International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

February 3, 2003

February 3, 2003




**  Easily victorious PM Sharon will still find it "difficult to form a stable coalition."

**  The election's results will likely "change little in the bloody standoff" with the Palestinians. 

**  Many agree "America should use its leverage with Israel" to achieve regional stability.

**  Muslim writers believe Sharon's victory is built on "mayhem and death." 



Sharon's victory 'may prove Pyrrhic'--  After the election, Israeli papers focused on coalition scenarios.  Pluralist Maariv contended Sharon "wants to establish a unity government."  Erstwhile Labor-leaning Ha'aretz lamented that Labor candidate Amram Mitzna's pledge not to join a Sharon-led coalition means Labor has "abandoned Israel and left it in the hands of the Right."  India's right-wing Pioneer agreed Sharon will "depend on the extreme right-wing parties to cobble a coalition together," but one liberal Irish voice cautioned such a coalition will not be "capable of commanding national and international support."  Israel's pluralist Yediot Aharonot concluded Israel is becoming "more nationalistic, security-oriented and anti-liberal."           


'Pessimism worldwide' about the possibility for peace--  Leftist observers predicted that Sharon will move to "escalate the military conflict with the Palestinians."  European dailies agreed "Sharon will block diplomatic initiatives as long as the intifada continues."  One Israeli settler wrote that "the Right...won't bring peace" but he, for one, preferred "realistic suspicion to the Left's messianic generosity."  Arab observers predicted that the "cycle of violence in the Middle East will continue" because of Sharon's "history of brutality."  The leftist Japan Times warned, however, that the violent "status quo is proving unsupportable."


President Bush 'must contain Sharon'--  Many wondered if a new Sharon-led rightist government would accept a U.S. roadmap for peace.  One Israeli daily declared that Sharon's victory "set him on a collision course with America."  Muslim papers blasted U.S. "apathy" towards the "death and destruction in Palestine," blaming violence on "the total lack of American focus on staying Sharon's hand."  Egypt's leading Al Ahram accused the U.S. of "conveniently facilitating" Sharon's "final solution" to the Palestinian problem.  Many Arab dailies held that if America is "preoccupied" by war with Iraq, "Sharon's war against Palestinians is likely to continue in an intensified form."      


Arabs say 'a majority of Israelis have given their voice to an extremist leader'--  Muslim outlets continued harsh criticism of "Israeli escalations" including "massacres" in Gaza both before and after the election.  Jordan's center-left Al-Dustour inveighed against Israel's "crimes," while Syria's government-owned Tishreen declared that Israelis "are voting for extremism."  One Pakistani daily said Sharon's win forced Palestinians to "choose between subjugation or death."  Several said "continued resistance" was the only "real roadmap." 

EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 73 reports from 27 countries over 24 January to 2 February.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




ISRAEL:  "Just Not Unity"


Liberal columnist Meir Stieglitz wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (2/2):  "The Right's decisive and anticipated victory marks the future path of Israeli history: nationalistic, security oriented and anti-liberal.  Nationalistic, meaning the continued perception of the conflict with the Palestinians as an uncompromising battle and the continued investment of tremendous resources in bolstering the settlement enterprise.  Security-oriented, meaning the continued elevation of the narrow 'security interest' over any other national interest (aside from the settlements), while perceiving the potential threats in the region in 'worst-case scenario' terminology.  Anti-liberal, meaning the continued investment in bolstering anti-modern education for anyone who so desires and the continued conferring of legitimacy on the various shades of fundamentalism.  Those who argue that the Labor Party, if it joins, will be able to stop these processes suffer from opportunistic addiction to government and unwillingness to wage a difficult struggle....  Throughout his entire political life Sharon has coerced Israeli history into taking his path.  Therefore, Mitzna needs to think only about how to protect the defeated minority that is called the Left.  The battle is not about victory but about survival."


"Time to Go It Alone"


Senior columnist and longtime peace campaigner Yoel Marcus wrote in independent Ha'aretz (1/31): "On the night of his big win, Ariel Sharon reminded me of the kid in the movie 'Home Alone,' who looks in the mirror in the morning all joyful and happy, and then starts screaming his lungs out when he realizes he's alone....  Sharon's landslide victory has handcuffed him, with the collective wisdom of the voter creating more problems for him than solutions.  It has set him on a collision course with America.  Sharon may boast about having won a second term of four years and eight months, but the government in its current configuration probably won't last out the year.... As a member of the unity government, Labor was humiliated and hardly influenced the decision-making.  A national emergency government is an ass-covering government.  Labor needs to get a grip on itself and build itself up as an alternative in the opposition.  Unity is a trap it cannot fall into again.  When Sharon is ready to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate settlements, Labor will be there, supporting him on the sidelines.  Meanwhile, let the public that wanted Sharon, and got him big-time, enjoy him to the hilt."


"The Voters' Will"


Independent Ha'aretz editorialized (1/30): "Sharon and his advisers now propose to do what the Prime Minister could have done in the previous government -- to support U.S. President George Bush's initiative that speaks of an independent and viable Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel, and to set in motion a diplomatic process that he has avoided over the past two years.  Sharon knows that no diplomatic process is possible without the immediate removal of the illegal settlement outposts and a settlement freeze immediately thereafter, or without a willingness to evacuate settlements as part of a broader agreement....  If Sharon believes that he needs to act now to advance an agreement with the Palestinians--with all the compromises and concessions such an agreement entails--he deserves praise.  But he will have trouble mustering the cabinet support required for such a move--from either his own party, or from the other parties on his side of the political map.  Labor and the left-wing parties can support any appropriate step in this direction from the Opposition.  It is precisely because of his sweeping victory that Sharon now faces so conspicuous a problem.  The Likud's platform, which is a weaker version of the platforms of the extreme right-wing parties ('the real Likud'), is likely to make it difficult for him to take any action to promote peace, even if he reaches the conclusion that this is essential."


"If You Form a Narrow-Based Cabinet, Forget About Loan Guarantees "


Columnist Akiva Eldar wrote in Ha'aretz (1/30):  "Sharon...knows that the Labor Party's presence in the government is enormously vital for coming up with an alternative source of funding to deleting tax revenues.  The only source on the horizon is the American taxpayer, via the USD 8 billion in American loan guarantees.  But without a political horizon, Labor won't join the government and President Bush will find it very difficult to stick his hand into the pocket of the American taxpayer.  Israel's friends in Washington, particularly AIPAC, have warned the political echelon in Jerusalem that they should not regard the guarantees as if the money was already in the Bank of Israel vaults.  When Washington can barely remember such a cold winter and such high oil prices, Congress won't be particularly enthusiastic about placing Israel's poor before America's poor, whose numbers are increasing.  With the U.S. government cutting USD 28 billion from the federal budget, even the most friendly-to-Israel president needs some very good reasons to explain to his public why he is giving money away to foreigners."


"Bush Also Has Something To Say"


Columnist Yehoshua Shemesh wrote in nationalist Hatzofe (1/30):  "The results of the elections for the 16th Knesset revealed dramatic changes...but they don't fundamentally present a clear, sharp picture of what the next government will look like....  [Nonetheless,] the people have said a clear 'no' to those who brought the Oslo accords and their aftermath, an unambiguous 'no' to the Israeli left and its entire diplomatic and military approach and a clear 'yes' to the 'national camp' and its messages....  Israelis have not made a decision concerning Sharon's plan, because they are unaware of its nature....  Ariel Sharon said that 'the people have made their statement'...[but] he believes that President George Bush also has a message of considerable import to make....  In his State of the Union Address, President Bush spoke about seeking an arrangement 'between a secure Israel and a democratic Palestine.'  It is unclear how Bush would work to implement both parts of that blueprint.  What is clear is that the Israeli government won't be united in the way of 'digesting' this formula, regardless of the government's makeup."


"A Pyrrhic Victory"


Senior columnist and longtime peace campaigner Yoel Marcus wrote on page one of independent Ha'aretz (1/29): "The election exercise could yet turn out to be Sharon's Pyrrhic victory....   After Iraq, America will want a government that will negotiate over a Palestinian state and dismantling settlements.  And while there's understanding for 'Israel's right to defend itself,' the elimination of Arafat, the wet dream of a right-wing government, will be a casus belli for America.... The salvation of Sharon Chapter 2, as a severely constrained prime minister despite his victory, could come from the war in Iraq, which might serve as an excuse for a broad emergency government."


"Friendship With Bush To Be Tested During Sharon's Second Term"


Washington correspondent Natan Guttman wrote in Ha'aretz (1/29): "Sharon's second term ... may prove problematic and test the friendship with his White House buddy.  After the war [with Iraq], the United States is expected to reconsider its approach to the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.... The formation of a right-wing government could [also] somewhat complicate Congressional approval of aid [for Israel], as the Congress will insist upon securing promises to curtail from the aid funds every dollar the government will transfer to the settlements."


"Now Or Never"


Diplomatic correspondent Shimon Shiffer wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/29): "Sharon needs a broad-based government which would include both secular and religious Israelis.  Without a national unity government he will find it particularly hard to keep his pledge to the president of the U.S. that he will act according to the Bush outline for the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."


"A Defining Moment"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (1/29): "The question at this point is how Sharon can use his mandate to recapture the initiative regarding Middle East diplomacy.  The Prime Minister reportedly plans to do this by drafting Israel's own 'road map,' not based on the Quartet's drafts, but on Israeli needs and Bush's June 24 speech.  This is a good idea, because it will demonstrate to Israelis, Palestinians, and the world that Jerusalem has a plan to end not just the current war, but the Arab-Israeli conflict in general.  Sharon has already laid out the key building blocks of the Bush-Sharon road map: terror must stop, and Israel's negotiating partner must be a Palestinian leadership that fights terror and has real democratic legitimacy.  Fleshing out a plan to do this is the easy part.  The larger challenge will be to shake off the attitude that was dominant in both the U.S. and Israel throughout the Oslo period....  The Right must go beyond defining itself by what it is against, and explain and pursue what it is for."


"The Weight Of The Opposition"


Independent Ha'aretz editorialized (1/28):  "More than anything else, Israel needs a wise, realistic and courageous government that will give another chance to dialogue with the Palestinians.  It will be a major surprise if such a government emerges from the tallying of the votes.  In the absence of such a government, Israel needs an effective, determined and combative opposition....  It is possible that the coming weeks will show that Sharon won the elections but is finding it difficult to form a stable coalition. Political volatility, diplomatic reversals (mostly dependent on American initiatives) and developments in the investigations of the legal affairs connected to the Sharon family could, separately or together, dramatically advance the date of the next elections to much sooner than their scheduled date.  A large, strong and rehabilitated opposition is also needed to get ready for those elections."


"When You Vote From The Gut"


Senior columnist and longtime peace campaigner Yoel Marcus wrote in independent Ha'aretz (1/28):  "With or without a unity government, Sharon can count on Labor supporting him in any move toward peace, no matter where it sits.  But all the evidence points to the likelihood that Sharon's first move will be to escalate the military conflict with the Palestinians, with the ultimate goal of getting rid of Arafat.  Only then will he deliver a 'Sadat speech' to pacify post-Iraq America--before they pounce on him, tooth and nail.  Sharon is pretending to be Labor and Likud combined, which is a lot of baloney, of course.  So, instead of choosing between two alternatives, as befitting a democracy, the public will elect Sharon today, as befitting a psychopathy."


"Interconnected Processes"


Diplomatic correspondent and political commentator Ben Caspit observed in popular, pluralist Maariv (1/28):  "[Tonight,] people in the Middle East will be listening carefully to Sharon['s acceptance speech].  The whole world will be listening to Bush['s State of the Union Address.]  The irony of fate has fashioned a similar task for the two leaders: the U.S. President and the Israeli Prime Minister are trying, each in their own arena, to form as wide a coalition as possible.  Sharon wants to establish a unity government....  Sharon is pinning his life's hopes on the Iraqi move.  So, too, is Bush.  It is believed that they are coordinated as to the moves that will take place afterwards, which will also change the face of the region.  On the other hand, this is not the first time that Ariel Sharon has tried to alter the face of this region.  The last time it didn't end well. Let us hope that this time it will end otherwise."


"Return From India"


Columnist Avirama Golan noted in Ha'aretz (1/28):  "Three months before the elections, Mitzna, who read the polls proving that most of the public wants to get rid of the settlements, was convinced, with an innocence bordering on dangerous naivete, that a large segment of the population would be in thrall to his statements.  Two months later, when he understood he was heading to the opposition, he said that even if the public doesn't understand now, it will understand the next time.  That position may prove that he sticks to the integrity of his positions, but it does not inspire much respect for his political abilities and leadership.... Labor pretends it belongs to everyone, but behaves like that small group of parents [representing the Labor Party's hardcore constituency] whose kids have come back from India....  Between one dream and the other, they abandoned the real Israel and left it in the hands of the right."


"Let The Majority Lead"


Columnist and satirist, settler Ori Orbach declared in mass-circulation pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/28):  "It is not that the right carries the standard of probity.  It won't bring peace either.  But I prefer bitterness and realistic suspicion to the left's messianic generosity....  The latter has caused more deaths.  I am fed up of the fact that a minority view controls the press and the prosecutor's office, literature and the courts.  I am fed up of the fact that academia and the cultural world...despise the masses, the mob, the religious and all those who aren't like them.  There's only one place where the 'national camp' can win and make its wishes heard: the Knesset."


"Sharon's Choice"


Senior columnist Nahum Barnea opined in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/28):  "In the days in which the Labor Party voters are ashamed of their party, it seems as if Sharon is the only one who is aware of its good points....  All that is a show, of course.  Sharon isn't interested in the Labor Party's advice.  He needs its hands, its cooperation in the harsh economic steps that are anticipated this year and maybe also as the thin fig leaf that it serves him in Europe.  Richard III, the tragic Shakespearean hero, cried: 'A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.'  Sharon is not quite that generous, but he does need a horse....  Foreigners who come here for a visit wonder how it can be that after two such bitter years the people prefer Sharon.  The answer to that is in the question itself: when the situation is difficult, people stick to what they have.  The Americans stuck to President Bush after September 11, and the Israelis are sticking to Sharon.  And they will stick to him either until a miracle happens or until the situation becomes so difficult that people will grow sick of Sharon’s lack of a solution."


"Don't Confuse Us With The Facts"


Chief Economic Editor Sever Plotker observed in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (1/27):  "Despite the short length of the election campaign, it still managed to give birth to several claims that have already been taken for granted as truths in the country's political dialogue....  In the 2003 elections Arafat hardly featured at all.  The terror attacks were also present only in the background, not at the forefront of the electoral debate....  The solid core of the Israeli Left’s political thinking is an open Israeli-Palestinian agreement, land for peace.  Most people in Israel, according to the polls, oppose this approach.  The public does not believe in an open peace and does not see the territories as a bargaining chip.  Peace has become a liability and so have the territories.  Most people want to get rid of the 'peace' and of the 'territories' as well.  It wants to get out of this whole mess with a display of power, muscle, and strength."


WEST BANK:  “Sharon: Victory With Many Defects”


Ashraf Ajrami opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (1/31):  "The American administration contributed to the victory of Sharon, especially by postponing the declaration of the ‘Road Map’ until after the Israeli elections out, of fear of pressuring and embarrassing Sharon [during his election campaign]. Also, the EU contributed to Sharon’s victory since it responded to Washington’s pressure regarding the postponement of the ‘Road Map’.”


"Sharon And Symptoms Of His Failure"


Adli Sadeq commented in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (1/30):  "Arab regimes will have no choice but to deal with Sharon and his policy and will have to interact with his distorted proposals regarding reaching a settlement for the Palestinian issue. If contradicting of Palestinian strategies [by Palestinian factions] continues to exist, we will no doubt fail to fight against Sharon's rigid and unfair proposals. Moreover, we will be providing Sharon with more pretexts to maintain his control and ruin our relations with the Arab regimes. Thus, there should be a unified Palestinian position capable of engaging effectively in the political process. Such a position, however, should not overlook the right to resist occupation and achieve freedom and independence in the 1967 occupied land."


"Known Results Of Elections"


Independent Al-Quds opined (1/29) ”The majority of the Israeli public was driven by the current chaos in Israel towards the most extremist faction of the right.  Meanwhile, public polls have been showing that Israelis are convinced of the necessity of an independent Palestinian state next to Israel. The current Israeli status will make the Israeli policy go into empty circles, will the escalate violence and will proliferate extremism in Israeli society. This will eliminate any chance of reviving the peace process and of escaping the region’s agonies of confrontations, war, bloodshed and destruction on various levels.”


“Israeli Elections’ Eve”


Bassam Abu Sharif commented in independent Al-Quds (1/28):  “The Israeli escalations in the Palestinian areas, especially in Gaza, is an attempt by Sharon and Moufaz to exercise drastic attacks against the Palestinians before the end of the elections.  Also, it [the Israeli escalation] is an attempt to make the Cairo dialogue, which if successful would embarrass Sharon, to fail. Sharon and Moufaz are aware that the United States will resume, after the Israeli elections efforts to implement the ‘Road Map’ and will work in two parallel lines on security and reforms on the Palestinian Authority in return for halting aggressions and building of settlements.” 


“The Hot Steel Operation Confronting The Quiet Dialogue”


Samieh Shubieb opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (1/27):  "The current Israeli leadership is hoping for bombing attacks before the elections against Israeli civilians which will be used in the elections to result in a massive victory for the Likud. In addition, such attacks against Israeli civilians will help this [current] Israeli leadership to prepare for a comprehensive incursion into the Palestinian areas. The two goals of winning public support for the Likud and of making the Cairo dialogue fail are the main goals on the agenda of the Israeli leadership. Furthermore, the Israeli leadership will use all means to achieve these two goals and, therefore, we should not be surprised by any upcoming Israeli escalations aimed at instigating bombing attacks inside Israel.”                   


“Israel Does Not Want Any Calm”


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (1/26):  “At a time when delegates representing 12 Palestinian factions are meeting in Cairo to discuss the possibility of giving the frozen peace process another chance and to discuss a joint Palestinian strategy to calm the conditions of the Palestinian-Israeli arena, Israeli authorities are moving in the opposite direction.  Israeli tanks and troops invaded Bet Hanoun yesterday, destroyed Palestinian homes, blew up bridges and terrorized women and children in a clear and blatant defiance to the Palestinian efforts under Egyptian sponsorship.”


EGYPT:  “Sharon’s Victory Heralds Difficult Future For Peace Process”


Aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar’s unsigned editorial read (1/31):  “This [Israeli election] result proved the Israeli voter is primarily concerned with shedding the blood of Palestinians and with not peace....  Arabs should insist on further solidarity and resistance against those who want to gamble with the way of peace....  Those who bet on the Israeli elections should know it is a losing wager and know that the only effective pressure tool is continued resistance.”




Leading pro-government Al Ahram’s Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim Nafie noted (2/1):  “The re-election of Sharon with such a majority means one thing: he can form a strong government like Begin’s in 1977 and can consequently led open peace negotiations with the Palestinians to end a half a century of disputes as this government will not be threatened by the blackmail of hardline religious parties or the Likud....  Israel, over the past two years, reaped 700 casualties and hundreds of injured; its economy deteriorated; and hate against Israel among Arabs and Moslems--and even the West--escalated.  Despite all this, Israelis chose Sharon. Arabs should consider this moment carefully and how it coincides with the rise of the religious and political right-wing worldwide. They should arrange their own home first and realize all our crises emerge not from the pressure of others alone but from our own failure to progress as well.”


“What is After Sharon’s Victory?”


Leading pro-government Al Ahram’s unsigned editorial read (1/30):  “If security was the main concern of the Israeli voter and which achieved for Sharon this overwhelming victory, the other side of the coin in this issue is that clearly, the Palestinians are looking to establish their independent state, to live in pride, freedom and safety.  Any attempt to force them to succumb to Israel’s will will only lead to further bloodshed.  For fairness’ sake, the U.S., the U.N., the E.U. and Russia repeatedly declared that this dispute cannot be decided by military force, but there should be a political settlement to secure the interests off the two parties....  If it is true that the voters chose Sharon because he proposed an acceptable level of co-existing with Palestinian fedaie operations, this means the coming Israeli government would not bother to make any settlement with the Palestinian people.  This would naturally result in continued blockade and curfews on Palestinians for the coming four years....  Furthermore, the already worst-ever economic situation in Israel would not be better....  Israeli dissatisfaction with Sharon would increase and the bloodshed of Palestinians and Israelis would continue, and this government will bear the responsibility.  Our sincerest advice is to warn against this option and encourage finding a way for a serious settlement.”


“Butcher At the Helm”


English-language Al Ahram Weekly’s unsigned editorial thundered (1/30):  “The international humanitarian organization Christian Aid this week released a report detailing the plight of the Palestinian people.... the results of the Israeli elections come as no big surprise...and all Arabs are braced for the worst.... Sharon does not bother to hide his abhorrence for negotiated settlements with the Palestinians and with his history of brutality...there are no indications that he will ever change his mind.  It is against this grim backdrop that U.S. President Bush delivered his State of the Union address.  To Arab ears, it sounded more like an exercise in rabble-rousing.  Sharon is working on his ‘final solution’ of the Palestinians, and the U.S., with its double standards, is conveniently facilitating his job.”


"The Israeli Elections And Fixed Palestinian Principles"


Leading pro-government Al Ahram opined (1/29): “Even as the chances for forming a hardline right-wing government led by Sharon grow, peaceful efforts should enjoy the driving force from the superpowers especially the United States.  President Mubarak stressed that interaction with Sharon should be intensified. Thus, the roadmap should immediately begin on the ground.”


"Egyptian Worries"


Opposition Al Wafd’s editor-in-chief Abbass Al Tarabili wrote (1/29): “They are all criminals whether Likud, Labor or Shinui.... We are witnessing a wave of extended antagonism against Arabs and Moslems be it in the United States or in Israel...while Arabs and Muslims are divided....  Arabs are surrendering to an imminent strike against Iraq...and to Sharonic massacres of our brothers in Palestine.... Only the wise Egyptian voice called for a Palestinian dialogue.... How easy it is to destroy peace agreements.... We should prepare for an Israeli policy...which plots to survive after breaking the bones of Palestinians, and those who assist them, even if that be Egypt.”


“The Wall Of Shame”


Leading pro-government Al Ahram columnist Dr. Abdel Alim Mohamed declared (1/24):  “The wall Israel intends to build to separate it from the Palestinian territories is a racist proposal...that is not only similar to the infamous Berlin Wall, but is also, in fact, a reproduction of the psychological outcome of the experience of Jews in the European and Arab exile. It is a reproduction of the ghetto, which is the historic symbol of Jewish isolation, willingly or forcibly. Apparently, Israel and Zionism have not learned the lessons of Jewish history...simply because they have forged this history to accommodate Zionist and imperialist visions.  Human and international experience clearly prove that security cannot be achieved through walls, but through necessary political arrangements for co-existence and dialogue.”


JORDAN:  “The Escalation Of Israel’s Madness”


Center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour observed (1/29):  “The weakness of Arab and international reaction to Israel’s killings, destruction and terrorizing actions have given Sharon and Mofaz the encouragement they wanted to continue this policy of bloodshed, that seems to interest no one, not to mention worry no one in countries of the west or countries of the east.  The U.S.' serious political escalation against Iraq and the resulting tension has whetted Israel’s appetite for committing more horrific massacres in the West Bank and Gaza.  This is especially true since the world is preoccupied with the beating of the drums of the American war and with following up on the Bush administration’s military and diplomatic preparations for this more-than-likely war.  If Israel is committing these ugly and bloody crimes when the American aggression against Iraq is still being anticipated, we wonder what sort of crimes will Israel commit against the unarmed Palestinian people once the war and repercussions actually prevail in the Middle East.”


MOROCCO:  “Bloody ‘Election Campaign Of Sharon’ Another Israeli Massacre In Gaza”


A front-page article in French-language pro-government coalition Liberation declared (1/27):  “The Israeli army has perpetrated again massacres against Palestinians in Gaza. These massacres came two days before the legislative elections that are giving other alibis to Sharon for more escalations against Palestinian civilians.“


SAUDI ARABIA:  “The World And Sharon’s Slaughter”


Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (1/28):  “What is the view of Washington about the Gaza slaughter? She never stops talking day and night about democracy and nations’ rights in living in peace and her trials in applying those policies. Is it only in Iraq? Is it that what is happening in Palestine isn’t related to the freedom of nations and human rights? Are not laws and cannons related to weapons of mass destruction applicable to Israeli?....  Washington is busy with the war on terror, while Sharon is daily killing kids, old people and women...and the U.S. ignores what is happening in Palestine because it is not happening on her planet, and isn’t related to her world that has a lot of talking speakers about human rights and fewer achieving them because they select between one nation and another.”


"Sharon’s War"


The pro-government English-language Arab News commented (1/27):  "Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon might not gain new votes in tomorrow’s elections following Saturday’s military incursion into Gaza City which killed 12 Palestinians and wounded more than 50. But this biggest Israeli raid on the Gaza City since the Palestinian uprising began more than two years ago will not hurt Sharon either. He can only benefit as he runs on a platform of no negotiations with the Palestinians and tough military reprisals.  Sharon is certain to defeat the new leader of the Labour Party, Amram Mitzna, who has pledged to withdraw from the Gaza Strip within a year....  But the paradox of this election is that under Sharon’s 23-month stewardship, five times as many Israelis have been killed in the intifadah than in any two-year period of Israel’s history, excluding wars. In two election campaigns, he made security his centerpiece but he has presided over more than two years of escalating conflict with the Palestinians with no peace or security in sight. And partly as a consequence of his inability to end the intifadah, Israel is now in the throes of its worst economic crisis in 50 years....  Despite paying lip-service to the idea of a Palestinian state, he promotes a settlements policy that absorbs into Israel large chunks of the land that would be essential to such a state and, in the name of fighting terrorism, has virtually destroyed any future self-governing authority....  A Sharon victory tomorrow will be certain but limited. He will have to unite with parties that are worse than he when dealing with the Palestinians, preventing any move that would increase security, improve the economy or endear Israel to the rest of the world. So the cycle of violence in the Middle East will continue. With an America preoccupied with a possible war on Iraq, Sharon’s war against Palestinians is likely to continue in an intensified form."


”Bloody Campaign Before The Israel Election”


Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira editorialized (1/26):  “With the dominance of the war on Iraq on the international arena, Sharon will find his opportunity to escalate his crimes, and therefore, creates more obstacles before any international peace effort. The Israeli Prime Minister looks forward that his war against the Palestinians an integrate part of the upcoming, and to enhance the Israeli ambitions and to maintain what it has stolen for more than six decades.”


SYRIA:  "Resistance Is The Real Roadmap"


Dr. Mahdi Dakhlallah, editor in chief of government-owned Al-Ba'th, declared (1/30):  "It is a meaningful irony for our region that two significant events took place simultaneously: the speech of the American President that was a kind of a 'declaration of war' and the re-election of Sharon to lead the ship of Israeli terrorism.  Bush's speech was not about the 'state of the union' as much as about 'the state of Iraq,' the besieged country thousands of miles away from the U.S.  The new American 'declaration of war' was clear, and this was re-emphasized by Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfwitz when he said: "American soldiers in the region are the last hope." So peace, it seems, does not have any hope left!  The American President was the first one who voted in the Israeli elections. The U.S. recently stopped its projects and 'initiatives' including the 'roadmap' in order to serve the 'pure' Zionist Sharon who represents the real Israel.  But enough is enough. Let us stop describing well-known cases, be they the 'state of the union,' or the 'state of Iraq,' or the 'state of Palestine' or the miserable 'state of the world.  If we look back at the last decade we see that we (Arabs) knocked on all doors, and showed willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of peace. But war mongers have always proved that they want only aggression and occupation and nothing else!"


"Voting For Extremism"


An unsigned editorial in government-owned Tishreen said (1/28):  "It can be said that Israelis have already decided in advance the outcome of their elections and gave the majority of their votes to the extremist "Likud" party and its leader, Sharon....  This confirms that Israelis are voting for extremism and that their yardstick for that is the Palestinian blood....  The problem with the Israeli parties and voters is that they don't vote for peace in its comprehensive sense but on rejecting of peace and insistence on occupation....  These Israeli elections, as previous ones, do not indicate that Israelis are getting closer to just peace and realizing the grave dangers of their extremism on themselves as well as the whole region."


TUNISIA:   "Where Is The Israeli Camp Of Peace?"


An editorial by Editor-in-Chief Mustapha Khammari in independent French-language Le Temps argued (1/30):  "It is not just because Sharon and his Likud party won the elections that the people in love with peace are outraged, it is rather because a majority of Israelis have given their voice to an extremist leader whose policy has brought to his compatriots neither peace nor security....  The loss of the Labor party and the triumph of the Likud indicate that the development of the Israeli public opinion is a disaster for Israel, Palestine and peace."


UAE:  "Bush's Speech Completes Sharon's Victory"


 Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al-Khaleej editorialized (1/30):  "Bush's State of the Union Address and Sharon's sweeping victory in the Israeli elections come at the same time and complete one another in the war against Arabs....  The war against the Arabs is the implicit name for the War on Terrorism.  The inspectors of the American President did not find any evidence against Iraq, so, instead, he tried to link Iraq with Al Qaeda ... to keep Iraq within the framework of his war against terrorism or else....  Bush's speech and Sharon's victory pave the way for a new era of wars and massacres."




FRANCE:  " Predicted Victory"


Charles Lambroschini wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (1/29): “In Israel, Sharon’s victory was predicted.  But what was eagerly awaited was President Bush’s State of the Union message on Iraq… Without any real illusions about their government’s ability to solve Israel’s problems, the Israelis opted for the status quo. They continue to hold on to the idea that the United States will finally find a solution to the Middle East conflict and impose its own compromise.  But first the U.S. President has to win the war against Iraq and in a year and half he must be elected to a second term. Having voted for Sharon, the Israelis are now waiting for George W. Bush, like others who waited for Godot.”


GERMANY:  "Sharon–Man Of The Hour"


Jacques Schuster maintained in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (1/29): “Sharon is the incarnation of Israel’s current reluctance to make concessions, its desire for security, determination, and strength....  Nothing sticks to Sharon, neither accusations of corruption nor the lack of success.  None of his past election promises have come true.  He has brought neither security nor stability....  Under no other leader have the Israelis had to endure such level of terrorist activity, not to mention the economic decline.  The lack of political direction has hardly ever been as pronounced as it is now.  Nevertheless, Sharon is the man of the hour.  He knows how to take advantage of people’s fears without giving in to the extremists who want to chase the Palestinians away….  Nothing will change under Sharon’s leadership over the next few months....  The war against Iraq, however, will bring change to Israel–domestically as well as in relations with the Palestinians.  It remains to be seen whether these changes will be good or bad.”


“Election Campaign In The Gaza Strip”


Jerusalem correspondent Thorsten Schmitz filed the following editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (1/28):  “The ‘principled yes’ of Premier Sharon to the U.S. peace plan, which provides for a Palestinian state by 2005, can safely be considered a ‘principled no.’  On the eve of the Israeli elections, Defense Minister Mofaz said that his government is considering re-occupying the Gaza Strip....  This threat is election campaign ammunition for still undecided voters....  The Israelis feel deceived by Yasser Arafat and hope for security from military operations.  The bombing of the Gaza Strip over the past few days and Mofaz’s announcement speak for a continuation of the previous policy.  Even in his second term, Premier Sharon will block diplomatic initiatives as long as the intifada continues.”


“No Kismet”


Clemens Wergin opined in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (1/28):  “In order to appear as a man of the center, Sharon has committed himself to accepting President Bush’s timetable for the Mideast....  Only a few years ago, Sharon would have vehemently rejected such a plan.  Now he must be tied down to this position, but as a precondition, the Palestinians should meet the basic requirements:  an end to terror and a reform of the autonomous authority, i.e. an authority without Arafat....  If the Palestinians do not want to forfeit the chance for the own state again, this must change.  Despite the loss of confidence which the peace process suffered among the Israelis, a majority still favors a territorial compromise....  The Americans know that even a second Iraq war must be accompanied by such a peace initiative.  If this is not the case, the great U.S. democracy project for the Mideast would fail right at the start because of a lack of credibility.  The vote that will count the most following this election is the one from George W. Bush.  He will have to see to it that Sharon does not find any pretext to thwart his Mideast plan."


ITALY:  “Above All, America Wins”


A commentary by R. A. Segre in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale read (1/29):  “If the forecasts of the exit polls are confirmed....  Sharon will be able to form a rightist government without the need to resort to the more extreme parties, and very likely he will manage to attract into his coalition the parliamentarians he needs and who are already ready to betray their parties....  In the short term, the elections have not changed the situation much, but they have shown that voters are tired and no longer motivated....  The big elector in these elections is, like a newspaper said, President Bush--whether he wages war or not--not only for the political and military repercussions of his possible initiatives, but because without the 12 billion dollars that Sharon asked Washington for, no Israeli government can think of meeting the needs of his country.”


“The Man Has Won, Not His Program”


Bernardo Valli opined in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (1/29):  “Ariel Sharon has not won, he has won by a landslide.  It is his personal success that emerged from yesterday’s vote....  In sum, people wanted Sharon and they got him, stronger than he was before.  And what is being repeatedly said in the wake of his re-election is what had already been said over and over before, i.e., that the Israelis would have liked to vote for Sharon and for Mitzna’s program.  Unable to reunite in a single person the two former generals...they preferred to bet on Sharon.”


RUSSIA:  "Winner Has To Heed U.S.' Opinion"


Yekaterina Kudashkina contended in business-oriented Vedomosti (1/29):  "Whoever wins the election will face the hard job of forming a stable government in a country that is virtually in a state of war....  A new government will have to listen to what the American ally has to say on the issue of Palestine.   So far, the Israelis have not been enthusiastic about the Quartet-submitted settlement plan.   After the election Sharon may soften his stand and suggest his own version of the 'roadmap.'"


"Victory May Prove Pyrrhic"


Aleksandr Reutov said in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (1/29):  "Winning the election is half the battle.   Forming a coalition government is the other half, as prospects for it are quite vague.  So the victory may prove Pyrrhic.   Few Israelis believed the Prime Minister yesterday, when he said that he will sure that the next election is not early."


"Likud's Campaign Slack"


Leonid Volkhonskiy said in business-oriented Kommersant (1/28):  "Overall, Likud did not have to strain much--the incumbent had more than enough 'administrative resources' to win the election, as is.  Predictably, Sharon, who does not particularly like to speak in public, refused to take part in televised debates, claiming the pressure of business.  On Sunday the Israeli army carried out an operation, its biggest since the beginning of the conflict, so that there should no doubts in anyone's mind about Ariel Sharon's determination to destroy the terrorist infrastructure."


"Living With A Broken Left Leg"


Sergey Strokan remarked in business-oriented Kommersant (1/28):  "Ariel Sharon's victory signifies the onset of a new stage in Israeli politics, as the country seems to have had its 'Left leg' broken....  Mitzna's ideas, not at premium today, may rise in value when there is a demand for an alternative path.  This may happen if Ariel Sharon comes a cropper again."


"Internal Political Considerations"


Aleksey Andreyev declared in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (1/27):  "It seems that the army operation (in Gaza) was carried out primarily for internal political considerations.  It is to demonstrate Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's resolve and intractability as far as the Palestinian radicals go. This is to become the main component of Israeli policy toward the Palestinian National Autonomy if Sharon wins the elections (something few doubt he will)."


BELGIUM:  “First And Foremost Keeping Bush’s Support”


Baudouin Loos commented in left-of-center Le Soir (1/30):  “Ariel Sharon’s main obsession--that has so far rather worked for him--is to maintain the closest possible relation with U.S. President Bush. The latter has another obsession, i.e. invading Iraq.  Everybody knows, and Sharon to begin with, that once the Iraqi regime is taken care of, the Americans will turn to Israel and ask for significant progress to solve the conflict with the Palestinians. For the White House, this will, indeed, become a priority, unless Washington accepts the risk of seeing the Arab world rally against ‘American imperialism’ even more, giving motives to terrorists.  Anticipating this American pressure, Ariel Sharon has designed a ‘plan’ to reach peace. But what he so far said about it is worrying those who are primarily concerned, i.e. the Palestinians.  Indeed, although Sharon mentions the creation of a Palestinian State, he considers that the removal of Yasser Arafat and the end of all violence is a preliminary condition. And if this was not enough to postpone his plan indefinitely, he seriously thinks about giving this Palestinian ‘State’ only scattered pieces of territory, which he sees connected by bridges and tunnels.  If that is really his plan, Sharon is not likely to enter history as the man who brought peace. Will one be surprised by this?”


"Same Prime Minister, Same Problems"


Foreign editor Frank Schloemer in said independent De Morgen (1/29), “One has the impression that the formation of a government coalition will be difficult and that, again, it may be a team that is not capable of dealing with the nation’s problems--just like all the Israeli governments of recent years.  Saber rattlers in Sharon’s conservative Likud party are already raising their voices:  Only a military solution is a good solution to the conflict with the Palestinians; the occupied territories must be annexed again; the Palestinians must be expelled--Arafat in the first place.  If that option becomes reality, they will once more be heading for a spiral of violence that may go on for years and jeopardize stability in the Middle East.  With a possible invasion of Iraq in the offing, a new blaze is the last thing the region needs.  There is only one country that Sharon is willing to listen from time to time.  That is why the United States must make him understand that he must forsake that military option.”


HUNGARY:  “The Dilemma Of How To Be A Winner”


Yehuda Lahav wrote in leading Hungarian-language Nepszabadsag (1/27):  "Almost everybody in Israel considers the upcoming Tuesday elections over.  Because Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Likud Party will most probably win.  Then Likud has already started celebrating but Sharon is more reserved.  He knows well that the real headache comes not at the night of the elections but later, when he has to form a government.”


“The Suicide Attacks Strengthen Sharon”


Foreign affairs writer Ferenc Kepecs indicated in left leaning Hungarian-language Nepszava (1/25):  "The crisis and the potential war against Iraq strengthen Prime Minister Sharon’s position.  Under the current [international] circumstances the Israeli people are less inclined to replace a tough-handed leader with a moderate politician.”


IRELAND:  "Sour Victory"


David Horovitz opined in the liberal Irish Times (1/30):  "It has to be a political first: a prime minister who has just won re-election and doubled his party's representation in parliament, arrives to deliver his victory speech to the faithful soon after his opponent has called him to concede defeat. And he gets heckled....  A seasoned and wily campaigner, Mr Sharon is acutely conscious of how much better his next government's international standing will be--its relationship with the Arab world, Europe and, vitally, the United States--if he stands at the centre of a coalition comprising both right and left elements, rather than at the moderate edge of a right-religious alliance....Some of Sharon's hardest battles on the way to a new coalition--and even after it is established--will be those he has to fight with his Likud party. A sour victory, indeed."


"Sharon's Victory"


The liberal Irish Times editorialized (1/29):  "It will be extremely difficult for the handsomely victorious Mr Ariel Sharon to form a governing coalition capable of commanding national and international support, given the Labour leadership's refusal to participate, despite reduced representation....  The dilemma Mr Sharon faces is where to turn for support now that Labour refuses to extend it. He has several options. He may try to split Labour. If this fails he must court coalition partners among a variety of far-right parties--or with the radically secular but ultra-Zionist Shinui Party, which has done so well in this election.  Any of these partners will make it impossible for him to gain international credibility as a peace partner for the Palestinians--unless with a victorious U.S.-led coalition against Iraq. But such a combination of victors would create many, many more problems in the Middle East than it would resolve."


NORWAY:  "With Sharon For More War"


Independent Dagbladet commented (1/27):  "It is not only the dove Mitzna that has strengthened Sharon's position, but also the super hawk George W. Bush.  Most Israelis support a war against Saddam Hussein, in the belief that they can get rid of one of their worst enemies.  It is a dangerous game. Even if Saddam Hussein gets toppled, a war where the civilians in Iraq are the losers might increase Arab resistance against Israel. This might also create even greater problems in the relationship to the Palestinians."


PORTUGAL:  "Sharon's Victory And European Illusions"


The editorial in top-circulation centrist weekly Expresso observed (2/1):  "Ariel Sharon's categorical victory...once again shows that Europeans understand what is going on in that part of the globe poorly....  Much given to utopias, Europeans still don't perceive two elementary things.  First, that the Arabs can't stand the presence of Israelis on their land--and because of that are always ready to fight them, regardless of what attitude they take.  Second, that an Israeli retreat will not contribute to peace, but will rather stimulate the Palestinians--leading them to believe they can even push the Jews into the sea....  So, if the Jews want to continue to live on the land they occupy...they cannot show signs of weakness....  As long as there are Palestinian terrorist attacks, the Israeli army cannot stop retaliating.  It is this, very simply, that has created Ariel Sharon....  Sharon appears to be a monster in the eyes of many Europeans.  But he is a monster who was re-elected in democratic elections by a conclusive majority of votes--in contrast to some heroes whom the West has idealized, and who were neither elected nor practice democracy within their territories."


"The Paradox of Elections Out of Season"


In a signed editorial, influential moderate-left Público editor-in-chief José Manuel Fernandes noted (1/29):  "Many Israelis feel that these elections are taking place at the wrong time, and will resolve little....  At least, as long as the Iraqi question is not resolved, and until the United States, similar to what happened after the first Gulf War, seriously takes a new look at the future of the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan."


"Sharon Strengthened"


Luís Delgado observed in respected center-left Diário de Notícias (1/29):  "It's important right now not to deprecate or belittle the meaning of the Israelis' votes, attributing to them--as is done with the Americans--the status of minors or imbeciles.  They made their choice freely, and they are the ones who have to live in the region with its problems....  For the uncertainty, insecurity and terrorism, the Israelis gave Sharon more power and legitimacy."


SPAIN:  "Sharon Repeats"


Left-of-center El País wrote (1/29):  "For those who believe that Israel won't change its Palestinian view and its expansionist policies...Likud's victory is the confirmation of their worse fears....  Iraq is the key question....  If finally Washington takes the plunge against Baghdad to get rid of Saddam surgically, as it says, around the corner there will be waiting the real problem, the one that has been challenging the earthly powers for 50 years.  Then it will be seen what role Sharon will play."




CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Time To Reach Out"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post noted (1/26):  "This week's general election in Israel is likely to change little in the bloody standoff with the Palestinians, even though it will present Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with an ideal opportunity to reach out to his embattled neighbors.  Assured of re-election, Mr. Sharon will have to form a coalition government--but who he takes on board will be the key to the process of searching for peace.  The only credible power-broker in the conflict, the U.S., is preoccupied with its aim of toppling Iraq's President Saddam Hussein.  U.S. President George W. Bush's attempts to bring Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table has been erratic.  This is despite the Palestinian uprising that started two years ago and has claimed at least 600 Israeli lives.  Israelis live in constant fear of suicide bombings--an act of terrorism which the U.S. acknowledges but is unwilling to deal with....  To ensure a secure future for his country, win credibility in the world community and to send a signal of peace to the Arab world, Mr. Sharon should make a real effort to co-opt more moderate-minded politicians into his government."


JAPAN:  "Why Does The U.S. Sit Idly By And Watch Israel?"   


Liberal Asahi editorialized (1/31):  "Isn't it Israeli Prime Minister Sharon who has won Israel's election by taking advantage of the Bush administration's war on terror? As the world has become more concerned about the Iraq crisis, leaving behind the Palestinian problem, there will be no progress on Middle East peace for the time being. It is regrettable that Israeli voters, many reacting strongly to Palestinian suicide bombers, voted for Sharon's hard-line Likud Party. But can the world sit idly by and watch the Sharon government's use of force to restrain the Palestinians?  We can understand that the Bush administration, which is engaged in the antiterrorism war, is rather reluctant to criticize Sharon's strong-arm policy toward the Palestinians. But the world cannot allow the U.S. to ignore Sharon's policy, given the fact that the U.S. is the only country that can exercise enormous influence on Israel. The U.S. has stopped acting as a fair mediator between Israel and the Palestinians in order to prioritize dealing firmly with the Iraq crisis." 


"More Of The Same In Israel"


The leftist English-language Japan Times opined (1/30):  "The Likud Party of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon won a crushing victory in Israel's general election held earlier this week....  The results do not hold out promise of progress in the violent confrontation with the Palestinians. Mr. Sharon has shown no inclination to deal. And even if he did, Israeli politics is still too divided to permit a bold overture to the Palestinians....  A big loser was the leftwing Meretz party, Labor's partner in peacemaking, whose representation was halved from 10 seats to five....  Mr. Sharon could form a government of right-leaning and religious parties that would have a comfortable majority in Parliament. That is very would drastically reduce the prime minister's room for maneuver and would harden international sentiment against Israel. The Palestinians and the Arab world would see it as a complete repudiation of the land for peace formula....  It would also irritate the United States, which does not want to see Israel do anything that complicates the task of building an international consensus to support war against Iraq.  What is difficult to understand is the Israeli public's continuing support for Mr. Sharon. He came to power promising peace and security for the Israeli people and has delivered neither....  Indeed, in the last year, Israeli actions have destroyed the Palestinian Authority's ability to enforce whatever peace they might have chosen....  Publics rarely turn their backs on leaders in the middle of a crisis. There is security in Mr. Sharon's pugnacious demeanor; Israelis may not like the man, but they know he will defend them. Unfortunately, the status quo is proving unsupportable as well.


THAILAND:  “Road Map For Peace Still Missing”


The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post

said (1/26):  “It appears that Sharon is counting on his country’s strong relationship with the U.S. to keep him in a position where he can refuse to make concessions.  He may be making a miscalculation, however....  The U.S. badly wants and needs credibility in the eyes of the Muslim world now, and joining in an honest and fair peace effort in the decades-long conflict is the only sure way to get it.”


INDIA:  "Turning Right"


The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer editorialized (1/31):  "Given the centrality of the issue of terrorism in the Israeli election campaign, the most important question at the moment is whether Sharon's victory can lead to peace....  Israel may well experience a fresh spurt in terrorist outrages by organizations like the Hamas which may want to put Sharon and his new Government on the defensive from the very beginning...much would depend on whether the United States finally goes to war with Iraq. Israel, having decided to fight alongside the US, will be deeply affected by both the conflict and the outcome, particularly the pattern of settlement that emerges. It will need a stable Government to cope with the difficult challenges that lie ahead. Unfortunately, with the Labor Party committed to staying away from any coalition government with Likud, and the centrist Shinui party, which has won 15 seats, refusing to be part of any coalition that includes the right-wing Shas party, Sharon will have to depend on the extreme right-wing parties to cobble a coalition together. This does not augur well for either stability or peace."


"Sharon's Encore"


The centrist Times of India commented (1/31):  "Tel Aviv appears to have outdone mentor Washington in its swing to extreme and rigid right wing politics with the Likud party racing to a smashing victory in the recent elections ... For a fearful West Asia bracing for Washington's military strike against Baghdad, the Likud victory is unsettling.  All the region's Arab regimes believe firmly that Mr. Bush's objective is not just to unseat Saddam Hussein and secure Iraq's vast oilfields, but also to strengthen its key ally Tel Aviv.  Despite his country's vulnerability, Sharon has readily fallen in with Washington's plans and has begun preparations of the war in right earnests. Among the measures being taken are constructing bomb shelters and upgrading gas mask kits. As a key ally in the region, a wiser leader might have cautioned Mr. Bush against any hasty aggression without exhausting all possible peaceful options. But restraint has never figured in Mr. Sharon's lexicon ... Mr. Sharon has been proved disastrously wrong; the greater the aggression he has unleashed, the more his country has come under threat from suicide bombers and snipers."


PAKISTAN:  "Ariel Sharon's Victory Is The Victory Of Mayhem And Death"


Popular Urdu-language Din declared (1/31):  "The victory of extremist Jewish elements led by Ariel Sharon and hectic U.S. preparations for an attack on Iraq have darkened the West Asian horizon. Hopes of peace in the region have almost been wiped out....  Israeli election results must have made the Palestinian leadership--both moderate and extremist--realize that there is no chance of being rid of terror in the near future. Therefore, they must choose between subjugation or death. There is a strong perception that soon after a U.S. strike on Iraq, Ariel Sharon would launch an operation to make the Gaza Strip a part of Israel.


"Sharon's Re-Election"


Karachi-based independent national Dawn editorialized (1/30):  "The victory of Ariel Sharon's Likud Party in Tuesday's election in Israel must cause pessimism worldwide. It reduces further whatever chances there were for peace in Palestine....  What one foresees now is continued violence. Only a revival of the peace process can halt the spilling of blood. Unfortunately, the U.S., which was a co-sponsor of the Oslo peace process, has chosen to bypass the real issue and focused instead on the person of Arafat and the need for reforms in the Palestinian Authority. These merely constitute a subterfuge to bypass the real cause of violence and strife in the Middle East. The central issue is the Palestinian people's right to live in peace and freedom in their own land. It is in this direction that America should use its leverage with Israel if it genuinely wants peace and stability in the Middle East.


"More Violence, More Terrorism Ahead"


The Lahore-based leftist Daily Times observed (1/29):  "The situation in the Occupied Territories is not conducive to peace for a number of reasons--and this is regardless of sincere efforts by the Israeli peace camp to drum up public opinion against the policy of occupation. The foremost reason for continuing violence is the total lack of American focus on staying Mr. Sharon's hand when he went rampaging through his tenure after coming to power in February 2001....  Still, the situation could be controlled if the U.S. were prepared to push Tel Aviv to seriously explore the peace option. But so far it hasn't done this. The U.S. has also allowed the plan put out by Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia last year and endorsed by the Arab League to fall by the wayside....  Reports and assessments emerging from the U.S. indicate that most American analysts refuse to accept that there is indeed a linkage between the Palestinian problem and the larger problem of unrest in the Islamic world.  This situation bodes ill for the region and for the war on terrorism and the problem of religious extremism--Islamic, Christian, Judaic or Hindu."


"Israel's Gaza Operation"


The Islamabad-based rightist English-language Pakistan Observer maintained (1/28):  "Ironic, however, is the apathy of the international community, especially the United States, towards the moving spectacle of death and destruction in Palestine. Washington is practically and openly siding with the Israeli leadership in its repressive operations in total disregard of the Palestinians' legitimate right to statehood. The Palestinians are facing extermination at the hands of the Israeli Army, as there is hardly any day when slingshot-carrying Palestinian youth are not crushed by Israeli tanks or targeted by missile-firing helicopter gunships....  If peace is really desired in the Middle East region, the process will have to be hastened as the situation is getting complicated with every passing day. Washington should stop using Israel as a bully against the Muslim countries in the Middle East and create an environment of mutual trust in the region for the sake of peace and security."




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Can Sharon Offer Hope?"


The balanced Business Day opined (2/2):  "There is little doubt that last week Israeli voters gave Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Likud party a resounding victory.  Now the question is what he intends to do with his victory and whether it can create new hopes for peace.  Under the pressure of terrorism, Israeli voters endorsed what they knew and the security strategy with which they feel comfortable....  It is far from clear that Sharon has a plan for peace, particularly with Yasser Arafat still in control of the Palestinian authority.  Nevertheless there are signs of movement from Sharon....  It would be a shocking betrayal of American and British indulgence of the excesses of Israeli policy in Palestine if Sharon were to now match a war against Iraq with no real efforts to find a peace with the Palestinians."




ARGENTINA:  "Israel And Elections, On The Verge Of Terror"


An editorial in leading Clarin read (1/31):  "In an atmosphere of prolonged violence, Israelis reacted to elections as any other society that, subject to fear, prioritizes its security and elects those who can protect it. Sharon's victory can be interpreted as support for the outcome of his policies as well as for his inflexible position vis-à-vis the Palestinian claims and his harsh military response to terrorism....  The prevailing trend does not lead to understanding, even less with the prospect of a probable new war in the Persian Gulf.  But, perhaps, Sharon's victory will serve as a cohesion factor for the Israeli leaders to find a way to stop the dynamic of confrontation in Israel."


CHILE:  "Sharon's Challenges" 


Leading popular, independent La Tercera ran an editorial stating entitled (1/31):  "U.S. operations against Iraq would coincide with the talks to form a new Israeli government at the end of February, which will heighten tension in the region.  In this context, President George W. Bush must contain Sharon, especially if Iraq attacks Israel.  Although the Bush administration has chosen to give priority to the elimination of the Iraqi leader rather than intervening in the Middle East, Washington must play a decisive role in search of a feasible peace plan for the region....  Everything seems to show that, just as after the Gulf War, the U.S will intervene only once the Iraqi threat has been overcome.  Ariel Sharon, for his part, should be the most interested party in ending the uprising that has hurt Israel's economy and safety."




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