International Information Programs
February 9, 2005

February 9, 2005




** Visit "prepared ground” for U.S. “return to the Middle East."


**  Rice delivers a message of "determined support" under watch of a "critical eye."


**  Expecting results, Rice brings "changed rhetoric" and "firm speech."


**  Sharm el-Shaikh Summit--a "first test" for Rice despite lack of U.S. presence.




Refreshing initiatives-- Media saw Secretary Rice’s week-long "debut" trip as "paving the way" for President Bush in Europe. Her two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority was seen as “preparing the ground” for refreshed initiatives in the Middle East.  A Spanish observer noted, "the long voyage to London, Berlin, Warsaw, Ankara, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramala, Rome, Paris, Brussels and Luxemburg shows a rapprochement with Europe and a return to Middle East."  A Hungarian analyst held, the Middle East and Southwest Asia factor most in "Bush’s and Rice’s world atlas”; they “will be less influenced” by European considerations.


A tyro's "encouraging remarks"-- Some media described the secretary as "expert in Russian affairs" but "new" to the conflicts in the Mideast.  Writers asserted "only the Americans" can bridge the gap between Israeli "concerns over security" and Palestinian desires for a "final political solution."  Israel’s left-leaning Ha’aretz acknowledged that Rice delivered a message of "determined support" by designating a security coordinator (Gen. Ward) with a "critical eye" who could "demand" Israel and the PA "keep their promises."  Writers wished her success in translating "advice to Israel" into "tangible steps' which can "calm fears" and "help reactivate" the peace process.


Urging compromise for "concrete results"-- Citing what a Slovakian commentator viewed as Rice’s objective viz., "concrete results, not tomorrow, but today," a Swedish writer believed "U.S. benevolence to Abbas" showed "the rhetoric has changed," despite Rice's “firm speech.” Another Slovakian writer declared Rice expected results, and that her trips to Jerusalem and Ramallah were no "courtesy calls."  A softening of Sharon’s "aggressive Israeli policy towards the Palestinians" would show he was ready for an "historic compromise," Austria’s independentSalzburger Nachricten judged. However, an Israeli writer cautioned that Rice’s call to Israel "to take 'hard decisions' in the interest of peace in the region" could run up against a "worried" Sharon whose "political situation is not simple," given Israel’s "volatile political system."


Sharm el-Sheikh, Rice's "first test"-- A Jordanian editor believed that the summit at Sharm el-Sheikh was distinguished from other summits by the "exhaustion" of Sharon’s four-year "policy of confrontation and escalation.” Despite Rice’s and the U.S. absence from the summit, many had “no doubt” that "the U.S. spirit will be present.”  Americans in absentia fostered "diplomatic movement, without having to participate.”  A Saudi writer hoped the summit would be positive and declared it “the first test for Rice.”


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Rupert D. Vaughan


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 interprites foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 46 reports from 21 countries over 2 - 8 February 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed in the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Light At The Summit"


An editorial in the conservative Times (2/7):  "The summit comes at an unusually opportune moment, three weeks before the second meeting in London of Palestinian leaders to discuss necessary reforms and after the scheduled meetings Condoleezza Rice, the new U.S. Secretary of State, is having with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.  She has emphasised Washington's commitment to restarting the peace process by including the Middle East in her first overseas visit in her new post; for his part, President Bush announced in his State of the Union address that he would seek $250 million in additional help for the Palestinians over two years."


"Teeth And Smiles: Conflict Lies Ahead For The U.S. and EU Over Iran And China"


The independent Financial Times editorialized (2/7):  "President Bush's second term and Ms. Rice's new job offer the U.S. and EU a chance to bury their bitter acrimony over Iraq.  Both have an interest now in seeking to maximise common ground on the world's trouble-spots through dialogue rather than glossing over their differences or, worse, resorting once more to unilateral acts."


"Behind The Smiles: The EU,The U.S., Iran And The Arms Embargo On China"


The conservative Times  editorialized (2/5):  "The issue that concerned many EU leaders before Dr. Rice's arrival is how Washington intends to proceed towards Iran.  To those given to selective interpretation, a U.S. army march on Tehran is now inevitable."


 FRANCE:  "February 8"


Bernard Guetta told listeners on state-run France Inter radio (2/7):  “Tomorrow will be an important day.  While the Israeli-Palestinian conference will be taking place in Sharm el Sheik, Condoleezza Rice will be in France.  She will give a speech that we already know will focus on renewing transatlantic relations.  The very fact that she chose Paris for this speech marks a desire to renew with 'Old Europe' and the fact that these two events will take place the same day highlights that it is not just in the Middle East that relations are changing....  Indeed, the relationship between Europe and the U.S. is also evolving....  Even if the U.S. has not adopted the idea of multilateralism, it has come to the realization that it has never been so unpopular as today...and not just in the Arab world....  America’s image has suffered and its image is as important as its military might.  George W. Bush has decided to soften the edges and hold out a conciliatory hand.”


"Its Your Turn At Bat Ms. Rice"


Gilles Delafon in his weekly editorial Le Journal du Dimanche (2/6):  “She had barely landed in Europe when Condoleezza Rice launched into a violent diatribe against Iran just at a time when London, Paris and Berlin are attempting to negotiate with Teheran to put a stop to its nuclear program… Ms. Rice will have to choose between the efficiency of realpolitik and haphazard ideology.  Because of her privileged relationship with George Bush, she has all of the cards in her hand.”


GERMANY:  "The Superpower's Mission"


Dietrtich Alexander argued in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (2/8): "Given Secretary of State Rice's brilliant performance in Jerusalem and Ramallah, there can be no doubt that President Bush is serious about the Middle East.  Finally, Washington nominated a permanent U.S. security coordinator.  Gen. Ward will help keep alive the new peace talks even when Palestinian extremists want to attack them--something they will certainly try.  America's willingness to accept a larger role is reflected in the suggestion that Washington is ready to supervise a truce between Israel and Palestine....  Rice made also clear that both sides would have to reach painful compromises."




Dietrich Alexander had this to say in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (2/7):  For the old Europe she had nothing but praise and it is clearly visible that her boss in the White House plans to reactivate relations with France and Germany.  His secretary of state is now preparing the ground but also for a new Middle East initiative of the superpower….  Only the sideswipe at Russia is causing some irritation….  But while Bush is trying to create the impression of giving multilateralism a greater scope of action during his second term, his secretary of state moves around in global politics with a strong, moralizing undertone.  With respect to Moscow, she may be right, but it would be better to admonish others who enjoy great leniency from Washington and hide behind their own geo-strategic indispensability: for instance, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or Egypt.  A moralizing undertone has always created dilemmas for Washington because it cannot be kept up.  In such a situation, the term 'double standards' quickly spread; it comes along with end of credibility and reputation."


ITALY:  "Baptism By Fire For Rice In Europe"   


New York correspondent Paolo Mastrolilli asserted in centrist, influential La Stampa (2/3):  “’The time for diplomacy is now.’ The new U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said so during her Senate hearing and she will attempt to demonstrate it with her trip to Europe and the Middle East, which begins today....  She will go on the trip to introduce herself, and also to prepare Bush’s visit to Europe in late February, by discussing the topics that Bush covered in his State of the Union.  British Prime Minister Blair had asked Bush to make Europe the first trip of his second mandate in order to relieve the tension created by the war in Iraq.  If symbols still have value in diplomacy, the fact that Rice will deliver her most important speech on Atlantic relations in Paris means that she is making a gesture of openness.”


"Sharon-Abu Mazen Summit" 


Marco Valsania commented in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore (2/3):  “The White House considers next Tuesday’s summit between Israelis and Palestinians an ‘encouraging step’ on the road to peace in the Middle East...  U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who leaves for Europe and the Middle East today, will hold separate meetings with Sharon and Abu Mazen shortly before their summit....  A clear sign that the peace talks in the region have become the Administration’s priority.”


RUSSIA:   "Difficult Mission"


Business-oriented Kommersant editorialized (2/3): "Yesterday Condoleezza Rice, in her new capacity as the U.S. Secretary of State, set out on her first foreign tour.   Her mission is difficult, indeed, as, coming to the Middle East, she will try to get the Israelis and Palestinians to sit down at the negotiating table. Then, as she goes on to Europe, she hopes to convince her colleagues in NATO countries that things in Iraq are going quite well.   Also, she intends to lecture the Russians as she meets with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov."


AUSTRIA:  "Rice Prepares Stage for New Beginning in the Middle East"


Helmut L. Mueller editorialized for Independent daily Salzburger Nachrichten (2/7):  "Washington does not want to give the impression that the superpower U.S is going to dictate a solution to the Middle East region.  While Ms. Rice is the one preparing the stage for the summit between Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestine President Mahmud Abbas in the course of her talks with both sides, Egypt and Jordan are acting as patrons of the meeting.  On the summit at Sharm el-Sheikh, the conflicting parties need to clear away the debris of four-and-a-half years of Palestinian intifada and Israeli military actions.  A comprehensive armistice is the goal. The Israelis are mostly concerned with security; the Palestinians want most of all to begin negotiations about a final political solution.  The gap between these goals only the Americans can bridge. Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip must be the overture for a two-states solution. This test case will show whether Abbas is prepared to govern--and Sharon ready for the historic compromise."


"New Tone And New Dispute"


Senior editor for independent daily Salzburger Nachrichten Helmut L. Mueller commented on (2/3):  "During her European tour Condoleezza Rice is supposed to create a good atmosphere and thus prepare the ground for the entry of President George W. Bush on the Old World stage. The recent changes in global politics could actually make the premiere of the new U.S. Secretary of State a success.  After the surprising success of the Iraq elections, Bush can now exert pressure on those Europeans that have so far resisted and urge them to make a contribution to a constructive development in Iraq. The newly revived peace process between Israelis and Palestinians offers a chance for Washington to once again position itself as mediator on the Middle East scene....  However, behind the facade of new unity, new disputes are already brewing--the EU weapons embargo against China, the European sanctions against Cuba or the penalizing of war crimes in western Sudan.  In spite of atmospheric improvements, the great power gap between the colossus U.S. and the regional allies in Europe remains.  A tendency for the superpower to act as a soloist already became apparent during the Clinton term, but was softened by Clinton's more affable manner.  Now 'Condi' is supposed to radiate charm, as once did 'Billy.'"


DENMARK:  "Glimmer Of Hope For Middle East Peace"


Centrist Kristeligt-Dagblad editorialized (2/7):"One sign of the increasingly maturity of relations between the Palestinians and the Israelis is who they have not invited to attend the forthcoming summit.  The U.S. Secretary of State, who is in the region, announced recently that she would not be taking part.  Rather than view this as an indication of American skepticism, we should view Rice's absence as a sign that the two parties are moving closer together and do not need American of European involvement.   This is good news."


"Rice Charm Offensive Faces Obstacles"


Center-left Politiken's Paris correspondent remarked (2/3): "The recently appointed Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, leaves D.C. today on a charm offensive that will take her to the Middle East and Europe.  Definite signs exist that the U.S. position on Europe is in the process of change, but issues still exist (read: Iraq, the Middle East peace process, Darfur and relations with China) that could cause the transatlantic temperature to fall." 


HUNGARY:    "Debut"


Foreign affairs writer Eva Elekes held in left of center Nepszava (2/7):  “Rice’s European negotiating partners hope that behind Washington’s smile offensive there are genuine intentions, and that it is really ready to improve transatlantic relations that deteriorated in the wake of the war in Iraq.  A promising sign is that the secretary of state got on well not only with the British prime minister, who is the number one ally of the United States, but also with the German chancellor, and she will most likely have talks in a good spirit with the French president, too.  The European leaders are also determined to seek consensus with the Bush administration prolonged for the next four years....  As regards the substance [of relations], one should not expect too much.  In Bush’s and Rice’s world atlas the most often-turned pages are those of the Middle and Central East, and the leaders of American foreign policy will be less influenced by Europe’s concerns and considerations.”


IRELAND:  "Rice Tells Israel To Make 'Hard Decisions' For Peace"

Peter Hirschberg remarked in the left of center The Irish Times (2/7):  “The U.S. Secretary of State, Ms Condoleezza Rice, began a two- day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority yesterday by declaring that Israel would have to make ‘hard decisions for peace' and that the Palestinians had to ‘fight against terrorism’.  Ms Rice, who is making her first visit to the region since taking up her new post, is trying to help revive the peace process by firming up actions on both sides which have led to a new period of calm in recent week....  Against the backdrop of a dramatic decline in violence and the renewed hope of a return to the negotiating table, Ms Rice said that the possibility now existed of getting ‘back on to the road map’, the internationally backed Middle East peace plan which was stillborn as a result of the ongoing warfare....  Ms. Rice said yesterday, however, that she believed the Israeli leaders planned to withdraw in the summer from Gaza was ‘one of the things that will help us get back onto the road map’."

"Abbas To Press For Active U.S. Peacemaking Role"

An article by Michael Jansen reporting for the left of center  The Irish Times (2/7):   “When they meet today, the Palestinian leader, Mr Mahmoud Abbas, is expected to press the U.S. Secretary of State, Ms Condoleezza Rice, to take an active mediatory role in peacemaking between the Palestinians and Israel.  Although Ms Rice has expressed a preference for the two sides moving ahead on their own, the Palestinians argue there can be no real progress unless the U.S. is fully engaged.

"Rice Tries To Calm Fears And Promote Diplomacy"

An article by Frank Millar reporting for the left of center The Irish Times (2/5):  “U.S, Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice began her European and Middle East tour…seeking to calm fears on this side of the Atlantic and emphasize the value President Bush's new administration places on diplomacy….Both Ms Rice and Mr Straw expressed the hope and belief that the success of Iraq's elections would help heal world divisions over the war. The U.S. Secretary of State attacked the Iranian regime's ‘abysmal human rights record’ and insisted the Iranian people "deserved better." But when asked if she envisaged circumstances in which the U.S. might attack Iran over its nuclear program, Ms Rice replied: ‘The question is simply not on the agenda at this point in time. We have many diplomatic tools still at our disposable and we intend to pursue them fully.’ But there was also a warning when she said the diplomatic efforts of the UK, France and Germany had given Iranian regime the opportunity to show it was serious about living up to its obligations....  Ms. Rice said she would be using her week-long trip to reinvigorate relations across Europe."

SLOVAKIA:  "U.S.  Peace Resuscitation"


Columnist Boris Latta commented in the center-left daily Pravda (2/8):   “U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did not travel to Jerusalem and Ramallah just for a courtesy call, but rather to urge concrete steps towards a peaceful solution to the conflict....  For example, Sharon heard the clear message of the U.S. about helping Abbas strengthen his authority among Palestinians. For example the Israelis will set free 900 Palestinian prisoners, but not just those who are only chicken thieves or pick pockets, but also those who are responsible for attacks against Israel who have been sentenced for several years....  Rice implied that the U.S., as the main sponsor of the peace process, wants concrete results, not tomorrow, but today....  The evidence about her firm speech is that Washington asked Sharon to consider upcoming discussions in the U.S. not only a friendly chat, but he should pack in his ‘luggage’ a good mood and concrete proposals."


SPAIN:  "Rice's Sowing"


Left-of-center daily El País remarked (2/8):  "The rhetoric has changed.  The weapons have not been silenced, but diplomacy has returned, although Rice has been prudent regarding Iran... The long voyage to London, Berlin, Warsaw, Ankara, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramala, Rome, Paris, Brussels and Luxemburg shows a rapprochement with Europe and a return to Middle East.  Rice is sowing seeds that George Bush can harvest during his trip to Europe at the end of this month.  This administration won't be involved as thoroughly as Clinton's was in the peace process, but it will impel it and it will avoid giving Sharon a carte blanche... Rice is participating now out of the desire for reconciliation that prevails among some.  But it's significant that in her long voyage she has not had time to come to Madrid, and that at this time, neither is an interview between Bush and Zapatero in Brussels planned....  These slights have a certain air of childish punishment."


"Rice's Sowing"


Left of center El País wrote (2/8):  "The rhetoric has changed.  The weapons have not been silenced, but diplomacy has returned, although Rice has been prudent regarding Iran....  The long voyage to London, Berlin, Warsaw, Ankara, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramala, Rome, Paris, Brussels and Luxemburg shows a rapprochement with Europe and a return to Middle East.  Rice is sowing seeds that George Bush can harvest during his trip to Europe at the end of this month.  This administration won't be involved as thoroughly as Clinton's was in the peace process, but it will impel it and it will avoid giving Sharon a carte blanche... Rice is participating now out of the desire for reconciliation that prevails among some.  But it's significant that in her long voyage she has not had time to come to Madrid, and that at this time, neither is an interview between Bush and Zapatero in Brussels planned....  These slights have a certain air of childish punishment.  They don't recognize the efforts that Spain is undertaking in Afghanistan, or its will to train Iraqi security forces.  Neither does it take into account that, in the end, without Spain giving up some leeway in a foreign policy that had been dangerously narrowed by Aznar, pragmatism should prevail."


SWEDEN:  "The Chance Israel Must Take"


The Social Democratic tabloid Aftonbladet editorialialized (2/8): "The question is if the Israeli government now has the chance to take a decisive step towards peace....  There is hope for peace among Palestinians, also among Mahmoud Abbas' political opponents....  A truce and transition from violence to political negotiations may now be within reach as there is renewed international interest in the Mideast region. Yesterday Abbas received an invitation to visit the White House. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks about him as the President of the Palestinians. The Palestinian leadership is coming out of the cold....  Terrorism is primarily countered by democracy and political legitimacy, and Abbas’political legitimacy in now to a high degree resting with Israel and the U.S.  The terms for a just peace are known. Now Israel has a collaborator who may make it possible for the country to accept these terms. This is a chance Israel must not miss."


"Palestinian Issue--A Greater Perspective"


Swedish TV One News' Bo-Inge Andersson commented (2/8):  “It is quite evident that the U.S. wants to make Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas a symbol that reaches outside Israeli and Palestinian areas. When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is urging Israel not to undermine Abbas’ position, it shows that the U.S. wants to look at the Palestinian issue from a greater perspective....  Another reason for the U.S. benevolence towards Abbas may also be that President Bush needs to reduce the rift between the U.S. and the EU, which traditionally has been keener to listen to the Palestinians. Before President Bush’s trip to Europe in February it may be an advantage to show understanding for the Palestinian cause. In particular, since the U.S. President likely will ask for EU support in Iraq.”


"Peace is Far Away"


The independent, liberal Stockholm tabloid “Expressen” editorialized (2/7):  “To avoid the loss of hope for (Mideast) peace once again, security issues and the underlying political conflict must be linked....  That is why the involvement of the international community and primarily the U.S. is so important. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should make clear to Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas that the U.S. vision is a fair peace, based on the 1967 (Israeli) borders, with East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine. She also should say that now is the time to re-enter the peace process....  Unfortunately this will not likely happen. Although Secretary Rice yesterday urged Israel to take 'difficult decisions' in the name of peace, she has signaled that it is up to the two parties to take responsibility for the process and that she therefore deliberately will refrain from taking part in the Israeli-Palestine summit. It would be deeply unfortunate if the Bush administration once again flinched from seriously engaging itself in the Mideast conflict. Now there is a window of opportunity which the international community must help to keep open."




ISRAEL:  "Rice Adopts the Disengagement"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (2/8):  "U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority brought with it a renewal of U.S. involvement in the effort to solve the conflict, after a long period in which it was absent from the region.... The U.S. will avoid mediation at this point, but will help find solutions for problems that arise.  Rice also made clear the determined support of the U.S. for the disengagement plan....  In her talks with the political echelon in Jerusalem, Rice emphasized the importance of sticking to the timetable set for the disengagement and called for it not to be delayed....  Rice's statements are an important message to the Israeli public and political arena.  In U.S. eyes, the disengagement plan is not an internal Israeli affair but a far-reaching international commitment by the government that bears within it a chance for a historic change in the history of the region, and for relations between Israel and the Arabs.  This opportunity must not be missed.... Sending Lt. Gen. William Ward to the region as a security coordinator to accompany the Palestinian security reforms and monitor the activities of both sides is proper and appropriate.  One of the lessons of the Oslo process and the Intifada was the need for a critical eye, which could demand of the Israelis and Palestinians that they keep their promises.


"The Americans Are Here"


Chief Economic Editor and senior columnist Sever Plotker opined in the pluralist paper Yediot Aharonot  (2/7):  "Although U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is touring the Middle East, she does not intend to take part in the Israeli-Palestinian-Egyptian-Jordanian summit that is convening tomorrow at Sharm el-Sheikh.  The distance that the United States is keeping from the Sharm el-Sheikh summit could create a mistaken impression of indifference. This is a misjudgment: the success of negotiations between Sharon and Abu Mazen is the supreme strategic interest of the U.S. in the region.  From this standpoint, Sharon's government has lost its exclusive hold over the U.S. administration's sympathy, a loss that already echoed in Rice's statements last night.  The positive American overture towards the post-Arafat Palestinians appears to the White House as a bridge to the heart of the Arab world and a lever to reconciliation with Europe.  For all these reasons, the ostensible indifference that the Bush administration is displaying towards the Sharm el-Sheikh summit is no more than a tactic stemming from being overly involved rather than insufficiently involved.  The Americans are not making light of the Sharm el-Sheikh summit; they are here, and more than ever before."  


"Israel Braces for Rice's Visit"


Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn commented in left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/6):  "Rice is seeking to show her presence and take command in the diplomatic arena.  It is important for her to show to her colleagues in Europe that the new Bush administration intends to step up its involvement in finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict....  In Israel there is displeasure at its role as a pawn in the game of the major powers.  It is more concerned about an American attempt to mediate between Israel and the PA, and it would prefer it if Rice and her aides were kept out of the negotiations....  In Israel there is concern that an American mediator will assist Abbas beyond the level at which Sharon is comfortable with, and by this weaken the Israeli position.... The Sharm el-Sheikh summit is an opportunity for a time-out for all sides.  It will enable the Americans to show that there is diplomatic movement, without having to participate. This will enable them to retain their status as an honest broker. As for the tough issues, they will be left for the next stage."


"To Sinai, Not In A Tank"


Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (2/3): "What is going to happen on Tuesday at Sharm el-Sheikh?  An historic opportunity or a photo opportunity?  In any case the Prime Minister has nothing to lose there.  For Sharon it will be the hero's return.  For Abu Mazen it is the point of no return.  He is standing on the bank of the Rubicon hesitating.... Two fateful weeks await Sharon and us.  Condoleezza Rice on Sunday, the Sharm el-Sheikh conference on Tuesday, then the compensation law for the settlers who are to be evacuated, then the disengagement vote in the cabinet, then the security fence vote in the cabinet and the budget vote in the Knesset.  What more could we want?  Sharon is calm and is keeping his eye on the ball.  He is focused on the target, but he is also worried.  He knows his political situation is not simple.  He is no stranger to our volatile political system.  He knows the dangers which lie in wait for him, and for us."


WEST BANK:  “What We Expect to Hear From Rice"


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (2/7):  “Once again, in her tour to the region, American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice avoids talking about UN resolutions on the Palestinian issue or the main points in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, mainly the illegal Israeli occupation, settlement activity, refugees and Jerusalem.  She only made general remarks on the available opportunity to achieve peace and to go back to the Roadmap and the two-state vision....  We expect from Rice during her visit today to the Palestinian areas to speak about clear positions to end the Israeli occupation and declare the illegality of settlements and all Israeli occupation-enforced measures.  We expect her to declare explicitly Washington’s commitment to move toward solving the Palestinian issue by applying the resolutions of the international community.”


 "American Remarks on Palestinian Ignore Basic Facts of International Legitimacy"


Yunis Ammuri opined in independent Al-Quds (2/4): “From Rice’s remarks calling for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state (she stated that without the establishment of a viable Palestinian state that meets the aspirations of Palestinians, peace will never prevail, neither for Palestinians nor for Israelis...) we sense that such remarks carry a number of facts, mainly that the American administration is addressing the Palestinian state again, as part of the Americans’ speech during the new swearing-in ceremonies, regardless of whether it is relevant or not....  Such remarks are a marketing tool of the White House administration to improve the image of Uncle Sam in the world after all the harm it [the image] was subject to….  Rice’s limiting the geographical boundaries of the Palestinian state without determining the international political borders mentioned in all resolutions of international legitimacy, is an annulment of the contents of the Palestinian issue.”


"Dr. Rice, Political Midwife"


Hasan el-Batal opined in independent Al-Ayyam (2/2):  “Most likely, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be like a ‘political midwife’ who will give birth to a ‘whole independent and sufficiently broad Palestinian state.’  To explain this, we might rely on the fact that U.S. secretaries of state often serve their full terms during their American president’s term.  We might say on the Palestinian-Israeli issue that the former General, Colin Powell, was secretary during the roadmap phase and that his successor Rice will, in this regard, be the Secretary of the ‘Palestinian state’ phase....   The Palestinians have previously depended on U.S.’s recognition of a Palestinian state, instead of [them] taking the risk and announcing it unilaterally.  However, the question is: what’s the difference between a ‘whole’ independent state and another ‘sufficiently broad’ one?  We need a clarification from the ‘political midwife’ Mrs. Rice, which she might address next week, otherwise we might have to wait another two years during which time Rice will help Sharon get rid of settlements so that Palestine becomes geographically ‘sufficiently broad’ and able to negotiate with Israel.”


"Encouraging Remarks"


Hafez Barghuthi declared  in the official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (2/2): “The remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State Rice are very encouraging.  She uttered what other senior American officials have recoiled from, that the establishment of a Palestinian state is necessary to achieve peace in the Middle East.  Some American officials used to try to say that the absence of democracy and reform and fighting terrorism are more important.  Americans are now convinced that the Palestinian cause is the basis for peace in the region.”


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Sharm Al-Shaikh Summit...Is The First Test For Rice"


Riyadh’s conservative Al-Riyadh editorialized (2/7):  U.S. Secretary of Sate, Condoleeza Rice is new to the to conflicts in the region, although she is a know expert in the old soviet Union’s Affairs...the issue of Arab-Israeli peace went through many phases that resulted in less hope in reaching a law that stops the conflict...the United States is capable of doing something positive, and it might want to, but it will not be able to since it does not want to enter into a conflict with Israel which automatically will have an effect on its internal power balance... we hope that Sharm Al-Shaikh summit will come as an international political and media demonstration...and actions are the keys for both success and failure."


JORDAN:   "Positive Indication On The Path Towards A Solution"


Columnist Ali Safadi declared in center-left, influential Arabic daily Al-Dustour (2/8):  “The Sharm El-Sheikh summit represents an important step on the path towards revitalizing the peace process, leading to the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state….  The speed of political activities in the region and the rise of these positive indications constitute a good beginning for resuming the negotiations.  An extensive Arab effort in support of the Palestinian negotiators is now required.  The negotiations also require continued seriousness on the part of the U.S. administration and the quadrilateral parties to help achieve a settlement for the conflict and to pressure Israel to respond to the requirements of peace.”


"Sharm El-Sheikh Summit Is Designed To Handle The Details"


Chief Editor Taher Udwan advised in independent, mass-appeal Arabic daily Al-Arab Al-Yawm (2/8):  "If the United States is required to cease its blind bias for Israel and to support the establishment of the Palestinian state, then what is required of Jordan and Egypt that are taking part in the Sharm El-Sheikh summit?  The Sharm El-Sheikh summit is expected to handle certain details (such as) formulating the Palestinian and Egyptian role for the time when Israel begins to implement its plan for withdrawal from Gaza.  There has always been talk of an Egyptian security role in Gaza as an alternative to Sharon’s refusal to reach a security agreement with the Palestinians.  The requirement now is for the summit to give back to the Palestinians their role in handling security and political arrangements in Gaza after the withdrawal of the Israelis.... What distinguishes Sharm El-Sheikh summit from other summits is the fact that the policy of confrontation and escalation that Sharon had adopted for the past four years has been exhausted.  In addition, the nature of the coming steps that need to be taken are now clear.  The Palestinian cease-fire must be accompanied by Israeli withdrawals and the return to the negotiating table in order to achieve a goal that has been known to everyone in the world, namely the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state."


"Sharm El-Sheikh Summit In The Balance"


Columnist Salameh Ukour declared on the  semi-official Arabic daily Al-Rai (2/7):  “There is no doubt that the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region may help reactivate the peace process, particularly since President Bush gave urgent attention to the peace process in his State of the Union address.  Moreover, Condoleezza Rice’s remarks last week, stressing the importance of a successful peace process leading to the establishment of the independent Palestinian state, indicates an opportunity to push the peace process forward.


LEBANON:  "Sharm-el-Sheikh Summit: Multi-faced Deal" 


Aouni Al-Kaaki commented in pro-Syria Ash-Sharq (2/8):  "Whatever our position on the Sharm -el-Sheikh Summit is clear...that the attendees have to work on a certain scenario:  It has to start with complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, including the Israeli settlements, then withdrawal ...from 60 or 70 percent of the West Bank.  This will be followed by annexing the big settlements to the Israeli entity. ...At a later date, the Palestinian flag will be placed on the top of the Al-Aqsa mosque...finally, the areas of Allazarieh and Abou-Debs will be announced as the new Palestinian capital and will be known as East Jerusalem.  Obviously, this scenario will nullify the Palestinian right of return to their homeland and any compensation...they might settle in the territories that are hosting them or be given passports to facilitate their emigration to Canada, Australia, or several European countries....  This scenario is not a secret...but there is Palestinian resistance like Hamas and the Islamic Jihad who categorically refuse the nullification of the right of return...this is where the obstacles will appear.  If President Mahmoud Abbas insists on implementing the above mentioned scenario...then a...Palestinian civil war might erupt...”


“The Last Stop”


Sateh Noureddine opined in Arab nationalist As-Safir (2/8):  ”Will It Be Possible for the Sharm El-Sheikh Summit to...succeed without direct American presence?...  Egypt did not invite the U.S. to the Summit...however, this does not mean that Egypt wanted to keep the U.S. away....  The timing might not have been suitable for the Bush Administration...however, there is no doubt that the U.S. spirit will be present at Sharm El-Sheikh...  It is known, that following the killing of former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, Washington show interest in the Palestinian conflict...however, it is still cautious about the approach it wants to adopt towards this issue...”


“The Crisis And The Decision”


Sahar Baasiri editorialized in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (2/8):  “It is not easy for Syria to observe international efforts to revive the peace process.  Today in Sharm-el-Sheikh, all attention is focused on the Israeli-Palestinian track, and no country is interested in activating the Syrian track.  The only message they want Syria to hear is as follows: implementation of UNSCR 1559....  The blockade around Syria is getting tighter and it is saying the following: the era of bargaining and maneuvering has ended.  What Syria was able to do before...has ended with the accumulation of Syrian mistakes...the last of these (mistakes) is the extension of President Lahoud’s term in office and underestimating the Lebanese opposition.  ...The result today is that Syria is cooperating on Iraq, resigned to a truce on the Palestinian issue, but extremely concerned about the Lebanese issue which has evolved from a trump card to a very expensive tab....  Even Syria’s efforts to implement UNSCR 1559 through peace negotiations not raising anybody’s interest...Syria has got to deal with all these issues very quickly...and not waste any more time.”


QATAR:  "Speculators On The Peace Guillotine"


Mazen Hamad speculated in the semi-independent Arabic Al-Watan (2/8):  “It seems that Secretary Rice is leading Israel toward the guillotine, but this time to the guillotine of peace.  Rice is searching for an exit for what is happening while the Israelis are creating obstacles.  Rice talks with Israel with cautiousness alluring them to make tough decisions.  Rice is trying with all her linguistic talent to make the Israelis understand that Abu-Mazen should be helped; I think she said it to them bluntly 'Don’t Destroy Abu-Mazen.'  Rice said that because she knows how Israel thinks, not all Israel but Sharon’s Israel.  According to Sharon Abu-Mazen will be given a chance but everything has a price, a truce is not enough, Sharon wants Abu-Mazen to destroy the infrastructure of the Palestinian groups.  Condi today will feel sorry for Abu-Mazen in Sharm El-Sheikh, Abu-Mazen will be seen today as the terrorists advocate, his life in danger because he wants to tell the world that power is not the way to solve the problem.  Israel is not helping him and he is trying to tell the resistance that dialogue is better than bullets and demilitarizing the Intifada will lead to the solution. Israel invented and will keep inventing obstacles to kill this chance. Sharon this time is under the pressure and it looks like that this summit is like a shares company surrounded by speculators who are trying to read its future.” 


"Rice’s Visit: Unsatisfactory Results" 


The semi-independent Arabic Al-Raya judged (2/8):  “People were optimistic about the Secretary Rice visit to Israel and Palestine, but the outcome is not encouraging.  The only accomplishment was appointing a security coordinator, which means that the Americans and the Israelis still believe that the problem between the Palestinians and the Israeli is a security problem.  The reason behind violence is always the aggressive Israeli policy towards the Palestinians and all what the Palestinians have done is to defend themselves.  The Americans know this, but they don’t have the strong will to pressure Israel.  Sharm El-Sheikh will be a real test for all the parties involved, including the United States.  Either it will end up to be a photo opportunity or a real summit that will come up with results complying with the International resolutions.”


SYRIA:   "Russian-American Stances"


Muhammad al-Nahas commented in the government-owned Syria Times (1/28):  "At a time in which the official political circles in Russia welcome President Bashar al-Asad's current visit to Moscow, U.S. Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice inaugurated her new post by sending warnings to Syria and leveling non-objective and groundless accusations against it....  We all know that Ms. Rice was an expert in Russian affairs before she moved to her previous post as U.S. National Security Advisor.  Therefore what she said on Syria and the region a few days ago, showed either  ignorance about the region's issues or that she has misleading information.  Of course, we know who fabricated such false information."




CHINA:  “Newly-Appointed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ‘Tests Water’ In The Middle East”


Wang Zengli commented in the official popular newspaper Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao) (2/8):  “Rice’s trip to the Middle East is a signal that the U.S. is preparing to restart the Middle East peace process.  Somewhat surprisingly, Rice will not attend the Sharon-Abbas summit--Rice appears willing to let Sharon and Abbas play the key roles.  Will the U.S. seek to suppress Israel, and give more support to Palestinian objectives?...   On the issue of support for Israel, the U.S. certainly will not change its stance.  Optimists think the Sharon--Abbas summit means israeli-Palestinian relations will begin a new chapter.  Others, however, think behind the façade lies a divide too great to conquer, and short-term measures won’t equal long-term gains.  The differences between the Israeli and Palestinian sides pose a severe challenge to the U.S. as it seeks to intervene.  Of course, U.S. interference has its own goals.  The difficulties to resolve the Middle East issue are still great.”




PAKISTAN:   "Rice's Advice To Israel," 


Karachi-based center-left independent national English daily Dawn commented (2/8):  "On her first visit to the Middle East as U.S. Secretary of State, Ms Condoleezza Rice has asked Israel to take 'hard decisions' in the interest of peace in the region.  Her visit comes on the eve of the crucial meeting in Cairo today between President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.  Calling it 'a time of opportunity', Ms. Rice asked Israel to take steps to promote peace and ensure the emergence of a democratic Palestinian state....  What will be the timeframe of the revived peace process no one can tell?  But the crucial issue is whether there will be a change of heart in Mr. Sharon.  He is a hardliner, has been responsible for not one but several massacres, and by faith does not believe in the existence of a Palestinian state.  He is a firm believer in Greater Israel, and evidently thinks this is the right moment when he can achieve his aim, because the world's only superpower is with him, no matter what he does.  Unless the U.S. sees to it that Mr. Sharon does not exercise a veto on America's policy for the Middle East, there is little possibility of an independent Palestinian state coming into being."  


"Palestinian State: Encouraging Statement Of U.S. Secretary Of State," 


Leading mass circulation Urdu daily Jang opined (2/8):  "It is really pleasing that for the first time, the U.S. has reminded Israel of its promise in a forthright manner and has asked it not only to fulfill its promise but also not to waste the moment of establishing peace.  Now that the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has expressed some very positive thoughts prior to her visit to Israel and after her meetings with Israeli President and Prime Minster, the need of the hour is to translate this advise to Israel into tangible steps.  The United States, being the chief patron of Camp David and Oslo Accords, should arrange for the implementation of these agreements so that an impression of a contradiction in its words and deeds does not arise."  


"Iran Says U.S. Supports Terrorism"


Lahore based liberal English language Daily Times remarked (2/7):  "Iran accused the United States Sunday of being the world’s main supporter of terrorism through its backing of Israel.... Responding to President George Bush’s description of Iran as “the world’s primary state sponsor of terror” and his pledge to stand by supporters of democracy in the Islamic republic....  America is the biggest supporter of a terrorist regime: Israel.  And the one who supports terrorism cannot talk about human rights....  But for Americans, these days are painful because their days of dominating and bullying Iran were brought to an end.....  Iran was impervious to remarks by Rice who had accused Tehran’s 'un-elected mullahs'  of a dismal human rights record and covering up attempts to build an atom bomb.  Such threats will not have much effect on the Islamic Republic which will continue its path of sovereignty, independence and saying no to hegemony, according to an Iranian spokesperson."



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