... With the U.S.’
promotion, Palestine and Israel accepted the Road Map peace plan and are
conducting it right now. However, every
Bethlehem resident is aware that every measure and image of the peace could be
destroyed by a single attack. Today’s
peace is still fragile. Can the new
situation bring Bethlehem a new fate this time? A new fate different from other
The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately-conservative,
English-language Bangkok Post read (7/7): “The first reason to hope (for the road map
success) is the American involvement.
President George W. Bush last year laid out his vision of a Palestinian
homeland by 2005. Seldom since President
Jimmy Carter cajoled and bullied Egypt and Israel into a historic rapprochement
a generation ago has Washington been so positively involved in a major peace
offensive in the region.... There is no
guarantee of success, however. For one thing,
it will be necessary sooner rather than later to deal with the three major
Palestinian groups who declared a ceasefire and the smaller but equally
bloody-minded terrorist groups.
President Bush is right to be concerned at the continuing support of
terrorism by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and particularly by links between these groups
and decidedly un-peaceful officials abroad, particularly in Iran.... Additional steps have been taken since the
ceasefire. Israel has pulled its troops
out of Bethlehem. Palestinian security
has moved against terrorist groups, as it must.
Big issues remain, including dismantling some Israeli settlements and
the role of Jerusalem. Before that, it
will be necessary to deal with Hamas and other violent groups. Ironically, their ceasefire which provided
the means to begin peace talks will end, and they cannot be allowed to
PAKISTAN: "Beyond The
The Islamabad-based rightist English-language Pakistan Observer
maintained (7/8): "Now that the
Palestinians have fulfilled their responsibilities under the first phase of the
road-map it is up to Israel to reciprocate.
It is Israel's turn now to withdraw its forces to their positions before
28 September 2000, to take the necessary measures to alleviate the sufferings
of the Palestinian people and to refrain from violating any of the conditions
stipulated in the Palestinian truce statements.
Certainly, if Israel meets these obligations it will encourage the
Palestinians to continue to meet theirs, and there will evolve the mutual confidence
needed to ensure that the road-map arrives at its destination: the creation of
an independent Palestinian State by 2005."
Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo declared (7/5): "Skepticism about another symbolic
handshake is understandable. The meeting between Ariel Sharon and Mahmud Abbas
has served to advance the roadmap--the plan in which the U.S. seems to have firmly
engaged itself after the war in Iraq. The
Palestinian groups have imposed a series of conditions for the truce, but they
will obviously be ignored.... Nothing is
clearer than the fragility of the small positive steps from both sides.... The roadmap is designed to make small
advances more valuable than immobility....
This must guide the U.S.'s participation--on which almost everything
depends--in the process.... The idea
behind the plan is that regardless of what will happen, each day produces a
positive move toward peace. The immediate challenge is to remove terrorism from
the center of the conflict."
"Made-in-America Middle East"
Shira Herzog wrote in the leading Globe and Mail
(7/10): "Whatever one thinks about
the motives for the war in Iraq, the United States' military victory and its
occupation of that country has transformed the politics of the entire region.
The U.S. is now a Middle East power and its presence holds the key to the
recent Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire....
On balance...the new U.S. presence in the region has created just enough
leverage to bring the parties to this point. What next? Is there enough common
ground to go beyond a shaky ceasefire that is risk-laden for Israelis and
Palestinians alike? In recent statements, Mr. Bush has already signalled his
intention to firmly hold both parties to their obligations. For Israel, this
means that he will not let the traditional Israeli argument that security must
come first override his desire to see Palestinians live and move more easily
and freely. For the Palestinians, this means that the acceptance of Mr. Abbas's
strategy will fade if terrorism and violence resume. If I were Mr. Abbas or Mr.
Sharon, I wouldn't underestimate the President's resolve on both these
COSTA RICA: "Effort In
The Middle East"
Spanish-language, left-leaning El Heraldo observed
(7/9): "In spite of all the
preventions, insecurities and distrusts between all the participants in the
peace process initiated between Israelis and Palestinians, there is no doubt
that an important effort is taking place, and that so far everything has gone a
little bit further than the observers were expecting. President Bush’s policy
for the region, where he keeps its operations in Afghanistan and where he is
engaged with Iraq’s occupation, needs to release tensions between Israelis and
Palestinians.... With existing high
levels of distrust on both sides, it is clear that the success of the plan
depends on, mainly, international pressure, not only from the US, Russia and
France. The main pressure is from the
world’s public opinion and all the governments that love peace. This has to be a firmly supported aspiration
from all people."
ECUADOR: “Bush and Bin
Carlos Alberto Montaner opined in Quito’s leading centrist El
Comercio (7/6): "Serendipity is
a noun that is about to take its place in the dictionary. George W. Bush sent his troops in search of
weapons of mass destruction allegedly held by Saddam Hussein. They did not found them, but it is possible
that he will end up achieving peace in Palestine.... How did this happen? The massive presence of the U.S. military in
the region after the sweeping defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan, followed by
the almost instantaneous defeat of Iraqi forces, lent a weight unknown since
the times of Teddy Roosevelt to statements by the White House.... In reality the peace so fervently desired by
Israel has never been so close before, and never before has the possibility of
creating a Palestinian state seen so many good omens and godfathers. But to get to this point, an energetic
combination of strength by Israel and clear threats by the U.S. to those
nations supporting terrorism has been required.
It is true then that one has to pray to God while carrying a big stick.”