April 19, 2004
U.S. 'TURNAROUND' SIGNALS 'EXPLICIT ALIGNMENT' WITH ISRAEL
** 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
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.
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."
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
"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.”
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."
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."
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
"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."
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
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
“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
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
"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.”
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
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."
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."
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
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.”
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
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."
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."
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."
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
ROMANIA: "A Big
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
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
"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,
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
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
"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."
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
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
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,
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
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
"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
"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
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."
"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.”
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
SYRIA: “The Deal and the
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
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
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
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
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."
"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
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.'"
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
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.”
"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."
"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
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
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.”
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
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.”