International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

January 27, 2004

January 27, 2004





**  Israeli PM Sharon is "in deep trouble" due to an "illegal financing" scandal.


**  Euro and Arab analysts remain critical of Israel's "monstrous wall" in the West Bank.


**  Muslim writers say Israeli policies of "repression and frustration" led to the Erez attack.


**  Vice President Cheney's speech at Davos proves "America is not an honest broker." 




Sharon's image is 'seriously damaged'--  Euro and Israeli commentators agreed Sharon's "unresolved scandal over campaign funding" will become "more serious."  A leftist British writer said the issue takes away from "the essential business of peace"; Germany's center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine predicted that even if Sharon resigns, any successor "will not pursue a substantially different policy."  A liberal Israeli writer demanded Sharon quit "because corruption is like a vortex" in his administration.  The West Bank's independent Al-Ayyam worried that Sharon might seek a "military escalation" to divert attention from the scandal. 


The wall is 'another obstacle to the roadmap'--  The coming International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearing on what a Jordanian daily termed Israel's "racist/colonialist separation wall" sparked criticism outside Israel.  The wall would make Israel a "besieged fortress" according to France's left-of-center Liberation.  Arab papers assailed "Washington's willingness to back Israel" at the ICJ; Syria's government-owned Al-Ba'ath alleged the U.S.' acceptance of the wall would "unleash more Israeli terrorism."  Israel's left-leaning Ha'aretz replied that the wall is only a "temporary construct" meant to allow Israel the right "to defend itself."     


'Targeted killings work'--  Israeli and Arab dailies sharply disagreed on the cause of the Erez suicide attack.  The conservative Jerusalem Post claimed that Israel's "last campaign of targeted killings was...why Hamas refrained" until Erez.  Arab writers said the "vicious cycle continues" because of Israel's "blind militarism" and "absence for making peace."  Saudi Arabia's conservative Al-Madina held it "wrong" to blame the PA or Arafat for Erez, judging the "fierce Palestinian resistance" a "natural reaction to Israel's massacres." 


Cheney's speech played the U.S.' same old pro-Israel 'broken record'--  Arab papers termed Cheney's Davos speech proof he wants to "achieve peace" by "waging an attack on the Palestinian people and their leadership."  Jordanian writers were especially critical, charging that the U.S. continues to turn a "blind eye to Israeli terrorism."  Semi-official Al-Rai alleged the speech shows the U.S. "seeks to exterminate the Palestinians completely."  Lebanese dailies instead focused on Hezbollah's attack on an Israeli bulldozer, calling it "legitimate."  Beirut's centrist Al-Anwar cited the "daily Israeli violation of Lebanese airspace and water" to justify the border incident.


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis was based on 45 reports from 16 countries over 15 - 27 January 2004.  Editorial excerpts from each country are arranged from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Israel's Greek Drama"


An editorial in the left-of-center Guardian read (1/23):  "In the court of public opinion, at least, Mr. Sharon seems to be in deep trouble over these latest developments and another unresolved scandal over campaign funding....  If Mr. Sharon were to be forced out of office, his many critics within and without Israel would doubtless rejoice.  More than any other Israeli leader of recent times, he has come to personify what is seen, in the Arab world at least, as Israel's unremitting oppression of the Palestinians....  As matters stand, this brewing political crisis, which could have months to run, represents yet another unwelcome distraction from the essential business of peace."


FRANCE:  “A Symbolic Shadow”


Patrick Sabatier wrote in left-of-center Liberation (1/27):  “The security fence which Israel is building is casting a symbolic shadow which calls to memory other sinister times when groups of people were confined to a geographical area after having been displaced for racial reasons....  Most Israelis hope that the fence will protect them from terrorism....  But the walls of Jericho, the China Wall, the Berlin Wall and other Maginot lines have always proved in retrospect that they were illusory protections. The wall can in fact weaken and confine those who seek security… At its worst, the wall can lead to a cycle of ethnic purification....  Beyond the fact that the fence’s effectiveness is questionable, the result, and maybe even the objective, may be to build another obstacle to the roadmap....  The danger of such a wall is that it renders useless any further attempts at negotiation....  Its construction can lead Israel to an impasse, turning Israel into a besieged fortress.”


GERMANY:  "Wishful Thinking"


Wolfgang Guenter Lerch judged in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/23):  "Those who are able to assess Prime Minister Sharon do not think that his political end is near.  Sharon survived many affairs before.  He will do everything to get out of the most recent corruption scandal....  Only if complaints are filed against him, Sharon's political end could be near, since an investigation because of alleged illegal election campaign financing has already been opened against him.  This would then be too much.  But even without Sharon, Likud would be led by his rival Benjamin Netanyahu who will not pursue a substantially different policy.  We have had our experience with him, too."


"Sharon's Own Table Of Laws"


Charles Landsmann opined in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (1/23):  "The naked letter of the law should not be valid for a politician, a member of the executive, let alone a government leader of a democracy that abides by the rule of law.  Public morality and social ethics are the yardsticks that should be applied to the representatives of the people.  But Israel, which lauds itself as the only democracy in the Middle East...has allowed its politicians to ignore moral and ethic principles.  Sharon is not the first and not the only one who does not give a damn about all non-legal norms of a democratic society....  Israel's politicians deserve their bad reputation....  Sharon cannot be forced to step down despite his abuse of his authority, despite all his false statements, despite the obstruction and delaying tactics in the current investigation, despite indirectly admitted illegal election campaign financing, despite a serious suspicion of corruption....  With his unscrupulous behavior in the various scandals and with his uncompromising policy, Sharon creates difficulties even for the most loyal friends of the democratic Jewish state to continue to support Israel in these difficult times....  Instead, Sharon's government tries to disqualify any factual criticism, as justified as it may ever be, of its policy and any doubt about its moral attitude simply as anti-Semitism.  And it tries to capitalize on the voters' hope, which can no longer be rationally explained, that Sharon this time will not renege on his word but indeed bring freedom and security as he promised in his election campaign and in his job as premier."


"Doubt About Sharon"


Inge Guenther noted in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (1/20):  "Ariel Sharon has still not made any concessions concerning the monstrous wall on the West Bank.  For the time being, he only speaks of possibly moving minor parts a bit to reduce costs and not to create to much harm to the Palestinians.  This is internationally not bad, mainly in Washington, which has asked Jerusalem for months not to lose sight of a two-state solution.  But, as mild as the U.S. pressure is, as small will be Sharon's concessions in reality.  A minor correction her, a minor correction there will not bring the security fence to the only acceptable line:  the 67 border to the West Bank.  Those who see the eight meters high concrete segment…cannot understand that it only serves to prevent terrorist attacks.  The same is true for the North-South fence which imprisons Palestinians in enclaves but allows Jewish settlers direct access to Israel....  Skepticism remains appropriate, since Sharon promised much to demonstrate a compromising attitude without ever getting serious."


BULGARIA:  "The Wall Impedes A Middle East Conflict Breakthrough"


Center-left Sega declared (1/27):  "There are some things in the action of the Israeli government that are very troublesome, especially considering their experience with genocide.  The dream of the founding fathers of the State of Israel was for this to be a country in which all would live in peace and understanding.  Soon, however, the tables turned....  The roles reversed and today the Arabs are the ones that want to go back to their country, just like the Jews used to dream....  The wall will not be able to put an end to this hatred, it just puts it in stone.  Israel cannot hide its problems in its shadow.  But it is certain--the wall's construction will impede the political breakthrough even more."


IRELAND:  "Israel Fears Irish Stance"


Paul Kearns stated in the centrist weekly Sunday Tribune (1/19):  "Implementation of the Israeli-Palestinian ‘road-map’ ‘will be a priority of the Irish (EU) Presidency’. So said foreign minister Brian Cowen on a flying two-day trip to Israel…Ireland’s foreign policy towards Israel has been robust, to say the least, in the last year. Ireland was one of the cosponsors of a United Nations resolution condemning Israel for its construction of the separation barrier in the West Bank....  Ireland is perceived here as one of the least if not the least sympathetic EU states to Israel....  Given the extraordinary workload of the Irish EU presidency, however-the accession of 10 new member states, a new constitution and now a crisis over the stability pact- it’s questionable whether Ireland could, even if it wished to, prioritize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during its six-month stint as EU president. Cynics might add that the busy Irish schedule will no doubt come as relief to the government in Jerusalem.”


ROMANIA:  "Sufficient Evidence"


Simona Haiduc declared in business-oriented Curentul (1/23):  "Suspected of taking a bribe, the Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, has ruled out resigning, despite the fact there that is sufficient evidence to justify the indictment for corruption against him."


SPAIN:  "Bribed Sharon?"


Left-of-center El País editorialized (1/23):  "Whether the Prime Minister remains in office is probably tied to new details that will be emerging about a scandal regarding illegal financing of his 1999 campaign.  Even if he avoids the trial that the attorney-general predicts, the public image of the most powerful Prime Minister of the decade has been seriously damaged....  Sharon's difficulties are a blessing for former Prime Minister and current Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is seen as his natural successor." 


"Sharon, Under Suspicion"


Conservative ABC stated (1/23):  "The news of Sharon's alleged scandals will not help calm the turbulent waters of Israeli politics.  If almost everyone already believed that the Israeli Prime Minister was a problem with regard to overseas, now he is starting to be seen as a problem with domestic policies.  His announcement that he will never think of resigning confirms this.  The forecast seems clear: the Sharon problem will get more serious."




ISRAEL:  "The Washington Dilemma"


Nathan Guttman maintained in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (1/26):  "In the coming days the U.S. is expected to decide what to do about the suit against the Israeli separation fence at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.  The approaching deliberations are putting Washington in a delicate situation--the U.S. is not a big fan of expanding the authority of the International Court and the transfer of disputes between nations for adjudication there, but it is also far from liking the separation fence that Israel is erecting in the territories.  Along this narrow path the [U.S.] Administration will have to act during the coming weeks: how to prevent the International Court of Justice in The Hague from becoming a permanent factor in international affairs, without thereby causing Israel to see this as America's agreement to the continued construction of the separation fence....  If the opponents of the fence succeed in getting a binding decision against Israel at the court, this will pave the way for a series of possible complaints to the court against the United States.  If the disputed separation fence between the Israelis and the Palestinians is a matter for deliberation at the International Court of Justice, it is clear the American presence in Iraq could come up for deliberation, as could the holding of the foreign detainees without legal rights at the United States' prison installation in Guantanamo Bay."


"Go, For God's Sake"


Dan Margalit wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (1/23):  "Ariel Sharon hardly denies it any more.  He only says with cynicism: 'Take it easy, I'm not resigning.'  It isn't by saying: 'Believe me,' that he is defending himself, but by declaring: 'I don't care about you'....  Compared with the regime Sharon has been running, George Orwell's '1984' looks like an innocent republic....  Go, Sharon, go, for God's sake.  Go for the sake of the young Israelis' innocence.  Go for the sake of the very just, lofty things for which you were prepared to sacrifice your life.  Go because corruption is like a vortex dragging the entire body to the abyss....  Go, not for the leftists' benefit, heaven forbid, but for that of a better Likud member than you, whoever he may be.  Go of your own will; we'll all remember your last act kindly."


"A Matter Of Life"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post declared (1/23):  "A decade since its creation, the PA looms as an exercise in political futility.... For now, one might argue that Yasser Arafat's glue is holding together two halves that otherwise have little in common. Others might argue that the whole dichotomy between the original PLO and today's Hamas and Islamic Jihad is artificial, since they hardly differ in their attitudes toward Israel, and those in turn are their real raison d'etre.  However, having effectively wasted the opportunity that Oslo offered them, the choice the Palestinians now face is not political, but cultural. Theirs is no longer a contest between two groups vying for power, but between prevalent social forces which fear acceptance of Israel in particular and engagement with the free world in general....  For now, we can only judge the Palestinian public's inclinations by the extent to which it joins Hamas rallies, which is debatable, and the extent to which it confronts Hamas, which is negligible....  It follows that whether it happens before or after Hamas inherits the PA, ultimately the Palestinians will have to choose what the PA fails to deliver and Hamas fails to appreciate: life."


"Change The Route"


Zeev Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (1/21):  "Israel's attention has been focused more on tactical defensive considerations since the original route of the fence was approved in July 2002.  Recently, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that small adjustments might be made in the route, but they will not be determined by Arab pressure, and certainly not by pressure from the International Court of Justice in The Hague....  The adjustments in the fence's route ought to conform to the following principles: The fence is a temporary construct meant to defend Israel against terrorism, infiltration and those who move to Israel illegally (thereby exercising the 'right of return' via the back door).  Its construction should cause the absolute minimum of harm to the Palestinians, who must be able to continue leading normal lives.  Its goal should not be to put Palestinians into pens or to facilitate military activity in Palestinian areas. Finally, as few Palestinians as possible should be on the Israeli side of the fence....  Will these changes produce greater understanding in Europe for the steps that Israel is taking to defend itself? Unfortunately, the answer is 'no.'  The dominant line in many places is that Israel has no right even to defend itself."


"Reflections On Peace And Sounds Of War"


Ben Caspit observed in popular, pluralist Maariv (1/21):  "The young Assad’s reflections on peace proved themselves this time.  Israel cannot permit itself to launch an attack in Syrian territory at the height of the unilateral flirtation between Damascus and Jerusalem.  Those opposed to the Syrian option can give themselves a pat on the shoulder.  For Assad is still unleashing Hizbullah on us, great quantities of arms and ammunition continue to flow from Teheran to Damascus, and from there to Beirut.  Nothing has changed.  The difference between what Assad says and what he does, or at least what he permits others to do, has to be recognized.  Hizbullah is taking advantage of the furor to remind us all that it exists and to remind everybody who has forgotten that the prisoner exchange deal is still deadlocked, Samir Kuntar is under arrest and the fate of Ron Arad is still unknown."   


"Hizbullah Setting Rules Of Game"


Alex Fishman commented in mass circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/21):  "Had we not been familiar with the leading actors, we might have thought that the IAF operation yesterday was commissioned by Hizbullah.  Hizbullah wishes to keep the confrontation with Israel limited to the [border] fence area, and we are supplying it with the goods.  We are playing in the limited field that it allots to us.  An aerial operation in the depth of Lebanon against Hizbullah targets or Syrian targets would have sent a firm and credible message....  An Israeli strike in the depth of Lebanon would also have placed Hizbullah in a conflict of interests vis a vis the Lebanese government and Syria.  But we chose a response that is purely perfunctory.  The symbolic air strike carried out yesterday by the IAF was no more than a way to vent hot air.  It did not change the basic situation in southern Lebanon one bit....  Needless to say, Israel has no interest in seeing the Syrians enter the circle of warfare. The Syrians, in their present strategic situation, surely also have no interest in entering into warfare.  Therefore, it can be expected that the Syrians will now make an effort to calm Hizbullah."


"Gaza First"


Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus opined in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (1/20): "Judging by the interviews David Spector has been giving left and right, Sharon's days in the prime minister's seat are numbered....  But even without Spector's threats and dire prognostications, things don't look rosy for Sharon....  A prime minister in such a situation can do one of two things to distract the public: drag the country into a military confrontation or behave like a second-term president who doesn't have to worry about reelection anymore and focus his mind on history.   Now is a good time to move ahead on his pledge at the Herzliya Conference 'to initiate unilateral action for the purpose of separation from the Palestinians and realign settlements to create an efficient line of defense.'  For starters, he can knock down the settlements in the Gaza Strip in a single blow, and then follow up with some painful concessions.  Better that he be remembered by the coming generations as Mr. Peace and Security than as the Prime Minister who Pleaded the Fifth."


"Resume Targeted Killings"


Evelyn Gordon maintained in conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (1/20):  "A sober consideration of the consequences of targeted killings favors the conclusion that Israel ought to resume them--because according to both Palestinian and European testimony, Israel's last campaign of targeted killings was the main reason why Hamas refrained from suicide bombings for the last four months....  Israel's first obligation is to provide security for its citizens--even if that means defying foreign governments which value the life of 'a leading figure of a Palestinian terrorist organization' above the lives of innocent Israelis. The evidence shows that targeted killings work.  Therefore, Israel must resume its military pressure on Hamas--and this time, keep it up unrelentingly."


WEST BANK:  “Coercive Displacement Out Of Palestine:  Between Reality And Exaggeration”


Tawfiq Abu Bakr stated in independent Al-Ayyam (1/27):  "The establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has become an option to many Israelis including members of the Likud party, Sharon and Ehud Olmert.  It is also the choice of President Bush, who will most likely remain in power for the next four years, and of the international community.  Even if there have been some strategic mistakes on our side hindering the achievement of this goal, it will continue to be the only possible solution....  I would like to say here that whoever wants to stifle the voices calling for ‘forced migration’ must at the same time be willing to support moderate Palestinian voices.”


"And What If Cheney Would Suffer From The Reality Of Occupation?"


Independent Al-Quds asked (1/26):  "In his address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, American Vice President Dick Cheney asserted the need to achieve peace in the Middle East through waging an attack on the Palestinian people and their leadership.  To the amazement of many, his speech raised many questions as to whether the U.S., on whose behalf Cheney spoke, is actually serious in its intention to do any real action to revive the peace process.  We have yet to hear from Cheney or any American official a clear condemnation of the illegal occupation of Palestinian land and the ongoing hostilities and violations carried out by Israel....  The answer to Cheney or any other American official should be that peace and security in this region can only be achieved when Washington shows more seriousness and willingness to end the Israeli occupation.”


"And What Is America Doing To Solve The ‘Palestinian Cause’?”


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (1/24):  "Israeli media outlets reported American assurances to Israel that Washington, positing that the wall is a political issue, not a legal one, opposes holding deliberations at the International Court of Justice at The Hague on the ‘segregation wall’ Israel is constructing in the occupied Palestinian territories.  On the other hand, US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice has confirmed that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been ignoring US messages on the need to evacuate random settlement outposts and ease restriction on the Palestinians....  If Washington believes that the issue of the wall is a political one, and thus can be resolved outside the International Court, how can we explain Israel's total disregard for the opinion of the international community on this issue, including the declared US opposition to the continued construction of the wall and the rapid Israeli efforts to complete the wall’s construction despite the tragic outcomes that it entails?”


"Sharon The Corrupted:  Is This The End Of The Journey?"


Ashraf Ajrami opined in independent Al-Ayyam (1/23):  "There are many indications that Sharon will resign much earlier than expected.  Even if a bill of indictment has not been submitted against him, he can’t, in light of the current political Israeli reality, complete the three years remaining in his term.  However, if charges are brought against him, this will undoubtedly push for his early resignation....  Nevertheless, the internal Israeli political situation is not immune from foreign influence, particularly that of the U.S. which doesn’t seem satisfied with Sharon, as President Bush did not mention him in his State of the Union Speech.  Some believe America has its role in crafting Israeli elections and influencing their results.  Whatever the case might be, at this stage the political chaos in Israel will seriously harm the Palestinian situation if used as a justification for a military escalation to cover for [Sharon’s] scandals.”


"Bush In The State Of The Union"


Adli Sadek commented in official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (1/23):  "Bush’s not mentioning the conflict in Palestine has taken him back to square one, where he started his term.  Since then, he has given Sharon freedom to use a war machine against a people whose land he [Sharon] is occupying....  While dropping the Middle East issue in his speech, there appeared an announcement that American envoys will be sent to the region to talk with both sides (Israelis and Palestinians) to stop the confrontations.  Most likely, by not mentioning the conflict in his speech, George W. Bush wants to allow Sharon to handle matters, with support from his [Bush’s] envoys, to...overcome his internal crisis.”


“Israel: From Occupation To Racial Separation”


Rajab Abu Siriyeh commented in independent Al-Ayyam (1/20):  "As the International Court of Justice prepares to hold its first session on February 23 in The Hague to discuss the legal aspects of the Israeli separation wall, Palestinian and Israeli preparations are being accelerated....  Dov Weisglass, head of the Israeli steering committee on the International Court issue, will soon head to Washington on his second visit in two weeks to coordinate the two countries’ positions on this issue.  It seems that Sharon’s preference is to get American support prior to making decisions regarding the issue at The Hague. Weisglass will be examining Washington’s willingness to back Israel in its judicial battle and the amount of pressure Washington will be willing to exert on other international parties, particularly Europe, to ensure that the case does not become a hearing against the occupation.”


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Israel's Arrogance"


Makkah's conservative Al-Nadwa declared editorialized (1/18):  "Israel's intention to go back to the policy of assassination of members of the resistance's leadership is a provoking message to the Palestinian people, and the entire international community. It's a loud and clear violation of every international norm or convention. Therefore, the Palestinian resistance will not cease unless Israel delivers a real peace initiative, and cooperates positively with previous peace plans. The U.S. wants Israel to reconsider the consequences of its actions, and the E.U. has expressed its aversion to the return to the assassination policy. The Palestinians must be protected, and serious action is required to put an end to the continuous Israeli aggressive policies."  


"Sharon And The Vicious Circle"


Jeddah's conservative Al-Madina noted (1/18):  "Sharon has not learned from his long experience with the Palestinian resistance. The resistance might be subdued at time, and might be violent at other times. Resistance leaders have been captured, hunted and imprisoned by successive Israeli governments, but they proved consecutively that they are capable of persevering. After every blow they receive, they bandage their wounds and reorganize to deliver heavy blows....  Sharon and those like him, who only understand the language of violence, do not dare to admit, nor do they want to realize this fact. And the vicious circle continues."


"The Culture Of Violence In Palestine"


Jaser Al-Jaser wrote in Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira (1/15):  "Yesterday's suicide bomb in Gaza in addition to previous ones and the prevailing culture of violence in Palestine...their responsibility falls on the one who has sowed policies of death, repression and frustration in the land of Palestine."


"Israel's Responsibility"


Jeddah's conservative Al-Madina editorialized (1/15):  "The failure of Sharon to bring peace and security to his country is enough reason for him to resign.  Three years of empty promises and repeated defeats have passed.  Not only did Sharon fail in resolving the conflict, he also failed to realize that the intensity of the fierce Palestinian resistance, he and his people are facing, only gets worse as he increases his aggressions against Palestinian civilians.  It is wrong to blame the Palestinian chairman or the Palestinian Authority for the latest suicide operation near the Erez border crossing.  This mission and others are a natural reaction to Israel's massacres of innocent women and children, and more importantly they are a reaction to the international silence about their stolen rights. These operations would only stop if Israel withdrew from the occupied territories and established an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."


JORDAN:  "The Meaning Of Cheney's Speech"


Fahd Fanek averred in semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai (1/27):  "Cheney did not criticize Sharon's action, nor did he ask for putting a stop to the building of the racist wall, nor did he call for the implementation of the roadmap.  All these aspects may disturb Israel.  But he did ask for changing the Palestinian leadership, for ending the Authority's corruption, for proliferating democracy and transparency and for eliminating terrorism.  After all this, there are still some who believe that America holds 99% of the capability to achieve solution or that it intends to equally pressure both the Palestinian and the Israeli parties to achieve a settlement that would fulfill international resolutions and legitimacy, as well as human rights, principles and values that America is calling for.  America is not an honest broker and can never be so.  America is Israel's strategic ally, even if that obstructs its alleged war against terrorism and defames its image in the Arab world and badly affects its vital interests in the region.  The American-Israeli relationship is not a passing political one.  It is a permanent strategic relationship, and America will stand by Israel, protect it inside its borders and the territories it occupies, and will continue to guarantee Israel's military superiority over all the Arab countries. America will continue to be completely biased in favor of Israel, so long as this bias is not costing America anything.  The Arab regimes are racing to gain America's blessings in order to stay in power, and so America will never reconsider its biased policies in favor of Israeli aggressions until this bias becomes very costly.  The Arab regimes cannot force America to pay the cost for its bias because they lack legitimacy."


"Cheney's Remarks: More Disappointment"


Center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour held (1/25):  "Shortly after President Bush's state of the union address, where he avoided talking about peace in the Middle East, came Vice President Cheney's remarks in Davos, raising questions about the future of peace and stability in the region and the world....  Once again, the Vice President addressed the Palestinian and Israeli leadership on the basis of double standards.  We do not differ with him that 'terrorism' harms the Palestinian people's cause, nor with his call for establishing a genuine Palestinian democracy, but to turn a blind eye to Israel's state terrorism remains as one of the elements of contention with the U.S. administration....  We will not go into the reasons that make U.S. officials deal nicely with Israel, particularly during the presidential elections season.  But we do like to remind everyone that most of the hatred for the United States stems from the U.S. going along with Israel in its aggression against the Palestinian people and the U.S. denial of Arab rights....  Mr. Cheney's gentle demand that the Israeli prime minister ease the suffering of the Palestinian people and not do anything that would jeopardize the two-state solution in the future means nothing to Israel....  It is our right to feel sorry and disappointed with the continuation of the double standards and the bias in favor of Israel....  We had hoped that the U.S. administration would realize that the only way to put an end to violence and to give security and stability a chance is to impose peace on the basis of justice, a peace that ends occupation."


"Cheney Who Was Silent Forever"


Khaled Mahadin wrote in semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai (1/25):  "The same tense language used by President George Bush in his state of the union address was used by his Vice President Dick Cheney before the Davos summit: a language that does not speak of values and principles, nor does it call for compassion and a humane society, but rather threatens with the gun and the missile....  He attacked the Palestinian leadership because it did not join the Sharon leadership in its terrorist war against the Palestinian people, and failed to mention Israel's terrorism.  What he, and all the U.S. administration before him, said about the Palestinians, people and leadership, is enough to show that Washington seeks to exterminate the Palestinians completely as the only solution to the Israeli-Israeli conflict.  Washington and London did not ask the Israeli entity to abide by international legitimacy, nor to stop the terrorist war against the Palestinians, and nor did they talk about the entity's nuclear and biological arsenal.  This policy of the United States against Arabs and Muslims and their causes contributes greatly to changing the standoff between the Arab nation and its enemies from a confrontation to a holy confrontation."


"Sharon's Warning Will Only Make Us Stronger"


Center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour stated (1/20):  "With rejection and denunciation, Jordan's political arena received Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's warnings to Jordan about the repercussion of Jordan continuing its campaign against the racist/colonialist separation wall....  As Jordanians, we are proud and honored of the role that our leadership and our government is playing in the national battle against the policy of racist isolation and the New Berlin Wall.  Jordan, leadership and people, past, present and future will continue to support the Palestinians' legitimate and just right to freedom and independence, self-determination and to establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.  Jordan, in its political, diplomatic and judicial battle against the racist wall of separation, is actually defending its own strategic security and its national interests....  We express our pride and underscore our faith in the stances and policies of our Hashemite leadership and our government, and we say that this position will only become more firm and solid in the face of the rude warnings of Israeli officials.  Nothing is going to dissuade us, not for a single moment, from providing all help and support to our brotherly people west of the river until that day when they attain their freedom and independence."


"Rejected Threats"


Semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai editorialized (1/20):  "Because there is no alternative to just and balanced peace and because the will of the international community, the human community and the Israeli moderates agree with that principle, the Israeli government is the one that bears full responsibility for impeding the peace process and the resulting repercussions on its relations with the Arab world.  Instead of hailing irresponsible accusation and empty threats, it would be better to listen to the voice of reason and to stop usurping lands and rights and differentiating between peoples' suffering, for this is a sure recipe for endless struggles.  What is required is to strengthen and build on what has been achieved in the peace settlements and to fulfill, before it is too late, the peace requirements, and to stop playing with minds and ridiculing other people's intelligence."


"Three Israeli Trends In The Face Of The Syrian Initiative"


Abu Yazan wrote in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour (1/19):  "Three Israeli trends have risen in response to the Syrian call for resuming negotiations, and not a single one is serious.  They indicate the absence of Israeli partners for making peace....  The common link among the three trends is namely the lack of readiness to make peace, be that in the format of rejection, reservation or maneuvering....  Israel is not ready to make peace with Syrian.  The Israeli proposals for Damascus are hard to swallow, and it is likely that the Syrian track will stay in limbo until a year after the [U.S.] elections."


"Sharon And Three Years Of Breaking China!"


Raja Talab observed in semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai (1/19):  "When Ariel Sharon was elected in March 2001, most observers expected him to fail drastically and quickly end his political life.  All expectations saw him as a raging bull in a china shop, breaking everything with every move.  However, these expectations did not materialize.  True, Sharon is Sharon, a raging bull, but he invested everything towards making the breaking of china a legitimate thing, starting with the protective wall in April 2000, through the policy of assassinations, to shelving the roadmap, and the building the separation wall, all the way to bombing the heart of Damascus.  Sharon dedicated the three years of his term in the Israeli government to breaking everything, and succeeded with flying colors in taking everything back to square one. The question is: how did Sharon manage to implement his program (the breaking of china) so successfully without significant obstacles?  There are a number of factors that contributed, and continue to contribute, to giving him the ability to continue his policy of keeping the peace process in the square one.  The first of these factors is the U.S. bias, which has always been present, but which became more strongly in favor of Sharon as a result of various Palestinian and Arab mistakes and regional developments.  As for the Palestinian mistakes, they are as follows:  The Intifada and the lack of a political program.... The failure of the PA to invest the events of 9/11 to bring it closer to the U.S....  The PA's evasive approach towards the security requirements of the roadmap by trying to achieve a military truce with opposition factions, which made the Authority's security decision subject to these factions' political and regional interests."


LEBANON:  “Israeli Violation On American Time”


Rafiq Khoury opined in centrist Al-Anwar (1/21):  “The status quo in the Middle East cannot continue as is just because this year is a presidential year in the U.S.  The Arab-Israeli conflict, which the Bush Administration wants to merge with its war on terror, cannot be left as is until the U.S. project in Iraq is completed....  Furthermore, the status quo along the blue line between Israel and Lebanon is not far from escalation.  The Resistance practiced its legitimate right in shelling the Israeli bulldozer which was inside Lebanese territory in the midst of the daily Israeli violation of Lebanese airspace and water...but as usual, Israel held Lebanon and Syria responsible for keeping the Resistance...The picture is clear:  Sharon's government is ready to go to war anytime...but is not ready for peace on the Palestinian nor on the Lebanese-Syrian tracks....  However, the biggest problem is not that the Bush Administration is busy with the presidential elections...but the fact is that it never wanted to put its weight in the peace process.”


“Hizballah:  The Resistance Command Specifies The Time, Place And Nature Of Response To (Israeli) Attacks”


Hussein Zalghout wrote in pro-Sunni Al-Liwa’ (1/21):  “A first reading of the Israeli response against the Resistance’s operation shows us that the Israelis are confused.  They know that Lebanon today is different than Lebanon 1982, in the sense that Israel can no longer guarantee the results of any military operation against Lebanon today, particularly in north Israel which is exposed to the Resistance....  A Hizballah Media official said that the Hizballah operation was a defensive act....  The same source believes that Israel will not escalate the situation....  The UN has already confirmed that the party which violated the blue line was Israel....  The same source also reminded that Israel killed on December 9 two Lebanese citizens who were hunting near the blue line.  At that point in time, Lebanon complied with the international will and did not escalate the situation.”


"The 3 Levels Of Futility In Israeli Policies"


The English-language moderate Daily Star declared (1/21):  "Israel’s bulldozing Tuesday of 30 houses and a mosque in the Palestinian refugee camp of Rafah was an act of monumental futility on three levels, each of which further banishes any hopes of a negotiated peace with the Israeli leadership and dooms Palestinians and Israelis to long-term warfare.  At the first level, Israel’s destruction of homes and a mosque guarantees that new recruits will join the Palestinian resistance in order to fight and kill Israelis. The Israeli policy of promoting wholesale homelessness among the Palestinians by destroying houses and mosques and ravaging communities has only led to fiercer resistance from an ever-widening circle of ordinary people--most recently a Palestinian mother of two who killed herself in order to kill Israelis.  At the second level, Israel reveals its moral and intellectual blindness when it says it is only demolishing homes from which shots were fired at Israeli troops. The Jewish experience in history should be the most compelling reminder that you can kill people without using bullets--that hate, prejudice, discrimination and racism can kill you as conclusively as a gun or a missile. The Israeli policy now being implemented will ensure that Palestinians, along with hundreds of millions of other Arabs, Muslims and Christians around the world who reject Israel’s policies, will react by resisting and opposing Israel. Anti-Israeli and even anti-Jewish sentiments may increase in response to these policies....  At the third level, Israel remains oblivious that its claims of wanting to make peace with its neighbors are badly contradicted by its actions, such as building the apartheid-vintage separation barrier and announcing plans to increase settlements on the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. If Israel continues to occupy, expand, kill and destroy in its relations with its neighbors, and at the same time invites Palestinians and Syrians to negotiate a full peace, it will find it has neither partners for peacemaking nor any credibility.  The Palestinians can be faulted for leadership inadequacies and policy mistakes, but they pale against the magnitude and negative impact of Israel's actions. The sad conclusion is that Palestinians and Israelis do not have enough incentives or motives to break out of this cycle of warfare and stalemated diplomacy. The war will go on, driven primarily by the blind militarism of the Israeli leadership."


“Hizballah: No One Will Be Able To Impose New Realities In The Field Through Trickery”


Ibrahim Al-Amin maintained in Arab nationalist As-Safir (1/20):  “Let us start from the South!  What happened yesterday is no more than an incident in the field which is not intended to pave the way to anything of political nature....  Israeli logistical units have been engaged in shoveling and trees in areas along the border...using a huge armored bulldozer....  The Israelis say that they are removing the mine fields that are being planted by the resistance....  Yesterday, the resistance fighters were monitoring the Israeli activity...the bulldozer progressed about 40 meters inside Lebanese territory....  The resistance documented the bulldozer’s progress minute by minute...using photographs that might be needed by U.N. investigators....  The resistance decided to use a missile known for its accurate aims.  It exploded inside the bulldozer....  How does Hizballah explain what happened?  A Hizballah source...says that the resistance believes that it has every right to confront any violation by Israel in sea, airspace, and on the ground....  The resistance will not accept any kind of violations under any circumstances...which means that what happened yesterday was a reaction to Israeli violation and a defensive response against a clear direct assault....  Hizballah does not discuss this issue from the angle of possible escalation of the situation...because it does not want to be a victim of political calculations...which will lead to accepting any violation that may be committed by Israel....  Countering an attack should be the rule and the norm...even if it leads to escalation.  The resistance message is clear: Israeli violations will not be accepted...and the resistance will not accept that Israel transforms the Lebanese side of the border into a land available to what the Israelis want.”


OMAN:  "Let's Curb The Israeli Violence"


Semi-independent Arabic-language Al-Watan declared (1/25):  "American politicians have run out of ideas and methods for dealing with Sharon and can do nothing more than criticize Arabs, especially the PA, by playing the same broken record--accusing them of terrorism. [Officials] are completely unable to prevent Sharon from destroying the road map, constructing the separation wall, expanding settlements, and assassinating Palestinian leaders....  Cheney’s speech is a result of the shameful orchestration of roles in which Powell was given that of accusing Syria, Lebanon, and Iran, of supporting terrorism and commenting on Hizbollah’s reaction against Israeli attacks on UN recognized borders. Cheney accused the Palestinian Authority and then Bush ignored everything related to Middle East issues as if there were no 'map' to offer a solution....  These Arabs who Cheney described as 'uncivilized' responded to Washington's plans to fight international terrorism and are helping to reveal their fanatic factions, yet they maintain a differentiation between the legitimate Palestinian issue and international terrorism.”


SYRIA:  "Not A New Position"


An unsigned editorial in government-owned Al-Ba'th read (1/27):  "The latest example of US-Israeli harmony was the US announcement on supporting Israel's position on the International Court of Justice debate on the legality of the racist separation wall, and the US's pledge to continue pressure on some countries to remove this case from the ICJ debate under the pretext that this case is political not criminal and that debate on the issue will affect the chance for boosting the Roadmap....  Washington might go too far in adopting Israeli positions, but it should realize that it is taking a big risk by this as it is supporting a terrorist like Sharon....  For three years, Israel has been busy implementing Sharon's advice, but things are getting worse, especially if the ICJ will convict Sharon officially within the next coming days....  If the beginning of the election season in Washington requires a specific way to deal with Sharon for election reasons, it will be useful for the US Administration to realize that by adopting a spoiled politician and not seeing the real state of affairs, the US will only unleash more Israeli terrorism and push the region toward explosion."


"A Futile Policy"


Mohamd Khair al-Jamali noted in government-owned Al-Thawra (1/23):  "The UN has eliminated any political dispute over the causes of the recent Israeli assault in south Lebanon. Its investigations concluded that the Israeli bulldozer, which was destroyed by Lebanese resistance, had violated Lebanese territory, a thing that required a response on the part of the resistance to defend Lebanon's sovereignty....  Why did Israel commit this provocative action in south Lebanon at this specific time?  There are two reasons for this: the first is Sharon's domestic dilemma and his failure to fulfill his election promises...the second pertains to the US elections...which Sharon is exploiting to blackmail the US Administration and make it support his aggressive behavior due to its need for the Jewish Lobby to support the Bush's election campaign. This was quite obvious in some US statements, which included incomprehensible and illogical justifications of the recent Israeli escalation in south Lebanon....  But events have proved the futility of Sharon's policy of exporting his crises....  The only solution for Sharon's dilemma is for him to stop his policy of aggression and intimidation and work seriously to achieve a just and comprehensive peace."


UAE:  "Personification Of The Israeli Psyche"


The English-language pro-government Gulf News editorialized (1/21):  "Israel has deep-rooted ethos of using military action to ensure its survival. The reliance on military strength has taken Tel Aviv into perverted policies, in which the government refuses to countenance finding peace through negotiations based on equality. An illustration of how deeply this perversion has sunk into the Israeli psyche is the interview with academic historian Professor Benny Morris....  Morris has supported the so-called security wall as a cage to lock up a wild animal; he refused to condemn the massacres and mass-transfers of population in the late 1940s and 1950s; and he spoke of the possible need for more mass expulsions in five to ten years. All this from a man who once voted for the peace party Shelli, and was jailed for refusing to serve in the Israeli military in the Occupied Territories.  Morris' political journey from peace dove to becoming a supporter of more transfers is a sad confirmation of the barrenness of Israeli politics and its failure to achieve any real dialogue with the Arabs. He does not expect to find peace, and he has stopped looking for it. He is an example of what is so terribly wrong in Israel."


"Collective Silence Is Strange"


Government-owned business-oriented Arabic-language Dubai-based Al-Bayan held (1/21):  "Israel’s decision to target Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was expected....  What are strange are the collective silence of the Arab countries and the absence of condemnations that the Arab street has become accustomed to....  Arab governments’ silence over Israeli threats against Yassin could be due to their preoccupation with internal issues, accompanied by external pressures, to carry out domestic reforms....  It was impossible to carry out reforms while the Arab dignity is facing constant humiliation in the Palestinian occupied land."




CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Israel--The Missing Nuclear Power"


Sunanda Kisor Datta-Ray held in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (1/20):  "With Iraq vanquished, Libya earning kudos from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and European foreign policy chief Javier Solana applauding Iran's efforts to dispel concerns about its nuclear program, U.S. President George W. Bush has an opportunity of rationalizing American policy on proliferation....  But it is in the Middle East that the U.S. must be--and must be seen to be--principled if its policing is to command respect....  Israel has shown that its conventional forces can contain the Palestinians, with their crude homemade weapons and expendable lives, and defeat any conceivable combination of Arab armies.  Its weapons of mass destruction are thus militarily redundant. But such a potent symbol of power serves a political purpose that also creates its own imbalance.  Hence, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's plea for talks to create conditions where no [Middle East] nation would have a need for any weapons of mass destruction.  Stability demands a balanced power equation.  IAEA chief Mohammed El Baradei also calls for peace talks and disarmament....  Saudi Arabia's strategic review and Oman's complaints to the IAEA have revived fears of an Arab bomb.  Mr. Bush cannot afford to ignore this danger. Already, he can be said to have condoned the nuclearization of India and Pakistan in the interests of the war on terrorism.  The Middle East is one of the world's most volatile regions.  Peace is at stake there.  So is U.S. credibility."



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