International Information Programs
September 14, 2005

September 14, 2005





**  Israel's "detachment" creates an "historic moment" marred by a "bitter aftertaste."

**  Writers debate militants' victory claims, Israeli ulterior motives and "dim prospects" ahead.

**  Gaza's "legal owners" overrun settlements, "burn down synagogues," project a "bad image."

**  "Extreme Palestinian factions" threaten Israel and the PA, Sharon and Abu Mazen.




'Another historic date'--  Editorialists proclaimed that the "end of occupation," although an "historic gesture," leaves behind "lost illusions and a time bomb."  They acknowledged Gaza today is "a little freer"; an Israeli analyst contended the "most important" point is "Israel has left Gaza," bringing about a "changed reality."  Saudi Arabia's moderate Al-Jazeera declared, "Palestinians intend to maintain their resistance" as long as they face "humilitation" and "their country is not completely liberated."  Italy's leading Il Sole-24 Ore reminded that differences remained between Israel and the Palestinians over the "meaning itself of the withdrawal." 


Can Gaza 'become a model for anything?'--  Germany's business-oriented Handelsblatt pondered if, on leaving Gaza, Israel "cynically" engineered conditions to show the world that "Abbas is still not able to control the Gaza Strip."  A German analyst opined that without outside assistance "nothing will progress in the over-populated poorhouse."  Other Euro skeptics termed Gaza's retreat a "partial gesture" that leaves the strip "bereft" of "economic development."  It remains a "powder keg" and Israel "still controls land, sea and air borders."  Adding to difficulties, there are "cries of victory" from Jihad, Hamas and Fatah militants along with a continuing militant "thirst for revenge [that] feeds on the occupation of the West Bank." 


'The glow of Gaza' spotlighted by 'symbolic fire'--  Canada's conservative National Post predicted Gaza will not be the nucleus for a "nascent Palestine" if Palestinians "opt to remain beholden to violence, internecine or otherwise."  Media cited Gaza's "burning synagogues," set to flames by a "fanatic Palestinian mob," as both a "symbol of their feelings for revenge" and a lost opportunity for Abu Mazen to exert control.  Pro-Palestinian outlets dissented, asking "when did Israel respect religious sites?"  The West Bank's official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida called the abandoned sacral buildings Israeli "illegal oddments," adding that what the Israelis built "remains illegal, be it a synagogue, a settlement or an apartheid wall." 


A 'long road' ahead needing 'determination and effort from both sides'--  Skeptics pondered "what kind of a country" the PA would build, noting that "if terror prevails" neither Abu Mazen nor Sharon "will stand a chance."  Austria's Der Standaard contended militant Palestinians in Gaza destroyed some of the "illusions" about the strength of moderate forces among the Palestinians.  Germany's right-of-center Die Welt judged that if Abbas "wants to establish a state that can make compromises he must change the Palestinian mentality with words, gestures and actions."  Turkey's mass-appeal Milliyet echoed many in saying that it is going "to be very tough for both sides."  Venezuela's liberal El Nacional concluded nonetheless that after Gaza, "peace is closer."



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 interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 45 reports from 17 countries over September 9 - 14, 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.


FRANCE:  "After Gaza"


Dominique Quinio commented in Catholic La Croix (9/13):  “What will the Palestinians do with their newfound land?  After the last Israeli soldier has left, much needs yet to be done.  The Palestinians will be tempted to assume that the pull out is their military victory...and the fruit of their armed resistance....  The destruction of the synagogues stands as a symbol of their feelings for revenge...that will trigger anger and sadness in Israel.  It might have been better if the Israelis had destroyed them themselves....  Mahmoud Abbas carries the heaviest load.  He needs to embrace the joy of his people but refrain from showing excessive triumph....  He must continue to make demands from Israel but through negotiations.  He needs to eradicate terrorism and the extremists from his own camp.  On both sides of the border the enemies of peace are ready to fan the fires of anger and hate.  The task is almost insurmountable for a single man.  But with the help of Sharon’s political perseverance and the sustained support of the international community Mahmoud Abbas can succeed.”


"A Series Of Traps"


Gerard Dupuy remarked in left-of-center Liberation (9/12):  “As Tsahal withdraws from Gaza, it leaves behind lost illusions and a time bomb....   In the coming months the Palestinian Authority will need to work hard to defuse that bomb....  Normalization of Gaza is all the more problematic because of its new ambiguous status: while no longer an occupied territory, it remains encircled and unable to use its airport or its sea port, undermining an economic development without which the powder keg will remain a powder keg....  Leaving behind the synagogues is another trap.”


GERMANY:  "Palestinian Arsonists"


Jacques Schuster noted in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (9/13):  "Synagogues are burning in the Gaza Strip, set on fire by a mob of fanatic Palestinians.  Palestinian leader Abbas cannot be happy about these pictures, which are now going around the world.  While Israel faced the confrontation with its own hardliners and painfully pulled out, anarchy and destruction rule the Gaza Strip.  Was it not possible to put one synagogue under protection as a historical monument similar to Tel Aviv's Hassan Bek Mosque?  Couldn't they have changed one of the holy houses into a mosque to prevent what is also a desecration under Muslim law?  Abbas would probably have agreed, but he lacks the power.   And that is another reason why the pictures from Gaza are so shocking....  He believes he can integrate extremists.  There is not much reason to believe that this strategy will be successful.  Dispowering Hamas would not be the end of Abbas' tasks.  On the contrary!  If he wants to establish a state that can make compromises he must change the Palestinian mentality with words, gestures and actions."


"Burning Synagogues"


Business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf  editorialized (9/13):  "Giving Abbas the task of protecting synagogues was a chutzpa.  The Palestinian president is not even able to establish peace and order in Palestinian towns.  Did Israel cynically use the synagogues to prove to the world that Abbas is still not able to control the Gaza Strip?"


"Celebrating Arsonists"


Martina Doering argued in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (9/13):  "It was appalling what followed the departure of the last Israeli soldier on Monday.  Thousands of Palestinians stormed into the former settlements.  Things the Israelis had not destroyed were set on fire and demolished: synagogues, empty houses and windowpanes.  A great deal of emotions played a role fuelled by years of humiliation, hatred, victorious feelings, and the reasonable concerns that those would get the left property who already have enough in Gaza.  However, the Palestinians have missed an opportunity to show greatness and superiority."  


"Synagogue's As Symbol"


Thomas Schmitz commented in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (9/12):  "For weeks, UN employees and foreign journalists were kidnapped, and Palestinian terror groups intimidated PA members.  Given this chaos, the Israeli cabinet's decision not to pull down the 19 synagogues must be seen as a provocative move.  The cabinet argued that Israelis should not destroy their own religious houses.  They will deliberately be left to the Palestinian mob.  While the UN will praise government head Sharon for the peaceful withdrawal, marauding Palestinians will destroy 19 synagogues.  The Israeli government is asking for such pictures.  However, according to the Jewish exegesis, a house is no longer a synagogue after the Torah scrolls are removed.  The 19 synagogues are already empty....  The end of the occupation after 38 years is a historic moment--the synagogues and a closed crossing-point leave a bitter aftertaste behind."


"Far From A Real Peace"


Margarethe Limberg commented on national radio station Deutschland Radio of Berlin (9/12):  "The events after the departure of the last Israeli soldiers were disgusting. They fit into the image of chaos and violence we could see in the Gaza Strip in recent days and weeks….  For the first time they are now given opportunity to show that they are able to govern and to organize a community, but the Palestinian police appear be unable to establish peace and order.   They can be certain that the EU and the U.S. will support them in this difficult move, but it is unclear whether their Arab friends would do the same.  Without assistance from outside nothing will make progress in the overpopulated poorhouse.  However, the times when the PA could blame the Israelis for everything that went wrong are over, at least in the Gaza Strip.  The PA now has to prove that it can take the opportunity and fight violent extremists."


ITALY:  "Here’s Why Sharon Now Supports The Palestinian State"


An analysis by R. A. Segre in pro-government, leading center-right daily Il Giornale (9/14):  “Israeli Prime Minister Sharon arrives at the United Nations leaving behind ruins, as well as considerable uncertainty about his future political intentions.  The ruins are not only those of a long war against the Arabs… They are the physical and ideological ruins that the old General left behind in Gaza, where he ordered the physical destruction of the colonization, which he formerly supported and defended, along with the dream of a greater Israel…. His decision to leave synagogues behind, under the pressure of rabbis, perhaps suggests which policy the president will follow in the future.  Sharon does not believe in real peace with the Palestinians, at least not for many years to come.  That’s why he did not insist in negotiating withdrawal from Gaza with them; that’s why he let the Palestinians destroy the synagogues under the eyes of world public opinion, thus gaining points in the psychological war.  By doing that, he was able to show the difference between Israelis and Palestinians: the former treat Islamic places of worship in Israel with respect.  Furthermore, he has made evident the PNA’s inability to govern.”


"Europe Should Stop Gaza’s Anti-Semites"


Unsigned editorial in elite, center-left daily Il Riformista (9/13):  "The Palestinian Authority, which is finally the master in Gaza, is projecting showing a very bad image....  Those who burned down Gaza’s synagogues were perfectly aware of the implications of their actions for Europe, where a new wave of anti-Semitism is underway.  Therefore, these young people carried out an anti-Semitic action.  It is no mystery that Hamas is behind this.  However, the fact that Abu Mazen is not able to stop Hamas is a serious matter, because the right to a Palestinian state depends on the right of security in the Israeli state....  Extreme Palestinian factions are moving towards an  ‘Iraqization’ of Gaza.  Abu Mazen should know that, if that happens, he would lose the necessary authority to get the West Bank returned, after Gaza.  Europe should tell him that.  And if Abu Mazen does not understand, Europe should punish him.  The Italian democratic Left should also rise up, as it does every time the Americans bomb a mosque in Iraq."


"Gaza ‘Handed Over’, Synagogues Burned"


Leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore wrote (9/13): “The dismantling of Jewish settlements, which has transformed PM Ariel Sharon from ‘hero’ to ‘traitor’ of the Israeli people, is finished....  Divisions between the parties [Israel and Palestinians] remain over the meaning itself of the withdrawal.  For Tel Aviv this event marks an end to the Israeli era in the Strip and from now on all depends on the PNA.  For the Palestinians on the contrary, the Strip remains a prison.”


"Last Flag Lowered, Israel Abandons Gaza" 


Eric Salerno from Gaza on the front page of Rome centrist daily Il Messaggero (9/12):  "Another historic date marked the calendar...of this endless conflict.  However, celebrations, explosions of joy in the night...cries of victory from Jihad, Hamas and Fatah militants, were also hiding fears and preoccupation over the end of one era and the beginning of the next.  Abu Mazen has recently urged all to remain calm.  He aims at neat celebrations, not at chaos....  Gaza today is a little freer, but it will be several years before it offers its one million three hundred thousand residents a decent life inside their longed-for Palestinian State."


RUSSIA:  "Palestinian Flag Flies Over Gaza"


Georgiy Stepanov said in reformist Izvestiya (9/13):  "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon must be celebrating-the disengagement he pushed so hard over the past two years is complete.   Now there is a chance to change the status of another occupied territory, the West Bank of the river Jordan with its more than 120 settlements.   The Palestinians insist on their withdrawal and full return to the 1967 borders.   But that is a task for the future."


"A New Era In The Middle East"


Gabriel Volfson filed this view from Jerusalem for centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (9/13):  "Given military anarchy and the critical state of the Palestinian economy in the wake of Israeli withdrawal, Abu Mazen will have a hard time trying to stop Gaza from becoming Islamized. The irony is that whether he and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will survive politically depends on Islamic terror.  As of now the latter's (popularity) ratings are very high, so he may well retain his post, opposition or no opposition.  If terror prevails, Abu Mazen will stand no chance, not to speak of Sharon."


AUSTRIA:  "Symbolic Fire"


Senior editor for independent Der Standaard Hans Rauscher commented (9/14):  "Apart from the unease caused by the destruction of sacred buildings, the burning down of the Jewish synagogues by militant Palestinians in Gaza has also destroyed some of the illusions about the strength of the moderate forces among the Palestinians.  Despite this, the withdrawal of the Israelis was right and above all inevitable, since it would have overextended the capacity of a democratic state to keep at least 1.4 million Palestinians in Gaza under occupation.  The same is true, incidentally, for the 1.7 million Palestinians in the West Bank.  As for the challenge to the Palestinians in Gaza finally to establish a functioning community there, the burning synagogues were anything but a promising start."


"Gaza In Flames"


Foreign affairs editor for independent daily Der Standaard Gudrun Harrer analyzed  (9/13):  “It takes tremendous optimism to interpret the end of Israel’s 38-year-old Gaza adventure as a general change for the better in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship.  Burning synagogues are a sight that is difficult to bear--as is the tendentiousness of those that are now saying:  ‘And once again synagogues are burning.’...   At any rate, this new strain to Israeli-Palestine relations could have been avoided.  However, in the final analysis, success or failure of the Gaza withdrawal will be decided elsewhere.  The burning topic is now the question of what will happen to the checkpoint at Rafah.  The Israelis’ wish to obtain a guarantee that the Gaza Strip will not be armed via Egypt before Israel’s very eyes is understandable.  For the time being, it has led to the preliminary closure of Rafah. This move, however, supports those who perceive the ‘detached’ Gaza Strip as a prison where the jailors are not inside but instead outside. This way, Israel forfeits its credit for the withdrawal--however, it ought to be borne in mind that it never used the term, but spoke instead of 'detachment.’...  It is understandable that Israel does not trust the peace in Gaza, but simply to keep the lid on the pot will not do. International observers at the border to Rafah, as proposed by the EU, would be one way of avoiding a new prison scenario.”


"Help For Abbas"


Commentator for independent Salzburger Nachrichten Gil Yaron opined (9/13):  “The mood in Gaza is cause for pessimism. The Palestinians interpret the Israeli withdrawal as a military victory of the Islamic Hamas.  And they might not be far wrong there:  Even phases of quiet have previously not been able to persuade an Israeli government to clear settlements.  It was the terror of the Hamas and the frightening demographic reality that convinced Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of the necessity of unilateral withdrawal....   Hope lies with the Palestinian masses that are tired of war and are hoping above all for economic improvement.  The world will have to be quick to grant economic assistance even if the peace process initially comes to a halt.  Abbas is the first moderate Palestinian leader.  His future will decide that of the entire region. If he fails, the next round of violence will follow.”


BELGIUM:  "Never Again"


eputy chief editor Walter Pauli wrote in independent De Morgen (9/13):  “The Palestinians say that they are conducting a war against Israel and they speak about a liberation struggle.  They have good arguments to support that vision.  However, if there is one gift they do not have it is the talent for propaganda.  That is visible again with the burning synagogues in Gaza.  Yet, the Palestinian elite should know how to breed enthusiasm abroad for a liberation struggle...and understand how heavily public opinion in Western Europe and the United States can weigh on the politicians’ decisions....   It is not the first time that the Palestinian leaders or Palestinian public opinion make that mistake.  No one renders worse services to the Palestinian cause than the Palestinians themselves.  During the first Gulf war they cheered when Saddam Hussein sent Scuds to Israel; when 9/11 happened they laughed and cheered--complaining afterwards that Bush was backing the Israelis.  He would probably have done the same if they had not applauded, but in this case, he hardly had to justify himself.  The suicide attacks: as counterproductive as can be.  When Israeli tanks shell the PLO headquarters in Ramallah it looks more or less like a normal war operation.  When a Palestinian boy blows himself up in a shopping street and rips open babies and women it is a barbarian act--that is ‘not done’ even in wartime.  When Palestinians set a synagogue ablaze every Jew--in Israel and elsewhere--knows what he must do: brace himself and fight.  ‘Never again,’ you know.  ‘Never again’ resignation or naivety.  And, consequently, ‘never gain’ peace in Israel and Palestine.”


HUNGARY:  "Burning Synagogues"


Columnist Ferenc Kepecs noted in left-of-center Nepszava (9/13):  "The picture of burning synagogues is among those pictures which sink into people's memory and, defying rational explanations, will influence their opinions for a long time to come. This time about the Palestinians. What kind of a world will there be in Gaza, what kind of a country will its inhabitants build if their independent existence starts with such a scene?.. There is no doubt that the Palestinians had a reason to hate the symbols of the Israeli occupation. And this would have explained a lot of things in terms of the destruction of any other buildings. But not in the case of a building of sacral purpose, not even if it functions as such. The ancestors of the Muslims, when occupying a country of another religion, did not demolish the churches; at worst they transformed them to mosques. Self-contained destruction was not their style."


SPAIN:  "A Partial Gesture"


Centrist daily La Vanguardia wrote (9/13):  "The retreat from Gaza, although an historical gesture, could turn this territory into a 'prison' (the words of Simon Peres) because Israel continues to control all the borders.  Gaza and the West Bank, according to the Oslo agreements, constitute a unique geographic entity, and as a consequence one territory can’t be 'liberated' if the other continues to be occupied. We are seeing the end of colonization in Gaza, but the fear is that this is not the prelude to the settlement of the colonies in the West Bank."  


"The Glow Of Gaza"


left-of-center daily El País wrote (9/13): "The dismantling of terror is very difficult because, apart from the risk of a civil war in Palestine, Hamas' thirst for revenge feeds on the occupation of the West Bank.  Thus the perspectives are not very encouraging, above all because Gaza can hardly become a model for anything, taking into account that besides a strip of land by the Mediterranean, it is a prison of 400 square kilometers, as Israel will still control land, sea and air borders."


TURKEY:  "The Chance For Regional Role"


Sami Kohen commented in the mass appeal Milliyet (9/14): “The Israeli pull-out from the Gaza strip has provided some hopes about the future of peace process.  Sharon made a courageous step by implementing the withdrawal plan.  If all goes well, we can hope for some positive developments in the near future in the peace process.  For instance, if Israel pulls out from controlling the Gaza strip, it may lead to the revival of negotiations regarding the West Bank.  There are two conditions to meet in order to see that things are going in the right direction.  First of all, the Abbas administration should gain full authority in Palestine as well as ensure full security.  As for the Israeli side, the Sharon administration should express determination about transferring authority of the West Bank to the Palestinian administration and should take some steps on this regard.  It goes without saying that to meet such conditions is going to be very tough for both sides.  But it is very important to have the currently achieved momentum continue.  All of this also brings new opportunities for Turkey to play a regional role.”


ISRAEL:  "The March Of Folly"


Veteran op-ed writer and late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's assistant Eytan Haber opined in the mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/14): "The [Israeli cabinet's] decision regarding the [Gaza Strip's] synagogues and its immediate consequences are undoubtedly worthy of being historian Barbara Tuchman's book, 'The March of Folly'....  We wouldn't mention this, had Shimon Peres not honestly declared Monday that 'settling Gush Katif was a historical mistake.'  A historical mistake?  This wasn't about an academic exercise.  Soldiers and civilians paid with their lives for that historical mistake; others became handicapped, to say nothing of the billions [of dollars] that went up in smoke.  A historical mistake?  Who erred?  The Holy Ghost?....   Absolutely not.  The successive Israeli cabinet ministers--from Labor and Likud--were those who made the historical mistake whose price was paid in blood."


 "In The Dock"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (9/14):  "The courts in Israel turned their heads when asked to address the demolition of hundreds of houses in Gaza, the expropriation of private lands for the use of the occupying country, and the expulsion of 25,000 Palestinians from their homes in Hebron to expand the Jewish quarter.  None of these constitutes valid means in the war on terror.  The vacuum created by judges in Israel in dealing with these issues is what led to the appeal to the legal authorities in Europe.  One can complain about the hypocrisy of legal authorities that are tough on Israel and easy on other countries.  One can ascribe political and anti-Semitic motives to plaintiffs and judges.  But it is hard to claim that our hands are clean.  Every officer who carries out an order involving serious human rights violations must take into consideration that he will find himself in the dock.  An unbalanced and disproportionate use of universal authority to bring individuals to trial may sometimes be excessive and unjust, but the abrogation of the option to pursue war criminals wherever they may be could bring the wheels of justice grinding to a halt."


"The Most Powerful Image Of All"


Liberal op-ed writer Yael Gewirtz commented in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/13): "There is nothing surprising about the images we've been served with from the cadaver of Gush Katif.  Those who wanted painful images of settlements being brutally demolished by the IDF and of synagogues being desecrated and destroyed by Palestinians are now being granted their wish in full.  And those who succumbed to the pressure that was applied by the settler leadership and the rabbis are now being served with the inevitable.  Those painful images, which could and should have been averted, were forced on the public psyche.  But every rational Israeli citizen still has the freedom to choose which, of all the images in the disengagement album, he will remember most clearly....  Each is free to choose as he sees fit, with tears of sadness or felicity, the image of the 'day after.'  But there is one image about which there is no dispute, and it therefore is the most important of all: Israel has left Gaza.  Reality has changed beyond recognition."


"Hold Palestinians Accountable"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (9/13):  "[Israelis] were...informed that the U.S. State Department had criticized the cabinet decision not to destroy the synagogues because it 'put the Palestinian Authority into a situation where it may be criticized for whatever it does.'  It is never exactly clear when a State Department spokesman says something like this whether he or she is ad-libbing or whether a particular pearl has been cleared at the cabinet level.  Either way, however, such statements are instructive because they either reflect a conscious, high-level decision or are considered so uncontroversial that a low-level official can say them without fear of contradiction.  In this case, the uncontroversial notion is evidently that the problem is not Palestinian savagery but Israel's refusal to spare the world images of it.... What the U.S. has not done is confronted Arab rejectionism of Israel and rampant anti-Semitism with equal moral clarity.... The State Department's revealing reaction to the synagogue decision and its consequences shows that attempts to triangulate around the real sources of the conflict remain entrenched in the foreign policy establishment, even in Washington.  Israel's withdrawal was not yet a day old when the first post-disengagement Palestinian mortar landed in Sderot.  If Washington is not quick to hold the Palestinian Authority responsible for such attacks, and demand effective action, disengagement will have been for naught and terrorism will escalate again.  Now is not the time for evenhandedness, but for holding the Palestinians accountable for their actions."


"Don't Ask, Don't Tell"


Washington correspondent Nathan Guttman wrote in conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (9/13): "As long as things are done quietly, away from the public's attention, the U.S. is willing to turn a blind eye toward building expansion in the territories.  Both sides know there are red lines that cannot be crossed, but no one dares mention what these red lines are.  Ambiguity is the name of the game, and more often than not, both the Israelis and the Americans play this game very well....  Experts following the U.S. policy toward the ongoing Israeli attempt to connect Ma'aleh Adumim to Jerusalem via the E-1 corridor say that the official U.S. stand is far more flexible than it might seem....   [On the other hand,] while Israelis tend to treat Jerusalem, and subsequently, 'greater Jerusalem,' as a separate issue unconnected to the questions over the future of the West Bank settlements, the U.S.  administration never accepted this distinction.  In American eyes, the Ma'aleh Adumim-E-1 issue is exactly the same as the Ariel issue.  The only difference is that the map of greater Jerusalem is still unknown."


"Back To The Border Of Sanity"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (9/12):  "Thirty-eight years after Gaza was occupied in what most of the public still believes was a war of no choice, Israel is returning the Gaza Strip to its legal owners as they are embodied in the Palestinian Authority....  Although this was not Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's declared intention when he initiated and carried out the disengagement, the exit from the Gaza Strip is a very significant step on the long road to Israeli-Palestinian peace.  Now Israel is entitled to expect that the PA will respond to the Israeli move with steps of its own that will bring peace a step closer.  For this, the PA will have to promise, first and foremost, that the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel will be quiet, so that there will no longer be any need for the IDF to cross it, as well as carry out what is required of it according to the road map.  If it does so, the chances are good that in the foreseeable future, the exit from Gaza will not be Israel's last exit from occupied territories."


"Gaza's Gate"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (9/12):  "Since the launching of Oslo, Israel has been saying to the PA, 'Take a state, please.'  Only now is it beginning to dawn on the international community that it is the PA, not Israel, which has been saying no....  If the Palestinians decide to start building the peaceful state they claim they want, Israel will not only refrain from interfering, but stands ready and able to do much to help.  Throughout Oslo's heyday, Israeli ministers cooked up elaborate plans for economic cooperation through industrial parks and international-financed joint megaprojects.  Under Arafat, the PA would have none of it.  Mahmoud Abbas also seems to be in no hurry to engage Israel economically, despite claiming that improving Palestinian lives is his top priority.  Regardless of how the border control issues are worked out, it is already clear that the fate of Gaza is in Palestinian hands. Now we will see if they are ready to make constructive use of it."


"End Of Gaza Era"


Diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (9/12): "Within just over five years, Israel has completed the final determination of two of its borders: the northern border with Lebanon, and the southern one along the Gaza Strip.  The two moves were carried out unilaterally, but with international agreement and the approval of the UN.  The new borders are known all over the world.  What could make the new line of Gaza effective is what makes the 'blue line of Lebanon'effective: sweeping international legitimacy, global recognition, the air umbrella of the nations of the world, and the knowledge, that from now on, in the absence of occupation, the rules of the enlightened world will be enforced here.... The dream of Greater Israel has ended, buried dishonorably, hastily, almost without any suffering.  The next prime minister, whoever it will be ('even Bibi') will continue the process.  The time has come to draw a border for this country, to put up a fence along it, to affix a metal gate and gather inside."


"No Illusions"


Military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (9/12): "Let no one delude himself.  The IDF's freedom of action in response to terror attacks issuing from the Gaza Strip will not increase -- on the contrary....  The impact of an artillery shell in a populated area of the Gaza Strip, which is one of the densest regions on the face of the planet, will create a human and political catastrophe.  The [IDF's] Judge Advocate General will immediately declare this a 'disproportionate' action.  No one will authorize such a response.  Artillery can be fired at open areas.  But Qassam rockets and mortar shells are not fired from open areas, but rather from yards, from populated neighborhoods.  Then how exactly can the sentence 'we too have mortars' be backed up?.... An electronic wall has been built facing Gaza.  The Air Force is planning an electronic ceiling that will enable it continuous monitoring of Gaza from the air, intelligence gathering and immediate responsive fire.  It will take a long time until this ceiling is built and becomes effective.  Until then, we will have to invest a great deal in protective measures."


WEST BANK:  "Abu Mazin’s Unilateral Roadmap"


Hani Habib commented in independent Al-Ayyam (9/14): “President Abbas has unequivocally stated that disarming the Palestinian resistance groups will not [be made to] lead to a civil war.  This position, which is in my view the most significant development so far … drops all predictions that the coming phase will witness a sequence of confrontations between the Palestinian Authority and the armed factions....  Abu Mazin’s position is the sensible and straightforward reaction to Israel’s plan to practically keep the Gaza Strip under occupation through controlling the crossings between the strip on the one side and Egypt and the West Bank on the other. ... Withdrawing from the Gaza Strip will not end violence.  The peace negotiations must be resumed and the Israeli plans to turn the [separation] wall into borders must be stopped.  Furthermore, the resumption of negotiations does not necessarily contradict the armed [resistance].  Israel must understand that the Palestinians will not fall for the ‘Gaza trap’.”


"Illegal Oddments"


Yusef Qazzaz opined in the official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida  (9/13):  "Jewish synagogues are like military points, troops and settlements; all are symbols of the Israeli military presence in any Palestinian area....  What’s absent in the Israeli mind is that no one likes to believe that there are places for worshipping on freed Palestinian land.  The occupation was illegal and will continue to be and what the occupation builds by armed force remains illegal, be it a synagogue, a settlement or an apartheid wall."


 "Post-Israeli Gaza Withdrawal"


Hani Masri commented in independent Al-Ayyam (9/12):  “The Israeli authorities wanted to leave [behind] some issues [to create] tension and disorder through the Israeli government’s last minute decision to keep Jewish synagogues in the Strip, claiming such are religious sites that should not be demolished.... The Israeli government knew that the synagogues were to be demolished...  [even] when Israeli FM Sylvan Shalom urged the UN to request protection for the synagogue from Palestinians.  This was [done] to mislead Israeli religious circles.  The PA made the decision to demolish those synagogues because they were built on occupied land that has owners, and because those synagogues are no more places for worshipping.... However, Israel wants to distort the image of Palestinians by making them appear like barbarians torching the synagogues.”


"Things Are More Clear"


Talal ‘Ukal opined in independent Al-Ayyam (9/12): “Palestinians will be in a confusion with regard to twelve Jewish synagogues left by the Israeli government in Gaza settlements despite the Israeli High Court of Justice’s ruling that allows their demolition.  These synagogues are not archeological or historical sites; they are symbols of the occupation despite their religious features.  If the PA demolishes them, Israel will make a big fuss about it and claim that the [PA] has no respect for religious places and might use this as a pretext to demolish old buildings or other mosques in Palestine or might even use that to add to its repetitive desecrations of the Al-Aqsa mosque.”


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Costly Price And Incomplete Joy"   


Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (9/14):  "Israel insisted on spoiling the Palestinians’ joy. Israel left 24 synagogues and requested the Palestinians to respect their holiness and leave them standing.  Israel did this in order to embarrass the Palestinians and deform their image that they do profane things to holy sites....  What reduced the Palestinians’ joy was withdrawal from Gaza only....  Gaza people have the right to express their joy for the exit of occupation troops and settlers. This liberation has been achieved through the efforts of thousands of martyrs and thousands of disabled and detainees....  The terror of occupation extended to all forms of life. The Palestinians should complete the liberation....  They should not be left alone.  Arabs and Muslims should help them and expedite rebuilding the damages caused by the occupation."


"When Did Israel Respect Religious Sites"


Riyadh’s conservative Al-Riyadh editorialized (9/13):  "Israel’s record of disrespecting Islamic and Christian religious sites does not qualify her to request the Palestine Authority to not destroy the synagogues, built on Palestinian land during its occupation of Gaza.  Israel claims that Muslims and Christians have never destroyed their own religious sites. However, Israel built its synagogues in the occupied territories with no approval to build sites of worship on the land it never possessed.  Israel wants to leave a number of synagogues in Gaza in order to lay claim to use them later. This excuse to return to the Palestinian territories is an ineffective maneuver."


"Glory Days In Gaza"


Makkah’s conservative Al-Nadwa editorialized (9/13):  "As Palestinian resistance forced Israel to withdraw from Gaza, it will also force her to withdraw form the West Bank...  Sharon has an opportunity to avoid further bloodshed if he acknowledges the right of the Palestinians to establish their own independent state and if he honors his agreements with the Palestinians."


"Incomplete Victory"


Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira editorialized:(9/13):  "Palestinian leaders reminded people that the final victory has not yet been achieved. Israel is still controlling land, sea, and air... The Israeli withdrawal is not a gift... Some parties in the international community want to expedite relations with Israel. Many countries of the world are under American pressure to establish relations with Israel... Merging Israel in the international community will increase its obstinacy to peace.  Palestinians intend to maintain their resistance as long as their country is not completely liberated and they are subject to all forms of humiliation... Palestinians realize that they must complete their struggle and that Israel will try to maneuver and manipulate the peace."


JAPAN:  "Prospects for Order, Economy Remain Dim"


The liberal Tokyo Shimbun's Cairo correspondent observed (9/13): "With the completion of the Israeli troop pullout Monday, the 38-year occupation of the Gaza Strip finally came to an end. While thrilled with the return of the territory, the Palestinians are worried about the dim prospects for the future. Meanwhile, the Israelis are determined to refuse peace talks with the Palestinians unless their various factions heed calls to disarm. If the peace process remains stalemated and the Gaza economy does not begin to improve, violence may again become commonplace there."


INDONESIA:  "Gaza And Peace In The Middle East"


Leading independent Kompas noted (9/14): “After returning to their homeland, the people and the government of Palestine should focus on measures to take the lead toward peace, as part of the strategy to establish a Palestinian state. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas contends that the withdrawal from Gaza is historical and very significant.  However, it should be followed by the withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Here we can still feel sharp differences between Israel and Palestine. For Israel, withdrawing from Gaza was a very difficult decision. The administration of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made the decision as part of a peace roadmap, and will be haunted by resistance from Jewish fundamentalists. Abbas said that the road to a Palestinian state is still long. No matter how long the road, we believe that with strong determination and effort from both sides, the road will be made shorter and wider”.


PAKISTAN: "De Facto Recognition of Israel"


Israrul Haq commented in the center-right national English daily The Nation (9/12):  "President Musharraf has been orchestrated during the last few days that Foreign Minister Kasuri’s meeting with the Israel Foreign Minister in Istanbul has been a bold and statesmanly step forward towards persuading Israel to withdraw from the occupied land and thereby hastening the emergence of a viable Palestinian state.  The President also insisted that it was in the fitness of Pakistan’s special importance in the Islamic World that it should engage taking initiative to bring about the resolutions of the long festering Palestinian-Israel dispute.  He, however, reiterated his determination not to recognize Israel until a viable Palestinian state had ultimately emerged on the scene....  But now it seems the pressure to recognize Israel has built up to the point that he can no longer resist it.  Things seem to be moving very fast towards de facto recognition of Israel.  Soon after Kasuri’s meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister in Istanbul it was reported that Pakistan was going to establish actual ties with Israel by setting up a diplomatic outpost in an Islamic country in close neighborhood of Israel to transact regular business with Israel.  Before this President Musharraf announced that he was going to send official goodwill delegations to Al Quds and Gaza."


"No Hurry On Israel"


An editorial in the centrist national English daily The News penned (9/11):  "President Musharraf has repeated what Pakistani officials had already been saying, that he wouldn't meet Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York this month. "Why should there be a rush?" he said on Friday. Why, indeed?...  Gen. Musharraf's reaffirmation of that position, and especially his making clear he's not meeting Mr. Sharon, is a reassurance that Pakistan has not moved from its stance on the Palestinian state....  There are still many holdouts in the Third World which refuse to establish diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv: opposition to Israel isn't based on religion, after all-- Palestinian Christians are as much victims of its injustices, discrimination and atrocities as Muslims.  Pakistan must make no hasty move on relations with Israel.  And it should use the little influence it has gained over that country now to try to persuade it to relent on its policy of expansion in the West Bank, and to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital."


CANADA:  "Gaza's Liberation A Work In Progress"


The liberal Toronto Star editorialized (9/14):  "The people of Gaza celebrated their freedom with giddy abandon this week. President Mahmoud Abbas spoke of 'days of glory' as fireworks lit the sky. Cheering crowds waved Palestinian flags and fired assault rifles after Israeli troops pulled out, ending 38 years of colonization. Gazans held joyous reunions with relatives, swam in the sea, torched the last vestiges of Israeli rule, and picked through smouldering rubble. Yet for all the drama, Gaza's real liberation has barely begun.... Sadly, many Palestinians are also fatally tempted to pocket Israel's pullout from Gaza and to step up pressure in the West Bank, hoping to accelerate the Palestinian state for which so many have struggled. That would be a profound mistake. Abbas is right. Stabilizing Gaza is the priority....  With the Gaza pullout complete, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will face more pressure to freeze West Bank settlements, to reroute Israel's security wall and to vacate more of the West Bank to create the viable, contiguous Palestinian state on which peace depends. But Israelis will balk if Gaza collapses in chaos, and the West Bank becomes a battle zone. Abbas must now do what Yasser Arafat never could, or would, and assert the Palestinian Authority's uncontested rule.  Palestinians must have one, democratic government, willing to enforce public order, to suppress anti-Israeli incitement and terror, and to police the borders. It must have a monopoly on the use of force.... The Palestinian Authority can no longer allow Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and other armed factions to run amok."


"It's Now Up To The Palestinians"


The conservative National Post opined (9/13): "We have said it before on these pages and it's worth saying again: This is a critical moment for Gaza's Palestinians. They did not win their freedom by any military victory, but by a brave and correct decision by a man they collectively revile: Ariel Sharon. It is now up to them to show the world that they are worthy of self-determination, that they can build a democratic state and are capable of peaceful coexistence with their neighbours. If they choose otherwise, if they opt to remain beholden to violence, internecine or otherwise, then Gaza will emerge not as a nascent Palestine, but many people's vision of Hell."


VENEZUELA:  "After Gaza" 


Foreign Affairs expert, Gustavo Arnstein, commented in leading liberal daily El Nacional (9/9): "Gaza pull-out, despite its high strategic difficulty and its emotionally charged atmosphere, only showed that, thank God, the destiny and the unity of the Medinat Israel are unique and indivisible.  In other words: peace is closer."



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