August 12, 2003
DOUBT OVER AN 'INCREASINGLY TENUOUS' CEASE-FIRE
** There is widespread
pessimism that the cease-fire can "survive the coming days."
** Critics say Israel's
"racist wall" will only "create hatred."
** Syria and Iran are using
Hezbollah to "rekindle the fire on Israel's northern border."
** Arab dailies see Israel
"killing off" the roadmap, seeking neither "tranquillity or
The roadmap process is rapidly becoming 'more fragile'-- Reflecting widespread pessimism, one German
writer contended it was "only a question of time until...implementation of
the roadmap [is] frozen." Israelis
blasted Abbas' reluctance to "dismantle the apparatus of terrorism,"
with left-leaning Ha'aretz saying Israel "can't shut its eyes while
the terror organizations are enjoying a breather to organize." Arabs accused Israel of creating a
"fresh incendiary atmosphere" given its "conspicuous
stinginess" on prisoner releases.
Jordan's center-left Al-Dustour blamed the U.S.' "absolute
bias for Israel" for the roadmap's difficulties.
The fence is 'incompatible with the roadmap'-- Critics claimed Israel's "defensive
fence" was "blocking the roadmap." Canada's leading Globe & Mail
urged Israel to "adjust" the wall to minimize the "seizure of
Palestinian land." Arab dailies
blasted "Sharon's well-fortified, divisive wall," insisting peace
cannot be "imposed by a fence."
Saudi and Philippine dailies claimed the fence's "unspoken purpose
is to annex as much of the West Bank as Israel can." Conversely, Israeli papers blamed "the
dramatic change...in the route of the separation fence" on
"capitulation to an American veto" after the U.S. threatened possible
Hezbollah, backed by Syria, seeks a 'deluxe escalation'-- The world must pressure Syria and Iran
"to stop their support of Hezbollah."
Israel's Maariv opined that Hezbollah sought to incite a
"continuation of the war on Israel" despite "relative calm
between Israel and the Palestinians."
Syrian dailies criticized Israel's "clear provocative moves,"
while the West Bank's independent Al-Ayyam accused Israel of
"escalating confrontations with Lebanon in an effort to involve
Syria." Lebanon's anti-Syria An-Nahar
cited "tension...between the U.S. and Syria" to explain why Syria
"continues to hold onto its Hezbollah trump card."
There are 'deliberate Israeli attempts to undermine' the
roadmap-- Arab writers agreed that
Israel "continues to hinder the implementation of the roadmap." The West Bank's independent Al-Quds
stated, "Israel has this strong desire to torpedo the
cease-fire." Saudi Arabia's
conservative Al Nadwa urged the U.S. to "exercise pressure on
Israel to fulfill its obligations."
Other Saudi dailies held Israel responsible for "violating the
cease-fire" by its raid in Nablus.
Egyptian and West Bank papers alleged Sharon wanted to "involve the
Palestinians in internal fighting" and "incite the Palestinian
factions to violate the truce."
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis was based on 48 reports from 18 countries over 8 - 12 August
2003. Editorial excerpts from each
country are listed from the most recent date.
GERMANY: "War Of
Thorsten Schmitz reported in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung
of Munich (8/12): "The flaring up
of Hezbollah attacks...must be seen in a wider context. Hezbollah is
financially supported by Syria and Iran and gets its weapons from these
countries.... Both countries are opposed
to the U.S.-initiated attempt to create accommodation between Israel and the
Palestinians.... It is absurdly enough
that an undemocratic state like Syria is now presiding the UNSC. That is why the UN General Assembly, but also
the United States, must increase pressure on Syria and Iran to stop their
support of Hezbollah. Otherwise, the
danger is great that the skirmishes along the Israeli border region with
Lebanon will turn into a conflagration.
One thing is sure: Israel will
not accept Hezbollah attacks after it withdrew its army from the security
Left-of-center Hamburger Morgenpost argued (8/12): "Of course, it must be allowed to
compare Sharon's wall with other monstrosities.
Ulbricht's Wall in the GDR, for instance. The reasons for both structures were
protection from terrorists and war, and the ones who suffered the most were
ordinary people.... But both walls are
also political declaration of bankruptcies, since those who build a wall around
themselves do not trust their neighbors and do not believe in a joint
future. With this wall, Sharon creates a
symbol.... Entire generations of young
Palestinians will consider it a new source for hate and frustration. Peace in the Middle East--in the shadow of an
electric fence and eight meter high walls this dream has become a bit more
Left-of-center Sueddeutsche Zeitung held
(8/11): "It was only a question of
time until either the Palestinians or Israel declared the implementation of the
road map for peace to be frozen.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's accusation of the Palestinian
Government under Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas sounds plausible. Abbas is refusing to disarm and disband the
Palestinian terror groups HAMAS and Islamic Jihad--but that is exactly what is
called for by the first phase of the plan to create two nations worked out by
the Middle East quartet. Instead, Abbas
is relying on the--fragile and time-limited--ceasefire and is already selling
it as his success.... Israel, in turn,
is also blocking the road map for peace by building the defensive fence in the
West Bank--thus sowing only mistrust.
The fence, compared by Palestinians to the Berlin Wall...is just as
incompatible with the roadmap as is Abbas's attempt to integrate the terror groups
into the political system of the autonomous authority--the very same groups,
which in their statutes call for the destruction of Israel. The halting implementation of the peace
timetable was to be expected, since Israel and the Palestinians are dependent
on the mediation of the U.S. The U.S.
Government must now emphatically work on both sides before President George W.
Bush runs out of time for mediation.
The pre-election campaign in the United States begins already in the
Wolfgang Guenter Lerch maintained in
center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (8/11): "It would have been a small but
effective step if Israel had suspended the construction of the 'security
fence.' But we could have expected the
decision to continue construction....
The 'hardliner' camp in the government asserted its view. The Palestinians...must consider the decision
a sign that [Israel] has no confidence in the Palestinians, let alone the
cease-fire. The radicals among the
Palestinians in particular will know how to integrate 'the wall' into their
propaganda, and Prime Minister Abbas cannot even contradict them. To sum up, we must say that the situation in
the Mideast has become more fragile again.
Hezbollah again attacks Israel from Lebanon and Israel carries out the
usual 'retaliation.' We have reason to doubt that the cease-fire will survive
the coming days."
“The U.S. And Sharon’s ‘Wall’”
Fiamma Nirenstein wrote in influential, centrist
La Stampa (8/11): "When it threatens serious economic measures if
Israel doesn’t stop the construction of the barrier between West Bank and its
territory, as Colin Powell warned, the U.S.
is taking an important decision aimed at strengthening Abu Mazen’s leadership. The Palestinian Prime Minister is facing two
political issues, which are far from the roadmap, but strictly linked to its
image as well as its popularity. Those
issues include the prisoners and (Israel’s) wall. The (U.S.) Administration is supporting Abu
Mazen by urging Israel to please him, because it is afraid to get him lost into
the mouth of the extremists.
However...had the U.S. paid more attention to Sharon’s statements, it
would avoid...getting the opposite result.
Sharon reiterates that it impossible to stop completely the construction
of the wall, because the Palestinian leadership--against the rules established
by the roadmap--is still reluctant to face the terrorist organizations, and he
also reiterates that, after one thousand dead in three years of attacks, Israel
won’t give in.... Sharon will actually
slow down the construction (of the wall) to avoid a dispute with Bush, but he
will never admit that (Israel’s) security be pushed in the background. The negotiation over Territories won’t be
effective as far as the first part of the roadmap isn’t sealed on the physical
The center-right populist Irish Independent editorialized
(8/9): "It is a hopeful gesture,
even though the comparatively small number of releases may frustrate and
antagonize some Palestinians.... Many
will wonder what the point of talking about territorial change really is, when
the Israeli government is happy to spend 1 million pounds per mile to build a
concrete wall across the Occupied Territories.... Much of the same goes for Mr Sharon’s
manifest reluctance to remove the unlawful Israeli settlements on the West
Bank.... The point is that the roadmap’s
process of building trust requires some trust between the sides to begin with,
and there is a depressing lack of that at the moment.”
To American Pressure"
Amir Rappaport opined in popular, pluralist Maariv
(8/12): "No matter how you look at
it, the dramatic change that appears to have been made in the route of the
separation fence constitutes, in practice, capitulation to an American veto.... Bush, who is riding on the wave of the
success of the war in Iraq, feels that he is the cowboy of the Middle East, and
now Sharon understands too that this cowboy has no problem drawing when he
feels the need. He does not hold
unnecessary debates, but imposes his will.
The fear is that this pattern of behavior will recur when issues that
are far more fateful for Israel, such as permanent borders and Jerusalem, are
on the agenda. Should the revised route
of the separation fence be approved, a number of pitfalls will be removed,
though by no means all of them. The Palestinians
probably still will complain to the United States about the new route, not to
mention the de-facto annexation of East Jerusalem. It is safe to assume that in the event that
the new route is approved by the cabinet, all eyes will be turned once again to
the cowboy from Washington in anticipation of his decision."
Yoel Marcus wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(8/12): "The hudna has already
reached the semifinals and nothing good has happened yet. All we can say is that the time is flying and
the Palestinians haven't done the most important thing they've been asked to
do, by Israel and the U.S. Administration, which is to disarm the terror
organizations. And what makes that so
important? Because we're talking about a
really tight schedule here. The road map
calls for a Palestinian state with temporary borders by the end of the year,
and a Palestinian state with permanent borders by the end of 2005.... Without snuffing out these organizations, the
road map will not be implemented.
Because if the PA, which claims to be ripe and ready to establish a
state, is not capable of carrying out its very first commitment, Israel's
right-wing extremists will have an excuse not to withdraw to the '67 borders or
evacuate settlements. Israel can't shut
its eyes while the terror organizations are enjoying a breather to organize and
build up their strength. Sharon and Bush
are right to stick to their guns and insist that the Palestinians confront
their own opposition. If the central
government can't get a handle on the terror organizations, the region is
marching to hell with its eyes wide open."
Yael Gewirtz observed in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (8/12): "We do not
live in a land that 'has not known any precedents'. Even if one should ignore the logic behind a
step that the Muslim side could perceive as a provocation, and if one should
leave aside the debate over the wisdom underlying Sharon's challenging visit to
the [Temple] Mount in September 2000, the various 'faithful' [Jews who wished
to visit the site] last week served as a reminder that they did not intend to
bring flowers and doves. Their public
expressions were nothing less than explosive...and could have turned...the War
of Gog and Magog into child's play....
[Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi] could not possibly have taken
such a step [opening the site for visits by Jews] without having weighed its
security aspects and its international repercussions."
Amit Cohen wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (8/11): "Hezbollah’s great achievement is its
ability to split their struggle into several apparently independent areas. If Israel does not fly in Lebanese airspace,
the northern communities will not be attacked.
If Hezbollah operatives are not blown up in Beirut, roadside charges
will not be detonated along the fence.
But this is really an illusion.
All these areas are closely intertwined and form Nasrallah’s fighting
plan for the continuation of the war on Israel.
Even if Israel eases up on the accelerator, Nasrallah still has a
plethora of excuses.... The near future
will be critical. The relative calm
between Israel and the Palestinians worries Hezbollah, and Iran no less. This is the time that Nasrallah can...heat up
the region and test Israel’s tolerance threshold once again."
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz held (8/11): "Except for [one] incident [in March
2002], all the casualties until Sunday were from the armed forces and that was
taken as a sign that Hezbollah wanted to keep it a limited conflict. This is brinkmanship, an attempt to avoid
total conflict that would result in the full force of the IDF being brought to
bear in an assault to destroy the military framework of Hezbollah and force the
Lebanese government to impose its will on southern Lebanon. Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah
is free to provoke Israel and drag it into an all-out conflict, lest it result
in American intervention, while U.S. forces are located in Iraq and threatening
Syria and Iran.... Nasrallah is trying
for a deluxe escalation.... Now, after a
teenager was killed in Shlomi Sunday and other civilians were wounded, the
balance is beginning to shift toward a solution by force. So far, Israel's responses have been mostly
diplomatic, through Washington and the UN, and that was good. The international elements must enlist in the
effort to rein in Hezbollah and rid it of its arms, before Lebanon is once
again swept into war."
"Looking For Escalation"
Sever Plotker opined in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (8/11): "Sunday,
Hezbollah murdered Shlomi resident Haviv Dadon in cold blood, with no reason or
provocation on Israel's part. This
murder had a well-defined purpose: to rekindle the fire on Israel’s northern
border, thereby returning Hezbollah to the Arab media headlines and to
Palestinian consciousness.... Since
Israel’s pullout from Lebanon, with the approval of the international community
and UN backing, Hezbollah has gradually lost its reason for existence.... The agitation, frustration and fear of a
collapse of motivation increased among Hezbollah leadership upon the
appointment of Abu Mazen as prime minister of Palestine. The meetings between Abu Mazen and Prime
Minister Sharon and President George Bush have even cancelled the formal need
for Hezbollah to support the holy Intifada of terror--since this has ended and
been declared contrary to the interests of the Palestinian people.... Through this premeditated murder, Hezbollah
said to Israel: 'I murder, therefore I am.'
It may be time to convey the opposing Israeli response to the leaders of
Hezbollah, and particularly to its leader Nasrallah: 'If Hezbollah murders, it
will not exist.'"
"Faulty Balancing Act"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(8/10): "Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell made one of
his clearest statements yet that a temporary cease-fire on the part of
terrorist groups is not enough.... What
is disturbing is that, in almost the same breath, Powell confirmed reports that
the U.S. was considering deducting from its economic assistance to Israel
amounts related to Israel's construction of a security fence.... It's high time the State Department reflected
on whether it dispatches the right messages by giving Israelis the impression
that, no matter what they do, some pretext will be found to upbraid them. The same goes for using aid to twist an
ally's arm. No assistance should be
taken for granted and we never naively assume that no strings are
attached.... But linking aid to an issue
of self-defense raises the specter of double standards. Why is aid, for instance, not used to bring
leverage on Egypt in matters of human rights or the unabashed dissemination of
the most noxious anti-Semitism? To use
loan guarantees to squeeze from Israel concessions that could well cost
numerous Israeli lives is not only unconscionable. It is also counterproductive from America's
point of view, because it reduces the pressure on the Palestinians to do what
really matters, which is to dismantle the apparatus of terrorism."
"The Real Confrontation Over The Future
Nationalist Hatzofe observed (8/8): "In reply to journalists' questions at
his vacation home earlier this week, US President George Bush said that
clarifications were continuing with Israel concerning the 'separation fence' in
Judaea and Samaria.... The feeling is
that, following the compromise on this issue now being worked out by Washington
and Jerusalem, the 'fence' ultimately will not deviate greatly from the border
in place prior to the Six Day War. This, in any event, is the subject of the
present Israel-US dispute. The question
is: Will Israel back off? Authorized sources in the Prime Minister's Office are
endeavoring to refute reports of pressure from Washington to halt the erection
of the fence in Judaea and Samaria....
Despite outward efforts to stress that it is business as usual where the
fence is concerned, the Prime Minister's Office has announced the completion of
the first stage of the fence along an approximately 120 km long stretch from
Bet She'an to Kefar Saba, and it has stated that work is continuing according
to plan. Actually, the plan is subject to almost daily changes. This is
particularly conspicuous where Ari'el is concerned. All of a sudden this town,
with its tens of thousands of inhabitants, has remained outside the
fence.... If Ari'el has been placed
outside the fence, it is not exactly difficult to imagine what will happen to
other towns and villages in its vicinity.
Whoever decided that Ari'el should be outside the fence has intimated
that he no longer perceives this town as an integral part of the Jewish state
in the Land of Israel. That, in any event, is the obvious conclusion and it
must sound an alarm to everyone for whom Jewish settlement in Judaea and Samaria
is an unassailable part of the State of Israel.
The debate on the fence is not confined only to security issues; it also
refers to political issues on our agenda. Any doubts in this respect will be
resolved by the decision to relegate the town of Ari'el to the other side of
the fence, revealing the real intentions of those who oppose it.... The ongoing argument about the fence is in
fact focusing on Israel's future borders. This is no time for intelligent men
to be silent."
WEST BANK: “Rice Changes ‘Naivete’
Jawad Bashiti held in independent Al-Ayyam (8/12): “On August 8, the Washington Post
published an article by American NSA Rice entitled ‘Change Course in the Middle
East'.... In order to sound more
convincing in highlighting the U.S. support for the Arabs following the
‘European footsteps’ [post WWII], Rice likened the 'enduring, extensive
European transformation process’ with the current situation in the Arab world,
which is going through a historic period similar to that experienced by the
Europeans right after World War II. Rice
maintains that the U.S. is willing to offer the Arabs what it offered to the
Europeans. But, what Rice has failed to
realize is the fact that the lack of democracy in the Arab world is a direct
result of an American and Israeli shared interest [in preventing such democracy
from taken place]. The Arabs, whom Rice claims to sympathize with, are in
desperate need for democracy, human rights and freedom in order for them to
defend their national existence and to confront their number-one national
enemy, Israel, as well as to protect themselves from the U.S. hegemony over the
Arab world. The lack of democratic
freedoms in the Arab world has enabled Israel and the United States to
repeatedly defeat the Arabs and their national rights.... What we see now, apart from any illusions, is
a well-planned devastation of the Arab national existence at the hands of
Americans and Israelis, who try to convince us that this devastation is in fact
part of the construction process.... Is
Rice that naive to believe that Arabs are only a crowd of fools?”
“Deliberate Obstruction Of The Peace Process”
Independent Al-Quds editorialized (8/12): ”It is very obvious that the Israeli
government, which is determined to undermine the roadmap, will not be satisfied
until it sees the Palestinians entangled in a bitter internal dispute that will
consume their attention and divide them from their national struggle to end the
occupation and settlements.... In the
meantime, it seems that the U.S. enthusiasm to implement the roadmap and its
President’s vision of peaceful settlement continue to diminish as the American
forces struggle in Iraq.... The
deliberate Israeli attempts to undermine the ongoing peace efforts do not only
threaten the Palestinian objectives of achieving liberation and independence,
but also pose a serious threat to the security of the Israelis themselves and
their acceptance in the region, as well as to American interests in the Arab
"Destiny Of The Truce:
Between Response, The Right To Respond And Wisdom"
Hani Masri argued in independent Al-Ayyam (8/12): “The policy and conduct of the Sharon
government reflect a rejection of the truce and an endeavor to undermine it but
with minimal cost to Israel. At first,
the Israeli government tried to involve the Palestinians in internal fighting
amongst each other, but when it failed, it embarked on a campaign to incite the
Palestinian factions to violate the truce so that Israel can free itself from
its obligations toward the roadmap....
Thus, we should learn from our previous experiences. For many days, weeks and months, we have been
approached by representatives from the entire world, specifically Europe and
the U.S., who succeeded in convincing us to accept a truce...without nothing
much in return from Israel....
Nevertheless, Sharon continues to inflame internal disputes between the
Palestinians, and, at times, he has initiated direct attacks on them. The truce does not mean surrendering...and a
great caution should be considered in order to hold Israel responsible for the
failure of the truce.”
“The Israeli Escalation, Where To?”
Talal Okal contended in independent Al-Ayyam (8/11): “The most recent Israeli practices [against
Palestinians] are a serious escalation and an indication that the American
concerns [about the peace process] and repeated warnings issued by American
administration officials are not serious.
The Israeli government continues to hinder the implementation of the
roadmap, which could end up leading to a severe deteriorating in the situation
not only in Palestine, but in the entire region as well.... The latest events in Nablus, Jenin and the
other Palestinian cities are evidence that Israel is not seeking tranquility or
peace. The Israeli government does not
hide its intentions or show any regrets regarding its interest in
escalation. Defense Minister Mofaz
blatantly stated that he would give the Palestinian National Authority a chance
to root out the resistance until the end of September or else, he threatened,
Israel would be obligated to act on its own....
Moreover, acting as an authorized agent for the United States, Israel is
escalating confrontations with Lebanon in an effort to involve Syria in the
struggle and probably also to pave the way for an American military
intervention under the claim of fighting ‘terrorism.’ There is no doubt that Israel is seriously
interested in dragging the entire region into a war, particularly with U.S.
involvement.... The vast experience we
have in dealing with Israel highlights the need to have international--not
American--protection forces and observers as a key requirement of any political
"A Bet To Kill The Truce"
Samih Shbeib commented in independent Al-Ayyam (8/11): "The Israeli Defense Minister’s most
recent statement [giving the Palestinian Authority until the end of September
to dismantle the Palestinian militant groups] is a clear indication of the Israeli
government’s unwavering determination to go back to the period that preceded
the Palestinians’ announcement of a truce, when Israel enjoyed free and secure
military movement inside the Palestinian territories.... Obviously, the Israeli government is neither
interested in implementing the roadmap nor willing to provide any support to
the new Palestinian government. Quite
the opposite, Israel’s repeated attempts to negatively portray the Palestinian
government as too weak is a first step to holding this government responsible
for possible failure of the roadmap....
Meanwhile, the Israeli government successfully continues expanding
settlements and building the separation wall while emptying the roadmap of its
political content and distancing the roles of the Quartet and the Arab
"Eagerness To Undermine The Cease-fire"
Independent Al-Quds declared (8/10): “Not a single day has passed since the
announcement of the cease-fire agreement between Palestinians and Israelis
without a violation committed by the Israeli forces, who carry out their
government’s orders. They have committed
more assassinations of activists, carried out more incursions into cities and
refugee camps, and arrested more Palestinians under all sorts of pretexts. The worst Israeli violations of the
cease-fire, however, were committed two days ago in the Askar refugee camp near
Nablus and in the city of Jenin, where Israeli forces launched a large-scale
military campaign killing a number of residents and arresting many others in
addition to demolishing several houses....
Given the fact that Israel has this strong desire to torpedo the
cease-fire, one may wonder why Israeli officials don’t come out and reveal
their real intentions without deception.
As for the American administration, which initiated the roadmap plan as
a means to achieve a political settlement, it is required to safeguard its
credibility and sincerity through activating the peace plan and preventing
Israel from undermining the roadmap.”
Khaled Amayreh commented in pro-government
English-language Al-Ahram Weekly (8/11):
"Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders, like most Palestinians,
reacted coolly to the Israeli decision to free some 424 Palestinian
prisoners.... Even the usually more
circumspect PA Premier Mahmoud Abbas criticised "this modus operandi of
deception and cheating" on Israel's part.... What is irking the Palestinians most,
however, is the fact that the jail terms of nearly all the 183 convicted
prisoners Israel has agreed to free have either expired or are about to
expire.... Israel's conspicuous
parsimony and perceived deception on an issue as sensitive and emotional as the
release of Palestinian prisoners seem to be galvanising the Palestinian public
anew.... While Israel and the U.S. are the usual villains, the reformist
Palestinian government has been increasingly blamed for not doing enough to
free the prisoners.... Sensing the growing
public impatience and indignation over the prisoners' plight as well as the
continuation of crippling Israeli restrictions within the West Bank, Abbas
reportedly decided to cancel a proposed meeting with Sharon.... The symbolic and desperate step will not do
much to soothe mounting public anger....
Moreover, Israel's continued construction of the 'apartheid wall' in the
West Bank, despite ostensibly disingenuous American objections, is effectively
killing the roadmap and evaporating whatever modicum of hope among Palestinians
that the Bush administration will rein in Israel. The Palestinians had hoped that Bush's public
criticisms of the wall...would be translated into a meaningful pressure on
Israel to stop construction on the wall....
As Israel continues to build the wall and create new realities on the
ground, and with Israeli roadblocks and checkpoints strangulating the daily
lives of Palestinians, a fresh incendiary atmosphere is being fostered in the
Chief Editor Samir Rajab remarked in small-circulation
pro-government Al-Gomhuriya (8/10):
"Israel seems to be acting according to an Egyptian proverb that
goes, 'He beat me and cried, then rushed to complain before I could
complain!' It wasted no time to lodge a
complaint with the UN against Syria and Lebanon for Hizballah's attack on
Shab'a farms. This is what Israel did at
a time its forces are overrunning Palestinian land and killing, wounding and
arresting whoever they want. Over and
above, they still issue misleading statements claiming that they are not
violating the truce and turn a blind eye to what their dirty hands had
done. It is they who committed the mean
and cowardly assassinations...at the time of the raids on Nablus. Despite all that, the Palestinians have
shown maximum self-restraint and only asked the Quartet, which supervises the
road map, to move to protect them from the savage raids that disregard
conscience, ethics, and religion.... All
indications are that Israel had decided, at least before the road map was adopted,
not to withdraw from the land it had occupied by force, not to abandon its
settlement policy, not to allow the return of refugees, and not to stop
building this security wall. Suffice it
that President Bush yesterday simply said this wall is a problem because it
snakes across the West Bank making it extremely difficult to set up a
Palestinian state with the passage of time up to 2005. Naturally President Bush did not tell us how
to overcome this problem or who will bear its consequences, the Palestinians or
the Israelis? Bush's words clearly show that it is the Palestinians who will
have to pay the price.... The U.S. has automatically joined Israel in directing
clear warnings to Syria and Lebanon holding them responsible for the grave
consequences if they did not stop the Hizballah militants from launching more
attacks as if peace cannot be achieved without unchecked Arab bloodletting
while the Jews need every protection and their security needs to be insured on
all sides. Woe be to anyone who dare come
near it. Down with the abhorrent double
Anis Mansoour noted in leading pro-government Al Ahram
(8/9): “I am sorry to have said before
that Bush, the kind Christian leader, will fall [in the elections] because he
failed to settle the Palestinian issue....
The influential Jewish lobby in the U.S...will not forget the great role
Iraqi Jews played when they presented the Iraqi government.... Since the end of the war, only 50 Americans
have died. Moreover, Bush has started
to retract his words. Now, he blames
Palestinians for not dissolving their factions.
He is describing Israel’s cement wall as nothing but a chicken farm
fence.... That is why I believe Bush
will return to the White House on a whiter horse.”
“A Commotion To Deceive”
Leading pro-government Al Ahram contended (8/8): “The media commotion arranged by Sharon’s
government ahead of the release of a group of Palestinian prisoners was
designed to tell world public opinion that Israel supports the roadmap.... In fact, an accurate reading...reveals the
manifest deceit and procrastination of Sharon's policy. It wants to imply the ball sits now in the
Palestinian court although the opposite is true.... Israel's coercion can once again push matters
toward violence.... The Sharon
government retracted its previous promises to withdraw from Palestinian sites
and has once again put the cart before the horse by demanding prior disarmament
of Palestinian factions come.... It
wants to put Abu Mazen’s government in a real dilemma and in confrontation with
the Palestinian people.”
Jeddah's English-language pro-government Saudi Gazette
maintained (8/11): "The
Palestinians cannot be blamed for violating the ceasefire. Israelis have broken it by raiding the
refugee camp in the occupied West Bank and murdering four Palestinians without
any provocation.... But, it is advisable
that the Palestinians resist the temptation to retaliate immediately.... There must be plans for the situations
created by Israel's continues violation of the ceasefire or for the progress
made on the Roadmap with or without U.S. pressure on Tel Aviv.... Self-restraint and holding the ceasefire
until its last day is the best interests of the Palestinians. It will take Sharon government to a checkmate
"Security Fence A New Israeli Ploy"
The moderate English-language Riyadh Daily held
(8/11): "The factions of the
Palestinian national struggle led by Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations have
decided to go back to armed struggle against Israel, which has failed to honor
its commitments as regards suspension of building Jewish settlements in the
Palestinian territories. To grant
legitimacy to the expansionist policy of the Israeli government, the Israeli
Knesset enacted some few days a ago a law which stipulates that the Palestinian
territories are not occupied territories, but they are liberated territories
which should be inhabited by the Jews and not by the aliens
(Palestinians). Following this
development the Israeli government took the executive measures for Judaization
of all occupied Palestinian territories.
Israel has been going ahead with violation of the international laws and
norms in the light of the weakness of the Arab countries, the indifference of
the international community, and the blind support of Washington.... Sharon made it clear that by establishing the
security fence, Israel was planning to isolate the Palestinians and to contain
them in a narrow area so as to force them emigrate, leaving their lands to the
Jews. Israel thinks that when the Palestinians
are forced to emigrate, then it can easily annexe their lands and gradually
Judaize them.... As it was done in 1948
when Israel forced the Palestinians to leave their homeland, Israel is
currently planning to force the remaining Palestinians to leave their
lands. This step will enable Israel to
annex the entire Palestinian lands and subsequently Judaize them. Really, it is a dangerous development and so
the Arabs should remain vigilant and support the Palestinian national struggle
so as to put an end to the Israeli terrorism against the Palestinians."
"Why Do They Like Sharon?"
Jeddah's conservative Al-Madina observed (8/10): "The latest opinion poll...showed that
most Israelis are content with their PM's performance and his policies. Why? Because, since September 11 he managed to
take advantage of the Arab leaders' failure, the general animosity against
Arabs and Muslim in general to score a few goals for his people. For example, Hamas and Islamic Jihad
movements have both been put at the top of the terrorist organizations list. He used the war on Iraq to achieve other
goals on the Syrian-Iranian front, and finally his government is fishing in
dirty water, trying to ruin the Saudi-American relationship. Israelis love Sharon because he represents
their aggressive attitude and delivers their corrupting message on earth."
"Peace Hopes Dashed"
Riyadh's English-language moderate Riyadh Daily held
(8/10): "The flare-up in the
violence in the West Bank clearly indicates that the past few weeks of calm
have been nothing but illusory. The
Israelis have failed to honor their side of the cease-fire arrangement. And it is out of sheer frustration now that
the militant groups have vowed to adorn the war paint all over again.... With Likud hard-liners in power, there is
simply no hope for peace.... It is time
that the Israelis themselves pressure their radical leadership to see
reason. In fact, only the ouster of the
regime of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would serve the people' interest and put
the country on the road to real peace."
"Unifying Arab Positions"
Mecca's conservative Al-Nadwa remarked (8/9): "The Kingdom's efforts have always aimed
at achieving a unified Arab position. In
the Arab League Initiative, the Kingdom was successful in bringing all Arabs to
one side regarding the comprehensive peace plan in the Middle East.... Now with the current peace plan, which has
been known as the Roadmap for peace, Arab countries need to have one position
on the matter. The United States must be convinced to exercise pressure on
Israel to fulfill its obligations otherwise another chance for peace will be
"An American Position To Build Upon"
Jeddah's conservative Al-Madina editorialized (8/9): "Perhaps the most important challenge
the Palestinians face is Sharon's well-fortified, divisive wall, which would
encircle a massive settlement built on the West Bank. Arabs must build upon the U.S. Secretary of
State Collin Powel's criticism of this fence.
The U.S. has warned against building such a wall that would foil any
plans to establish a Palestinian state....
We need to hear similar Arab criticisms and diplomatic escalations that
would throw the ball back into Israel's court."
JORDAN: “Bush And The Road
Musa Hawamdeh observed in center-left, influential Arabic-language
Al-Dustour (8/12): “We want to
wait and see if Bush will succeed in convincing Sharon that the wall is a
problem and that it is better to build a peace wall rather than a war and
racist wall. However, he will not dare
to make any statement or exert any pressure on Sharon, neither behind nor in
front of the scenes, as some Arab analysts are deluded to think. The truce may not last long, although we
would have hoped that it last long enough for Bush to understand that the
problem is not just with the wall, but with the Zionist mentality and the United States’ absolute bias to
Israel that will not help establish peace or justice, and that leniency towards
Israel which translate to strong support for it. We are aware of the gentle language used by
U.S. officials to criticize Israel while the Arabs and Palestinians are
bombarded with missiles, statements, and orders.”
"The Wall--Security Fence Or Separation Barrier?"
Omar Karmi stated in independent, English-language Jordan Times
(8/11): "While the world watches
and waits to see if an increasingly tenuous ceasefire (hudna) will
last.... A concerted campaign against
the barrier was launched last year by a coalition of Palestinian NGOs.... The wall is a product of the culture of fear
and...an insurmountable obstacle to peace....
The barrier is turning into a classic Israeli-Palestinian confrontation
where even the terms used to describe it are contentious. Israeli officials
refer to it as a 'security fence'....
Palestinians usually refer to it as a 'separation wall,' or, in some
cases, an 'apartheid wall,' and see it as a mixture of collective punishment
and a unilateral indication of future intent.... The barrier is in fact part-wall,
part-fence.... Qalqilya is the hardest hit Palestinian community so far.... Many farmers have seen their lands cut off
from their homes by the barrier, and some are choosing to camp on their lands
for fear that they won't be able to access their only means of a livelihood.... Both US President George W. Bush and
Secretary of State Colin Powell have publicly expressed their reservations
about the barrier.... In effect...the
barrier...would leave some 42 per cent of the West Bank for a Palestinian
state.... Peace means co-existence and
co-operation. The barrier is separation and will only create hatred between
neighbours.... Without US and
international pressure, Sharon will continue building this wall, and there will
be no peace.”
KUWAIT: “The Most
Courageous Decision For Sabah Al-Ahmad”
Abdelamir Al-Turki wrote in independent Al-Seyassah
(8/10): “When Kuwait asks the PA to
apologize for its support of the Iraqi invasion in 1990, it is in fact
supporting the PA and its people who are suffering under the Israeli
occupation.... This is how the Kuwaiti
position must be understood. We demand an apology from the PA.... It is not acceptable to consider the
occupation of Kuwait legitimate, while Israel’s occupation of Palestine is
illegitimate. This is the core of rejecting the visit of Abu Mazen to Kuwait.”
LEBANON: "Hear The
Region’s Guns--And Its Call For Reform"
The independent, English-language Daily Star
declared (8/11): "The events around
the Arab world and the wider Middle East this weekend were depressingly
familiar: Israel and Hezbollah exchanged fire across the Israeli-Lebanese
border, a dozen Iraqis and British and American soldiers were injured in
clashes, Palestinians and Israelis continued their tense face-off.... Most of the problems in this region,
including chronic violence, can be traced to two major reasons: first, slightly
incoherent and badly distorted domestic political governance systems that abuse
the use of power and fail to tap the energy and creativity of the people of
this region; and, second, a recurring penchant for military occupations and colonial
adventures with a frequent Anglo-American-Israeli tinge to them. Historically, colonialism and its lingering
consequences set the stage for many of our region’s sufferings. For example,
the battles between Israel and each of Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades and Islamic Jihad stem almost solely from the Israeli occupations in
south Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza and Arab East Jerusalem. Yet most of colonialism’s catastrophes also
have a shelf life, and the Middle East has had ample time to overcome that ugly
historical legacy and move into the modern world and its promises of personal
dignity and national well-being. Most of Middle Eastern states have not done so
primarily because they have not devised coherent, equitable domestic governance
systems that respect individual rights yet also deliver on collective
promises.... The sooner that our region
starts serious reforms, the more likely it will be to expect a future of
normalcy, rather than abnormally chronic conflict. If we want to drown out the
noise and agony of the guns all around us, we should listen more carefully to
the voices among us calling for reform."
“American-Syrian Pulling Of Strings Manifests Itself Along The
Rosana Bou-Monsef commented in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar
(8/11): “Local political circles had the
impression that the Hizballah operation in the Shebaa Farms last Friday was
limited in time and place...and viewed it as a retaliation attempt against the
assassination of one of Hizballah members....
However, this impression has quickly disappeared yesterday afternoon
when Hizballah refrained from limiting its operation to the Farms and...killed
an Israeli civilian. This operation did
not only raise concerns over a possible Israeli retaliation, but also fears of
raising American anger against the Lebanese and Syrian Governments. The regional situation the last two weeks has
been gradually escalating: The truce
between Israel and the Palestinians seems to be deteriorating and tension is
escalating between the U.S. and Syria.
It is impossible to separate what is happening between Hizballah and
Israel from the above-mentioned regional situation.... The Syrian Minister of Defense Mustafa Tlas
confirmed his country’s support for Hizballah following the last operation,
while the Lebanese officials remained silent.
This proves that Syria continues to hold to its Hizballah trump card and
control it. So far, American pressure
did not succeed in convincing Syria to discard this trump card.... It seems that the Syrian-American tension
reached a very high level--enough for it to mobilize the southern front in
“Hizballah Operations Surpass The Decision To Retaliate Saleh’s
Ibrahim Amin argued in Arab nationalist As-Safir
(8/11): “Hizballah is careful to say
that their latest operations...have nothing to do with the assassination of
Hizballah member last week. An operation
to retaliate against this assassination needs special preparations and, indeed,
it is on its way towards implementation.
Hizballah does not link the current resistance to a process of actions
and reactions, in the sense that it realizes that a number of its members will
become martyrs and believes that this is a normal part of the battle.... The Hizballah Party believes that Israel’s
mistake in assassinating Saleh gave it the opportunity to resume operations
which were stopped for seven months because of developments in the region. In another context, it seems that the Party
is interested in trying to understand the reasoning behind Israel’s decision to
assassinate Saleh? Did Israel need this
kind of action to compensate for its constant failures? Did Israel assume that the time is right to test
Hizballah’s reaction to an operation of this type.... Whatever the case may be, there is no doubt
that the situation before Saleh’s assassination was totally different than the
SYRIA: To Where is Israeli
Omar Jaftaly stated in government-owned Tishreen
(8/12): "Israel's extremist stands
in the occupied territories coincide with its new terrorist escalation of
tension in south Lebanon.... All this is
taking place on the eve of US envoy William Burns's visit to the region in a
new US endeavor to calm the situation, to resolve the separation wall
crisis...and tackle the dangers of the Israeli escalation of tension in
Lebanon.... The visit of Burns or any
other US official will remain useless if they tackle the situation only
according to Israel's racist points of view."
"Make Israel Comply"
Chief Editor Fouad Mardoud wrote in the government-owned
English-language Syria Times (8/12):
"Lebanon finds itself at war again.... Lebanon's best alternative was to go to the
UNSC and to file an urgent protest against Israel.... The Security Council appears unprepared or
unable to take the necessary steps to keep the Israelis at bay and control
their desire to set the region on fire once again.... President Lahoud called it 'air terrorism'
meant to automatically draw resistance anti-aircraft fire. Meanwhile, Israeli
leaders continue threatening Syria and Lebanon in a clear provocative
move.... The situation in the region
suggests the need for an active, quick-witted American policy.... The U.S. has cards to play, but is it ready
to play those cards if they concern Israel?"
“Israel Aborts the Quartet Project”
Mohammad Al-Khoder stated in government-owned Al-Ba’th
(8/10): “Israel is killing off whatever
remains of the Quartet’s Roadmap by a series of attacks, including the
assassination of members of the (Palestinian) resistance, by forging ahead with
settlements, as well as by ignoring international demands for the release of
(Palestinian) prisoners. These (Israeli)
positions that contradict international legitimacy and the Quartet’s project to
establish a Palestinian state by 2005 require a clear and firm stand against
Israel’s leaders. It is not acceptable to release only 338 Palestinian
prisoners out of a total of 6,000, and then allow Israel to represent such a
step as part of the implementation of the Roadmap!”
TUNISIA: "Where's The
Room For Bush To Maneuver?"
An unsigned editorial in government-owned French-language La
Presse read (8/11): “The U.S.' will
to see the Roadmap implemented is evident. There is no doubt about it.
President Bush is working on it personally....
He made it clear to the Israelis that what they call a ‘security fence’
creates a serious problem.... The fact
that the American administration is willing to use possible financial sanctions
against Israel, is very significant in itself. With more than one year before
the presidential election in the U.S., can Washington keep its room to maneuver
as it wants both in the Middle East and in Iraq? This is questionable. With the falling of
Baghdad and the end of the war in Iraq, the Chief of the White House thought,
it is good timing to start dealing with
the Israeli-Palestinian issue. But the U.S. army has found itself confronted
with more and more bloody daily attacks....
Plus the file of WMD is far from being closed.... The last subject and not the least of the
Bush administration is the state of the U.S. economy, noting that the internal
political problems have a stronger impact in the choice of the American
electors. In these conditions, does the
Bush administration still have the time, the means to react and to modify the
events in the Middle Eat? Let’s wait and see.”
UAE: "The Innocent And
Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al Khaleej editorialized
(8/11): "Israel, who possesses the
most modern weapons from America's deadly arsenal of WMD and is capable of
threatening and attacking any place in the region under American protection, is
complaining to the UNSC while hiding behind a fence. Nevertheless, resorting to the Security
Council is an Arab habit, and building the wall is a positive sign that the
occupiers can't go on with their occupation and brutality without further
losses or fear, despite all the massacres that they committed and might
"Save The Region From Sharon's Fires"
business-oriented Arabic-language Al-Bayan declared (8/10): "Without shame, the Zionists presented
an 'Official Complaint' to the UNSC against Syria and Lebanon. So now the tyrant attacker is complaining
about the innocent.... The only way to
stop the fires in the region is for the Israeli troops to withdraw from
occupied Arab lands. Without this, there
is no hope for peace."
"Is Sharon Out Of His Wits Again?"
The pro-government English-language Gulf News said
(8/9): "The continued construction
of the massive fence which is attempting to physically divide Israel from
Palestinian territory is wrong, and American acquiesence in the plan is also
wrong. The concept of the fence is wrong since peace can only be based on
trust, not imposed by a fence; and as the fence crosses Palestinian land at
several points, it is cutting villages off from their fields, so further
inflaming relations between Palestine and Israel. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has said
he will explain to the Israelis that the administration 'has a problem' with
the fence if it goes over the Green line. This is not enough. The whole Arab
world remembers that when the Israeli forces invaded Jenin and large parts of
the West Bank, George Bush had told Sharon that he had a problem with the
invasion. Sharon ignored him. The fence
shows how irrelevant are the attempts to start a dialogue to peace, so do the
reports of $95 million to be spent on attracting new settlers to the Israeli
colonies on the West Bank and Jordan Valley. At a time when the colonies should
at the very least be frozen, a plan to increase them is more proof that the
Israeli government has no interest in peace."
"Don't Erect Security Barrier!"
Liberal Asahi opined (8/12): "President Bush has engaged in a
'double-dealing' diplomacy that is a no-no, particularly in the Middle East.
The President told Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas late July that Israel's
erection of a security barrier stands in the way of Middle East peace. But
during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, held shortly afterward,
the President gave tacit approval to the security barrier's erection. Only two
months ago, Mr. Bush publicly endorsed the 'road map' peace plan, getting the
long-stalemated Middle East peace process back on track. But the President's expression of his tacit
approval of Israel's erection of the security fence is tantamount to abandoning
the role of a fair mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.... Mr. Sharon should also be aware that the
erection of the security barriers and 'virtual imprisonment' of the
Palestinians would not bring genuine peace. To implement Middle East peace,
Israel and the Palestinians must observe the cease-fire, as specified in the
road map, and return to their dialogue-first position of three years ago. US
neutrality, the Palestinians' suspension of acts of terrorism, and a sincere
commitment by Israel to the "roadmap" will greatly enhance the
chances for peace in the Middle East."
"Ruse Of Peace"
Government-influenced English-language New Straits Times
editorialized (8/12): "Appeasement
is not working and again, the result is legitimised murder. When Adolf Hitler
was appeased, six million Jews went to the gas chamber. Now Israel will not be
appeased as it goes after alleged Palestinian militants. It's been more than a
year since large swathes of Palestine, including the president's compound, were
bombed, bulldozed and razed to the ground. Still, the Israeli army will not
stop. The recent killing of two Hamas
members said to be planning attacks on Israel during a truce declared by
Palestinian militants indicates clearly that Tel Aviv will not respect the
peace process. Closer to the truth is the opportunistic nature of its actions
since Ariel Sharon was chosen prime minister. This former general is a man with
more than political will to use violence as the means to security. Israel's militaristic posturing has but one
way to go. Implicit in this logic is the ultimate destruction of common borders
with independent Arab nations. Under the paradigm of violence, only
neighbouring regimes that embrace the security of Israel's borders are
acceptable. Iraq is the experiment. If it works, the Middle East will be politically
refashioned according to Washington's blueprint. This must inevitably include
the integrity of its client state, Israel.
It is no wonder that the Bush Administration is doing nothing to
discourage the current round of Israeli aggression. Sharon's assault on the
Palestinians is blatant arrogance. The peace process brokered by Washington is
looking more like a ruse every day, one to extract further concessions from a
people already brutalised many times over."
PHILIPPINES: “Fencing In
The independent Manila Times commented (8/12): “On the...security barrier that Israel is
building in the West Bank, President...Bush was equivocal, even tentative. All he said was that the fence could be ‘a
problem.’ That hint was enough for Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon to make a spirited defense.... The fence will… result in the permanent
occupation by Israel of 10 percent of the West Bank.... The money for these...barriers comes from the
U.S. We welcome recent statements by
officials of the White House and State Department that a plan is being put
together to withhold loan guarantees....
However, this is not enough.
President Bush should make it crystal clear to...Sharon that the roadmap
guarantees to the future Palestinian State a contiguous territory.... Its (the fence’s) purpose is to protect
Israel from terrorists, but its unspoken purpose is to annex as much of the
West Bank as Israel can before the final settlement brings forth a Palestinian
"Israeli Fence Around Palestinian Area"
Center-right Urdu-language Pakistan
opined (8/11): "President Bush has
warned that the erection of Israel's fence around Palestinian territory would
endanger the creation of a Palestinian state.... America always pampered Israel. Now Israel has turned into a genie that has
come out of its bottle and started to challenge America. America faces a tough test; let us see what
it let us see what it does for the success of the roadmap for peace."
"The Liberties Taken By Israel's Wall"
The leading Globe and Mail opined (8/8): "U.S. opposition to the wall--not the
right to build it, but the path it is taking--may have forced Israel to drop a
plan to extend it about 30 kilometres into the West Bank to include the large
Jewish settlement of Ariel. Nevertheless, the Bush administration is reportedly
considering the imposition of limited economic sanctions against Israel for
other incursions. It need not come to that. Israel should heed the concerns of
the international community and adjust its plans for the wall, minimizing the
seizure of Palestinian land and forgoing construction along the Jordan Valley.
This would help build confidence between the two sides just as further strains
are showing between Mr. Sharon and Mr. Abbas.... Israelis have an absolute right to be free of
terror, but this should not come at the expense of Palestinian land."