International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

April 19, 2004

April 19, 2004





**  Critics label the U.S.' "dramatic and alarming shift" proof it is not an honest broker.

**  Muslim writers predict a "wave of indignation and anger" leading to more violence.

**  Supporters claim Israel's "partial retreat" will give "momentum to the stalled peace process."




Bush decided to 'align himself with the Israeli right'--  Papers worldwide criticized Washington for its "blind backing" of Sharon's "audacious demands" regarding settlements on the West Bank and the Palestinian right of return.  India's centrist Hindu for one assailed the U.S. for trying to "impose a settlement on Israeli terms."  Palestinian papers claimed Bush's "puzzling, odd and dangerous" remarks show "ultimate bias towards Israel"; independent Al-Ayyam said neither Bush nor Sharon has the "right to determine the destiny of Palestinians without even consulting with them."  Several dailies cited the upcoming U.S. election for the shift, with Belgium's financial De Tijd seeing an attempt to "seduce the Jewish voters."


The U.S.' 'radical change' means the 'roadmap is dead'--  The U.S.' "decisive turnaround" means Bush has "abandoned the position of the impartial broker."  Muslim writers agreed that the U.S. has "lost all credibility with the Arabs" given the "new U.S. policy of relinquishing Palestinian rights."  While a Saudi editorial said Bush's endorsement of Sharon "ruined" U.S. credentials as a peacemaker, the UAE's expatriate-oriented Gulf News added that "friends of the U.S. in the region are left further betrayed and exposed."  Liberal outlets declared the "peace process is dead"; Israel's Ha'aretz termed "Bush's support of Sharon's disengagement plan...the death knell for the roadmap."


'Palestinian resistance will not take this lying down'--  Euro critics labeled Bush's statements "the best recipe for a terrorist war," as they have "thrown a sea of boiling oil on the fire" in the Islamic world.  Austria's centrist Die Presse asserted "Bush is paving the way for more terror," while Spain's left-of-center El Pais fretted "Europe will end up paying" for "Palestinian anger."  Muslim writers stressed Arabs cannot accept this "new American Balfour declaration" made "at the expense of the Palestinian people."  Pakistan's liberal Daily Times noted that "more violence is definitely in the cards," while the pro-government Bahrain Daily Tribune warned the U.S. is "pushing the Palestinians to fight to the last man." 


Sharon's 'important and correct' plan offers a 'historic opportunity'--  Several centrist and conservative dailies praised Bush's statement as "expediting Israel's exit from Gaza," which helps prepare "the ground for honest negotiations."  Germany's centrist Der Tagesspiegel noted the "revolutionary character" of the plan, with Sharon becoming "Israel's first prime minister to remove settlements" from the occupied territories.  Israel's popular Yediot Aharonot concluded that the Palestinians "did not have the sense to offer anything but more terror and, therefore, lost" the PR battle.  Hardline Israeli dailies opposed Sharon's plan, calling it a "terrible gamble" because Bush "made no real commitment" about any final status arrangement.


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 99 reports from 33 countries over 14 - 19 April 2004.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Dangerous Liaisons"


The left-of-center Guardian held (4/16):  "President Bush described the Sharon plan as both historic and courageous--but in truth it is neither of these, and nor is it likely to be accepted by any of the other parties involved.  Based on Yasser Arafat's reaction yesterday, this plan will only be a recipe for further conflict....  The outcome places the 'roadmap' for a Middle East peace settlement in tatters....  The end result of Wednesday's announcement is that Mr. Sharon is delighted, Mr. Bush has been compromised as an honest broker in the Middle East, and Mr. Blair simply looks weak.  Meanwhile, many Israelis and Palestinians are angry, because the future of their two countries should not be carved up in the smug-filled rooms of Washington."


"Rhetoric And Reality:  The Bush-Sharon Talks And The Middle East Peace Process"


The conservative Times editorialized (4/16):  "The reaction to George W. Bush's meeting with Ariel Sharon in Washington has overwhelmed its substance....  The president rightly calculated that expediting Israel's exit from Gaza is the best means of offering momentum to the stalled peace process....  The White House requires Mr. Sharon to defeat his internal opponents, but it must search for a Palestinian partner with whom it can conduct a dialogue.  Mr. Bush has prepared the ground for honest negotiations about the Middle East.  He needs to make it plain to all the credible actors in the region that he will work to create a secure Israel and a viable Palestine."


"Bush's Gift To Ariel Sharon"


The independent Financial Times opined (4/16):  "By endorsing Ariel Sharon's disengagement plans, President George W. Bush has initiated a dramatic and alarming shift in US Middle East policy, tilting it firmly towards Israel and undermining America's role as an honest broker in the conflict....  The new U.S. attitude will also inflame anti-US sentiment in the wider Muslim and Arab world, which has been urging the Bush administration to adopt a more even-handed policy towards the Arab-Israeli conflict.  It will also make it more difficult for the US's Middle East allies to help in restoring order to the American occupation of Iraq.  Mr. Bush's policy shift serves the interests of Mr. Sharon but it is far from clear that it will advance American interests in the region."


"Sharon's Audacity Reaps Reward"


Stephen Farrell noted in the conservative Times (4/15):  "Simply put, George Bush has accepted Ariel Sharon’s road map, not the other way around.  Not since his tanks captured the Mitla Pass in the Six-Day War has the veteran Israeli politician gained such instant and tangible rewards for audacity.  Two years ago Mr Bush’s Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had to be quickly slapped down by the State Department when he rewrote decades of US foreign policy on the hoof and referred to settlements in the 'so-called occupied territories'....  Yesterday Mr Rumsfeld’s boss went much further, embracing some of the Jewish settlements regarded by virtually everyone as illegal under international law and by successive US administrations as 'obstacles to peace'....  Last night the Palestinians were left spluttering and incredulous....  They are angry already.  They will become angrier.  And the reverberations will echo around the Middle East, from Gaza to Beirut, and from Fallujah to Najaf."


"How Sharon Won U.S. Backing For Gaza strategy"


Suzanne Goldenberg claimed in the left-of-center Guardian (4/15):  "Nearly 15 years after the first president Bush established the idea under the Madrid accords that peace in the Middle East was impossible unless the Palestinians were brought into the equation, his son appeared yesterday to have lost faith in the idea of a negotiated peace between Israel and its closest Arab neighbor.  The contours of Gaza--and possibly the West Bank--could now be dictated by Israel....  With the Bush administration distracted by events in Iraq, Mr. Sharon has been able to dictate his terms.  'Sharon took a step in many ways that was revolutionary for him in the withdrawal from Gaza.  He is showing real leadership, and when you have a leadership vacuum, the leader that has a plan is going to prevail,' said Edward Walker, a former US ambassador to Israel.  'There is no American leadership in the process, and certainly I don’t see any leadership among the Palestinians'....  Mr Bush is in dire need of a foreign policy success as the costs of America’s invasion of Iraq escalate.  With no end in sight to an insurrection that has begun to inflict heavy casualties on US military forces and the entire project in Iraq, Washington finds it prudent to fall back on a reliable ally: Israel."


FRANCE:  "The Bush-Sharon Plan"


Left-of-center Le Monde maintained (4/16):  "On April 14 President Bush announced a radical change in the official position of the U.S. regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Until now Washington considered it important for both sides to decide on future borders, thus preserving the idea of a give-and-take negotiation....  Until now, Washington, wanting to play the role of impartial broker, did not take sides.  But President Bush has abandoned the position of the impartial broker.  He is now defending the position of one of the two protagonists, adopting Sharon’s stance, and accepting the fait accompli of the West Bank settlements, which have been considered illegal by the UN....  He has granted nothing to the Palestinians as a counterpart to the advantage given to Sharon....  President Bush is adopting Sharon’s stance....  He had previously made another step in the direction of the Israeli right by acknowledging that Arafat was not a legitimate interlocutor....  President Bush’s position, far from being 'realistic,' is a gesture that makes it very difficult for talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians to resume.”


"Bush’s Support For Sharon Triggers Palestinian Anger"


Marc Henry stated in right-of-center Le Figaro (4/16):  “Mission accomplished for Sharon in Washington....  Just as the ‘Bush effect’ could be felt immediately in the Likud, reaction among the Palestinians was also quick....  Secretary Powell tried to soften the blow but with little success.  The Palestinians are now counting on the Europeans and Arab nations close to Washington to convince President Bush that he must change his approach.  But such pressures were already made on Washington last week, obviously without any results.”


“Bush And Sharon Go Beyond The ‘Green Line’”


Jacques Kerem noted in left-of-center Liberation (4/16):  “President Bush’s declarations are without precedent....  Not only has he approved Sharon's plan, he has also implicitly sent a direct message to the members of the Likud who are to vote on May second.”


GERMANY:  "American Candies"


Joerg Bremer commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (4/16):  "Only Israel's retreat can rescue the Israeli identity and democracy.  Since the Likud party has not yet understood this, the White House had to get some candies out.  They arrived, but it is now important to give power to the mature, democratic Palestinian elite, who will need it if the autonomy government should become a partner on the path to peace in the Middle East."


"The Road Map Is Dead"


Mariam Lau remarked in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (4/16):  "Now it is clear: the road map is dead.  15 years after his father realized in Madrid that there would be no peace as long as Palestinians are not sitting at the table, George W. Bush declared that the Israeli government will be the only negotiation partner in the future, giving it the red carpet treatment.   This, and not so much the concessions to settlers in the West Bank, is fatal diplomacy."


"Betraying Peace"


Wolfgang Koydl wrote in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (4/16):  "Terrorist murder gangs are only interested in destroying Israel and getting America down on its knees.  They are not interested in freedom and democracy.  One cannot negotiate with them or find compromises.  But Bush overlooks that America needs allies if he wants to realize his massive project of a democratic Middle East, where Arabs and Jews live together in peace and prosperity.  Such allies exist.  They are intellectuals, trade unionists, businessmen and in particular women, living between Morocco and Pakistan and desiring a life without paternalism and arbitrariness.  America needs them and they need America.  But Bush betrayed them."


"Productive Demands"


Clemens Wergin argued in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (4/16):  "Some criticism is justified, but one should not underestimate the revolutionary character of the enterprise.  Sharon has broken with the ideology of his party and the settlement movement.  If Likud agrees, Sharon will be Israel's first prime minister to remove settlements from Palestinian territory.  Even his predecessors Rabin, Perez or Barak did not dare that.  Those who belittle Sharon's plan as conspiracy waste a historic opportunity.  Israel's partial retreat is important and correct." 


"Sharon's Plan--Bush's Election"


Stefan Kornelius declared in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (4/15):  "Sharon went to Washington with extortive intentions.   He knows the political calendar and knows that the Bush government is not able to counteract his flat-footed policy this spring.  It is even worse:   The President doesn't want to force his guest to keep alive the roadmap, which was so arduously balanced.    The Middle East policy and the violent confrontation with the Arab world turned into a shabby piece of the American election campaign when Sharon mentioned the word Florida.  Four years ago, the election was decided in Florida under dramatic circumstances, where Jewish votes play an important role.   Bush worked hard to get their support and he is paying a lot to keep it.  The price will be high:  the initiative for the greater Middle East excludes the Israeli-Palestinian problem and remains therefore a utopia.  Secondly, Bush accepted Sharon's autism and is no longer a mediator between the two parties, ignoring the Palestinian side.  And thirdly, he does no longer put limits to Sharon.   Sharon presses ahead blindly, retreats from Gaza, but names the settlements Israel wants to keep in the West Bank.  He changes the Green Line and finally destroys the peace plan.  Bush allows him to do it--and helps destroying it."


"West Bank"


Andreas Cichowicz commented on ARD-TV's (national channel one) late evening newscast Tagesthemen (4/14):  "This is a day of triumph for Israel's Prime Minister Sharon, his chutzpa, his obstinacy.  It is a catastrophic day for Palestinians....  According to Sharon's own words, a Palestinian state will be averted for years with the settlements in the West Bank.  But President Bush had promised Palestinians this state.  Today he betrayed their hopes.  Palestinians bear the blame for it to a large extent, since they gambled away their future with violence.  America is now acting in the Middle East as a dominant power with Israel as its junior partner....  Palestinians see President Bush's unilateral endorsement of Israel's political map as the ultimate humiliation. As a result, many more Arabs will hate the U.S. and the West....  You can't win the fight against terror by provoking new terror, affronting people and believing in the power of guns."


ITALY:  “Bush’s And Sharon’s ‘Peace'--Fatal Blow To Palestinians”


An editorial in conservative, top-circulation syndicate Il Resto del Carlino/La Nazione/Il Giorno read (4/16):  "The boulder that U.S. President George W. Bush threw into the pond of the Middle Eastern crisis, breaking two decades-long diplomatic taboos--the Palestinians’ ‘right of return’ and the intangibility of the 1948 borders--yesterday had the effect of an electroshock on Palestinian leaders and the Arab world, causing a wave of indignation and anger....  The American shift on the Middle Eastern issue, however, not only infuriates the Palestinians, but it deepens the divergences between Brussels and Washington: the EU yesterday openly manifested its disapproval of Bush’s support for the Israeli plan.”


"Withdrawal From Gaza, Arafat Erupts In Anger"


Gian Micalessin asserted in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (4/16):  “For Yasser Arafat and for the Palestinians, it’s the worst political defeat of all times.  This defeat came about during the short meeting on Wednesday between Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush.  This meeting wiped away the dream of a Palestinian state along the borders established before 1967....  After this blow, it will be very hard, if not impossible, to claim back all of the West Bank and a large part of East Jerusalem....  In a speech...Arafat claimed that 'the Palestinians will never give up on their objective to reach freedom, independence and national sovereignty around the capital Jerusalem.'  This time, however, Arafat’s promises sounded like empty slogans.  His proclamations were crushed in the handshake between Sharon and Bush....  Bush’s shift has paradoxically strengthened Hamas’ propaganda, whose spokesperson Mohammed al Hindi underscores with satisfaction that Bush ‘delivered the final blow to the roadmap’ and that ‘he demonstrated the hostility of the U.S. administration towards the Palestinian cause."


“Bush To Sharon, Go Ahead To Gaza Withdrawal”


Ennio Caretto opined in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (4/15):  “Bush, the first U.S. President to pursue a goal that aims for the formation of a Palestinian state, gave his blessing to Israeli Premier Sharon’s plan. By receiving the PM at the White House, he endorsed the thesis that Israel has a right to retain some of its settlements in the West Bank. But he denied that the Palestinian refugees have a right to return to their lands of origin in Israel....  This shift was somewhat expected, but all the same traumatic: following his meeting with Sharon....  The President has reversed the policy of all his predecessors, including his father’s. Bush is well aware of this and he justifies it with a series of warnings to his ally, to whom he guarantees the defense of Israel, while calling for constructive dialogue.”


“Bush: Go Ahead To Sharon Down The Entire Line”


Alberto Pasolini Zanelli observed in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (4/15):  “The ‘Road Map’ is no longer a highway. At the most, it is part of a roadway drawn up by Jerusalem. The Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit with President George W. Bush in Washington marks a further realignment of America’s position to the Israeli one and the U.S.’s acceptance of the unilateral project drawn up by the Prime Minister.”


RUSSIA:  "Palestine By Barter" 


Mikhail Bolotovsky concluded in reformist Vremya Novostei (4/16):  "The result of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to the U.S. is his most serious political victory over the three-odd years in office.  Israel's main ally and security guarantor not only supported the plan of unilateral separation from Palestinians but also agreed to protect six Israeli settlement enclaves in the West Bank.  President George Bush agreed with Israel's demands that Palestinian refugees should return only to the future Palestinian state, and articulated a thought, which had long been circulating in the White House, that Israel's final borders should not necessarily coincide with those drawn in 1949.  The U.S. president noted that in the last few decades the real situation in the region had changed considerably and this should be taken into account when an Israeli-Palestinian agreement is elaborated.  This was yet another concession to Sharon who had long been demanding that Washington recognize the fact that 200,000 Israelis live in the West Bank.  The success of Sharon's mission has already secured more support for his plan of unilateral exit from Gaza Strip among his fellow-members in the Likud party.  The party will hold a referendum among its members on this issue on May 2.  Bush basically supported Sharon's plan to preserve and enlarge the blocks of settlements in the West Bank in exchange for a withdrawal of Israeli settlements from Gaza Strip."


"Bush Tears Up The Roadmap"


Anatoly Andreyev asserted in centrist Trud (4/14):  "Bush supported Sharon's plan of unilateral separation from Palestine and called it a historical and courageous step....  Bush became the first U.S. president who had recognized the legitimacy of Jewish settlements on Palestinian soil.  This signifies a considerable change in the U.S. position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict--a deviation from the roadmap and the UNSC resolutions.  The U.S. president's statement delighted Sharon who is to sell his plan to the ruling Likud party....  Observers believe that the main motive behind Bush's move might have been a hunt for the votes of American Jews who usually support Democrats.  It seems that he doesn't care about his foreign policy image."


AUSTRIA:  “Two Brothers In Spirit In A Fine Mess”


Thomas Vieregge commented in centrist Die Presse (4/16):  “What on earth had gotten into Bush, when he decided to fully back Sharon, his brother in spirit in the war against terror? Was the U.S. President--not exactly an expert in Middle East politics--simply taken in by Sharon, the strategist, the power politician? Did he suffer a political blackout? Does he have disastrous advisors? Or has the circle of violence in the Middle East finally ground him down?....  Bush’s repeated commitment to a Palestinian state now sounds like mockery--according to Sharon’s plans, only a patchy rag rug would remain of the West Bank....  And does anyone really believe that this one-sided partisanship of the U.S. with Israel is not going to affront the Arab world? In view of the precarious situation in Iraq, the U.S. needs moderate Arab partners more than ever. But instead of strengthening the moderate camp, U.S. politics seem set to create even more anger and to motivate the radical forces....  Instead of fighting injustices, Bush is paving the way for more terror. Instead of calling Sharon to reason, Bush has put himself entirely at the mercy of the brawny general by sanctioning Israel’s settlement policy. Sharon and Bush wanted to untie the Gordian knot, but they have just made the mess in the Middle East worse.”


“By Decree From The Superpower”


Gudrun Harrer held in liberal Der Standard (4/16):  “It is hard to understand what motivated Bush to do something that will give rise to even stronger anti-American feelings in the Middle East. The price may be high, but the greater the chaos in Iraq, the closer Bush gets to the point where he really needs every single vote. And part of his potential electorate--not only Jewish voters--sets great store by fulfilling Sharon’s wishes. Even, or maybe particularly in this difficult situation, Bush wants to show that he is coming to the fore in the Middle East: history will have him down as the President who recognized Jewish settlements in occupied territory. Whether he will also go down as the President during whose tenure Israel gave up settlements remains to be seen.“


"Confusing Signals For The Middle East"


Stefan Galoppi noted in mass-circulation independent Kurier (4/16):  “George W. Bush has performed a drastic turnaround in his Middle East policy:  with the blessing of the U.S., Israel may now keep parts of the West Bank, which have been occupied since 1967.  The Palestinian refugees--about four million people, including their children and grandchildren--must now finally give up all hope of ever returning to their old homes.  Bush might even be right when he says that it would be ‘unrealistic’ to have such masses of people move to what today is Israel, and to give up all Jewish settlements in the West Bank--but he should have said so only after negotiating with both Israelis and Palestinians, offering fair compensation for any losses.  But the Palestinian leadership was not involved in this deal, which touches upon one of their most vital interests.  The U.S. president and the Israeli prime minister simply arranged the matter between them.  Many Arabs are now going to feel vindicated in their deep distrust of democracy à la Bush.”


BELGIUM:  "President Bush's Approval Of Sharon's Plan"


Chief editor Yves Cavalier maintained in financial L'Echo (4/16):  "President Bush's approval of Sharon's plan is likely to further complicate the situation in the Near and Middle East....  Some will say that Bush's decision is the result of an electoral calculation and that he hopes to obtain the votes of the Jewish community in the United States.  Such a calculation would be absurd.  The risk is that, when seeing the Arab world's indignant reaction, the situation in the region will flare up again.  The risk is also that the Palestinian question will be compared to the Iraqi resistance question and that it will be taken over by international Islamic terrorists, who are more threatening than ever.  Bush's decision is the kind of decision that terrorists will use as a justification for their action.  It was not the right decision and first and foremost not the right time to take such a geopolitical risk."




Roger Huisman commented in conservative Christian-Democrat Het Belang van Limburg (4/16):  "Doesn't Bush realize that his position is simply increasing tensions between the Western and the anti-Western camps and that he is giving all the terrorists in the world the perfect excuse to carry out even more attacks?....  With Bush's support Sharon is in a more comfortable position to go to the Knesset which he needs to give the green light to his plan.  Hardliners in his own party and coalition partners said that they will cause havoc over the withdrawal from the Gaza strip and a few 'outposts' on the West Bank.  Yesterday, the whole world reacted negatively to Bush's thoughtless approval of Sharon's plan--the entire world, except opportunist British Prime Minister Tony Blair.  Now, the latter will enter history as George Bush's lap dog."


"Israeli Card"


Erik Ziarczyk opined in independent financial De Tijd (4/16):  "It is clear why the American President approved Sharon's plan.  He is extremely weak because of the recent crisis in Iraq.  By fully playing the Israeli card he wants to rally his fundamentalist Christian electorate behind him.  At the same time, he is trying to seduce the Jewish voters--who habitually vote for Democrats.  On his side, Sharon needed Bush's support to break the resistance against his plans in Israel.  With guarantees from Bush in his pocket he is in a position to silence critics at home.  The Palestinians have already said that they have no confidence anymore in U.S. promises.  In their view, the Americans should urgently understand why they have no credibility anymore in the Middle East.  There is no doubt whatsoever that Bush has captured the dying peace process in the Middle East.  The incredible arrogance with which he sank it immediately makes the situation even worse."


"Too Weak"


Paul De Bruyn contended in conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (4/16):  "What is going to happen now?  The Palestinians are too weak to fight the Israeli decision.  They are divided to such an extent and Arafat has so little influence that they cannot but undergo their fate.  But, there are two major dangers.  First, the United States will lose its last grain of influence in the Arab world.  Until now Washington has always had the support of friends like Egyptian President Mubarak and Jordan King Abdallah.  Will the latter continue to give that support if the Americans chose the side of the Israelis too much?  An even bigger danger is that the Palestinians may lose all hope and seek help from Hamas and other extremists who have never wanted peace.  In that case there may come a time when talks are impossible.  Then, the peace process will really be dead."


IRELAND: "Broker Blair"


The center-right populist Irish Independent editorialized (4/16):  "The  Israel-Palestine conflict needs an honest broker. America claims the role but does not fill it. Washington is, and always has been, a staunch friend of Israel, blind to all that country's faults.  President Bush has demonstrated this once again with his wholehearted espousal of Ariel Sharon's plans for the Middle East....  He has torn up the roadmap for peace and seems unwilling to give serious consideration to any pleadings of the Palestinians.  The EU is no position to influence him, but there is one European leader whose advice Mr Bush might ponder and even respect. And Tony Blair will be meeting the president in Washington today.  Britain has supported the U.S. wholeheartedly in Iraq but has managed to keep a more even-sided position on the Middle East. It understands the Arab world and the powerful radicalizing influence that the Palestinian crisis continues to exert.  It would be too much to expect Mr Blair to voice concerns in public. Both he and President Bush are prey to falling ratings that allow neither to change course at this stage.  But a word in private would not go amiss. The truest expression of alliance, as friendship, is the honest account of differences where they exist.”


"Bush And Sharon Bargain On Gaza"


The center-left Irish Times editorialized (4/14):  "On Monday night , he (Sharon) told a group at the largest West Bank settlement...that Israel would keep the West Bank for ‘all eternity’....  He hopes to convince Mr Bush they should be permanently part of Israel under any peace settlement, taking in up to 15 per cent of the pre-1967 West Bank territory which is meant to be handed back to the Palestinians. He wants U.S. assurances there will be no Palestinian right of return to Israel and that withdrawing from any territory would not affect Israel's right to respond militarily against any terrorist attacks from there. These conditions are sought to help convince his Likud party membership to vote for the Gaza plan in a referendum early next month. Some of them continue to believe it is wrong on principle to withdraw, others that a price must be extracted. Hence the assassination of the Islamic leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin last month and these audacious demands on a sympathetic U.S. administration. It is hard to see how Mr Bush can credibly harness such concessions to the road map agreed with the EU, Russia and the UN.  Such a lop-sided agreement would reinforce the image of a U.S.-Israeli alliance in the Middle East rather than the powerful and balanced mediating role Mr Bush wants to project as the military and political difficulties he faces in Iraq mount up.”


NETHERLANDS:  "Fast Forward"


Influential liberal De Volkskrant declared (4/16):  "President Bush used the word courageous to describe Sharon's plans, but is courage really needed for those plans?  Only few Israeli are really attached to the Gaza strip and the area is of little strategic importance....  Sharon would have shown real courage if he had given the internationally supported roadmap for peace a chance and told his supporters that lasting peace can only be achieved by letting go of the idea of Eretz Israel, 'The Land of Israel.'"


"Not Revolutionary, But Disastrous"


Left-of-center Trouw said (4/16):  "For months and months, President Bush has been called on to focus more intensely on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Bush now did so by almost fully supporting Sharon's Gaza plan....  Analysis of the Bush-Sharon agreement shows that Bush's vision is not really revolutionary.  Withdrawal from the Gaza has always been a central part of earlier peace agreements...however, the one-sidedness is revolutionary.  What makes it one-sided is the lack of any urge toward Sharon to make concessions to the Palestinians and particularly the total exclusion of the Palestinians themselves.  An American President who claims he wants to reform the Middle East, should have opted for a more balanced approach.  An approach which took into consideration the interests of the Palestinians, the neighboring countries, and other negotiating parties (EU, UN, Russia)....  But this is a disastrous path."


"Wrong Course"


Influential independent NRC Handelsblad contended (4/15):  "After a long silence in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, US President Bush announced a change in the US Middle East policy....  The roadmap for peace is damaged by Bush's new policy line.   The fait accompli

that the Palestinians lose their claim to land and the right to return to return will create their own violent dynamics.  There will be commotion in the region which, because of Iraq, is already a time bomb.  Bush's change in course has little to do with peace."


NORWAY:  "Sharon's Triumph"


Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten observed (4/16):  "President George W. Bush used only a few sentences on what was to be a decisive turnaround in the U.S. Middle East policy.  By accepting that the Sharon government in practice both annexes occupied areas and unilaterally draws the future borders, the U.S. accepts unquestionable violations of international law, and equally striking violations of resolutions by the UN Security Council.  President Bush acted unwisely, and at the same time sent a strong message to the rest of the world that the U.S. openly supports double standards.  The large number of Americans that ask themselves why their country's credibility is so low elsewhere in the world--not least in Iraq and the remainder of the Middle East--have been given an answer."


"Sensational Turnaround"


Independent VG commented (4/16):  "Prime Minister Sharon has achieved what his predecessors could only dream about; a U.S. acceptance of a plan that involves Israel keeping the largest and most important settlements on the occupied West Bank. This was the result of intense negotiations; not between Israelis and Palestians, like the so-called roadmap calls for....  Palestinian leaders have primarily not been in on this process, and the disappointment and rage is almost tangible....  Moderate and radical Palestinians predicted more death and destruction in the Middle East. There is every reason to fear that those predictions will be fulfilled, that President Bush with his sensational turnaround only will make a bad thing worse."


"The Hawk's Victory"


Line Fransson said in independent Dagbladet (4/16):  "So the hawk Ariel Sharon finally succeeded; to get the blessing from the U.S. to decide on the future of the Palestinians. This is no way to achieve peace....  This is a total deprival of independence for the Palestinians--and no road to peace. This is more like rewarding a bank robber for refusing to stop robbing banks....  The rest of the world condemns the agreements that have been made by Sharon and Bush. Sadly, they could just as well have kept their mouths shut. It's an election year in the U.S. and the Jewish lobby must be pleased. The Palestinians are left to pick up the tab."


PORTUGAL:  "The Ever-Farther Peace"


Associate editor Amílcar Correia wrote in influential center-left Público (4/16):  "The American partiality in the Israeli-Palestinian issue--aggravated during the Bush administration--is incompatible with a genuine peace process.  The White Hose limits itself to corroborate, thanks to its solitary hyperpower status, the unilateral plan proposed by Ariel Sharon for the future of the always postponed Palestine....  But we can conclude that Ariel Sharon has triumphed after receiving the support that he already knew he was going to receive from Washington, and that with it, the U.S. has lost credibility in this process....  Peace in the Middle East is not a process that can be discussed unilaterally with the United States, or that can be resolved through the construction of a wall that the whole world condemns....  Presently, to speak about equality or coexistence in the Arab-Israeli process is a purely utopian concept."


ROMANIA:  "A Big Bluff"


Ileana Cornea remarked in independent Ziua (4/17):  “The plan presented by Sharon to the White House is nothing more than a big bluff.  It is so gross, that the Palestinians immediately grasped it, as the envoys of the American president did, and, undoubtedly, Bush himself did....  The American President thought, maybe, that a new term in the White House is worth the risk of endorsing a peace plan that offers no prospect of peace.  Bush knew to disguise this surrender to Sharon as a negotiated solution....  With their enthusiasm, the two political men played with fire, without considering that they are playing with matches at the end of a slow fuse.”


SPAIN:  "Bush And Sharon"


Jose Maria Carrascal asserted in conservative La Razon (4/16):  "With [his] words, George Bush has sunk, to the bottom of the sea, the whole policy on the Middle East.  Accepting that Israel may maintain its settlements in the West Bank violates international legality, which opposes the annexation of territories by force; it violates dozens of UN resolutions that consider those settlements illegal; it violates the policy upheld by the United States to date, which never considered them legal, and it violates Bush's roadmap itself, which left the fate [of those territories] to be decided in a final peace treaty.  One cannot possibly violate more things, with mere words.   After imposing preventive war in Iraq, Bush decides to impose accomplished facts in the West Bank....  The U.S. president is desperate.  He sees his plans in Iraq are spectacularly collapsing and his prospects of being reelected decrease each day.  And he can think of nothing else but to stand unconditionally behind Sharon, hoping that the Jewish lobby helps him to win the election....  It is even possible for Bush to win the election and Sharon to have his settlements.  What I see as more difficult is for both to get peace in the Middle East."


"Step Backwards In Israel"


Conservative ABC declared (4/16):  "That Bush showed last Wednesday a solidarity, with no strings attached, with a Prime Minister [Sharon] that has ordered the assassination of an enemy of his country, (old, blind and disabled--and certainly a terrorist) doesn't  help the U.S. to win allies....  The first practical consequence of Washington's support for Sharon's initiative will probably be that Arafat's position will be reinforced among his supporters.  This is a tactic that suits Sharon: it's clear that there is no possibility to negotiate with the Palestinian leader and, in the absence of a dialogue, the US will support his positions. In this way, it is better to have Arafat than another more moderate leader, who would open up expectations of negotiations and that would necessarily involve concessions."


"Bush, More Than Sharon"


Left-of-center El País contended (4/16):  "Surely one could see it coming, but it has been a terrible blow, above all in Europe, to hear the words with which President Bush in the company of Ariel Sharon, announced the end to a policy that dates back to 1967, abandoning whatever vestige of mediation to align himself with the Israeli right....  What will Tony Blair say to Bush today, no kind of blind following of the U.S. should hide that this U.S. initiative is the best recipe for a terrorist war for hundreds of years more.  The least one can say is that Washington's position has thrown a sea of boiling oil on the fire of an Arab and Islamic world--not only among the followers of al Qaida--where the dangerous conviction that the great enemy is the United States becomes stronger each day.  And Europe will end up paying for the remaining hatred."


"Bush Supports Sharon And Angers The Arabs"


Independent El Mundo held (4/15):  "Bush's words were not only rejected by the Palestinian Authority, but also by the whole of the Arab world, for they imply the implicit recognition by the U.S. of the right of the Jews to continue maintaining settlements in the occupied territories.  The Palestinians cannot accept the renunciation of the 1949 borders, which continue to be a question of principle, although they would be ready to make concessions at the negotiation table.  Bush's statement yesterday has removed the possibility of an agreed upon solution to the conflict and, of course, has made the implementation of the Road Map, supported by the UN, Russia and the EU, impossible."


SWEDEN:  "Do Not Allow Bush's Initiative To Divide Europe"


Social Democratic Stockholm-based tabloid Aftonbladet opined (4/16):  "On Wednesday President Bush endorsed the Israeli government’s 'Bantustan policy,’ to keep most of the settlements in the West Bank thereby isolating the Palestinians in enclaves surrounded by (Israeli) settlements....  The initiative will have negative consequences for bringing about a peaceful solution in the Mideast.  The new signals from Washington will put heavy demands on the EU to become a counter weight to the U.S. The Union must stick to the line of policy that long-term security only can be built by a just peace." 


"Only Superpower"


Niklas Ekdal wrote in independent, liberal Stockholm-based Dagens Nyheter (4/16):  "The U.S. is the only superpower. It supports Israel economically and has powerful allies in the Arab world. There is no other (state) that is relevant to be a peace mediator.  But George W. Bush has during his entire Presidency shirked this responsibility and is, by his most recent move, finally throwing in the towel....  The anarchy in Iraq makes one remember Lebanon 20 years ago...Lebanon’s grave-diggers were Yassir Arafat and Ariel Sharon. Now they have buried the Mideast peace process, while the U.S., with the same subtle intuition it had in Lebanon, is making the Iraqi people turn against it. John Kerry’s road map cannot be any worse.”


"The Peace Plan:  More Dead Than Ever"


Conservative Stockholm-based Svenska Dagbladet editorialized (4/16):  "There was a roadmap that had wide international support for a two-state solution.  But as usual a bullet or a bomb interfered.  The bitter truth is that the new stance will have no meaning.  The peace process is dead....  For Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the new White House tunes will imply pleasant support for his future fights over the Gaza Plan.  President George W. Bush can, on his part, count on some domestic applause....  Objectively, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is not connected with what happens in Iraq or with the fight against terrorism...but the opposite view dominates among those regimes and groups in the Arab world from which President Bush needs support.  The fact that the divide with Europe is widening does not help in the efforts to strengthen the Iraq coalition.  Paradoxically the new thinking is not particularly new.  ‘Everyone’ knows that both issues would be part of a peace agreement.  It is another matter that the U.S. president mentions this outside of the negotiation room.  And inexplicable that he does so now.”




ISRAEL:  "Creating A Bantustan In Gaza"


Akiva Eldar opined in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/16):  "South Africa will be very interested in the Israeli disengagement plan published Thursday.  The political, military, and economic aspects of the plan for the Gaza Strip and the enclave in the northern West Bank are amazingly similar to the homelands, one of the last inventions of the white minority in South Africa to perpetuate its rule over the black majority....  Only Israel and Taiwan had diplomatic connections with the homelands.  Foment there deteriorated into a series of rebellions, and a decade ago the homelands became part of united South Africa, governed by a black majority."


"So What Did We Get?"


Caroline B. Glick maintained in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (4/16):  "Bush's letter, and indeed, Sharon's, continue to force Israel into an untenable position of having to fight terrorism while promising victory to the terrorists in the form of a state....  [Furthermore], Israel has exposed and the U.S. has reviewed mountains of evidence proving that [the PA] security services are terrorist cells and that the Palestinian Authority itself is a terrorist entity.  Yet in spite of this, the U.S. continues to insist, and Israel continues to agree, that these security services should be reformed and strengthened and PA institutions supported and reinforced rather than destroyed and replaced.  Finally, as has been the case since the 'land for peace' equation was coined, the demands on Israel from the exchange of letters are all concrete while the demands from the Palestinians are not.  They have to reform and fight terror but there is no 'or else.'  Nothing will happen to them if they don't.  And as for the reform of their political institutions, there is no blueprint for how they are supposed to go about it, especially in light of the fact that the Bush administration has ruled out the option of getting rid of Yasser Arafat."


"The White House Meetings: Lights And Shadows"


Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized (4/16):  "The friendly remarks [Bush] made during his conversation with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon won't constitute a hindrance to him when he talks with Arab chiefs of state, given that in fact, apart from his 'warm remarks,' President Bush has not committed himself to anything concrete regarding Israel.  On the contrary, Prime Minister Sharon, the man who pledged to implement the 'road map,' even without amendments, has agreed to leave the issue of Jerusalem open for a debate on the final status, and to be happy with a presidential statement about the return of refugees to a future Palestinian state, adding 'it seems clear.'  Sharon pledged to 'limit the settlements'....  This is the achievement of the Prime Minister's visit to Washington."


"A Palestinian Authority That May Be Passe"


Danny Rubinstein wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/16):  "The Palestinian Authority's official responses to the 'dangerous turn' in American policy--calls for help from all elements involved in the conflict, first and foremost the UN, Russia, and the European countries, America's partners in the Quartet, as well as the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab states--reveal helplessness.  PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's speech Thursday afternoon, in which he stated that the Palestinian people will never give up their national rights was also part of the response....  It was clear to the Palestinian leadership Thursday that Bush's support of Sharon's disengagement plan was the death knell for the roadmap."


"Stage Six"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (4/16):  "According to people who study such things, there are eight stages of genocide:  Classification, Symbolization, Dehumanization, Organization, Polarization, Preparation, Extermination and Denial.  After a decade of Arafatian rule, a critical mass of Palestinians hover somewhere between stages six and seven.  This development, obvious to most Israelis, is rarely noticed by outside observers....  Most students of genocide would agree that when prominent or popular leaders of one nation call repeatedly and openly for the extinction of another nation, it's best to take them at their word....  We make these observations just as President Bush, in his press conference with Ariel Sharon, has repeated his call for a new Palestinian regime, devoted not only to fighting terrorism but [also] to focusing its efforts on the socio-economic welfare of the Palestinian people.  When Bush first made this case, in June 2002, it was widely dismissed as unrealistic and probably counterproductive.  To our mind, it remains essential.  No 'peace' is worth the paper it's written on if it collapses at the first hint of weakness."


"And Now, The Real Test"


Aluf Benn noted in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/16):  "Sharon agreed to forgo low-value assets--the settlements in the Gaza Strip and in northern Samaria [the Jenin area]--in order to buy time and repulse pressures for a deeper withdrawal.  Seizing the diplomatic initiative and shaking past positions were the key to achieving an understanding with Bush, and served Sharon better than his earlier insistence on maintaining the status quo until the Palestinians would change and start fighting terrorism.  He proves that he has the ability to lead the entire political system in his wake and to undermine the Palestinian contention that even if they behave well, Israel will never cede a millimeter.  Sharon is trying to refute the allegation that his plan rewards terrorism and constitutes withdrawal under fire by asserting that the Palestinians have suffered a harsh blow to their dreams, citing the sharp reactions of the Palestinian Authority to the plan to prove his point.  He is also delivering numerous threats about tougher Israeli responses than in the past if the Gaza-based terrorism continues."


"Bush Has Already Voted"


Nahum Barnea wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (4/15):  "Wednesday, President Bush gave Sharon winning cards in his campaign for the registered Likud members, and what Bush did not give, the negative, if not hysterical, reaction in the Arab world and the Palestinian Authority will.  Bush gave Sharon words, just words, but what words.  Sharon is right when he says that Israel has not received words like those since the establishment of the State of Israel--and certainly not since 1967....  With all the festive talk about the road map and about its stated goal--the establishment of a Palestinian state--both the Bush administration and Sharon have moved further away from the vision of a Palestinian state.  Until now the Palestinians have had a government without a state.  Now they are being offered a state without a government.  There probably isn't anything like that in the world....  Sharon has urged people [Israelis] not to rush out and dance in the streets.  The President's letter is no Balfour Declaration. With that having been said, after his meeting with Bush, he acted like someone who has already won the campaign."


"Double-Edge Bush"


Zeev Schiff maintained in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/15):  "Whoever tries to present U.S. President George Bush's statements as the second Balfour Declaration in terms of their importance to Israel, is getting carried away.  The most significant achievement was the emphasis placed on the fact that a solution for the Palestinian refugees will be outside the borders of the Jewish state, as Israel has long demanded.  In other words, if the right of return' exists, it will be realized inside a future Palestinian state, and not inside Israel, which Bush again defined as a Jewish state.  On the territorial front, however, the achievement is only partial, and Israel would do well not to ignore Bush's words. The American leader again promised the Palestinians a viable state, and a state cannot be viable when it is made up of patches of territory."


"The Voice Belongs To Bush, The Hands Are That Of The Geneva Agreement"


Haggai Huberman wrote in nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe (4/15):  "Bush eventually did not say anything new and did not change anything in the traditional policy his country has maintained from 5727 [i.e. 1967] up to this very day.  He only allowed commentators to pump their wares so as to facilitate the brainwashing of the registered Likud members prior to the referendum.  Every other analysis is correct to the very same degree....  One need not be overly impressed with Bush's statement that the disengagement plan is an historic and courageous action that might bring progress and end one of the longest conflicts in human history.  For 36 years the United States has advocated an Israeli withdrawal from Judea, Samaria and Gaza [the territories].  Contrary to Sharon's request, Bush made no real commitment Wednesday about the final status arrangement."


"He Got It"


Dan Margalit remarked in populist, pluralist Maariv (4/15):  "As of last night, Sharon was the big winner.  If the Likud referendum were to be held today he would receive the full dividend.  But nothing is final yet.  Europe will rebel against America.  The Arab world will not acquiesce.  The crescendo of Bush and Sharon is so deafeningly loud that Abu Ala will not be able to praise the unilateral withdrawal as he had planned.  If these developments lead to a resumption of Palestinian terror in full force -- because Bush's declaration sounded so pro-Israel that no one in Ramallah or Gaza will dare to stand in the suicide bombers' way--the achievement could turn into a Pyrrhic victory.  Too much success at a heavy price necessarily carries the seeds of failure.  But not last night. As of now the celebrations are at their height.  A great achievement for Sharon, with question marks nearby."


"Rewriting The Script"


Aluf Benn maintained in left-leaning, independent Ha'aretz (4/15): "Sharon exploited Bush's current political weakness, but paid back the president with public praise for his leadership in the war against terrorism and a refusal to meet with Bush's rival, Democratic front-runner John Kerry.  Bush paid Sharon back with an almost transparent call on Likud rank and file to vote in favor of the plan.  The Palestinians--who weren't invited to the party--will pay the price of the strengthened friendship between Bush and Sharon.  Sharon heard the harsh reactions of the Palestinians as proof of Sharon's argument that the disengagement is a blow to the Palestinians and good for Israel.  But just because Bush and Sharon have written a new script for the Palestinians doesn't mean they will follow it."


"Loves A Lot, Gives A Little"


Chief Economic Editor Sever Plotker noted in pluralist, popular Yediot Aharonot (4/15): "Bush justly referred to Sharon's decision to withdraw as a 'historic decision'; indeed it is historic, and a majority of the Israeli people supports it.  As to the national-diplomatic achievement of Sharon's visit to Bush, things are far more equivocal.  First of all, Bush of the spring of 2004 is not Bush of the spring of 2003... Bush's statements have a hollow ring to them.  To what extent did Bush accede to Sharon's requests?  Taking a superficial view, the Israeli prime minister received everything he wanted.  A closer look finds that this 'everything' is merely a small addition to the traditional American positions....  Some people have compared Bush's statement to the Balfour Declaration.  That is a perverse comparison.  Israel today is not in the situation of the Zionist movement in 1917.  Eighty-seven years ago the Jewish people did not have a state; it lived in foreign countries and needed the graces of the great powers for everything it wanted, and particularly for the realization of its national aspirations....  And another difference: President Bush today does not have an imperial mandate over the Land of Israel and Palestine, and cannot divide its land.  At the very most he can make his suggestions and hope that they are accepted.... [Nonetheless], Sharon sponsored a significant political initiative and reaped significant public relations fruits.  The Palestinians, as usual, did not have the sense to offer anything but more terror and, therefore, lost."


"Presidential Embrace"


Ben Caspit stated in popular, pluralist Maariv (4/15):  "Wednesday, Sharon got his hug, and his candy too.  It is reasonable to assume that he will rise in the polls that are really important, the [Likud] party members' polls....  What is great about Bush's statements Wednesday is that they can be interpreted in any direction. Here, there and everywhere.  Nonetheless, we must not miss the fact that Bush is embracing Sharon, adopting disengagement, going with it and describing it as a courageous and daring historical step.  Bush is telling members of the Likud: 'You need to support Sharon on his own merits.  Who am I to defend him?  But do not forget: a "no" to Sharon is also a "no" to America.'  And America is not in a situation where it is willing to hear one more no.  Certainly not from us."


"Forward To Square One"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post remarked (4/15):  "It is a measure of how far Israel's diplomatic position has fallen that yesterday's exchange of letters between George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon should be considered a signal victory....  What Sharon and Bush have done is to return to pre-Camp David assumptions, thereby partly undoing the diplomatic damage wrought by the Barak-Clinton run at a final-status agreement and the terror offensive that followed.  The Bush statement that the U.S. 'expects' that Israel will retain 'already existing major Israeli population centers' in a final-status agreement is significant, but not as significant as it may seem.  The other shoe has yet to fall on this issue, as nothing was said to rule out another invention of the Barak/Clinton era--land swaps....  It is clear now that Israel must go through with Sharon's disengagement plan, as painful as it will be to implement. In a way, the plan is another terrible gamble, this time on the word of the U.S. that it will continue to condition Palestinian statehood on an end to terror and the establishment of a truly free and peaceful Palestinian society....  At yesterday's summit, President Bush once again came through for Israel at a crucial hour. What remains to be seen is whether his State Department will come through on the follow-up."


WEST BANK:  "The American Position And Developments On The Political Situation"


Samih Shbayib opined in independent Al-Ayyam (4/16):  "What happened recently in Washington was a turning of a new page in the Arab-Israeli conflict and how the U.S. envisions this conflict.  What happened was a total embracing of the Israeli--particularly the Likud--vision, which contradicts with international resolutions mainly 181, 194, 242, 338, the 1993 Palestinian-Israeli agreement and the Roadmap that the American administration has supported....  The latest developments are extremely serious, particularly the official American backing off of being an honest sponsor of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and the American green light to the Israeli disengagement plan; all might be part of a process that could, if necessary, include doing away with the Palestinian Authority, with prior U.S. approval."


"Between Bush And Balfour"


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (4/16):  "Bush, who reached the White House backed by Arab votes, imagining himself endowed with his father's temporary boldness regarding the 1991 American loan guarantees to Israel, has ignored these votes and directed his attention to the Jewish vote in hopes that the latter will help him hang onto the presidency.  It is a weak hope though, since such votes will be divided equally between him and his opponent."


"Bush And God"


Independent, English-language Jerusalem Times declared (4/16):  "The Bush administration is once again playing God. It wants to decide the fate of every small and even big nation in this world and the future of the world….  The Bush administration is ready these days to make guarantees to Israel in return for partial and not full withdrawal from occupied Palestinian areas….  Some Palestinians call these U.S. guarantees new Balfour Declaration, which is the most accurate description….  The times of Balfour declarations are far gone, and the times of big nations deciding the fate of small ones are also far gone.  What we see is happening in the small Iraqi town of Falluja today and how its helpless and unarmed people are able to stand up to brutal American aggression is strong proof that people of small nations are willing to die for their dignity and future."


"The Black Statement"


Abdallah Awwad opined in independent Al-Ayyam (4/15):  "I can't determine what the Palestinian position will be tomorrow regarding President Bush's statement at his press conference with Sharon at the White House.  The statement clearly says: First, all previous agreements between both Palestinians and Israelis, including those signed in the White House, are worthless and so are all international resolutions.  Second, it implies that a Palestinian partner or a Palestinian leadership doesn't exist and that all Palestinians are simply nothing (something not even worth mentioning)....  This statement--the first after the Balfour Declaration 90 years ago--gives the greatest country in the world the right to determine the destiny of Palestinians without even consulting with them.  It is a statement that contradicts all international resolutions, previous American policies and positions as well as international consensus....  The statement eliminates the thing called the Palestinian cause or people and is based on finding a solution to an Israeli problem called Palestinian demography, at the expense of the Palestinian land and people."


"Bush Has Offered Sharon Everything He Wished For"


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (4/15):  "The remarks of the American President, which resemble a continuation of ultimate bias toward Israel while denying Palestinian national rights, are basically an underestimation of Arab public opinion and the international community's will....  It is strange that the American President cancelled the issue of Palestinian refugees and their right of return with a few short sentences....  President Bush has offered Sharon everything the latter wished; however, he [Bush] has definitely deprived the peace process of all the objectivity, balance and fairness it needs." 


"The 'Bushfour' Declaration"


Bassim Abu Sumaya commented in official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (4/15):  "What's the problem with being certain that Bush's political, logistical and financial assurances to Sharon will be meaningless if the Arabs state their refusal once and for all to deal with this new American-Israeli initiative?....  The American-Israeli initiative is basically a new version of the famous Balfour Declaration which we can now call the Bushfour Declaration....  This matter has to be taken very seriously, far from slogans that only condemn the American position; otherwise, peace will never be achieved until Judgment Day."


"Suggestions For A Reply To Sharon's Plan"


Talal Okal held in independent Al-Ayyam (4/15):  "Non-acceptance of this bad reality can be translated into: First, exposing the American-Israeli perspective that links the unilateral disengagement plan with peace and any initiative that targets peace....  Second, Palestinians are not interested in paying the price for the Israeli plan and are willing to expose any Arab or international attempt to take part in paying this price. Third, Palestinians will deal with the consequences of the Israeli plan in accordance with their interests, will have control over liberated areas where the occupation forces withdraw...and will establish their own state there with borders determined according to international resolutions."


"The First American President To Do It"


Official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida editorialized (4/15):  "George W. Bush made political history yesterday by being the first American president to legitimize settlements on Palestinian land and demand that Palestinians give up their right of return....  Bush's statements are puzzling, odd and dangerous, as they carelessly trifle with the future of this region."


"Bush Lays Roadmap To Rest"


Ahmad Majdalani contended in independent Al-Ayyam (4/14):  "It is no exaggeration to describe Sharon's visit to the U.S. as a historic one, as it will form a key move in U.S.-Israeli bilateral relations given the unknown future of an administration [U.S.] that faces internal difficulties....  As they face a new American Balfour declaration in the 21st century, the Palestinians and their leadership will have no choice other than refusing and resisting this solution that disregards their rights including the right to be present in every way possible."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Zionist America"


Riyadh’s conservative Al-Riyadh editorialized (4/18):  "America is the land of wonders and the richest country of the world.  America is the land of science, technology, and military power.  It is a country that strongly reacts to a movie or an incident....  This vast and wide country was influenced by groups of Jewish immigrants.  Those Jewish immigrants reversed the common image of the Jews as being usurers, introverted people, and enemies of the world, into masters of the world, who make decisions in politics, media, and the economy....  President Bush attempts to provide Israel what the founders of Israel itself and the British failed to promise....  This is a new phase in the American leadership.  The American Administration considers Israel to be a spiritual ally, and considers Israeli interest before the interests of Americans."     


"Is America Still A Partner In The Peace Process?"


Jeddah’s moderate Al-Bilad opined (4/18):  "It is difficult to exclude the U.S. from any peace process in the Middle East. It is also difficult for the U.S. to abandon its role as a sponsor of peace, to which it has been committed, even prior to the presidency of President Clinton.  But the reality of today’s events demonstrates the opposite.  It seems that the U.S. is no longer a partner in the peace process.  All signs indicate that Arab faith in America has vanished.  The U.S. policies in Iraq and those relating to the Palestinian cause have ruined America’s credibility as a peacemaker." 


"Sharon’s Plans Destroy The Stalled Peace Solution"


Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira commented (4/14):  "The veteran terrorist Sharon landed on the American soil with an advance statement that he will not withdraw from the larger settlements of the West Bank....  Washington has no other choice except to endorse and bless his plans, and to offer him due hospitality.  While Sharon’s plan to withdraw from Gaza appears to be a positive step, in reality it is no more than a deception....  More dangerous than Sharon’s statements is what has been circulated in Washington, which is that it supports Sharon’s plans regarding the West Bank....  In addition, the U.S. does not support the right of return, which is a Palestinian demand."         


"A Strike Against The Alleged U.S. Peace Leadership"


Jeddah’s moderate Al-Bilad editorialized (4/14):  "In his trip to Washington, Sharon hopes to resolve the dispute between his government and the U.S. Administration regarding the Jewish settlements.  The expectations are that he will get what he wants in writing.  If this actually materializes, it would undermine the alleged U.S. peace leadership in the Middle East."


BAHRAIN:  "Bush Again Sides With Zionists"


The English-language pro-government Bahrain Tribune declared (4/16):  "U.S. President George W. Bush, in his eagerness to secure the Zionist vote for his re-election, has decided to consider the Palestinian right of return as void, no doubt to please Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.  And that wasn’t the only present he made to the Israeli leader.  He also announced that certain realities on the ground--referring to some of the big settlements built on occupied Arab land--need not be returned.  Of course the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei rejected the Bush statement, not that he had a choice, for no Palestinian would agree to forego the right of return or accept Israeli settlements in the occupied territories thus turning a future independent Palestinian state into a Swiss cheese.  Through such a move Bush is pushing the Palestinians to fight to the last man--with or without the rest of the Arab countries.  No Palestinian would consent to agree to any change in the UN resolutions unless it is agreed upon in the final status negotiations.  The Arab nation should brace for more bloodshed in the coming days, for Palestinian resistance will not take this lying down."


LEBANON:  "Stupid, And Criminal"


Editor-in-Chief Charles Ayyoub wrote in sensationalist Ad-Diyar (4/15):  "U.S. President George W. Bush's Middle East foreign policy is stupid, while that of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is criminal....  Washington cheated the Arabs in the U.S.-backed 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, which became associated with the 'land-for-peace principle....  There is no guarantee for justice in the region now that Washington has gone back on this principle....  Bush has concluded a deal with Sharon whereby Israel withdraws from Gaza and in return can alter the border with the West Bank.  Sharon, who can now maintain some West Bank settlements, no longer has to consider the 1948 border as a principle of the Middle East peace process....  The U.S. has lost all credibility with the Arabs....  Once again, the Arabs have been stabbed in the back, while Sharon's crimes are condoned by Washington.  Predictably Arab leaders have nothing to say....  The Bush-Sharon agreement was saying no to the right of return of Palestinians, and was giving a green light for the occupation of more Palestinian land."


"Redefining Arab Reform As Submission"


Mohammed Ibrahim wrote in moderate anti-Syria An-Nahar (4/15):  "The U.S.-Israeli summit agreement Wednesday has redefined the Arab reform demanded by Washington as an Arab submission to the new U.S. policy of relinquishing Palestinian rights....  Bush endorsed Sharon's disengagement plan during their meeting in Washington.  For an Arab leader to be considered democratic by the U.S., he must be prepared to give up Palestinian land....  Washington is more interested in security than Arab reform, considering Israel's security a top priority....  The U.S. president endorsed Sharon's plan, West Bank Jewish settlements and the separation barrier....  Bush has ignored the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees' right of return, and declared that the final settlement and Palestinian state borders still have to be negotiated according to the new realities on the ground....  What can the Palestinians do to confront this U.S.-Israeli position?  The only thing Palestinians can do that may be acceptable to both Washington and Tel Aviv is protect Israel from 'terrorist' attacks and save the Israelis the trouble of completing the wall....  Bush has demonstrated that the first step toward the implementation of the Greater Middle East Initiative is the renunciation of the Palestinian question."


“The Maneuver ‘Gaza First’ Is Dangerous Because It Is Successful”


Joseph Samaha opined in Arab nationalist As-Safir (4/14):  “Sharon’s project for withdrawing from Gaza is a dangerous yet successful maneuver.  It is dangerous because no one will be able to contain the consequences, but successful because no one can oppose it.  Sharon did not hide the fact that he prefers a temporary rather than lasting solution with the Palestinians.  By withdrawing from Gaza, he believes that the Palestinians will be able to re-deploy in Gaza and some areas in the West Bank in exchange for Israel staying in control of the crossings, the skies, sources of water, settlements, Jerusalem, in addition to toppling the Palestinian right of return....  Obviously, the Palestinians will never accept such a settlement as a final settlement but they might have to settle for a long time for it, under the assumption that it is a temporary settlement....  This Israeli plan to withdraw from Gaza has no other mission but to give the Israeli occupation a new image, and help extend it....  No Arab or foreign country can reject the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza...despite the fact that all are aware of the long term goal.”


MOROCCO:  "Ariel Sharon's Disengagement Plan--Withdrawal From Gaza, Annexation Of The West Bank”


Pro-government, French-language Le Matin du Sahara maintained (4/15):  “Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon presented his withdrawal from Gaza plan to the White House on Wednesday. A plan that President Bush qualifies as ‘courageous and historical.’  The U.S. confirms, by this position, its support of the new plan, which consigns all the peace efforts to the waste basket.  ‘The U.S. President wants to see a successful initiative in the Middle East to compensate for the failure of his plans in Iraq,' according to the Palestinian Ambassador in Morocco.”


SYRIA:  “The Deal and the Prize”


Government-owned Al-Ba’th said (4/15):  “Sharon whose hands are still dripping with the blood of Sheikh Ahmad Yaseen goes to obtain the American ‘blessing’ for his unilateral plan to withdraw from Gaza and to obtain an American declaration that will not ask Israel to return to the June 4, 1967 borders. This is a new deal between Israel and Washington at the expense of the Palestinian people.  When the U.S., who is ‘the main sponsor of the peace process,’ grants its blessing to Sharon plans is giving a green light to close the gates firmly in the face of the peace process, and not demand any Israeli withdrawal, in future settlements, to return to the 1967 borders in accordance with international resolutions and the Madrid terms of reference. It is useful for the US which is drowning in the Iraqi quagmire not to further complicate matter and ignite the situation since such positions will ignite the feelings of anger and will embroil the region into new turmoil.”


TUNISIA:  “A Bad Turn Of Events”


Editor-in-chief Noureddine Hlaoui stated in independent French-language Le Temps (4/15):  “Rarely before has an American president found himself in such a bad position facing as many complex and multiple problems....  Furthermore, external problems are so serious, that, for the first time, Americans in an election year are more preoccupied by international issues than domestic ones....  By insisting on revenging, in so brutal a manner, the lynching of four American civilians, Washington has thrown itself into a quagmire....  We are also now witnessing a flagrant U.S. bias towards the Hebrew State. Hence, the U.S. is losing its credibility in the Arab world that is increasingly frustrated by so much injustice in the area of their greatest concern, Palestine. On this particular issue, the American government has no consistent position. How else do we explain the fact that Bush agrees to negotiate the security fence with Sharon, even though this plan is in flagrant contradiction to the Road Map that he claims to support?  As long as the American leaders refuse to raise, objectively, the question of anger, even hatred, that their policy is engendering in different parts of the world and to try to find remedies for it, they will never get out of the quagmire into which they have gotten themselves.”


UAE:  "Bush Reveals His Lack Of Principle"


The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf News maintained (4/16):  "Two days ago U.S. President George W. Bush stood years of American policy on its head and came out in favor of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral plan....  Bush has caused the U.S. to abandon decades of maintaining a position which was based on international law and UN resolutions, and instead opted to recognize the right of one side to impose its own view through military force.  By allowing the Israeli prime minister to hijack American foreign policy, the Bush administration has made clear that it has no idea of how the Middle East works....  Bush has condemned the Palestinians and Israelis to continued armed struggle, because Palestinians cannot accept Sharon's unilateral schemes....  The implications of this shattering failure of integrity will run for years.  It means that any Arab hopes of treating the Americans as honest brokers are totally destroyed....  Any friends of the U.S. in the region are left further betrayed and exposed by the American administration failure to stand up for international law.  Bush paid lip service to Palestinian hopes with a commitment to establishing a Palestinian state by next year, but this is an empty promise since without a similar commitment to restoring the full Palestinian territories, the establishment of a state has no purpose.  The Arab world is united in vilifying Bush's betrayal....  Peace does not lie with the Americans to impose, but with the Palestinians to agree to.  Peace comes through both sides agreeing that they have found a fair solution to their dispute, and both sides agreeing that peace is the better way forward.  It is important to remember that the only way to find that sort of mutual solution is through the two-state solution, which means Israel and Palestine recognizing each other, combined with full restoration of occupied Palestinian territory.  This is not what Bush and Sharon have come up with."




AUSTRALIA:  "U.S. Shatters Peace Hopes"


The national Canberra Times declared (4/16):  "Australians, including Australian friends of Israel, can look only with dismay at the results of a meeting between U.S. President George W. Bush and Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon in Washington on Tuesday.  The meeting has seen the United States forfeit almost any credibility as an interested but honest broker of peace between Israel and Palestine.  And, given the way it torpedoes both United Nations and European efforts to find compromises around which a settlement can be reached, it is perhaps not without significance that al Qaida's Osama bin Laden is reported last night as offering Europe a truce in the war against terror, provided it disengages from the Middle East." 


“Mid-East Policy Up-ended”


Tony Walker argued in the business-oriented Australian Financial Review (4/16):  “President George Bush has turned long-standing US Middle East policy on its head by supporting Israel’s retention of some West Bank settlements and by ruling out the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. Some 30 years after the US helped draft UNSC resolutions 242 and 333...a US president has ditched a commitment that has been a staple of all Middle East peacemaking...others who helped draw up the road map--the UN, the European Union and Russia--are unlikely to regard this latest U.S. foray into the Middle East as helpful.”


CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Israeli Radical Measures Can Hardly Be Recognized"


Independent Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily News opined (4/17):  "After U.S. President Bush took power, he did not actively become involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  He concentrated all his focus on counter terrorism and the Iraq issue.  Now, that the presidential election is looming, Bush does not want to offend the Jewish sector in the United States, which has huge influence over local media, votes and finance.  He said the Israeli assassinations were 'self-defense' and called on both sides to show restraint.  Such a weak call cannot be compared with the serious condemnations made by UN Secretary General Annan and some European countries....  The unilateral actions of Israel and the U.S. in the Middle East have unsettled the whole world." 


INDONESIA:  “Israel Premier’s Plan Complicates Middle East Conflict”


Leading independent Kompas observed (4/19):  The plan by Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to maintain Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank has prompted anger and protests among the Palestinians.  Their anger intensified after President Bush and Premier Tony Blair expressed their endorsement of Sharon’s plan....  External interference in the Israel-Palestine conflict has thus far not much helped in settling the issue, but instead, the other way around.  The crisis is getting more complicated because the interference is not based on full commitment to problem solving but more to vested interests.”


“Systematic Killing Of Ideal For Palestine State”


Yanto Musthofa held in independent Koran Tempo (4/17):  "U.S. President George Bush prompted anger among Arab governments regarding the Palestinian issue...for endorsing Sharon’s unilateral plan that will bury the peace roadmap for good.  Thus the Israel-Palestine crisis will be an eternally vicious cycle....  Tragically, Bush also endorsed the crucial part of the plan, i.e. deprivation of the Palestinians of their right to return....  Under Sharon’s grand design, the Palestinian refugees will gradually abandon their dream for a Palestinian state.  They will be expected to be accustomed to Arab-Jewish ‘coexistence,’ which is not one between the state of Israel and the state of Palestine because the refugees will become Israel citizens."


VIETNAM:  "More Risks And Dangers In The Middle East"


Trung Hieu wrote in Hanoi city government-run official Ha Noi Moi (4/17):  "Previous U.S. presidents always saw Jewish settlements as the main obstacle to the Middle East peace process, yet, now Mr. Bush boldly supports Prime Minister Sharon's 'land robbing' plan....  This support for a plan that brazenly denies the right of Palestinian people to have a place to live and their hope to return to their old land is surprising the world public as they look at it in the context that U.S. politicians have always been lecturing about human rights....  The act of allowing the Israelis to take land from the Palestinians not only will fail to stop the spiral of violence in the Middle East, fail to prevent terrorism, but even worse, will lead to more violence in the region and unpredictable risks for the world."


INDIA:  "Bush Backs Sharon's Scheme"


The centrist Hindu concluded (4/16):  "Sharon's Disengagement Plan is intended to do away with a negotiated settlement on Palestine. The Disengagement Plan is intended to do away with a negotiated settlement.  Its clear objective is to impose a settlement on Israeli terms, to retain Israeli settlements on the best parts of the West Bank, to further weaken and eventually undo the Palestinian Authority in its present leadership, to create the illusion of a Palestinian state devoid of the essential attributes of statehood, and to bury the problem of the Palestinian refugees irrespective of the justice of their cause and of their numbers.  Its acceptance by the U.S. is an intentional gesture....  It is ironic that an American president, who wanted to use Iraq to create a favorable climate for resolving the principal and oldest problem in West Asia, and for democratizing and modernizing the region, is today wishing to divert attention from his follies in Iraq by complicating still further that older problem that has cast its shadow over the whole region for half a century.  He can only think of Palestinians as a people 'tainted by terror.'"


PAKISTAN:  "Bush’s Middle East Blunder"


The Lahore-based liberal English-language Daily Times (4/16):  "The Palestinian Chief negotiator Saed Erakat as well as the Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei have rejected the plan outright....  Where do things go from here?  More violence is definitely in the cards and for good reason too.  Mr. Bush’s handling of the whole affair is a slap in the Palestinian face and comes on the heels of Israel’s cold-blooded murder of the spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.  Rather than being hauled over the coals for taking disastrous steps, Mr. Sharon is being feted by Mr. Bush....  Mr. Bush’s reputation as an honest broker lies in tatters.  He might have done it for domestic reasons but the repercussions of his action go far beyond the US and are likely to boomerang on the U.S."


"The Final Blow"


Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language Dawn noted (4/16):  "By supporting Mr. Ariel Sharon's Gaza plan, President George Bush has repudiated several decades of American policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict....  The Bush government has outdone all previous US administrations in kowtowing to the Zionists....  The latest shift in US policy is a blow to hopes for peace in the Middle East."


"Open U.S. Support Of Sharon Plan: A Matter Of Concern"


Leading mass-circulation Urdu-language Jang remarked (4/16):  "There is no denying the fact that Israel is in fact a U.S. military base in the Middle East and the U.S. wants to strengthen and secure it at all cost.  But the United States has itself sabotaged its roadmap to peace in the Middle East, which envisages the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, by giving Israelis the right to occupy Palestinian lands at their sweet will and to kill anti-Israel leaders.  With this U.S. support of Sharon plan, not only that the Palestinian state would be finished, Palestinians as a nation would also be eliminated.  It would be vain imagination on part of the U.S. to think that by giving Israel a right to do whatever its wants, it would be able to achieve its global interests in the Middle East because torture begets torture and peace could not be established as long as Palestinians are deprived of their rights."


"Deadly Blow To Palestine"


The center-right national English-language Nation commented (4/16):  "Washington's blind backing has always been a source of immense strength for Israel and emboldened it to defy international law.  And with the most rabid hard-line set anchored in the White House and the unrepentant Butcher of Beirut in power in Tel Aviv, Palestine has little good to look forward to....  It should not be forgotten that our Founding Fathers, the Quaid-e-Azam foremost, fully supported the Palestinian cause, seeing its implications for the Kashmir dispute.  The desire to curry favor with the USA should not lead to weakening one of our vital interests."


"American Support For Sharon’s Unjust Plan"


Second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt observed (4/16):  "U.S. President Bush has brought about a sea change in [U.S.] policy and has supported the Israeli prime minister’s disputed plan for unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.  Bush has said that Israel could keep half of the Palestinian territory and that Palestinian refugees would not have the right to return to Israel....  Under Sharon's plan with the White House’s seal of approval, Israel would have the right to permanently keep 120 out of 121 Jewish settlements.  This would mean that half of Palestine would be gobbled up by Israel.  America and Israel do not implement UN resolutions, but America always uses the UN in favor of Israel; its innumerable vetoes are proof of this.  The government of Pakistan should condemn the plan in categorical terms....  It would not be beside the point to say that whatever America is doing for Israel and against the Palestinians, it would do against Kashmiris and for India."




SOUTH AFRICA:  “Bush and Sharon”


Balanced Business Day stated (4/19):  "The ultimate test of...Bush’s endorsement of...Sharon's ‘disengagement’ plan is whether it really contributes to a strengthening of the peace process.  With no insistence that Israel withdraw entirely from the West Bank in the future, the endorsement is one-sided.  Worse, the U.S. has now undermined its own honest broker role in the Middle East.  As an alternative, the U.S. should have considered endorsing the plan as a partial move in the right direction.  In stating that any final agreement must recognize realities on the ground, Bush has given his tacit approval to the permanence of West Bank settlements, which can only undermine the peace process....  Bush’s tacit endorsement of no right of return for Palestinians may well be recognition of reality.  The road map for peace says the issue should be talked about, but there is little hope for progress on this....  The development of a far-reaching plan for unilateral disengagement--well beyond what is currently on the table--has to be the next step.”


“Bush Scraps Roadmap”


The liberal Star asserted (4/19):  "Perhaps most damaging for the hopes of peace was...Bush’s endorsement of Sharon’s plan.  Palestinians may well have come to accept eventually that the refugees would never return, and that some Israeli settlements would remain in the West Bank.  These were issues for future negotiation, however.  It was wrong for Sharon to pre-empt such negotiations by unilaterally deciding on these important matters, and it was even more wrong for Bush to endorse him....  Backing Sharon will confirm...the almost universal perception in the Arab world that the U.S. is biased towards Israel....  It is hard to see how Bush imagines he is helping America’s already difficult efforts to bring peace to the Holy Land....  He has alienated the support of moderate Arab leaders whom the U.S. needs to get Israel and Palestine back on the road map to a two-state solution.  Perhaps Hamas is irredeemably opposed to this solution.  But it can be isolated in the Arab world only if Israel itself is fully committed to the solution.  The U.S. should be leaning on its protégé to ensure that--not encouraging its intransigence.”




ARGENTINA:  "A Risky Bet With Election Purposes"


Jorge Rosales wrote in daily-of-record La Nacion (4/15):  "Increasingly troubled by the war in Iraq, US President George W. Bush took a step yesterday that could deepen even more the Arab and Muslim resentment toward the US by supporting Ariel Sharon's policy of consummated facts. After having denied any mistakes in his plan for Iraq...Bush gave a 180-degree turn in his policy on the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians by agreeing that Israel maintain some settlements in the West Bank. With yesterday's move, Bush managed to galvanize Sharon's support, a hard-line, historic US ally in the Middle East now that the post-war scenario in Iraq has worsened and Islamic terrorist actions are on the increase....  Bush's gesture has also a high domestic political content. It is a message to the powerful community of U.S. conservative Jewish voters vis-à-vis an increasingly difficult election for the Republican leader, which will compel John Kerry to establish a position vis-à-vis the conflict in the Middle East....  In fact, yesterday Bush put an end to the traditional U.S. position of treating West Bank settlements as a hurdle for the peace in the region....  The step taken by the U.S. president is directly related to what he believes the U.S. mission is in the world at this historic moment: the war on terrorism."


BRAZIL:  "Bush Gives Sharon Everything"


Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo editorialized (4/16):  "President George W. Bush has blasted to bits the concept endorsed by his predecessors over the past 30 years that the settlements in the territories occupied by Israel represent a 'threat to peace' in the region....  He gave support to Israel's idea of incorporating substantial parcels of land west of the Jordan River, where 230,000 Israelis live amid 2.3 million Palestinians....  The new U.S. position is a radical break with the peace process initiated by Bush's father....  If George W. Bush wanted to perpetuate hostilities between Palestinians and Jews, he could only have done better by denying support for a Palestinian state....  Under the pretext that there is no Palestinian with whom to negotiate, Israel will unilaterally enlarge its borders and dictate the final terms of 'peace' in the region....  Sharon's designs are notorious. He has already said that his policy 'will end the Palestinian dream' for many years. What is amazing is Bush's connivance. Although no other U.S. president has been as submissive as he in regards to Israel, it is impossible for the White House not to realize that it has jeopardized U.S. credibility among Arabs and Muslims right in the middle of the disastrous occupation of Iraq. Is this the way Bush wants to 'change the world'?"


"Nonsensical Times"


Mauro Santayana commented in independent Jornal da Tarde (4/16):  "Bush counts on votes from the Jews and he does not care about making the Palestinians suffer in order to get them. It is a simple mathematical operation. If the circumstances were otherwise, if the Palestinians had formed a large contingent of voters in the U.S. and had the money the Jews have, Bush would have agreed to remove the Jews from the territory they are occupying. The real disgrace of the modern world is that there are no more statesmen....  Contaminated by the general nonsense, the media inverts reality. Those who in Iraq resist the terror of the U.S. invasion have been called terrorists, and the so-called coalition forces have been identified as the possessors of legitimate power." 


"No Problem"


Center-right O Globo opined (4/16):  "President Bush and Prime-Minister Sharon have announced a strictly American-Israeli solution for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  Israel should spontaneously return the Gaza Strip, which is of no further use to them, and stay with the West Bank parts, which are of interest to them. And--that is the great beauty and news in the plan--they don't even have to negotiate with the Palestinians.  It’s the undisguised unilateralism of President Bush badly disguised as a  diplomatic initiative in a region which, more than anything, lacks precisely  the ability to listen to what the other party has to say.”


"Bush's Support"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo asserted (4/15):  "In a significant change of position, President George W. Bush vehemently supported Israeli prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw unilaterally from Palestinian territories. Bush's approval represents an important victory for Sharon....  Washington's explicit alignment with Israel will cause revolt among the Palestinians and Arabs in general. There is the possibility that the decision will create additional difficulties for the U.S. in Iraq....  It will not be difficult for the Arab media to interpret Bush's support to Sharon as a tough blow against the Palestinian cause.  Sharon has obtained everything he wanted from the White House....  To remove the Palestinians from the decision making process is risky. Peace cannot be achieved through a unilateral decree." 


CHILE:  "The Risky Pact Between Bush And Sharon"


Leading popular Santiago-based La Tercera contended (4/16):  "On April 14, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon scored what many view as his most important diplomatic victory: getting U.S. support for his ‘disconnection plan’....  From the U.S. perspective, President Bush's step is twice as risky...because the Arab world has interpreted it as a new blow to its people and culture and because it gives new arguments to the leaders of fundamentalist groups that use suicide as a weapon of terror....  It is true that the Palestinian authorities are in no position to negotiate because they have shown they are incapable of controlling terrorist acts.  But this does not mean that once can impose a unilateral solution, especially when an accord has been reached with a leader who has been one of the main instigators of violence....  Giving Sharon total support could be a double-edged sword.  As the presidential election approaches, citizens could react negatively to any factor that exacerbates the perception of insecurity.  This could be one of those factors.”



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