International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

March 18, 2003

March 18, 2003




**  Muslim-majority outlets charge roadmap is "nothing but deceit" to defuse Islamic anger.

**  Globally, some welcome the U.S.' "increased commitment" to peace in the Mideast, but others decry the plan's "intentionally vague" provisions.

**  A number contended the plan is "a favor" to "reduce the pressure" on Tony Blair.



Many writers from the Islamic world believe the new roadmap is 'meaningless'--  A UAE daily called it a "poisoned carrot" offered by the U.S. to "beautify its stand" before a "war against Iraq and the entire Arab world."  Several stressed Bush's "sudden adherence" to the roadmap, labeling it a "tranquilizer" to "placate the Arab world."  Jordan's center-left Al Dustour termed it "nothing but a surrender document" for Palestinians.  West Bank outlets were less scathing, but agreed Bush's remarks just "aimed at appeasing the Palestinians" and were "far from reality."


The plan is a 'classic example of too little, too late,' with 'impossible preconditions'--  Many critics of the plan judged that it lacks "defined methods of implementation" as well as "the element of commitment and obligation" from the U.S.  Amman's influential Al-Rai alleged the proposed Palestinian state "will be without frontiers...[and] without a capital."  Egypt's leading Al Ahram also asked, "What borders and area does it have?"  Several demanded Washington "stop talking and start executing."  Some dailies said PM Sharon was behind the plan's vagueness, citing the "umbilical cord that links Israel to the U.S."  Syria's government-owned Al Thawra accused the Bush administration of being "even more Zionist than Israelis themselves."


Some praise the 'latest U.S. enthusiasm' to solve the conflict--  Moderate Arab dailies joined observers elsewhere in applauding "Bush's decisive return to the Middle East peace process" even if the plan is "a desperate attempt" to appease the "rising antiwar feelings in the Arab/Muslim world."  Several highlighted the new U.S. "willingness to urge refrain from harmful settlement activities."  Israel's pluralist Yediot Aharonot noted that PM Sharon will soon need to make "clear decisions about the settlements."  Saudi Arabia's moderate Al Jazira warned the roadmap's "credibility" will depend on whether the U.S. can pressure Israel "to secure its compliance" in reducing settlements.  Canada's leading Globe & Mail stood out for optimistically declaring that the roadmap "charts a just and fair path forward." 


The roadmap is 'an attempt to save the political future of Tony Blair'--  A number of papers said Washington hoped the roadmap could help provide its key ally, PM Blair, with a "helping hand" so that he can tell his "domestic critics" that war will be "followed by a (provisional) Palestinian state."  Lebanon's centrist Al Anwar identified Blair as the one who emphasized to Bush "the importance of talking about a possible settlement in the Arab-Israeli conflict."

EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This survey is based on 60 reports from 20 countries over 14 - 18 March 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




GERMANY:  “Smooth Transition”


Left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau noted (3/18):  "Mahmoud Abbas, the future premier, can only be successful if Israel, too, is willing to contribute something to negotiations.  The same holds true for Washington.  It is not enough to set a schedule for peace or invite Abbas to the White House.  To take up the fight against radical Islamists, the future Palestinian premier must offer his people a genuine peace alternative.”


“Victim Of A Military Action”


Martina Doering judged in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (3/18):  “The U.S. administration has requested an investigation of Rachel Corey’s death.  Pictures taken during the incident make clear what happened: The young woman talked to the bulldozer operator by megaphone; he must have seen her.  Israel’s strategy of ‘retaliation’ is not putting an end to terrorism...but is gradually destroying Israeli society and undermining the morale of its soldiers.  Anyone who is no longer willing to view Palestinians and people who help them as human beings is willing to crush them like insects.  Many houses have been destroyed over the past few months.  The U.S. administration did not protest once.  According to the Israeli army, the houses offer shelter to alleged extremists, but there is no official proof.  Washington has not inquired about the other nine victims who died along with Rachel Corey. After all, they were only Palestinians.”


“Five To Twelve”


Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger observed in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (3/17):  “Bush finally found the right words to say, now that the Iraq crisis appears to be drifting into a diplomatic dead end...and Tony Blair is facing tough resistance at home....  What is new about Bush’s statement is the president’s willingness to urge Israel to support the Palestinians’ efforts to set up their own state and to refrain from harmful settlement activities....  Even if Bush’s Middle East initiative were simply a reaction to the Iraq crisis, even if it were just a desperate attempt to appease the anti-American sentiment among the Arab countries and to break up the anti-Washington front in the UNSC, much would be gained by President Bush’s decisive return to the Middle East peace process.”


“Middle East Concerns”


Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich observed (3/17):  “President Bush’s decision to come out with a Middle East initiative at this point was dictated by the worldwide protests against U.S. Iraq policy.  Bush wants to get along with the Arab countries, which have made their support for an Iraq war dependent on increased U.S. activity in the Middle East conflict.  After all, many Arab leaders believe that the daily spilling of blood in the Middle East is more destabilizing for the region than Saddam’s alleged arsenals.  Bush’s Middle East initiative is also meant as a favor for Tony Blair, who is under considerable pressure at home and can now tell his critics that war will be followed by a (provisional) Palestinian state....  President Bush’s speech on the Middle East might also accelerate Mahmud Abba’s rise to the position of Palestinian prime minister.  For now, Arafat continues to worry about granting too much authority to Abbas...but he knows perfectly well that the prospect of having the prime minister invited to the White House is nothing to sneer at.”


“Another Middle East Plan Is Not Enough”


Jacques Schuster stated in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (3/17):  “Whether things in the Middle East will turn out as President Bush envisions will depend on his willingness to take decisive action after a military victory over Iraq.  It will be necessary to force Israelis and Palestinians to agree to painful compromises...but neither side appears willing to do so.  So far, Bush has shown little desire to act as mediator....  Maybe he should send James Baker, his father’s Secretary of State, to Jerusalem.  After the last Gulf War, Baker minced no words and pressured Palestinians and Israelis into talks....  It does not look as if Bush is willing to go this far.”


ITALY:  “U.S. Plan For Peace In Palestine”


Mariuccia Chiantaretto maintained in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (3/15):  “George Bush, under pressure due to international hostility to the war against Iraq, has decided to focus again on Palestine and has promised that he will work for a fair peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, based on two sovereign states....  Bush was intentionally vague both on the path (he will follow) as well as on the point of arrival....  France immediately applauded Bush’s plan. Chirac is thus trying to soften the recent tensions.  According to the United States, Saddam’s fall is the indispensable pre-condition for peace in the Middle East.” 


HUNGARY:  "The War And The Palestinians” 


Endre Aczel argued in leading Hungarian-language Nepszabadsag (3/17):  “Things have moved ahead a bit. What do I mean?  Some weeks ago the statement by hawk U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz that ‘after Iraq, comes Israel’ [to have peace with the Palestinians] generated some indignation (in Israel).  But President Bush turned the sequence of planned action upside down a bit over the weekend. He found it appropriate to pledge to carry out the famous ‘action plan’ drafted last year, which stipulates three main phases of creating an autonomous Palestinian state. The bottom line is that the U.S.' criteria for executing the ‘action plan’ has been a new partner, a real prime minister [Abu Mazen] elected and appointed (in Israel). This criteria has been met. All this means is that there will be a war in Iraq. The Americans pledge to start with the ‘action plan’, in other words with the ‘Palestinian script’, as early as this week.  In the Iraqi crisis the Americans have ‘sewn in’ the Palestinian issue.”


IRELAND:  "Palestinians And Israelis Cautious On Peace Plan" 


The center-left Irish Times carried a piece by David Horovitz stating (3/18):  "The Palestinians were distinctly underwhelmed by, and the Israelis politely supportive of, President Bush's latest profession of determination to accelerate peace-making and Palestinian state-building....  Mr Bush was plainly attempting to reassure the Arab world that, his focus on Saddam Hussein notwithstanding, he remained fully supportive of progress towards the creation of an independent Palestinian state."




ISRAEL:  "Bush's Road Map"


Sever Plotker wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (3/16):  "Bush wants to become the key initiator of a new diplomatic process in the Middle East--not only after the Iraq offensive, but also during it.  How practical is this?  It is quite practical.  Abu Mazen, Palestine's appointed is an interlocutor who is accepted by Israel and the United States and who enjoys prestige in his own country.  Should his powers become incorporated by law, Abu Mazen could detach the Palestinian Authority from its destructive addiction to terror....  The Sharon government, too, will have to cut itself off its illusions.  The negotiations with the Palestinians, under American sponsorship, will quickly demand clear decisions about the settlements and the withdrawal.  According to his recent declarations, won't wait for Sharon forever."


"The Arab States' Turn"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (3/17):  "Bush seems to have learned the lesson in that he has now made Palestinian statehood conditional on democratization, rather than a given of American policy.  He has also begun to speak of a role for Arab states in the process....  Just as the U.S. gets very specific when it talks about settlements, the talk of democracy and the role of Arab states must be made specific and front-loaded....  The push for a democratic Palestine combines the old 'land for peace' concept with the new democracy-based framework.  'Land for peace' was based on the idea that if Israel produced the land, Arabs would produce peace.  That model failed miserably, because of its assumption that peace was the automatic result of giving up land, rather than something the Arab world had to internalize, display, and deliver before Israeli concessions could be safely made.  The road map as is does not demand nearly enough of the Palestinians or of the Arab states.  Israel has tried to make great strides toward peace; it is the Arab states that must now show that they are ready to deliver their side of the bargain."


WEST BANK:  “Bush’s Last Speech: Promise Or Warning?”


Hani Masri opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (3/18):  "“In his speech [on the Israeli-Palestinian issue], Bush tried to retract his previous statement in which he established a linkage between the Iraqi crisis and the Palestinian cause. Too many times, Bush refused to declare the ‘Road Map’, binding it to the war on Iraq....  Also in that speech, Bush promised to present the ‘Road Map’ to both sides for deliberations and comments. The Sharon government responded by presenting more than 100 amendments, rendering the document empty of any [real] content. For his part, Bush decided to adopt some of Sharon’s ideas by conditioning the halt of settlement activities on achieving progress in the peace process and stopping violence....  Bush’s speech, which included more promises than threats this time, aimed at appeasing the Palestinians, Arabs, Europe, Russia and the UN. It is an attempt to be seen as one who cares about peace in the Middle East, especially in the midst of preparation for war on Iraq.”


"War, The Road Map And Us” 


Nabil Amr commented in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (3/17):  "George Bush sent a message to the Palestinians and to all those who are anxious to see a serious political solution for the Palestinian cause. Bush’s message has many meanings: First, to provide assurances to the Arab and Islamic worlds that attacking Iraq will open the doors for settling the Palestinian issue. Second, to provide the European allies, especially Tony Blair with political merchandise that is appropriate to be sold in Europe....  Third, to appease the Israelis by giving them assurances that the political orientation of the American administration will not come at the expense of Sharon’s war against the Palestinians and that it will not deprive the Israelis of what they consider their right to amend the ‘Road Map’…Once again it has been emphasized that any progress on the ‘Road Map’ is conditioned on comprehensive Palestinian reforms, which go beyond creating the position of the prime minister to include security issues.”


"Unexpected Timing"


Samieh Shubeib opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (3/17):  "The timing of the Bush speech was unexpected, because the Gulf crisis is keeping all international political actors busy, especially the British and the American....  What was laid out by Bush comes under the American vision regarding implementation of the ‘Road Map’ in cooperation with the new Palestinian prime minister. Nevertheless, he [President Bush] did not mention which plan he wants. Is it the one that was previously proposed or the new 'Road Map’ that is modified according to Israeli conditions and remarks? In addition, the American ideas regarding the...'Road Map’ lack defined methods of implementation.”


"Away From Illusion"


Talal Okal declared in independent, pro-PA Al-Ayyam (3/17):  "The latest American promises aims at improving the image of the American administration, adding credibility to American policy and shifting attention away from its preparations for war in order to secure the stability of the Arab regimes that are supporting and collaborating with the American policy.”


“Palestinian Prime Minister: The Need For Insight”


Ashraf Al-Ajrami wrote in independent, pro-PA Al-Ayyam (3/17):  "A quick review of the speech of the American President George Bush regarding the ‘Road Map’ confirms that the American administration is not serious in dealing with the Middle East file at this phase.  President Bush declared that following the appointment of a Palestinian prime minister the ‘Road Map’ will be handed to the Palestinian and the Israelis not for immediate implementation, but for comments. The American administration will urge the two sides to discuss the ‘Road Map’ between themselves, which means that the ‘Road Map’ will be declared only after the two sides submit their comments and after negotiations between the two sides regarding its provisions. In another word, the ‘Road Map’ is postponed ad infinitum pending the results of the American war against Iraq. The second and most important point in Bush’s speech is his emphasis that with the achievement of progress towards peace all settlement activities should be stopped in the occupied territories. Such a statement provides Israel, for the first time, clear legitimacy to go on with settlement activities until the achievement of progress on the peace process.”


“The Missing Element in the ‘Road Map’”


Independent Al-Quds held (3/16):  "The statements of President Bush last Friday on his intention to declare the so-called ‘Road Map’ as soon as the PM assumes his responsibilities cannot be considered a real breakthrough in the current conditions. The missing element in the U.S. initiative is that it is completely divorced from the reality being lived by the Palestinian people. Those who are optimistic regarding this ‘Road Map’ seem to forget that the element of commitment and obligation is lacking in this initiative.”   


“The Surprise Speech”


Hafiz Al-Barghouti commented in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (3/15):  "What is surprising in Bush’s speech is its timing. It came shortly before the tripartite Azores summit, whose aim is to rally support for the US-British position on Iraq. The British prime minister hastened to praise Bush’s speech and the road map. This indicates that the two advocates of war against Iraq have other aims behind this sudden love for a road map leading to a Palestinian state. This is so because they are completely engaged in the road map leading to Baghdad. Hence, the Bush-Blair statements appear to be a joint effort to create some sort of balance in the US political discourse, which has been one-sided for almost a year. This one-sidedness was clear in overlooking the Palestinian question, supporting Sharon’s policy, and covering up his continuing massacres. The Bush-Blair statements are mainly directed to the European states, which began to diverge from the US position in both form and content.”


"Hollow Words"


Adli Sadiq noted in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (3/15):  "The U.S. President seems to have felt that he is no longer capable of convincing anyone in the world that his administration’s policies are linked to justice and wisdom.  Therefore, he devoted a few minutes to talk about ‘the Middle East’ yesterday. He deliberately said hollow words, which looked uglier than his policy toward Iraq. Accordingly, what Bush said does not merit comment nor deserves to be heard or read again. If what he said merits a response, then it will be briefly said that the first public relations man in the service of Sharon and oil companies is the President of the United States himself.”


“Between Bush’s Promises And What Israel is Committing”


Independent Al-Quds opined (3/15):  "The American President preferred to ignore both the tragic situation of the Palestinians and Israeli practices [against the Palestinians]....  These remarks seem to be far from reality and biased toward Israel.”




Hafiz Barghouti eulogized in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (3/17):  "Rachel [Corrie] passed away in the land of Palestine. She brought to the minds of those Palestinians who knew her the image of the American who fought for freedom and to redeem the world from Nazism. She believed in the ideas of Abraham Lincoln and recalled the stories of the downtrodden who crossed the ocean to the U.S. escaping oppression in Europe to a more forgiving world. She crossed the ocean again in solidarity with the oppressed and became the victim of oppression when she tried to prevent the demolition of two houses in the Al-Salam neighborhood [in Gaza]. I propose naming the neighborhood after her.”


EGYPT:  “Bush’s Statement And Sharon’s Dreams”


Aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar editorialized (3/18):  “When Bush ran out of tricks for achieving his main, if not sole, goal of launching war on Iraq...he thought it would be easy to hint he is still interested in achieving peace in the Middle East--though he has ignored the Palestinian side totally since assuming power....  Bush thought those who reject war on Iraq would retreat once he waived this Middle East card....  Bush’s attaining of his main goal of striking Iraq will provide Sharon and the rest of the criminals a golden opportunity for achieving their goals of getting rid of...Arafat and implementing all their plots against Gaza and the West Bank--and then peace can be achieved.”


“Separating Lines”


Small-circulation pro-government Al Gomhouriya Editor-in-chief, Samir Ragab wondered (3/18):  “If Israel carried out a massacre in the Gaza camp of Nessirat just hours before a possible war on Iraq, what will it do when the entire Gulf region is ignited and missiles fall on an Arab nation whose people have been suffering pain, hunger and death for twelve years?....  But how can they [Americans] say it is a war to both liberate and to open doors of democracy and freedom for people when others, their brothers...suffer repression, injustice and tyranny [in Palestine]?....  Saddam may have committed crimes against humanity...but what about Sharon, Barak, and Netanyahu, and before them Golda Meir and Ben Gurion?....  It is a wrong to think that you can rule the globe with a rod, because Earth has but One God. And, God may not forgive those who caused and will cause catastrophes.”


“They Are Liquidating Palestinians”


Leading pro-government Al Ahram senior columnist Salah Montasser wrote (3/17):  “Is it possible that Israeli authorities attack daily ten or fifteen Palestinians and demolish their houses, while not one objects.  It is good that President Bush announces support for a Palestinian state, but what state is it and what borders and area does it have?  Once, I told the American Ambassador [to Egypt] that I hated Saddam because he was the cause of all catastrophes for Arabs, but I could not support Washington’s plans about Saddam while I hear Washington describe Sharon as a man of peace, as he commits all these crimes.  I am certain this is not my feeling alone, but the feeling of millions of Arabs as well.  It is not true that we hate America, but we hate its policy.  What about the millions of people who demonstrated worldwide and even inside America? Do they hate America too? Or is its policy?....  We want to know why the U.S. has the right to cut the Arabs’ throat with the veto if the matter concerns Israel, and when other countries object to the U.S., as now the case is concerning Iraq, it ignores the U.N. and international legitimacy?  Sharon is exploiting the issue of Iraq to liquidate Palestinians.”


“Separating Lines”


Small-circulation pro-government Al Gomhouriya Editor-in-chief Samir Ragab wrote (3/16):  “Apparently, the U.S. is serious about implementing the so-called ‘roadmap’....  Statements show American and British satisfaction with the appointment of Abu Mazen as Palestine’s prime minister....  If the factor of time was important in settling the complicated Middle East problem, why not use it to settle the critical Iraqi crisis?” 


“To Contain Arab Anger”


Aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar Editor-in-chief Galal Dowidar remarked (3/16):  “The American Administration believes Arabs are naïve....  All allegations about a U.S. revival of the ‘roadmap’ are nothing but deceit aimed at diffusing Arab and Islamic they approve the crime of destroying Iraq in order to open the way for American plots to control the Middle East region.”


“Sharon’s Policy Of Playing With Fire”


Leading pro-government Al Ahram’s unsigned editorial read (3/14):  “It is dangerous for the situation between Palestinians and Israel to continue within this hellish cycle of violence....  It is no exaggeration to say the Israeli government alone is responsible for this cycle....  Some people believe Sharon’s government is pushing Palestinians to commit martyrdom operations so as to discover a pretext for launching military aggression on the helpless Palestinians....  Unless the international community acts and realizes Israel is pushing the region towards explosion, Sharon will continue to play with fire.”


JORDAN:  “One Meal After The 1991 Meal And Another Before The 2003 Meal”


Tariq Masarwah stated in semi-official influential Arabic-language Al-Rai (3/16):  “Washington’s reference to the road map, and London’s insistence on it are meaningless.  They will have no effect either on the scandalous and immoral double standards or on the reaction of peoples who are angry at all the crimes being committed against them.  The promised Palestinian state, should it be established after realizing all the impossible preconditions, will be without frontiers, without people, without a capital, and without any direct contact between its parts.”


“The Bribe Of The Road Map”


Yasser Za’atreh noted in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour (3/16):  “The American president might as well have kept his offer of a bribe, because it will only increase the hatred against America’s arrogance.  At best, the road map can only gain minimal acceptance among the Palestinian public.  But after the Sharon-Bush amendments, it will be nothing but a surrender document. The promised Palestinian state, as defined by Sharon in his electoral campaign, is without borders, without control on its points of entry and egress, without the right of forming international agreements.  This, we are offered before the war on Iraq and the change of the map that Powell announced.  What the Sharon-Bush duo will offer us after the war remains to be seen.”


"Better Late Than Never"


The independent, centrist Jordan Times declared (3/16):  "Jordanians heaved a sigh of relief at hearing Bush reinforce his ‘personal’ commitment to publishing the roadmap....  But we criticize the implication that the U.S., not the Quartet decides what to do with the roadmap; and that the U.S., not the Palestinians decides what powers their premier should have.”   


LEBANON:  "The Forthcoming Wars--Following The War"


Ghassan Tueni wrote in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (3/17):  "Will this 'American Summit' declare war against the world?  Against Europe, Russia, and China?  Against Christianity and Islam together?  This

is the real problem--and the answer is clear: either all the above countries approve the U.S. plans, or the U.S. will face alone what Bush described as 'the moment of truth'....  As for Arabs, a declaration of war will drown the Arabs in several small wars of their own....  The sudden adherence to the road map is but a tranquilizer.  We have to remember that while there was talk about the road map, an Israeli bulldozer crushed an American lady who supports peace.  Is this the road map they are talking about? And will Sharon allow the U.S. to lead serious negotiations?"


“A Road Map To War”


Rafiq Khoury said in centrist Al-Anwar (3/15):  "President Bush is waving the carrot of a settlement in Palestine while waving with his other hand with the cane of war on Iraq...three tactical factors pushed Bush to unearth the road map from the cemetery....  1) America’s crisis within the Security Council....  2)  the difficult domestic situation of both U.S. allies, the English and the Spanish Prime Ministers; and the difficult situation of America’s Arab friends....  Prime Minister Blair tried to convince Bush of the importance of talking about a possible settlement in the Arab-Israeli conflict...and Prime Minister Aznar asked Bush to walk to the Middle East on both legs instead of one: a settlement in Palestine and a war on Iraq....  Suddenly Bush remembered his personal commitment to the road map--but following the war....  This is nothing but an effort to make believe that there is a link between a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to victory in war on Iraq....  It is treacherous...Bush only outlined a road map to war.”


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Sharon's War Under The Protection Of The Big War"  


Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira editorialized (3/18):  "In anticipation of the U.S. attack on Iraq, Sharon could escalate his violence against the Palestinians with the justification of attacking terror, which is another stated agenda in the American war.  Through that, Sharon will try to take more land and force the people to depart their land, without objection from the powerful countries, which will be engaged in a bigger war.  Actually Sharon is supported by some of these countries, since the agenda says, 'attack on terror.'"


"When Actions Are Going To Be Taken?"


Jeddah's moderate Okaz wondered (3/17):  "There is no chance to criticize the roadmap announced by President Bush. However, if he puts in paralyzing terms for Palestinian and Arab compliance in the roadmap presented, it will reflect that Washington failed to develop a real willpower to support a peace process in the region....  What we really need to know is, when will Washington stop talking and start executing?....  Whatever Washington is going to declare about the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the peace process in the region, until talk is presented as action, only then will the roadmap be considered as more than talk."


"Peace Initiative"


English-language pro-government Arab News declared (3/17):  "However, it is no secret that the timing of the announcement has more to do with shoring up Arab support in advance of a possible war with Iraq, though some argue that it makes little difference why Bush announced the rebirth of the road map. What matters, they claim, is that he did so.  But there is a difference. Is this a plan for a peace that will last or is this a temporary arrangement designed to placate the Arab world ahead of war?"


"Mideast Again"


English-language pro-government Riyadh Daily editorialized (3/17):  "Whether it is a shrewd diversionary tactic away from the Iraq crisis or a genuine intention on the part of the Americans to jump-start the Middle East peace process, the latest US enthusiasm in solving the long-drawn conflict is most welcome....  But in this new world, a fresh crisis may threaten the Middle East peace process all over again.  It is thus important that the international community deal with the Middle East problem independently of any conflict elsewhere in the world." 


"A Sudden Shift Towards The Region's Peace"


 Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira editorialized (3/16):  "Regardless of the motives of President Bush toward a settlement in Palestine, any move toward peace is welcomed, particularly if it highlights the Palestinian agony while Israel is escalating its restrictions, killing, house demolishing,  and curettage of agricultural lands and surrounding cities and villages.  The move toward peace could gain importance and credibility if accompanied with noticeable pressure on Israel to secure its compliance with the settlement plans.  Without this pressure, the talk about peace becomes just a method to achieve other objectives."


Bush's Map: Timing And Objectives"


Jeddah's conservative Al-Madina opined (3/16):  "The statement by the U.S. President George Bush on what he termed as a roadmap, while Washington finalizes its war plans to attack and occupy Iraq, raised a lot of questions about the purposes and motives behind this sudden attention by President Bush to the Palestinian question....  It is similar to a compromise to market the approval to destroy Iraq in return for establishment of an independent Palestinian state on Israeli terms....  Compromising is absolutely rejected.  Arabs will not sacrifice Iraq for mere promises to create a Palestinian state, since both are Arab rights that cannot be relinquished or given away....  It is not important to declare a roadmap, when Sharon's government intends to introduce no less than a hundred new changes in a manner that would make the roadmap meaningless. What is important is to force Israel to commit itself to the roadmap and developing action plans to implement it."


"The Roadmap And The Timing Of Its Announcement"


Makkah's conservative Al-Nadwa said (3/16):  "Much skepticism surrounds the announcement of the roadmap.  Observers view it as just a mere move to gain favor with European and Arab public opinion at a time when the U.S. gets closer to an attack on Iraq."


"The Roadmap And Arab Fears"


Abha's moderate Al-Watan editorialized (3/16):  "Many considered President Bush's intention to release the roadmap as an attempt to save the political future of Tony Blair, or at least to reduce the pressure on him.  Perhaps if it was announced earlier, we would fail to relate it a possible war on Iraq....  The question remains, in case war on Iraq fails, would it still remain Bush's trump card?  Will he abandon the roadmap, which was modified several times and postponed by Sharon and his supporters in the U.S. administration, to save his political future or will he exert his best effort to make it the real winning card."


"When Bush Gets Irritated"


London-based pan-Arab Al-Hayat carried a piece by Zohair Qasibaty saying (3/16):  "No two persons would disagree, outside the U.S. and the U.K, that the gift President Bush offered to the Palestinians is an entrapment covered by the magic carpet 'roadmap to peace and a Palestinian state'...for the simple reason that the hero of war cannot make peace."


"Powell's New Statements"


Jeddah's conservative Al-Madina editorialized (3/15):  "The new remarks by the U.S. Secretary of State prior to war on Iraq further strengthen the Israeli perspective of war.  Furthermore, they confirm Powell's vision and the roadmap were no more than a political maneuver aiming to buy time for its favorite ally."


"Who Restrains Sharon?"


Makkah's conservative Al-Nadwa stated (3/15):  "Bush promised to move forward toward the peace process in the Middle East after the Iraqi crisis is over, but this is not intended to totally ignore the problem and leave Sharon with free hands to do what ever he wants to do. It is supposed to send strong signals to the Israeli government to restrain their military operations and to offer assistance in providing an environment in which the peace process might prevail."


SYRIA:  "Another Trap And Dirty Bargaining"


Mohamed Ali Buza wrote in government-owned Al-Thawra (3/18):  "Nobody believes the U.S. Administration's attempt to confirm its commitment to the Roadmap....  Nobody believes it is the U.S.' reawakened conscience and good intentions towards the region that motivated this move.  Arabs' experience with the U.S. and its strategic ally Israel is bitter and hard. Arabs have learned not to trust any US or Israeli promises....  The White House staff lacks credibility...and is even more Zionist than Israelis themselves....  Everyone knows that America is not concerned about peace....  Nobody will swallow this bait and get dragged into the new trap of supporting the U.S. and its allies, Britain and Israel, in singling out Iraq and finishing it off as a prelude for liquidating the Palestinian cause."


"A Maneuver That Won't Fool Anybody"


Government-owned Al-Ba'th opined (3/16):  "President Bush's announcement on the Roadmap comes at a time when international circumstances suggest the U.S. war on Iraq has become imminent....  Observers believe that talk about the Roadmap is politically misleading and a maneuver by which the US Administration seeks to beautify its stand and absorb some international anger by claiming it is concerned with solving the crisis in Palestine as much as it is concerned with solving the Iraqi crisis.  This maneuver will not fool or convince anybody. Experience has proven that the US Administration is impotent to deal with regional issues honestly and transparently and to play a responsible role in cementing a just and comprehensive peace in the region. On the contrary, what Washington is doing will cause more deterioration and will make the US lose its credibility."


"A Council Of War Statement"


An unsigned editorial in government-owned Tishreen read (3/16):  "We do not believe that any observers of the situation in the region seriously believe the sudden U.S interest in the Roadmap or the U.S.' present inclination to fulfill its pledge to find a just solution to the Palestinian cause. Everybody is confident that Washington, which has finalized military preparations for aggression against Iraq and used all possible means to legitimize it, is obviously endeavoring to play the card of the Arab-Israeli conflict as it has done in similar instances in the past."


TUNISIA:  "U.S. War Against Iraq: Palestine, Lebanon And Syria In Israel's Line Of Sight"


Manoubi Akrout observed in independent French-language Le Quotidien (3/18):  "The unexpected visit of the Syrian President Bachar Al Assad to Iran came at a time where an increasing number of analysts fear that Israel is taking advantage of the U.S. attack against Iraq to have it out with the Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Israel will take advantage of the situation to carry out the transfer of Palestinians in a big number. This is quite plausible, given the fact that Israelis benefit (in particular over the last two years) of American all-out support.  Feeling strong because of its symbiosis with the U.S., Israel tempts to use one stone to redo the double coup of 1967 against Syria and of 1982 against Lebanon. Who will stop it?"


UAE:  "Applauded By Israel"


Arabic-language business-oriented Al Bayan declared (3/16):  "Bush's statement was applauded by Israel, who knew what he would say before he said it.  On the other hand, the Palestinian Administration deals flexibly with all peace initiatives, especially as seen with the nomination of Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Mazen, as Prime Minister of Palestine, whom Israel approved of because of his position towards the Palestinian intifada!!  What is more important is the Palestinian man who is the pulse of the current intifada.  This man will never yield to any trials terminating his legitimate battle.  The Palestinian intifada is supposed to move the Peace Process forward and not be moved by people who do not even sympathize with Palestinians."


"Paving The Way For War"


Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al Khaleej editorialized (3/15):  "The statements of Bush and Blair last night on Palestine represent only a poisoned pave the way for a destructive war against Iraq and the entire Arab world....  Whoever wants to re-impose the darkness of occupation would really not allow a solution to Palestine since it is the core of conflict.  The war against Iraq is only part of a wider plan that aims to wipe out Palestine and pass it on to the Zionists."


"New Hope"


Abu Dhabi-based semi-official Al Ittihad declared (3/15):  "Statements made by President Bush on a plan to realize peace in the Middle East and an independent Palestinian state renewed hopes to end the tragedy of the Palestinian people and stop their suffering....  The practical and important steps that should be taken to declare a Palestinian state living side by side with a secure and recognized Israel should start not with the Palestinians who are, according to the Bush/Blair vision, under occupation, but with an international request for Israel to carry out the tens of international resolutions which they have ignored.  The hope of the Palestinian dream has been renewed and the only thing left is to mobilize all efforts to achieve it and turn such a dream into a living reality."




AUSTRALIA:  “A Glimmer Of Hope For The Middle East”


The liberal Age noted (3/17):  “That moves to revive the Middle East process have come as the US struggles to garner international support for its stance on Iraq may inspire cynicism, but that does not mean the moves should be dismissed....  The road map, a set of steps both sides must take to achieve peace, calls for the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005. It also requires Israel to end what Mr Bush called its 'settlement activity in the occupied territories.'  This will require painful concessions from Mr Sharon, whose governing coalition contains parties closely aligned with the settlers.  Peace will not be achieved without painful concessions however. For the Palestinians this will mean a willingness to dismantle terrorist groups while Israel must ease its iron grip on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  If the tragic cycle of suicide bombings and repressive occupation is to be broken, Mr Sharon and Mr Abbas will need the support of the international community as well as a willingness to enter the peace process in good faith. “


CHINA:   “Bush Wants To Make Use Of The Israel-Palestinian Issue”


Ren Shi commented in official Communist Youth League-run China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (3/17):  "Washington suddenly showing great concern over the Israeli-Palestinian situation is for the purpose of making the plan to oust Saddam move forward smoothly.  On the one hand, it will help the U.S. gain support from the international community, especially from the Arab world, for its planned war on Iraq if the U.S. shows good intentions and plays an active role in resolving the Palestinian issue.  On the other hand, the Bush Administration can make the issue of Middle East peace process an excuse for a ‘just and reasonable’ war on Iraq.  President Bush has stated that the solution of the Iraqi issue will pave way for the Middle East peace process.  According to this logic, in order to ‘help Israel and the Palestinians realize peace’, the U.S. must overthrow Saddam’s regime.”


JAPAN:  "President Bush Proposes Palestinian Peace, But…"


Liberal Asahi editorialized (3/16):  "President Bush, isolated from the world community over the Iraq standoff, has made clear his increased commitment to Palestinian peace. The Palestinian conflict is not only the root cause of Middle East instability but also an excuse for terrorism against the U.S. and Israel. The U.S.-initiated 'peace offensive,' if launched in a serious manner, could break the stalemated Middle East peace process.  Mr. Bush's sudden message for Palestinian peace is clearly aimed at easing rising antiwar feelings in the Arab/Islam world as well as in Europe and extending a helping hand to British Prime Minister Blair whose pro-Iraq war policy has drawn fire at home. But given the start of the U.S. countdown for a war with Iraq, the Arabs will never be able to understand or support the U.S.-initiated Palestinian peace offensive. The President should think better of the Iraq war, if he is indeed eager to bring peace to the Middle East."


MALAYSIA:  "Arab Nations Finally See Through Bush’s Lies."


Government-influenced Malay-language Berita Harian observed (3/15):  "It is amazing what President George W. Bush will offer to get support from the Arab world for his plans to attack Iraq.  The latest offer is for a Palestinian state, saying that there can be no peace (in the Middle East) if Israel doesn’t accept this.  However many Arab nations are looking at this latest ‘offer’ by Bush as they do not want to be fooled into sacrificing the lives of countless Iraq citizens.  After all, this generosity is coming from a country that turns the other cheek when innocent Palestinians are facing oppression from the Israeli regime.  There is no real effort by the U.S. to force Israel into adhering to the UN resolution to withdraw from the occupied territories.  The U.S. continuously ignores the UN and this endangers the peace in the world.  This can also cause smaller nations to lose faith in the UN to protect them from becoming victims of larger nations such as the U.S."


THAILAND:  "A Glimmer Of Hope In The Middle East"


The moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post noted (3/16):  “Mr. Abbas is a choice that will be greeted with favor by the Americans and the Israelis, as well as by the international community at large.  He will not be just a figurehead or someone who can be easily controlled by Arafat, as many feared would be the case....  He was recently quoted as saying: ‘What happened in these two years, as we see it now, is a complete destruction of everything we built.’  This viewpoint is desirable in a peace negotiator, as would be a corresponding admission from the Israeli side of their fault in perpetuating the violence.”


PAKISTAN:  "Israeli Troops Killed American Women"


Leading mass-circulation Urdu-language Jang opined (3/18):  "The killing of an American women peace worker at the hands of Israeli troops is the bitter reality that a tyrant Israel is not ready to give any credence to the protest of American citizens.  One reason for this is the continuous and misplaced U.S. support, which has given Israel reason to break all rules and regulations including UN decisions.  When the U.S. President declares the barbaric Israeli atrocities as its right of defense, then why would the Israelis give a damn to the protests of the American public."


"Bush's Middle-East Sop"


The Lahore-based Daily Times commented (3/17):  "President Bush's Rose Garden speech on Friday outlining the roadmap for peace in the Middle East is a classic example of too little, too late. Even leaving aside the timing of Bush's sudden interest in the peace process, which is evidently informed by the diplomatic impasse the United States finds itself in over Iraq at the United Nations, there is not much hope for the beleaguered Palestinians in what Bush, or immediately after him, Prime Minister Tony Blair had to say on the issue....  At best, Bush's speech is a sop meant to make it easier for Arab regimes to sell the war on Iraq to the Arab street.  Once the shooting war in Iraq begins, the Palestinian issue will be forgotten and Tel Aviv will be free to do as it pleases with the Palestinians, a continuation of its present policy of putting down Palestinian resistance through use of force. And if the war in Iraq, or more appropriately the Iraq invasion goes as planned, the Palestinian issue will be tackled by the Washington-Tel Aviv duo as part of the larger agenda of restructuring the Middle East.  The Arab world has to brace up for what comes next."


"Rediscovering Palestine"


Karachi-based independent national Dawn opined (3/17):  "It is a measure of the strength of feeling against the proposed U.S. attack on Iraq that U.S. President Bush was forced on Friday to promise a new 'road map' for peace in the Middle East.  The move is clearly a sop to the Arab and Muslim world and a victory for the beleaguered British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has long believed that U.S. re-engagement on the Israel-Palestine crisis is vital before any attack on Iraq and offers the key to appeasing the Arab world, not to mention his own domestic critics."


"Mideast Roadmap"


The centrist national News opined (3/16):  "The path to peace offered by President Bush is not the first American initiative in this direction.  There have been many more well-meaning efforts before, but the failure to implement them in the face of Israeli opposition did nothing to improve the situation.  It is difficult to see how the new project will be successful if the American leadership is unwilling to treat the Palestinian and Israelis equally.  There is a need to snap the umbilical cord that links Israel to United States before any meaningful move is made to finally resolve the Middle East impasse, President Bush's expectations notwithstanding."




CANADA:  "Preparing To Unveil A Mideast Road Map"


The leading Globe and Mail queried (3/15):  "Does the path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians lead through Iraq? The Bush administration thinks so. The downfall of Saddam Hussein would strike a blow against Mideast radicalism, expunging one prop of Palestinian terror.  Israel would be emboldened to make concessions, and Palestinian reformers would be empowered....  Palestinians deserve statehood, Israelis deserve peace, Iraqis and other Arabs deserve freedom too. That was Mr. Bush's message. Still, while a pro-Western government in Iraq would be a step forward for the entire Middle East, the only way to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians is to re-energize their peace process. The Bush administration should have done more to try to bring the parties back to the negotiating table earlier. But it has now made clear that it intends to reinvigorate the peace process. On this, Mr. Bush has solid historical precedent. His father, former president George Bush, used victory in the Persian Gulf war in 1991 to begin Mideast peace talks in Madrid which eventually led to the Oslo accords between Israel and the Palestinians. President Bush is suggesting the same pattern will be pursued this time. The road map charts a just and fair path forward; it should be followed."


“Don't Get Lost On The 'Road Map' To Peace”


David Frum pointed out in the conservative National Post (3/15):  “President Bush has paid a heavy price for Tony Blair's insistence on a second United Nations resolution on Iraq--and the last installment came due just yesterday.  On Friday morning, President Bush stepped into the Rose Garden at the White House to announce the United States would join the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia to press Israel to create a Palestinian state by 2005....  To issue a statement on a Palestinian state now--with an American-sponsored resolution faltering in the Security Council, with France (the Palestinians' most important European sponsor) in full opposition to the United States--makes Bush and the United States look over-eager and weak....  To offer the promise on the eve of war makes the promise look like something that was squeezed from Bush....  He needs now only to stay the course a little longer--through the liberation of Iraq--and he will find himself in a vastly stronger position to make an Israeli-Palestinian peace his way rather than the European way. To surrender that position now, in exchange for a vote or two in favour of a Security Council resolution that France and Russia will veto anyway, hardly seems like a shrewd deal. This Tony Blair: He's getting expensive.”



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