November 22, 2004
AFTER ARAFAT: WHO SHOULD TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR PEACE?
** Critics warn President Bush against being "too cautious" in face of "rare opportunity."
** Israel has an indispensible role in facilitating elections for Arafat's successor.
** Palestinians must embrace a competitive, non-violent election process.
** While some dub Abbas the "heir apparent," others tout imprisoned longshot Barghouti.
'Speaking of the roadmap is not enough'-- Euro papers observed that if there is only "one man who has the levers" to "put the roadmap to peace on the right track," it is President Bush. Calling on Bush to launch "fair and unbiased negotiations," Austria's mass-circulation Kurier argued that "the U.S. remains the only country with the potential to even out the power gap between the Israelis and the Palestinians." France's left-of-center Le Monde advised Bush to "work fast so as not to ruin the historic opportunity." Beligium's financial De Tijd worried that the U.S. "seems to hesitate" to "use Arafat's death" as an opening towards a peaceful solution. Writers elsewhere agreed with Hong Kong's independent South China Morning Post that "much depends...on the resolve" of Bush, "who is in a position to influence" any negotiations. Pessimists, including Morocco's independent Aujourd'hui Le Maroc, concluded that "resolving the historic conflict is not among the...administration's priorities."
'Israelis and Palestinians must want that peace'-- In addition to President Bush's active involvement, writers contended that a renewed peace process hinged upon a "constructive Israeli response" and "the emergence of a moderate leadership with the popular support to sell necessary compromises to the Palestinian people." India's nationalist Hindustan Times argued that "the fate of the peace process now depends on how the new Palestinian leadership succeeds in holding elections." The center-left Irish Times called on Tel Aviv to "ease...the conditions of the occupation...to allow an orderly and peaceful political process." While some Israeli papers agreed that Israel "must enable [Palestinians] to hold the elections on schedule" by withdrawing from Palestinian cities and dismantling roadblocks, most Israeli observers argued that it was up to the Palestinians to seize "their chance to join the side of freedom and democracy." West Bank's independent Al-Quds agreed that "ending the prolonged suffering" of Palestinians requires "adopting the correct understanding of democracy and its practices."
Abbas is 'Washington’s man,' Barghouti is 'more popular'-- Russia's centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta stated that it is "clear even now" that the internationally supported Mahmoud Abbas is the likely heir to Arafat. Several writers outside Israel, however, touted the electability of Marwan Barghouti, currently serving five life terms in an Israeli prison. Tellingly, Al Quds had to remind its readers: "There is nothing wrong in having more than one qualified candidate contesting the post of president; quite the contrary, this contest adds to the credibility of the election process.” Others foresaw violence, with Israel's nationalist Hatzofe treating a fatal shooting at an Abbas appearance in Gaza as "the beginning of the future struggle for leadership of the PLO."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITORS: Gloria kim, Stephen Thibeault
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. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. 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 77 reports from 26 countries over 12 - 22 November 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "If The U.S. Can't Fix It, It's The Wrong Kind Of Democracy"
Seumas Milne commented in the far-left Guardian (11/18): "[What] Bush and Blair have in mind when they call for Palestinian democratic reform...[is]...the promotion of politicians and institutions which will entrench Western-friendly policies: in the Palestinian case, those prepared to crack down on the armed groups, sign up to Israeli terms for a limited Bantustan-style statehood and abandon wider Palestinian national aspirations.... Of course, this has nothing to do with democracy or reflecting Palestinian opinion: it is the very opposite. Indeed, when it comes to new elections to the Palestinian legislative council, the only shift is likely to be towards greater radicalism, if the Islamist Hamas movement decides to take part."
FRANCE: "Bush And The Middle East: A Policy Of The Worse"
Jacques Amalric wrote in left-of-center Liberation (11/18): “Unless Condoleezza Rice goes through a deep psychological mutation, we do not see how things might go better for the Middle East.... For President Bush, now that Arafat is dead, the ball is in the hands of the Palestinians, not in Sharon’s hands.... Washington is barely aware that Sharon must lighten his hold on the occupied territories in order for the elections on January 9 to take place.... Washington’s take on the situation has no bearing with reality.... Under the circumstances, organizing free Palestinian elections in Gaza is as complex an exercise as organizing free elections in Iraq.”
"Blocking The Way To Mahmoud Abbas"
Sandrine Markham wrote in popular right-of-center France Soir (11/17): “The fact remains that the man chosen by Washington to succeed Arafat is unpopular and tied to Palestinian corruption.... And so the question that comes to mind is, to make peace, what is preferable? A real moderate, who is rejected by the people, or a supposed ‘hardliner’ who will be able to lead to people in its entirety?”
"Bush Is Too Cautious"
Left-of-center Le Monde editorialized (11/15): “While one can understand President Bush’s caution on November 12, considering that his new Administration is not yet named and that Israel’s political situation may still reveal some surprises...the fact is that he was too cautious.... One must work fast so as not to ruin the historic opportunity facing us. The U.S., which has lost its status of honest peace broker in the Middle East, must rebuild a relationship based on trust with the Palestinians. The EU can help, but it is very doubtful that Washington will offer the EU a true partnership. This relationship based on trust and aimed at erasing America’s poor image in Gaza and the West Bank, requires a policy of action, a presence and deadlines.... Speaking of the roadmap is not enough...no more than President Bush’s remarks about a Palestinian state by 2009, maybe.”
ITALY: "White House, The Peace Strategy Wavers"
Stefano Trincia noted in Rome center-left Il Messaggero (11/15): “Officially, nothing has changed. The White House is waiting for tangible facts from the Palestinian leadership regarding terrorism, but in the meantime it is working to bring about elections in early January and to restart the peace process in the Middle East. The objective is to create a Palestinian state by 2009. Unofficially, however, things at the White House are quite different. The Gaza shooting, from which Arafat’s ‘apparent’ successor Abu Mazen escaped, underscored the great uncertainties that weigh on the future of the Palestinians. And it sparked an internal feud between the [White House] hawks and doves, between those who see Arafat’s death as an opportunity to achieve lasting peace, and those who consider his departure as an opening to the final confrontation between rival factions, that will accentuate divisions within Al Fatah, thereby strengthening the Israeli cause.”
"The Road to Peace Remains Difficult"
Boris Biancheri opined on the front page of centrist, influential La Stampa (11/13): “The problem now is to discover how [Arafat's] departure will change things on the Palestinian side, as well as on the Israeli and American sides.... The main obstacle is represented by the great emotion that Arafat’s name evokes in Palestinians and in the Islamic world in general.... It will be difficult for a new leader to counter Arafat’s positions, which were made unalterable by his death.... The re-elected U.S. president’s conduct will be a crucial factor.... Bush’s first move will probably be to nominate an envoy for the Middle East.... But it will not be enough to nominate a representative. He must be given a full and unconditional mandate.”
RUSSIA: "Powell Out To Make His Mark"
Grigoriy Plakhotnikov wrote in business-oriented Kommersant (11/22): "Yesterday U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell set out on what may become a prologue to his greatest foreign policy success before he quits in January. For that to happen, he must talk the Israeli authorities into letting the most popular Palestinian politician, Marwan Barghouti, out of prison where he is serving five life terms for terrorism.... Observers say the chance of success is as great as never before. Colin Powell is sure to do his best to be remembered as a peacemaker. A dove in the company of hawks...he can leave spectacularly as a winner. If they yield to Powell's pressure, the Israelis, rather than having a terrorist out of prison, will end up with a real Palestinian leader capable of making decisions and answering for what he says. The Palestinians will benefit, too, as only a strong and popular personality like Marvan Barghouti can put the house in order."
Leonid Radzikhovskiy opined in official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (11/16): "Arafat left a mighty legacy, an Arafat myth. He created his own myth only to become its hostage. That myth will stay with Palestine for a long time, leading it down the road of revenge and blood, called a road of honor and struggle by shahids. Besides the myth and billions of dollars in Swiss banks, Arafat has left next to nothing. Having little of the
infrastructure necessary for a peaceful life, Palestine runs a complete infrastructure of terror."
"The U.S. To Try To Revive the Peace Process"
Mariya Grishina filed from Jerusalem for reformist Vremya Novostey (11/16): "Yasser Arafat's death marks the beginning of a new phase in the settlement process in the Middle East. Virtually frozen three years ago, the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue may be renewed now.... As Secretary Powell is planning to visit Israel and the PA next week, Washington evidently wants to take advantage of the post-Arafat situation to jump-start the negotiations."
"Abbas Risks Life"
Georgiy Stepanov stated in reformist Izvestiya (11/16): "Islamists, sworn enemies of Israel, have made it clear to Abbas and, through him, to the PA's future leadership who is the boss in Gaza and the West Bank now. A well-known peace champion in the Middle East, who has more than once condemned suicide terrorist attacks in Israel, Abbas risks his life by remaining true to himself and his stand."
"Abbas Speaks Of 'Spontaneous Reaction'"
Zakhar Gel'man, reporting from Tel Aviv, contended in official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (11/16): "Indeed, Abbas acknowledging Sunday's incident as an attempt on his life would have made the world aware of the illusory nature of the 'autonomous state' in which politicians get shot at right after their leader dies."
Gabriel Vol'fson filed from Jerusalem for centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (11/15): "Mahmoud Abbas is an heir apparent of Yasser Arafat. This is clear even now.... Abu Mazen, who resigned as the head of government because of differences with the Arafat and the latter's reluctance to offer him adequate authority, will get back to the helm, this time without the Rais' shadow lurching behind his back. But to be an effective leader, Abu Mazen needs more than just good intentions. Strong opposition, including major players like Hamas and a host of small armed groups, a lack of democratic tradition, and power anarchy all make stabilization the topmost priority, with possible talks with Israel coming second. The Bush Administration will not stand by, looking on. Reelected and feeling relatively free in his actions, the U.S. President is ready to offer Arafat's heir a maximum of support in implementing reform and resuming a dialogue with Israel.... George Bush, Ariel Sharon and Abu Mazen are interested in a renewed dialogue. Of that Troika, only Bush firmly knows how long he will stay in power. The upcoming elections in Israel and cataclysms in the PA can change the balance of forces overnight. As Arafat's death and Bush's reelection open new opportunities for the warring factions, no one can tell now where the winds of change will blow next."
"An Attempt On Abu Mazen's Life"
Marina Grishina wrote in reformist Vremya Novostey (11/15): "This is an ill omen. The upcoming elections are very important for the PA's image. Incidentally, the late Rais, Yasser Arafat, was elected in January of 1996. It barely looked like a popular vote. There have been no elections since then in the Autonomy. Now is a chance for the Palestinians to take a step to democracy."
"Betting On Puppets Costs More"
Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (11/18): "Marvan Barghouti's sensational appearance on the political scene would impart an entirely new, exciting dimension to the situation in the Middle East, as well as the PA. More than that, it would revive the old dispute on the choice of an optimal model of relationships between 'responsible powers,' on the one side, and 'problem countries or territories,' on the other, with the former trying one way or other to take control over the situation in the latter.... Marvan Barghouti has no support from the international community--something Mahmoud Abbas has--but he enjoys popular support at home, inside Palestine. He has what Abbass will never have. Though an ideologue of intifada, Barghouti is a moderate, compared to even more popular Mahmoud Zahar, the leader of extremist Hamas. That is, he is the lesser of two evils, as seen by the West and Israel. The simple conclusion to be made here is that the 'responsible powers' are getting more pragmatic. After Afghanistan and Iraq, they are beginning to realize that betting on a puppet costs too much. But then, of course, that does not apply to all of the 'responsible powers,' as they have had to grapple with Palestine, each with its own."
AUSTRIA: "The Path to Jerusalem"
Foreign affairs editor Gurdrun Harrer commented in liberal Der Standard (11/13): "Allegedly, the U.S. and the UK are working together on a new Mideast peace plan. Its details, and what distinguishes it from the Road Map in particular, are so far unknown. The EU, too, has announced a new initiative. On Friday, the New York Times reminded us of America's credo prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that the path to Jerusalem goes via Baghdad. However, the Middle East, and almost the entire EU, have always been convinced that in reality it is the other way round. Indeed, hopes are largely diminished that positive impulses will come out of Iraq in the foreseeable future. Whether the Bush administration will therefore tackle the Middle East conflict in all seriousness remains to be seen."
Foreign affairs writer Stefan Galoppi stated in mass-circulation Kurier (11/13): "Politically, one would have to prove to the Palestinians that not only they--as the weaker party--have to comply with international agreements, and that Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon cannot unilaterally create realities.... The U.S. remains the only country with the potential to even out the power disparity between the Israelis and the Palestinians--and to guarantee one side security, and the other its independence. President Bush emphasized yesterday that both goals are equally important to him. He would also have to prove this, however, by launching fair and unbiased negotiations. That's why sending William Burns to Cairo is nothing but a missed chance."
BELIGIUM: "Arafat's Death May Bring Palestinian State Closer"
Senior writer Hubert van Humbeeck wrote in liberal weekly Knack (11/17): “It is very well possible that Arafat’s death will bring a genuine Palestinian state closer. The Israeli and American governments--which have totally ignored Arafat the last two years--cannot but reach out to the new Palestinian leadership. They criticized Arafat for his lack of political courage because he was afraid of displeasing more radical Palestinians. Today, the question is whether Israeli PM Sharon is prepared to end the settlement policy on the West Bank in exchange for a peace.”
"Arafat Gone So Situation Will Change"
Foreign editor Paul De Bruyn observed in conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (11/16): “Now that Arafat is gone the situation will change. All Arab leaders are confronted with a series of uncertainties. The first effect may be positive for them. Without Arafat they will be less urged to act. They will prefer that. But, Arafat’s death also holds a major risk for many leaders. Arafat was in a position to keep a number of radical elements relatively calm and was able to keep up an appearance of unanimity. The question today is whether the new Palestinians leaders can do the same.... It does not seem very likely.... Without Arafat, the hardliners may have it their own way and that may set the Palestinian movement on a collision course with moderate leaders like Mubarak and King Abdallah. The latter’s interests are not served by growing unrest among the Palestinians and might suspend their support. Consequently, the relations between the Arab world and the Palestinians will probably be completely redefined in the coming months. Arafat’s death is only a starting point.”
"Peace Depends On Israelis And Palestinians, Not Bush"
Chief commentator Luc Van der Kelen editorialized in conservative Het Laatste Nieuws (11/13): "Bush speaks about a Palestinian state before the end of his presidency. That says something about the U.S. President's ambitions. Apparently, he wants to make it into the history books with major accomplishments. In that case, we will see a more moderate Bush in the coming four years. However, peace in the Middle East does not depend on him. The Israelis and Palestinians must want that peace.... Will Sharon tolerate a new strong leader among his enemies? It is to be feared that he will not allow that. His curriculum since the war in Lebanon does not bode well. The chance is much greater that Sharon will prefer a divided and weak Palestine with which he can settle his accounts in two phases. In practice, Israel has a military, geographic and economic grip on Palestine--with American approval. Against that, Palestine can react only with political support and terror. Sharon has even terror more or less under control because violence is decreasing considerably as the construction of the wall continues. In short, why should Israel give up the position of power that it has secured?"
"Bush Has Levers"
Foreign editor Jean Vanempten wrote in financial daily De Tijd (11/13): "Arafat's death could be an ideal opportunity for the international community to achieve a breakthrough and to find a solution to the Palestinian question. That won't be easy, but the European Union and, above all, the United States should use Arafat's death to put the 'roadmap to peace' on the right track again.... President Bush seems to hesitate. He promised that he would 'work on' a peaceful solution, just like he had 'worked on' a solution the last four years. However, the main characteristic of those last four years was a stalemate. If there is one man who has the levers to push Israel to the negotiation table in his hands, it is Bush."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Lost And Found Property Of The Palestinians"
Petr Pesek pondered in the right-of-center Lidove Noviny (11/13): "Bush could renew the balance of power for the U.S. in the Middle East, which was in the past - at least in the eyes of Arabs - bent in favor of Israel, by really supporting the establishment of a Palestinian state. And whom could the fulfillment of Palestinian ambitions for their own state harm the most? First of all Islamic terrorists, who would then lose another reason by which they argue when committing their attacks."
IRELAND: "Back To Politics After Arafat"
Center left The Irish Times editorialized (11/13): “The death of Yasser Arafat brings to an end a momentous era in the history of the Palestinian people he led for nearly 40 years. But, in an extraordinary coincidence of timing, it may have opened the way to achieve a political process that has collapsed over the last four years, since the failure of the Camp David talks. President Bush said in Washington yesterday that he hopes to see a democratic Palestinian state emerge over the next four years and that he will work with European leaders towards that goal. It would be foolish to be overoptimistic, but there is a real opportunity to make progress in this most deep-seated and strategic of conflicts.... There is a danger that deep factionalism will result in a power struggle and open up the Palestinian leadership to competing groups of Islamic fundamentalists. It is essential that the conditions of Israeli occupation are eased to allow an orderly and peaceful political process. Assuming this happens, all concerned with the settlement negotiations will have to accept the results. It is one thing for Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair to use the language of democracy in Washington yesterday; quite another for them--or Mr Ariel Sharon--to use it as an excuse not to deal with a Palestinian leader whose demands they cannot accept.... The news from Washington yesterday is welcome, along with indications that Mr. Bush wants to work with European leaders, who argue convincingly that without a credible Israeli-Palestinian peace process there is no prospect of stabilising Iraq or undermining the appeal of Islamic fundamentalist movements--much less of encouraging the spread of democracy in the region. Mr. Bush and Mr. Sharon must now come to terms with a new Palestinian leadership. They and the rest of the international community should respond generously to this new opportunity for peace."
NORWAY: "Bush And Blair’s Major Responsibility"
The newspaper of record Aftenposten commented (11/14): "Blair spoke of support to the Palestinians in their election of Arafat’s successor, and in the time period to follow. In this he was on the same line as the EU’s foreign policy coordinator, Javier Solana.... Bush did not offer a similar type of encouragement at this point in time. This proves the different viewpoints on the two sides of the Atlantic. Bush has a major responsibility for what happens in the Middle East; his victory in the election has increased this responsibility. But Blair’s responsibility is also large. He is fully supported by his EU-partners in the work to affect both Israel and the Palestinians in the direction of a solution; in this the free trade with the EU can also be made part of the discussion. Now it is particularly important that Blair focuses on his role in Europe, and not just on the cooperation with Bush. Blair cannot overlook that the British--still--are members of the EU.”
"Israel Must Accept The Election"
Independent VG commented (11/15): "It would be very unfortunate if President Bush remains as passive to the conflict in Palestine as he has been in his first term as President. It is impossible to find a good solution without the cooperation of the United States.... We would like to see Bush joining the EU’s foreign policy coordinator, Javier Solana, who has said that it is the responsibility of the world community to help the Palestinian people achieve their dream--a stable and independent state.... However, there is also reason to fear that PM Sharon again will not show good faith. A democratically elected leader, who enjoys wide international support, could mess up Sharon’s own plans and make it difficult for him to refuse further negotiations with the Palestinians. Earlier, Israel claimed that Yasser Arafat was the major hindrance for a peaceful solution; we fear that from now on it will be Ariel Sharon.“
PORTUGAL: "Terrorist Tears"
António Ribeiro Ferreira, senior journalist at respected center-left Diário de Notícias, had this to say in his regular column (11/16): “Now that the terrorist is buried, the pacifist forces who ascribe to Israel full responsibility for the current state of affairs in the Middle East, have turned to Sharon, who labeled Arafat as an obstacle to peace. Which means that for allies and financial backers of terrorism and Palestinian corruption, the peace issue is now in Israel’s hands. One more lie to add to so many others that anti-Semitic forces in Europe, from left or right, have been planting for so many years throughout the world.... The obstacles to peace are not with the Jewish state. They are, essentially, in the heads of those who still dream it is possible to destroy Israel. By demography or by terrorism.... The Palestinians were in the past and continue to be in the present a strike against Israel. Terrorism and the ignoble demand for the return of millions of supposed refugees are just the visible tip of a quest that only disappeared on paper: to destroy Israel.... That’s the reason why the terrorist Arafat refused the Camp David agreement in 2000...and that will be the reason why the new Palestinian leader will refuse any chance for peace. With or without Sharon.”
SPAIN: "Final Mission"
Left-of-center daily El País opined (11/16): "After near two years of Washington's abandonment, in which Sharon has had a free hand for his implacable policy in the occupied territories, Powell's visit is a sign that the White House wants to regain the prominence in the new scenario created after Arafat's death and Bush's victory. It won't be easy, because if until some weeks ago Washington had no interlocutor because it had ruled out Arafat, now the two weak leaders of the Palestinian authority raise doubts over the viability of agreements.... To avoid armed conflicts among the different Palestinian forces during the following seven weeks is now decisive.... Powell's possibilities are now minimal. For that reason the outgoing Secretary of State should try to take with him the promise of an Israeli concession to Ramallah. The White House will have to demand this from Sharon if it wants to regain a minimum of credibility."
TURKEY: "The Signs Of Tension In Palestine"
Zafer Atay noted in economic-political Dunya (11/22): “Things are not going to work smoothly in Palestine. That much has become obvious in developments following Arafat’s death. Arafat used to be the sole representative of the Palestinian leadership, and he never appointed a successor. For the upcoming Presidential elections on January 9, Abbas is among the strong candidates. Abbas is a reformist and a moderate figure compared with Barghouti, who is another leading name in the race. Barghouti is currently serving a sentence in an Israeli prison, but is supported by Palestine’s militant youth.”
ISRAEL: "We Miss You, Mr. 'There's-No-Partner'"
Akiva Eldar averred in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/22): "Where will they [Bush and Sharon] find a new 'there's-no-partner,' to whom Sharon refuses to talk? Who will rescue Bush from his road map peace plan, which promised that a 'settlement negotiated between the parties" will result in a final status agreement that 'will end the occupation that began in 1967'? But Israel will persevere, America will persevere.... One doesn't have to be the head of Military Intelligence to understand that the only chance for the pragmatic group headed by Abu Mazen to overcome the extremist nationalist and religious circles lies in its ability to convince the Palestinian street that there is a substitute for violence. It is Israel that is holding at least half of this substitute: an end to the cycle of the attacks-assassinations, and a renewal of negotiations on the basis of the road map--the creation of that knight of democracy George W. Bush, which was approved by the well-known democrat Ariel Sharon."
"Cause For Cautious Optimism"
Dr. Boaz Ganor concluded in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/21): "As long as terror attacks are considered legitimate, it is safe for [Israel] to assume that some organizations will try to gain points by using terrorism as a tool. But for the first time there is an opportunity here for a sane Palestinian leadership to seize the mantle and to march their people to an independent state of their own. The increased Israeli intelligence-gathering capacities and the existence of the fence under construction opposite the West Bank as an effective ground obstacle will also reduce the terror organizations' maneuvering room and restrict their ability to operate inside Israel.... The departure of the fermenting element who deceived everyone will only do good things for the region--first of all for the Palestinians, but also for the Israelis. The stabilization process has already begun. Even Hamas leaders are suddenly talking about a hudna [truce]. It will take weeks, perhaps even months before we will be able to discern any real change. In the meantime, Israel needs to be patient, restrained, receptive, and smart. We need to refrain from meddling, either directly or indirectly, in the turn of events in the territories, and to declare that we will be prepared to engage in dialogue with any Palestinian leadership elected. Now is the time for some humanitarian activity as well. And, above all, it is time for all those who stood at the gates and warned of Palestinian chaos to recognize that the source of this chaos is gone and, as such, there is cause for cautious optimism."
"Give Gaza To Egypt"
Yosef Goell advised in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (11/22): "We [Israel] should not confuse our need for collective and personal security from Palestinian terrorism with Palestinian demands for an independent state. The direction we should seek is to get off their backs in as much of the territories as possible, while reducing their future ability to attack us to a minimum. This could be done relatively easily in the Gaza Strip, to my mind, by abandoning that area and announcing to the world that we are returning it to the tender mercies of Egypt, from whom we conquered it in June 1967.... We owe the Palestinians in the Strip nothing; certainly not jobs in Israel. We did not provide for them between 1948 and 1967, and there is no reason to have done so since. We should do our utmost to mobilize the second Bush administration in support of such a solution. Surely the U.S. can demand Egypt resume her responsibility for the Strip and its 1.3 million fellow Arabs and Muslims in exchange for the over $50 billion in American aid she has received since 1979. A similar solution on the West Bank would be more complex, but not impossible."
"A New Democratic Paradigm"
Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/18): "There should be no doubt--history was made during the past month. Within three weeks, three dramatic facts were established: Israel made a commitment to disengage, George W. Bush was re-elected, and Yasser Arafat died. These developments reshuffled the deck in the Old Middle East game and dealt cards from the New Middle East game. The rules of the new game are not yet clear.... In this situation...we must not latch onto old examples. We must not try to return to Oslo or Abu Mazen-Beilin or Abu Mazen 2003.... The combination of a determined American leadership, new Palestinian leadership and Israeli readiness to withdraw creates an unprecedented opportunity to generate Palestinian reforms. This opportunity must not be missed. It must not be exchanged for some short-term understanding with Ramallah. We must also not miss this opportunity because of a stubborn insistence on unilateral action. Instead, the plan to withdraw from Gaza should become the first chapter in a much wider plan of Palestinian democratization.... Last week, President Bush invited [Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs] Natan Sharansky and his colleague Ron Dermer for a surprise meeting in the Oval Office. It was an extraordinarily important meeting. It indicated that during his second term, Bush intends to disseminate the democratic idea throughout the Middle East, starting with Palestine. The skeptics in Jerusalem should know: if Israel fails to adapt itself to the President's resolute ideological agenda, it will encounter serious problems. On the other hand, if Israel becomes the standard bearer of the democratic idea in the Middle East, the sky's the limit."
"Great Expectations And A Great Opportunity"
Middle East affairs commentator Guy Bechor wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/18): "Perhaps the time has come to try a new approach, one that presents the future Palestinian leadership with the great expectations that Israel has from it and a great opportunity.... [According to that approach,] Israel would confer legitimacy only on a Palestinian government that declares the terror and violence known as the Intifada completely over. Not a hudna [truce], not a wink and no temporary tricks. Only the end of the Intifada.... For a long time now we have made light of existential Israeli interests and have focused instead mainly on the Palestinian interests and difficulties.... Perhaps a very high level of demands will make things easier for a leader such as Abu Mazen. He will be able to say that he won't get anything without a complete end of the Intifada. That level of expectations might also prevent the next Intifada from erupting. Renewing negotiations without the Palestinian side having to make an effort to end the Intifada fully means that the Palestinian side in the future will be inclined to let things deteriorate into violence, on the assumption that it has nothing to lose. That will not be the case if the Palestinians recognize the degree of strategic damage that rampant lawlessness exacts from them, if they understand that the difficult burden to end it is theirs.... The unilateral Israeli initiative that is in process in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip can be continued without fear of an impasse. If the Palestinians want to become partners again, they ought to show good will. If they either do not want or are incapable of doing so, why engage in dialogue with a leadership that isn't able to pass muster?"
"Delusions Of Change"
Yossi Ben-Aharon, former director-general of the PM's Office under Yitzhak Shamir, argued in popular, pluralist Maariv (11/18): "Up till now, there has been absolutely no sign that the PLO leaders--not just Arafat--are ready to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.... Those who fired at Abu Mazen in Gaza belong to Fatah, the leading terror group within the PLO. They wanted to warn Abu Mazen, in their unique way, that he shouldn't dare deviate--be it by one inch--from the way of Abu Amar [Arafat's nom de guerre]. I still haven't mentioned the rejectionist organizations, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to say nothing about Hizbullah, which has recently increased its activity in the country.... The Israeli public, including the increasingly larger number of those who have lost relatives in the conflict, is carrying its burden quietly and with infinite patience, because it knows with what kind of enemy Israelis are coping. It ought to have its elected representatives and leaders cease wrapping the truth in deceptive magic, and stop pinning unwarranted hopes in it."
"Arafat Is Dead; His People Have Come Back To Life"
Chief Economic Editor Sever Plotker wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/18): "In its reactions to Arafat's death, the Palestinian people showed maturity, weariness and mainly a strong desire to rid themselves of that deceptive, delusional vision that has prevented the Palestinians in the past number of years from reaching their goal. And it will not take long before an accelerated Palestinian de-Arafatization process will be begun. After all, the Palestinians, like every other national community on the face of this earth, yearn for the normalcy that Arafat hated so. When the 'fathers of the nation' die young, the nation is hard put to recover. But when the father of the nation dies in embittered old age, only then does the nation wake up and stand on its own two feet."
"Between The Muqata And Democracy"
Veteran print and TV journalist Dan Margalit wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (11/16): "Cooperation with Abu Mazen is a required step, but it entails a heavy price.... [Abu Mazen] will become accountable. Israel's disappointment will turn in his direction. A terrorist attack in Beersheva, which isn't protected by a fence, or a bunch of Qassam rocket launchings against Sderot will turn him into an address for Israeli demands, and for the enduing frustration and fury. Politicians and commentators who are spurring on Israel to unlimited Israeli cooperation with Abu Mazen--in a blatant public fashion--must also bring into account the response stage. A subtle and sophisticated formula must be found--a bear-less embrace."
"Two, Three, Many Arafats"
The Director of the Interdisciplinary Center's Global Research in International Affairs Center, columnist Barry Rubin, wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (11/16): "Despite the frequently heard claim that, post-Arafat, a moderate Palestinian trend offers an opportunity for advancing peace, the Palestinian reality is one of division and radical veto power.... Moderates could appeal to average Palestinians who are tired of violence. But they are not politically sophisticated or sufficiently organized to pursue that strategy. They also face the movement's dominant ideology, which still hinges on Israel's destruction, and the men with guns. They have no charismatic leader, are heretics to the Islamists, and will be seen as puppets of Israel and America. Consequently, they are likely to survive by not doing much.... Like their late leader, Arafat's heirs may win some international public relations victories. But getting a state or improving their people's welfare--much less defeating Israel--may elude them for many years."
"First Signs Of Outburst In PLO"
Nationalist Hatzofe editorialized (11/16): "The violent outbursts against interim PA chairman Abu Mazen during the condolence visit he made to the 'mourning tent' erected in memory of Yasser Arafat was intended to express the resolute opposition of many Gaza residents to the presentation of Abu Mazen's candidacy as the Rais's heir. Firearms were involved in the demonstration, and created panic among the thousands of people present. The shooting left no room for doubts--this is the beginning of the future struggle for leadership of the PLO."
"The Peace Motif On A New Scale"
Prominent musician Daniel Barenboim, an Israeli citizen and peace activist, wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/16): "I never met Yasser Arafat because I never wanted to. Despite a number of invitations, I have always preferred to spend my time in places where people exchange ideas that go beyond ideology, where peace already breathes between Palestinians and Jews--in the hospitals of Ramallah, at universities, at musical events. In these places lie the roots for the resolution of the conflict in the Middle East. The Palestinians and Israelis there move forward much more so than their politicians because they act with logic and emotional intelligence--qualities of which Yasser Arafat unfortunately lost sight.... Arafat missed the opportunity to fight the mutual mistrust between Jews and Palestinians. There can be no peace if the Palestinians deny the Holocaust. But there also can be no peace if Israelis do not accept at least partial responsibility for the conflict.... Israel and the U.S. can no longer block free elections in the Palestinian areas out of fear of a possible Hamas majority. They must trust the Palestinian people. I am convinced that Hamas will not win a free election.... The death of Yasser Arafat has opened a new door. Now is the time for the first step toward democracy. This step is full of risks, and requires trust on all sides. We don't know where it will lead. But if we just stand still, we will have no chance of escaping the violence."
"Time To Implement Bush's Vision"
Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/15): "It is hard to believe that the death of Yasser Arafat has transformed Ariel Sharon from the father of unilateral disengagement from Gaza into a believer in a permanent settlement in the West Bank and Jerusalem. It is more likely that Sharon learned from Bush's vision of June 2000 that the establishment of a Palestinian state is a distant vision indeed. In light of the passivity the U.S. has evinced in our area, the burden of proof concerning the fact that our place on Bush's agenda has changed and that it is on the U.S. president. The attitude of the U.S. to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be determined to a great extent by whether Arafat's death does open a new era in the region. The perpetuation of a policy of paying lip service to the Arabs and to Europe, as in the case of the much-maligned U.S. road map plan, will join statements like 'a new era' on the garbage heap of eulogistic cliches.... In his death, Arafat has given Bush a rare opportunity to prove to the Arab world that the vision of democracy for the Middle East is not a code-name for the lust for power, oil, small-minded local politics or just plain laziness."
"The Bush-Blair Message"
The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (11/14): "[At their joint press conference on Friday,] the two men [Blair and Bush] could not have been more on the same song sheet, and on that song sheet was one word: democracy. Time and again, the leaders batted away questions designed to generate the usual it's-Israel's-fault headlines with the same answer--now is the Palestinians' chance to build a democracy that can negotiate with Israel. The opportunity of this moment is indeed an incredible one. In two months, the Palestinians will elect a new president. Unlike in the last elections that anointed Arafat, it is likely that Palestinians will be presented with a real choice. We do not know how clear or free a choice it will be, but we do know the choice Palestinians have to make: they have to decide whether they want to begin to build their own democratic state alongside Israel, or continue with some form of dictatorship, Islamic or otherwise, seeking to destroy Israel.... Bush and Blair have told the Palestinians that this is their chance to join the side of freedom and democracy, or be left behind. Our own government should take note that the litmus test for partnership is not just the ability to stop terrorism, but the more fundamental peace and stability when power derives from the consent of the governed."
"Abu Mazen Eating What Arafat Cooked"
Regional correspondent Ronni Shaked wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/15): "Poor Abu Mazen. What a wretched legacy he received from Arafat. What a heavy load of responsibility has been put on him. What a mess. No law, no order, what a miserable government. Gang struggles with nobody knowing who is against whom, but where everyone knows how to pull the trigger in his spare time. Governmental anarchy. Poor guy. The shooting Sunday in the Gaza tent was not an attempt on his life, but it was definitely a warning shot to Abu Mazen and to the new leadership.... Abu Mazen's task is extremely difficult. His success or failure will have a direct effect on us [Israel]. In the reality created after Arafat, Israel must begin to think in terms of a new era. In the meantime, there is no need to talk of peace or co-existence. We must return to normalizing the dispute, try to give the Palestinians a bit of hope, with help and with relief measures, without risking security. We must try to act with less tanks and helicopters, with less humiliating roadblocks that were unable to change the situation, perhaps only made it worse. Steps like these perhaps will lead to a different reality, which in the end will also help stabilize Abu Mazen's rule and Israel's security."
"Elections Are The Focus Now"
Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote on page one of independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (11/14): "In the coming days, diplomatic attention will focus on the impending Palestinian elections. The swift declaration of elections surprised the defense establishment, which had thought the Palestinians would need more time to organize them. Now the package of 'gestures' it prepared already seems outdated: Elections will force Israel to remove its army from Palestinian cities, both to facilitate the campaign and so that the vote will not take place under Israeli guns. The defense establishment's plan, for a slow, phased withdrawal involving lengthy negotiations over each city, does not mesh with Palestinian elections in January.... The prevailing opinion in Israel is that with Arafat dead, Abbas and his colleagues must be given time to get organized. They should not be embraced or deluged with 'gestures'; instead, Israel should wait for talks at which each side will present its demands. Sharon's office has fond memories of working with Abbas during his brief stint as Palestinian prime minister in summer 2003, and it is hoping for a good relationship in the future as well."
"Give East Jerusalem Arabs The Vote"
Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (11/15): "[Prior to the previous elections for chairmanship of the PA,] the opponents of the Oslo Accords, headed by Likud figures, argued that the participation of Jerusalem's Arabs in the PA elections constituted an undermining of Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem. Such arguments were raised again yesterday by a number of Likud leaders, including Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. The Prime Minister said in response that he had not authorized these statements and that the issue would be brought to the cabinet. The Israeli government, which expects the Palestinians to build a democratic society and government, must enable them to hold the elections on schedule, under international observation, as stipulated in the Oslo Accords. The Israel Defense Forces will then have to withdraw from the Palestinian cities, dismantle roadblocks in the territories and enable East Jerusalem's Arabs to take part in the democratic process."
"Arafat's Successors Get A Chance"
Correspondent Yakov Shaus wrote in conservative, Russian-language Vesty (11/14): "In 1993 Arafat was given a chance to prove that terror was a
'side effect' of his struggle for noble goals. But he deceived the U.S., Israel and the Nobel Prize Committee, and developed an unprecedented war of terror against the Jews.... According to assessments by Israelis and others, Arafat was a great terrorist and killer, rather than a great historic figure. He was not a military adversary and cannot get any respect, because he killed defenseless people--women, children and elderly. He was a very tricky and artistic medieval cannibal, who knew how to approach western intellectuals as well as Israeli 'humanists.' The Israeli leadership tried to establish a civilized dialogue [with Arafat], while he was laughing quietly at...them and continued his bloody deeds.... Arafat's successors are 'yesterday's terrorists,' but they seem to be less fanatical than their deceased leader.... Israel needs peace. The struggle against terror should be ruthless in case the attacks continue. If the PA Administration unconditionally stops violence and is ready for negotiations, Israelis will have to make a step forward."
WEST BANK: "Powell's Farewell"
Hafiz Barghuti commented in official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (11/22): "It can be said that [Powell's] term has been the worst in Palestinian history. He wasn’t particularly active and was happy with following up on things from a distance. He made us bear the burden of occupation as if we were asking for it.... Except for the recent developments, in Jericho Powell would probably hear from the Abu Ala’a government the same things he did from Abu Mazin’s. The Palestinian position has not changed, but there will be a more open democratic system in order to fill the vacuum left by President Yasir Arafat. The Americans must show more understanding for our concerns and move away from Israeli extremism. We believe that Powell’s successor at the State Department will find on her desk a summary of Powell’s farewell visit, giving her a better understanding of the complications of this area from a less radical viewpoint than that of the Pentagon hawks. If Powell is not able to make any decision, considering his resignation, he can at least provide advice and consultation before he leaves.”
"The Real Test Of The American Positions"
Independent Al-Quds declared (11/22): "Undoubtedly, the Israeli position on the upcoming Palestinian elections forms the real test of Israel’s seriousness toward peace and security. Such an Israeli position will also reveal the intentions of the American administration and the Quartet. If Powell and his administration are serious in their search for peace, then they have to focus their efforts on removing Israeli obstacles, especially by ensuring a normal atmosphere for holding Palestinian elections. This means that Israel has to withdraw to the September 28, 2000 lines and lift the checkpoints and siege, as well as allow freedom of movement for the Palestinians.... We would like to tell Powell that what is expected of him and his administration is to cooperate with the international community and the Quartet to compel Israel to refrain from polluting the atmosphere of holding real peace negotiations.”
"Following The Passing of Yasser Arafat"
Salah al-Din Hafiz opined in independent Al-Quds (11/18): “Despite all the preparations for re-uniting the Palestinian home [ranks]...the American administration and the Israeli government are occupying themselves, secretly and in public, with searching for an acceptable partner and negotiator to replace Arafat. The clear meaning is that they are looking for a partner who proves satisfactory to them and who will accept what Israel offers, America accepts and Arabs welcome after Arafat’s having been, from their point of view, such an obstacle to the 'Sharonesque' solution.
"Positive And Encouraging Signs"
Independent Al-Quds editorialized (11/17): “The successful utilization of the ‘time issue,’ which seems to be fairly short and too scarce to complete the hard process of elections...will be the biggest challenge to implementing the upcoming democratic process.... It is no secret that the whole world, including our friends, foes and others, are scrutinizing the Palestinian people by watching every development on the Palestinian scene, trying to reach conclusions and foresee the Palestinian future, based on the Palestinians’ performance and effectiveness, especially after the passing of their president.... We should mention here...a number of positive indications and gestures...associated with important Palestinian figures, both in the West Bank and Gaza, showing the level of responsibility and realization of the gravity of the current stage and the importance of containing its dangers. It is also worth mentioning that there is nothing wrong in having more than one qualified candidate contesting the post of president; quite the contrary, this contest adds to the credibility of the election process.”
"Waiting For Electoral Decision"
Rajab Abu Sariya wrote in Al-Ayyam (11/16): “Even if we were to assume for the sake of argument that the Israeli lack of willingness [to cooperate] in holding Palestinian presidential elections is deflected, the internal Palestinian obstacles appear to be no less vital than this factor. It is extremely difficult to carry out any presidential elections in a state of security chaos. And in order not to undermine the integrity of the electoral process, elections must not take place in an atmosphere of armed clashes or under the influence machine guns terrorizing the voters and influencing their choices. Furthermore, there is the problem of the lack of political consensus, not necessarily on the presidential candidate but rather on respecting the election results, whatever they may be."
"Restraint And Awareness Are Essential To Prevail Over The Dangers Of The Current Phase"
Independent Al-Quds editorialized (11/16): "Following the death of their leader, the Palestinians are standing at a crucial junction. Observers and senior officials from around the world agree that the Palestinians will either move toward national unity to achieve the agreed-upon goals of liberation, independence and sovereignty as well as ending the prolonged suffering...or allow for the continuation of occupation and settlements. The second scenario can take place if disarray, emotions and hastiness lead the Palestinian political decision.... The potential dangers awaiting the Palestinian cause are real. But the way to overcome them is wide open, including having the courage to renounce the [previous] mistakes and get rid of negative behaviors as well as adopting the correct understanding of democracy and its practices.”
Hani Masri commented in independent Al-Ayyam (11/16): “One of the most significant criticisms against Yasir Arafat was that he personally held too many authorities. Hence, we have to learn from that experience and refrain from repeating the same mistakes using different names or shallow pretexts. It has been claimed that the main reason for combining the leadership of the Palestinian Authority and that of the PLO is to centralize and unify those positions so as not to fragment the leadership.... The fact of the matter is that separating those two leadership posts is essential, simply because the duties, options and needs of each are different.”
"Challenges Following The Passing"
Muhannad ‘Abd al-Hamid wrote in Al-Ayyam (11/16): “It was both logical and important to prepare for a post-Arafat phase before his death in order to set in place the necessary institutions to take over after him. But that didn’t happen, and everything remained totally dependent upon him until the last moment of his departure for hospitalization. Now we find ourselves confronting enormous challenges and obligations. There is no one leader able to filling Arafat’s shoes, and thus the only way out is to focus on a system of institutions and elected leadership, one that is law-abiding and accountable.”
LEBANON: "Blood From A Stone? Palestinians Must Make The Most Of Every Drop"
The moderate, English-language Daily Star editorialized (11/22): "One way various parties have attempted to coax a modicum of justice from Sharon and co. in the lead-up to Powell's visit has been with unofficial requests for Israel to facilitate Palestinian presidential elections on Jan. 9 by withdrawing troops from West Bank cities, removing road blocks, lifting travel restrictions and limiting military activities in the run-up to the elections.... Palestinian election officials, U.S. Middle East envoy William Burns, and UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen all called on Israel to implement these measures so the ground was prepared for Powell to push for a definitive Israeli commitment to implement them. Is drawing blood from a stone possible? Only a few weeks ago, the Israeli military machine was running rampant in the West Bank. However, should Israel implement the wise measures mentioned above and called for by so many, the onus will be on the Palestinians to ensure such gestures do not dissipate in the wind--they must nail them down and use them to develop a stronger internal political process.... It would be prudent of the Palestinians not to allow a PR image of a magnanimous Israel willing to make all manner of concessions and compromises in the interests of peace and justice, to sweep the world unaddressed.... The Palestinians...should also show the world that a cohesive Palestinian body politic is prepared to step into the vacuum left by Yasser Arafat's death and to meet the challenges of democracy, transparency, good governance and the rule of law. If the Palestinians believe they can build the Arab world's first genuine democracy, they have a lot of work to do."
"The Train Of American Peace Settlement"
Nassif Hitti editorialized in pro-Hariri Al-Mustaqbal (11/18): “The immediate question following President Bush’s re-election and the death of President Arafat is the following: Will the train of peace settlement resume its march?.... Will a change take place in the American policy towards the peace process.... Arafat was considered a hindrance for the American involvement in the peace process...but after his death, it was believed that the U.S. will resume its role.... However, the American-British summit...was not up to expectations. Blair, who wanted to hold an international conference to discuss the Palestinian issue did not get his request.... The American response was ambiguous. The U.S. neither refused to resume its involvement in the peace process, nor accepted.“
SAUDI ARABIA: "New Impetus"
The English-language pro-govenrment Arab News held (11/22): "Less than two weeks after the passing away of Yasser Arafat, a new impetus has been injected into peace efforts--and the results have been surprising at times and remarkable at others. Preparations for elections on Jan. 9 to choose Arafat’s successor are going smoothly. While former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas is widely tipped to succeed Arafat, this has not stopped a range of independents from trying. And unity is also on show.... There are, however, threats to a peaceful transition. Israel must withdraw from Palestinian areas and halt all military operations to allow elections to go forward smoothly.... Thus, one act by Hamas or Jihad, then a brutal Israeli crackdown, and the cycle of violence restarts. Which is why Israel and the U.S. must come up with the goods; and it appears on some counts there have been such steps. Ariel Sharon is now considering coordinating his Gaza pullout plan with a new Palestinian leadership.... President Bush has not made such remarkable shifts. But he has been persuaded, by Tony Blair perhaps, that the U.S. must re-engage in the peace process. This is highly encouraging.... Also, outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell is meeting Palestinian leaders today following many months spent outside Middle East diplomacy. With Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov scheduled to meet them tomorrow and British Foreign Minister Jack Straw on Thursday, this could mean a concerted high-level engagement of the world in an effort to give the peace process a second life. Judging by what has been taking place, it looks that there has indeed been a big break in the deadlock."
"The Reality Of Abu Mazen"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (11/20): "Those who are reiterating the words of Abu Mazen might give the listener the impression that he is maneuvering politically; however, the truth of the matter is that whomever assumes the position of Chairman of the Executive Committee at the P.A. must hold on to the basics that were set when the P.A. was established in 1948. Neither Abu Mazen, nor Abu Ala’a, or anyone else who contributed to the Oslo Accord, can ignore the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. Especially those rights that concern establishing a Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as its capital, and the right of return. This is what Abu Mazen really is saying."
"Bush And The Dream Of Establishing A Palestinian State"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (11/15): "Today, after the demise of chairman Yaser Arafat and the formation of a new Palestinian leadership.... President Bush declared before the entire world his support for conducting elections in the occupied territories. He also suggested that it is possible to create an independent Palestinian state by the end of his second term in 2009, not as was mentioned in the roadmap plan in year 2005. Although Washington’s position toward the elections was positive, the world was surprised by President Bush’s new position on establishing a Palestinian state. His statement gave Israel a green light to continue its aggressive polices against the Palestinians. We ask the U.S. administration to put pressure on Israel to withdraw its troops from the occupied territories in order to enable the Palestinian people to vote freely.
"After Arafat’s Era"
Dammam’s moderate Al-Yaum editorialized (11/15): "Sharon was extremely happy about the death of his mortal enemy Yaser Arafat, but he was at the same time worried about the disappearance of Arafat because of his profound fear that he might lose the support of the White House for his strategy, to delay the Palestinian Israeli negotiations. Likewise to delay President Bush’s plan to create a independent Palestinian state.... It was obvious that it was impossible to implement the roadmap plan during Arafat’s time but now we can confidently assert that it is possible to achieve positive progress including an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza."
"Peace After Arafat"
Riyadh’s conservative Al-Riyadh editorialized (11/13): "Now, what the Israelis and Americans considered as an obstacle before achieving peace has disappeared. Will the two sides seize the opportunity and engage in a frank dialogue with the new Palestinian leadership without putting impossible and unacceptable conditions? Will Tony Blair, who tried to propose a new vision for the Palestinian question, convince the Americans, especially President Bush, that the upcoming phase is extremely critical and cannot endure any delays? Sharon does not want to conclude any peace agreement, even if the negotiator was a Palestinian with an Israeli citizenship.... Arafat was not the reason behind delay of peace.... Yet, there is an opportunity before President Bush and Sharon to forget Arafat’s dilemma and open the closed doors to peace.
SYRIA: "Between Postponement And Insistence, What Is Needed Is A Unified Palestinian Stand"
Chief Editor Elias Murad observed in government-owned Al-Ba'th (11/21): "After his reelection...George Bush announced that the establishment of a Palestinian state will be postponed to 2009.... What is taking place in the region is no more than part of the old political moves to play for time, a game which both Israel and the U.S. play.... When a U.S. president is elected for a first term, he waits and hesitates to seriously address the Middle East issue. And when he is reelected for a second term, he claims that he can find no partner or says that the date of Israeli elections is drawing closer as an excuse. In both cases, he makes no moves to resolve the issues of the region.... The Palestinian issue is now in a critical phase and may be at a crossroads. What will save this issue or help stop the deterioration of the situation is a unified Palestinian stand on the establishment of a state under the resolutions of international legitimacy. Perhaps the most serious threat to this goal is the continuation of attempts to undermine the Palestinian stand and create problems between Palestinian parties. Israel made such attempts in the past when it accused the resistance organizations of terrorism and called for not dealing with them. The aim behind resigning Secretary Powell's visit might not be different from these attempts. He might make false promises, which will be easy for his successor to renounce. But these promises will have caused a rift among the Palestinians and undermined the Palestinians' relations with their Arab brothers."
UAE: "Barghouti Holds The Trump Card"
The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf News stated (11/22): "The big Middle East question is, will Israel release jailed Palestinian Marwan Barghouti in exchange for jailed Arab Israeli spy Azzam Azzam? While the Israelis have long wanted Azzam to return to their fold, whether the Palestinian 'old guard' will want the much younger Barghouti to be let out of jail is quite another matter. Although Barghouti is serving five life terms plus 40 years in an Israeli jail for alleged terrorism (always denied by Barghouti who refused to recognise the authority of the court), it is quite possible this Hebrew-speaking politician could be released in the exchange. Barghouti's political motivations may have been provocative, but almost parallel to that of most Jewish leaders over recent years, so it is not the issue of involvement or otherwise in militancy. It is whether he can deliver what Israel purportedly wants, peace with the Palestinians. The next few weeks will be interesting to see how the supposed deal will shape up. It could be that the incumbent Palestinian leadership has more to fear from the younger and more popular Barghouti than their foes of old, Israel, with whom it has often been said they are happy to allow the status quo to persist."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "After Arafat"
Middle East correspondent Nicolas Rothwell observed in the weekend’s conservative Australian (11/13): “The invasion of Iraq and the death of Arafat are both, in their different fashions, creative destabilizers. It is a time that demands--on all sides--leaders capable of transforming the popular mind-set, of replacing their most cherished national myths and desires with a deepened sense of reality, and acceptance of constructive compromise. The days in the dream palace--for Arabs and Israelis--may at last be coming to an end, if politicians capable of such negotiations can be found. But where, on the present horizon, are those men?”
"Arafat's End Offers A New Start For Peace"
Editorial in the weekend’s conservative Australian read (11/13): “Yasser Arafat has died as he lived--in chaos. The PA he used as a vehicle for his personal power is chronically disorganized and divided. No one knows whether possible successors, Mahmoud Abbas or current PM Ahmed Qureia, will hold the regime together and defy any challenge from the increasingly influential Islamic militias. And Arafat leaves the Palestinian people with no policies that offer any prospect of peace with Israel. The challenge for his successors is enormous.... The existing stalemate is a wicked waste of life in a struggle that neither side can win and which has gone on far too long. Israelis and Palestinians have no choice but to embrace peace or keep on killing. In his refusal to pursue peace, Yasser Arafat was a big part of the Middle East problem. His death might mean the two sides can start seriously searching for a solution.”
CHINA (HONG KONG SARS): "After Arafat, World Waits And Hopes"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (11/14): "Arafat passed up chances to make compromises or accept imperfect peace offers that might have nonetheless delivered the two-state solution that ordinary Palestinians so desired. What happens next depends very much on the Palestinians' pragmatism.... Much depends, too, on the resolve of key players in Israel and President Bush, who is in a position to influence the PM Sharon, has signaled he wants to see an independent Palestinian state by the end of his second term. Whether this translates into good-faith gestures ahead of the Palestinian election remains to be seen. These should, observers believe, include reducing the Israeli military presence in the occupied territories, freezing or dismantling Jewish settlements and freeing political prisoners. Here, Mr. Bush will face stiff resistance from Mr. Sharon, who sees an end to militant attacks against Israel as a precondition to any other steps.... With Arafat's passing, there is some room for optimism. The new chairman of the PLO is Mahmoud Abbas, a pragmatist and one of the Palestinians' lead peace negotiators four years ago. Then there is Ahmed Qorei, who continues as prime minister. Both are opposed to the uprising and its violence against Israeli civilians. Yet they come from a position of weakness, lacking Arafat's charisma and popular support. The unknown factors include the pull of leaders such as Marwan Barghouti, who claims a wide following despite having been imprisoned by Israel, and the co-operation of the militants in Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Holding an election will be one thing--even with financial and security support from the U.S. and others--but getting broad Palestinian acceptance of the result could also present a challenge. The emergence of a moderate leadership with the popular support to sell necessary compromises to the Palestinian people could mean new life for the much-battered peace process. The hopes of the world are pinned on this, and on a constructive Israeli response, though such an outcome is far from certain."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
INDIA: "Hate Campaign And Peace Don't Gel"
The Guwahati-based English-language left-of-center Sentinel opined (11/22): "There can be no second opinion that, to build a conducive atmosphere for peace between warring nations and peoples, the parties involved should first show restraint in their hostile propaganda and campaign against each other and tread on the negotiation process step by step.... It can only lead to one's doom and destruction as violence begets violence. And this is precisely what has happened to the Palestinians, who cannot think of anything beyond the 'destruction of Israel' as the be all and end all of life. This is as much unfortunate as tragic that the behavior of the Palestinian leadership under the late Yasser Arafat in the peace process with Israel...has always been determined by that unacceptable call in the PLO charter that 'destruction of Israel' should be the goal of every Palestinian.... The Palestinian leadership should, perhaps, bring out a list of the provocative steps that they allege the Israelis are taking against them since the peace process started, so that the world knows which side is wrong.... The situation, however, is still not lost as the mediators have resumed their efforts with renewed vigor since the death of Arafat, whom Israel and all of them had identified as the stumbling block to the resumption of the dialogue.... One can only hope that this time something concrete would emerge so that this war of hate and 'poisonous propaganda' became a thing of the past."
"The New Holocaust"
Columnist S. Nihal Singh wrote in the centrist Asian Age (11/18): "President Bush has already endorsed major illegal settlements on the West Bank and denied Palestinians the right of return to their original homes.... The Israeli agenda is clear. They want to cement a Greater Israel with American benediction and hope that the lesser breed of Palestinian leaders who are heirs to Arafat's legacy can do little to reverse the tide flowing their way. For Ariel Sharon and his ilk, it is all over bar the shouting. The Bush administration and the mythical international community will be expected to perform the last rites for the stillborn Palestinian state.... International diplomacy has more than its fair share of sophistry and double-speak but seldom before has Orwellian talk reached the level of duplicity it has in propagating Israel's annexation of occupied land and goal of a Greater Israel.... The Bush administration is ignoring at its peril the consequences of engineering a new unjust order on Palestinians, the Arab world and Muslims.... Israel might revel in possessing a hyper power protector being ruled by an ideological President in hock to neoconservatives, but it is being short-sighted in believing that its future lies in making permanent enemies of Palestinians and the wider Arab world, however pliant ruling Arab regimes might be. Israel, with American help, is laying the groundwork for a permanent Intifada."
"One Gallant Man, Two Terrible Men,"
Calcutta's leftist Bengali-language Aajkaal editorialized (11/17): "Even after his demise Yasser Arafat remains to be a living icon of the dream, aspirations and struggle for a free Palestinian state.... Questions are being raised on how an aggressive Israel could be restrained. How could the Israeli forces, backed by a rogue America, become so brutal and disregard peace-loving global opinion? Some people fear that the Palestinian struggle may be derailed in Arafat's absence. It is one of the natural and primary responsibilities of statesmen of all nations to condole such a gallant person's death. Bush and Blair are significant exceptions. No sooner had the news of Arafat's death was announced they jumped on to the stage to exploit the situation. Are they human beings?"
"A Lifebelt For Palestine"
The nationalist Hindustan Times editorialized (11/15): "The passing of Yasser Arafat is an epochal event for the Palestinians. Whether or not it will be a turning point in their long quest for nationhood remains to be seen.... Following Israel, the U.S. had more or less refused to deal with him. But if they have any common sense, they will now move fast to make a deal with a successor leadership. For one thing, this will help alleviate Arab and Muslim anger at the Israeli excesses in the occupied territories and remove an important propaganda point for Osama bin Laden and radical Islamists around the world. For another, it will prevent the leadership of the Palestinians from falling into the hands of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas, who are committed to the elimination of Israel, in other words, no solution and more bloodshed.... The fate of the peace process now depends on how the new Palestinian leadership succeeds in holding elections and governs the Gaza Strip once the Israelis withdraw.... It would be a fitting legacy to the man who occupied an iconic status in the developing world, if his passing becomes the catalyst for achieving what he had struggled for so long--an independent Palestinian State."
The pro-economic-reforms Economic Times editorialized (11/13): "Yasser Arafat's death represents not just loss and despair but also hope. The U.S. and Israel, with the backing of their allies, must seize this opportunity to secure, simultaneously, an independent state of Palestine, peace for Israel and credible proof that the War on Terror is not a crusade against Muslims.... Now that he is no more, Israel, which always accused him of being secretly committed to its complete destruction, has no reason to balk at Palestinian self-rule. His death has provided it with the right face-saver to make way for Palestinian self-determination. The rational elements within the Palestinian movement no longer believe that Israel does not have a reason d'etre, Israel should withdraw peacefully, not just from Gaza, but the whole of West Bank. As for Palestinians, we hope that they will surmount the leadership crisis that Yasser Arafat has left behind."
The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer stated (11/12): "Yasser Arafat was so many things in his life that, in death, the warts-and-all man can scarcely be separated from the inspiring myth.... With Arafat gone, the Palestinian movement will be perceived as headless, and thus run the risk of being hijacked by the forces of Islamic radicalism. Standing guard is not merely the responsibility of the new Palestinian leadership, but also the global community. Arafat's demise once again reminds the world that lasting peace in the Mideast cannot come till the Palestinians find a home-and Israel feels secure at home."
BANGLADESH: "Palestinians Recognized Themselves"
Pro-Awami League Bangla-language Janakantha editorialized (11/22): "Israel does not want to conclude a permanent peace treaty. If any Israeli leader concludes one, he will be killed after the treaty. Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated after he signed the Oslo Treaty and won the Nobel Peace prize. Arafat called again and again for implementation of the Oslo Treaty. But General Sharon did not agree rather he demanded Arafat's resignation. I personally believe that as long as Palestine was under Arab rule, its road to freedom was thorny. That path is still not strewn with flowers, but Palestinians have recognized themselves, which is the result of Arafat's forty years of struggle."
"Martyrdom Of Arafat”
The independent English-language New Age maintained (11/21): "Whoever may take Arafat’s place, he cannot take the allegiance of Palestinians for granted. If seen to be compromising too much, he will be seen as a traitor and spurned by the people. Each and every Palestinian will then take up the mantle of Arafat. There will be no need for a charismatic leader any more. The long struggle of an independent Palestine state has now been institutionalized in the person of every man, woman and children in occupied Palestine and in the refugee camps beyond. That will remain the legacy of Arafat until the dream of an independent state is fulfilled. Israel and its ally America can postpone that eventuality but cannot wish it away.
NIGERIA: "Forget Not The Middle East"
Feyi Smith commented in the Lagos' independent Daily Champion (11/18): "Whatever it is, the crisis in the Middle East represents a tragedy to human civilization and it behoves on humanity in general to arrest the situation. The Middle East has contributed so much to civilization to warrant a conscientious effort at resolving the Palestinian issue.... If for nothing else, at least, for the sake of our collective enlightened interest, we need to preserve this region of the world that has given us so much. The death of Arafat may well be a good opportunity to open a new chapter in this direction. But the attainment of that goal depends on a more purposeful and sincere initiative from both Britain and the United States."
"What Next After Arafat?"
Mohammed Haruna commented in Lagos' independent Comet (11/17): "The death of Yasser Arafat...may have aroused grief and sadness in many parts of the world, but with the American and Israeli leadership at least, it is safe to say Arafat's death was a cause for relief, if not for celebration.... Now that Yasser Arafat is gone as the whipping boy of American and Israeli leadership in the Middle East, they will have to invent another story about why peace and security in that region has eluded the world since the Anglo-Americans imposed an unjust partition between Jews and Arabs in the hapless region back in 1948."
ARGENTINA: "Possibility Of A New Period In Middle East"
Leading Clarin editorialized (11/14): "Yasser Arafat's death opens the possibility of a new period in the Middle East and the world. The leaders involved in the conflicts in the area have the historic responsibility to choose between the dead-end street of intolerance and violence and that of the reconstruction of reasonable peace for all.... The government that will succeed Arafat will have the challenge to seek a consensus for a possible peace accord among the Palestinian people. The Israeli government will have to review its attitudes in order to allow the Palestinian authorities to find that consensus. We also expect the U.S. to use the consolidation of power granted by its recent election victory in order to promote the pacification of that region."
CANADA: "Neither Yes, Nor No"
Serge Truffaut wrote in liberal Le Devoir (11/13): "Following the death of Yasser Arafat, Blair hoped to obtain from Bush a quasi-immediate diplomatic investment. The American answer? Neither yes, nor no.... It all depends on a pre-requisite. If Palestinian leaders make gestures confirming their democratic desire, the follow-up should be livelier. To prove that democracy is from now on firmly entrenched in the mores of Palestinian politicians, the PA presidential election must take place under favorable auspices. In short, it must happen calmly and safely.... It is rumored that the American State Department is ready to get involved but, again, no decision has been made."
MEXICO: "Renewal Of The Palestine Leadership”
Abel Hibert mentioned in independent El Norte (11/17): “Unfortunately, revenge and hard feelings of both people had made it very difficult for this and other peace agreements (between Israel and Palestine) to prosper. Nevertheless, everybody expects that the renewal of the Palestine leadership will allow Jews and Palestine people to see toward the future and will convince them that peace and forgiveness are the only mechanisms that could make this land, called “holy”, improve, even though it is stained every day with the blood of intransigence.”
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