International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

October 3, 2003

October 3, 2003





**  Arab writers say the peace process has "gone into hibernation."


**  West Bank dailies call security fence, settlement expansion a way to gain "full control" over Palestinian lands.


**  The "moral crisis" of continuing violence provoked Israeli pilots' protest.   




Arabs say peace with Sharon is 'impossible'--  Complaining that the U.S. continues to treat the Palestinians as "the main obstacles to peace," and that the Quartet "refuses to blame Israel" for continued unrest, Arab commentators said that "Washington continues to be in the thrall of Sharon."  The West Bank's independent Al-Ayyam declared that it would be "terribly mistaken" to believe for "even a second that peace can actually be achieved with Sharon" and an Egyptian columnist maintained that " the only way to regain rights."  An independent Hong Kong outlet stated that instead of dismissing Arafat him as a failed leader, "the U.S. should strengthen his hand so that he can show his people that he has won a just peace."


Israel's security fence 'an affront to humanity'--  While a conservative British paper held that the Palestinian failure to curb terrorism made extension of Israel's security wall "inevitable," other Europeans declared the barrier "puts beyond reach any conceivable solution" in the area.  The Israeli wish to wall off part of the West Bank "is understandable to prevent Palestinian terrorists from entering Israel," said Germany's center-left Frankfurter Rundschau, but the wall is "fatal" politically.  Saudi Arabia's Arab News judged that "by separating the two peoples in such a crude and contemptible manner," Israel has made a peace deal between Palestinians and the Israelis "more unlikely than ever."  Noting that a gap was left in the fence near the Ariel settlement because of U.S. pressure, writers in Germany, Italy and Israel predicted Sharon would complete that section of the wall "in another six to eight months" when Bush will be fighting for reelection.   


Protest by Israeli pilots is 'a bold gesture'--  The refusal of some Israeli reserve air force pilots to fly missions in the West Bank caused a German paper to note that "the 'extra-legal' killings of alleged terrorists have created a serious moral crisis," while Poland's military weekly Polska Zbrojna called the airmen's gesture "a protest against operations that only increase the determination of the Palestinians."  Calling the airmen "brave," Qatar's Al-Watan said they "proved without a doubt that people, even enemies, are brothers in humanity."  Israel's left-leaning Ha'aretz judged, "If the duty of a soldier is to protect democracy, maybe it is these defiant pilots who are keeping Israeli democracy alive."  A nationalist commentator retorted in pluralist Yediot Aharonot that "refusing to eliminate 'ticking bombs' [militarily] is immoral; allowing children on both sides to be killed on the altar of one's false morality is immoral."    

EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 39 reports from 15 countries, October 1-3, 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Sharon's Wall"


The independent Financial Times editorialized (10/2):  "Israeli ministers like saying that 'good fences make for good neighbors'.  It is an offensive phrase....  But the wall being built by the government of Ariel Sharon is wrong because it puts beyond reach any conceivable solution to the century-old question of Palestine.  It is also wrong because purely as a matter of security it simply will not work....  The idea that this will give Israelis security--let alone give the Palestinians justice--is a delusion.  Little in history suggests walls through contiguous and contested territory resolve anything."


"Ring-Fencing Security:  A Barrier Causing Division Within Israel"


The conservative Times opined (10/2):  "Israel's cabinet approved a compromise yesterday over its controversial $100 million security fence in an attempt to address U.S. concerns while satisfying the demands of the Right in Ariel Sharon's Government.  The fence will not run to the east of Ariel, a settlement 12 miles inside a Palestinian territory....  The barrier, under construction for a year, is, as intended, a formidable obstacle.  Reminding many of the fortified wall that divided East and West Germany, it is seen by Israel as a drastic but necessary last resort to prevent terrorist infiltration....  The Americans argue, reasonably, that it will create a de facto border....  The Palestinians complain that as well as the further loss of land, the fence separates many Palestinian villagers from the agricultural land on which they depend....  The debate is most complex inside Israel....  Mr. Sharon himself is caught in the middle....  He is concerned, however, not to antagonize the Bush administration, when there is a real determination in Washington to push ahead with the roadmap....  In the end, the Palestinian leadership has only itself to blame for the fence.  Had there been the necessary moves to curb terrorism and stop the infiltration of suicide bombers, the Israelis would not have undertaken such a hugely costly barrier.  In that Yassir Arafat thwarted the attempt by Mahmoud Abbas to confront Hamas, he made the extension of the fence inevitable.  The new prime minister must take the initiative against terrorism if he is not to see his country irrevocably split."


GERMANY:  "Trump Cards"


Wolfgang Guenter Lerch wrote in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (10/2):  "The 'outer-legal' killings of alleged terrorists have created a serious moral crisis and global criticism.  It even reached a degree that 27 fighter pilots refused in a public declaration to continue to participate in the 'hunt' of Palestinians, and the refusniks are now getting the support of well-known authors....  The arrest of Bassam Saadi, one of the most influential leaders of Islamic Jihad, must certainly be assessed differently....  One has to watch closely how the democratic state Israel deals with a man who has thus far only been suspected of having been involved in terrorist attacks.  The fight against terrorism--and the situation in Guantanamo is evidence of this--can even prompt powerful democracies to leave the principles of the rule of law.  With Bassam Saadi and Marwan Barghouti, Israel has captured two men, who could be used as political trump cards.  Under certain conditions, they could be used some day when it is necessary to make new arrangements."


"Land For Peace"


Peter Muench noted in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (10/2):  "The Israeli government says the fence, which has turned into a wall at some places, is to protect Israel from Palestinian attacks.  From a viewpoint of an Israeli who wants to go into a restaurant in Jerusalem or in Tel Aviv without fearing of being blown up, this is a sound argument....  But even those who say the truth are not always sincere.  The story of the fence also includes that Sharon rejected the original plans, since his supporters strongly opposed a division of the Holy Land....  Since the prime minister is fighting for the controversial project and his cabinet is even risking a limited conflict with the United States, he must have more in mind than security.  The course of the fence allows us to see the reasons behind Sharon's change of mind....  The fence and the wall do not stretch along the green line but range deeply into Palestinian territory....  This is not a mere provocation but a program....  It refers to everything that makes peace in the Middle East more difficult....  The approval of the next construction phase by the government shows that even strongest U.S. objections only result in cosmetic changes.  U.S President Bush opposed the 'wall'...during ex-prime minister Abbas' visit to Washington, but Israel's government does not expect these words to be matched with deeds."


"Zig-Zag Course"


Inge Guenther remarked in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (10/2):  "As far as psychological reasons are concerned, the Israeli wish is understandable to prevent Palestinian terrorists from entering Israel...but as far as politics is concerned, the martial high-tech project, that is euphemistically called fence, is fatal.  One thing can be predicted already now:  this wall will block every peace initiative even more than potential bomb plotter.  If the fence would be built on the 'green line,' the border from1967, even the Palestinians would not oppose it, since this would have allowed the interpretation of a two-state solution, but Sharon wanted to avoid this....  So a zig-zag line was the result...with which Israel incorporates big chunks of the West Bank into its own territory.  This move carries the handwriting of the settlers' lobby...and they are not worried about the gaps along the Ariel settlement, which the government wants to left open to appease the government in Washington.  But this will not last for all the time, since Sharon knows what he wants--at least halt the West Bank--and when his buddy Bush will turn a blind eye to his moves.  Be patient, during the election campaign he has to deal with other things."


ITALY:  "Sharon Lengthens The Fence--Forty Kilometers Added"


Alberto Stabile observed in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (10/2):  “For the Israelis it’s only a barrier of protection against terrorism, but for the Palestinians it’s Sharon’s contrivance to take over their land.  The fence is still causing debate.  It should be of no surprise, then, if the decision made yesterday by Sharon’s government to add forty more kilometers to the already 150 kilometer-long-fence appears like a half decision.  Regarding the key issue, meaning whether or not the fence should include the big settlement Ariel in the occupied territories, the government has decided to put off its confrontation with the U.S. administration, which opposes [the idea], until a more opportune moment.....  The debate will be reopened and the final decision will be made once construction is at an advanced stage and it will no longer be possible to postpone [the decision]. Sharon is trying to buy time before it comes to a final confrontation with the U.S. in a few months, when the U.S. will be in the middle of the electoral campaign and it will be ever more difficult for Bush to resist Israeli pressures.”


POLAND:  "Reading Gestures"


Krzysztof Mroziewicz observed in military weekly Polska Zbrojna (10/2):  “A group of Israeli airmen refused to take part in missions to bomb Palestinian settlements....  Perhaps the twenty-plus airmen who won’t bomb Palestinian settlements will some day yield a political leader who will finally forge an effective peace with the Palestinians.  For now, though, their gesture must be read as a protest against operations that only increase the determination of the Palestinians.  It is a bold gesture, one that carries a court-martial, and one that proves desperation is also present among the Israelis.  It is not the desperation of people ready to fight till the end, but of those who concluded that ruthlessness in fight makes no sense, and that you have to fight a bit and negotiate a bit.”


TURKEY:  "Israeli Pilots Are Rebelling"


Zafer Atay commented in economic-political Dunya (10/2):  “A group of Israeli war pilots protested an order to attack civilian targets and criticized the Israeli occupation.  Both the wording and the nature of the protest require a careful analysis, and this is much too important to be called as an isolated action by individuals....  The Israeli government’s current policy in dealing with terrorism is only serving to undermine peace and stability.  Israel is keeping up its ‘war against terrorism’ rhetoric, yet its policy is harming civilians, not terrorists....  Moreover, as a result of Israeli policy, Arafat has gained in prestige and become even more influential than before.  Israel continues to make a big mistake by dreaming of eliminating terror by murdering Arafat.  Given the circumstances, the protest voiced by the Israeli pilots is extremely significant.”




ISRAEL:  "A Fence Along The Settlers' Lines"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (10/3):  "The outline of the fence authorized by the government was dictated overwhelmingly by the desire of the politicians to appease the settlers.  The wish to include most of the settlements, especially Ariel and its suburbs, within the security provided to the west of the fence, transformed the security obstacle into a humanitarian and diplomatic obstacle.  At least 75,000 Palestinians (excluding the 'Jerusalem Envelope' project, which will take in an additional quarter of a million Palestinians) will find themselves inside enclaves and will be cut off from their own sources of services.  On the other hand, in the collective Palestinian consciousness, and also that of the Israelis, the broad areas to the west of the fence have been in fact annexed by the state of Israel.  The United States has reiterated that it will not agree to Israel making use of the approved route of the fence to dictate permanent political boundaries by claiming security needs.  The decision to postpone the decision on the location of the fence in the Ariel area has put off the confrontation with the United States, for the time being.  In the future, the government must avoid allowing this segment of the fence to become a political boundary and a bone of contention with the U.S."


"Sharon's Conception"


Senior columnist and longtime dove Yoel Marcus wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (10/3):  "Thirty years after Israel fell victim to a faulty conception, Sharon has a fatalistic conception of his own, and it boils down to this: until the shooting stops and the terror infrastructure is dismantled, we're not giving anything.  There is nothing we can do and no contribution we can make apart from battering the Palestinians until they are defeated on the battlefield....  In the meantime, the glue that holds the nation together is coming loose.  National consensus is cracking.  Defying orders yes or no?  Targeted assassinations yes or no?  Is it legal or isn't it?  The whole country is in a state of confusion brought on by the limpness of our leader.  To cure these internal ills and reverse Israel's political paralysis, a decision is needed that will shake up the system.  A kind of de Gaullist somersault that will break the spell in one fell swoop.  Sharon is still the only one who can do it and win broad public support.  Time is not on his side, considering the preparations being made by the Likud in case he doesn't make it through the year."


"How Attractive Are We?"


Senior economist Ya'acov Fisher wrote in conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (10/3): "One of the central economic questions during the current economic crisis is: How attractive is Israel to foreign investors?  The answer to this question has become virtually a litmus test for the state of the economy....  In the early months of 2003, there seemed to be an initial turnaround, which analysts latched onto as a sign that maybe the economy is beginning to recover, if foreigners are beginning to show interest again.  However, the increase soon tailed off and most recently, foreign investment has retreated.  All these are short-term movements, linked, among other things, with perceived changes in the local security situation....  But despite some initial signs of global hi-tech recovery, it is not clear when this recovery will firm up, nor can we know that the international hi-tech sector will not be hit by crises in the future.  Israel has clearly not yet established itself as a target for a wide range of foreign investment designations....  Thank goodness for the U.S. loan guarantees." 


"Sharon's Most Important Decision"


Aluf Benn wrote on in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (10/2):  "Wednesday's decision about the route of the separation fence between Israel and the West Bank--officially called 'the barrier for preventing terror attacks'--is the most important decision of Ariel Sharon's government.  The decision proved that the Prime Minister is not a stubborn fossil and that he is capable of changing his mind when circumstances dictate this....  The map of the fence was designed by the moderate Left, not the Right....  The Likud has adopted the map, but unlike the Labor Party, does not regard it as the basis for a final-status accord.  The decision was a typical Sharon compromise between the pressure from right-wing ministers and the reservations of the U.S. administration.  The gimmick the government invented--to begin building east of the settlements and postpone linking them to the Green Line [the Israel/West Bank border]--was intended to put off the anticipated confrontation with the Americans....  In another six to eight months, when the fence issue will again come up for debate, President Bush will be fighting for his political life in the election campaign and it is doubtful he'll take the time to pressure Israel.  And even if he does, the amount to be deducted from the loan guarantees due to the fence is not very substantial."


"Refusal For The Sake Of Democracy"


Publisher Amos Schocken contended in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (10/2):  "One country inhabited by two populations--one enjoying all rights and protections, and the other denied basic rights and controlled by the other.  What could be more undemocratic than that?  What democracy are we defending when we denounce those who are acting, according to their ability and understanding, against such injustice?  If the duty of a soldier is to protect democracy, maybe it is these defiant pilots who are keeping Israeli democracy alive."


"'Refusers' Target Camaraderie"


Labor Party whip and son of the late president of Israel Chaim Herzog, Knesset Member Isaac Herzog, opined in the independent, conservative Jerusalem Post (10/2):  "It is a mistake to suppose that whoever is on the Israeli Left or in the peace camp supports the refusers [the dissenting pilots], and whoever is on the other side disagrees with what they did.  I can testify for myself and for my friends who consistently demand the evacuation of settlements and believe the continued occupation corrupts Israel and endangers its future, that there is no connecting thread between those positions and a refusal to serve in the IDF....  The phenomenon of refusal to serve is a symptom and a direct result of ruling over another people, whether that was forced upon us or not.  A wise government should have understood this long ago, and responded with action, not talk....  As with any fabric, the minute you pull the thread hanging out at the edge, the whole thing begins to unravel.  The pilots should have thought about that before they pulled so hard and signed their letter....  This camaraderie has to be preserved.  Together."


"Not Exactly Quiet, But Nevertheless"


Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (10/1):  "Three weeks after the last suicide bombing, it is clear that Israel has been showing more caution in its use of targeted assassinations against Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders.... Things are also happening in Hamas....  Hamas, and not only Israel, has no faith that the partial calm will not suddenly be shattered....  Arafat's attitude toward acts of terror, conversely, shows no change.  Once again, there are numerous reports that aside from the diplomatic flag he is flying, the Palestinian leader is also bearing the flag of terrorist attacks against Israel.  In so doing, he plays into the hands of the Sharon government....  Washington is no longer willing to show patience for Arafat, but even in regard to Qurei, Washington and the quartet are adopting a forceful tone....  Abu Ala's tactics are different from those of Abu Mazen.  He places emphasis on achieving a consensus in Palestinian society more than on external activity.  He therefore needs Arafat's 'umbrella.'  He is also acting forcefully among Israeli figures in order to gain the support of elements of Israeli society.  For him, the protest of the Israeli pilots provided evidence of cracks in Israeli society that are worth trying to widen."


"There Are Other Ways"


Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres declared in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (10/1):  "[During the Jewish New Year], while we prayed: 'Let this year and its curses end,' we should have remembered that the worse curses are those we have brought upon ourselves....  This government, too, knows, and has also stuttered its assent, that Israel will leave most of the territories.  But it invests around 5 billion shekels [approximately USD 1.1 billion] there in military and non-military budgets.  Fatalism also expresses itself in the diplomatic field....  The government blames Arafat for everything and promises Israelis that if he disappears from the diplomatic map, moderate leaders will rise on the Palestinian side.  Meanwhile it describes him as an all-powerful diplomatic and military leader.  But we have seen Arafat give in to international pressure, in the same way the government has already given up its desire to remove him.  Fatalism has brought paralysis into being.  Paralysis kills initiative and brings about poverty.  It is possible to act otherwise.  It is possible to beat the terrorists and terror by hitting their motive.  It is possible to strike terror and to conduct negotiations in order to produce a different atmosphere in Israel and throughout the world.  It is possible to step up the implementation of the policy Israel has agreed to--two states for two nations--instead of refraining from deciding."


"What Is Immoral"


Nationalist columnist Emuna Elon noted in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (10/1):  "Had the letter [of the dissenting pilots] claimed that Israel's policy isn't moral, all Israelis should have signed it....  [But] the harm caused to morality doesn't start with roadblocks making the movement of the Palestinian population difficult....  As long as terror isn't eradicated the IDF has no choice but to check every old person and pregnant woman as if they were disguised terrorists on their way to central Israel....  Also, presenting settlers as a stumbling block to morality is a moral distortion, because moral values don't ban a people from living in its homeland....  What was immoral was to bring Arafat and his corrupt junta from Tunis and to let them bring the Palestinian population down to a yet unseen level of poverty and disfigurement, and to refrain from rescuing it from the terror organizations....  Refusing to eliminate 'ticking bombs' is immoral; allowing children on both sides to be killed on the altar of one's false morality is immoral."


WEST BANK:  "Separation Wall:  Assassination Of The Palestinian Future"


Independent Al-Ayyam ran a commentary by Samih Shbeib (10/3):  “In its most recent session, the Israeli cabinet approved the implementation of the separation wall’s second phase....  It is quite fair to say that this wall has not merely security motives behind it, but also political ones of the highest order, as it also determines the future (of Palestine)....  Israeli officials, led by PM Sharon, believe that the construction of this wall will by no means allow any regional or international side to disapprove of it.  It will practically force some new facts on the ground as to who will enjoy final control and sovereignty.  What Israel is essentially doing now, and will eventually achieve in the next few months, is a deliberate assassination of the Palestinian future.”


"Their Main Objective Is To Build Settlements, Not To Make Peace"


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (10/3):  “Yesterday’s Israeli government build 565 new housing units in Jewish settlements all over the West Bank was more evidence that this government’s objective is completely unrelated to peace and reconciliation with the Palestinian side.  First and foremost, the real purpose is to build new settlements and expand the already existing ones....  The international community, however, and specifically the U.S., turns a deaf ear to the constant Palestinian calls for help.  In return, Palestinians are pointed at as terrorists and obstacles to peace, as if they are the ones who expropriate land inside the Green Line to build more settlements.  What happened to the international community?  Has it confused the victim with the perpetrator?”


"The Abu Ala’ Cabinet:  A Confrontational Agenda Is Needed"


Ashraf Ajrami opined in independent Al-Ayyam (10/3):  “If the leadership or any other side envisions that any Palestinian official or prime minister could achieve a political accomplishment with the Sharon government, their hope will soon vanish.  The same applies to the position of the American administration:  we need not wait until the Abu Ala’ cabinet is formed to understand the whole inflexible truth....  As long as Israel persists in annexing and building more settlements, there’s no hope that the Abu Ala’ government will make any serious accomplishment no matter how compliant it becomes to the Americans and Israelis....  This leads us to the second part of the government’s mission, which should basically focus on democratic reforms and the rebuilding process.  That alone should be given the ultimate priority, given that the horizon of the entire political process is completely vague and impossible to determine.”


"Exchanging The Separation With A Wall"


Ibrahim Sha’ban wrote in independent Al-Quds (10/3):  “Israel is willing to strengthen the roots of settlements and annex them to Israel.  The wall secures this need regardless of the international position and against the Palestinian will.  Israel is determined to deny the Palestinian right to return, and in any case the return would only be to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip....  With the separation wall, political solutions have gone into hibernation, and the peace process has gone into Sharon and Bush’s deep freeze.”


"Why Is Israel Evading 'Non-Security' Commitments?"


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (10/2):  “In light of the failure of the repeated Israeli attempts to spark internal Palestinian disputes, the Israeli authorities have vowed to escalate the conflict, preventing the Palestinian side from carrying out its obligation toward stopping the violence.  Despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority and opposition showed commitment to the truce, Israel continued its destructive policy of assassinations, arrests, and destruction, preventing the Palestinian Authority from reaching an open dialogue of mutual understanding with the opposition and thus weakening the Mahmoud Abbas government, causing its fall....  Since Israel insists on implementing all the ‘security’ elements in the roadmap, why then does the Israeli government evade the implementation of the ‘non-security’ elements in the same document?”


"Different Kinds Of Battles Need To Be Joined"


Talal Okal argued in independent Al-Ayyam (10/2):  “Repeated official American remarks that settlement activities and construction of the separation wall pose a threat to Israel, continued non-stop all through last week.  The most significant statement was made by Assistant Secretary of State William Burns who said, ‘settlement activities endanger Israel’s existence'....  However, such statements, including those on the deduction of U.S. loan guarantees to Israel, which were announced right after the Quartet’s meeting, have had no effect whatsoever.  Had the U.S. been truly serious about such statements, the Israeli conduct would have been different.”


"A Quarter-Century Since Camp David"


Tawfiq Abu Bakr averred in independent Al-Ayyam (10/1):  “The right-wing Israeli government’s willingness to offer ‘big compromises’ with the Arabs stems from its desire to ensure full control over the Palestinian people and land under the claim that it is their ‘promised land.’  Those who believe for even a second that peace can actually be achieved with Sharon, based on the fact that it was a right-wing government that forged a peace agreement with Egypt, are terribly mistaken....  Thus, implementation of the roadmap will not go beyond the plan’s first stage, for the next two stages would necessitate a new Israeli government with a different mind-set and policies....  The most important lesson that Israelis should learn is that peace with the government of Egypt does not mean peace with the people of Egypt.  This will remain true as long as the Palestinian cause remains without a just solution.  The Israelis must keep this fact in mind whenever they try to forge any peace agreement with the Arabs.”


"The Separation Wall Annexes Ariel Settlement To Israel Proper"


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (10/1):  “The huge Jewish Ariel settlement is built in the heart of the West Bank on confiscated land next to Arab villages.  As it continues to grow and expand on confiscated Arab land, it forms a geographic barrier that separates Palestinian urban areas....  The latest on this Ariel settlement, is that the Israeli government has decided to surround it with a protective wall that will be part of the racially-motivated separation wall on West Bank land....  The decision to surround Ariel with the separation wall is an attempt by the Israeli government to undermine the peace process and the will of the international community.  It is also a clear denial of the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people.  The international community and the United States, both of which have repeatedly expressed determination to achieve a just settlement to the dispute in the region, should, effectively and persistently, exert more pressure on Israel to remove this separation wall.”


EGYPT:  "Sustaining The Intifada"


Salama Ahmed Salama concluded in pro-government Al Ahram (10/2):  “The Palestinian intifada has entered its fourth year and those in the Arab world and international community who believe that it has delayed the creation of a Palestinian state have yet to present any alternative.  What is certain is that without the intifada the birth of any state would remain impossible.  Those in the Arab world who promote Washington’s policies argue against continuing the intifada claiming that Israel can obliterate the resistance by brute force and in the process severely damage Palestinian lives and property....  Washington continues to be in the thrall of Sharon, illogically using its veto to support Israel, which it funds with billions of dollars....  Washington has also rejected the presence of international peacekeeping forces to monitor the situation on the ground....  Meanwhile, some Arab leaders continue to argue that the U.S. is committed to the roadmap....  Against such willful blindness can anyone blame the Palestinian people for persisting with the intifada?”


"Stop Lying"


Aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar columnist Ayman Gomaa wrote (10/2):  “The time has come to stop talking about an honest mediator in the peace process.  President Bush and Secretary Powell repeat statements that Palestinians--who are suffering the fire of occupation--are the main obstacles to peace.  The Quartet...issued a suspicious statement condemning terrorist attacks by the resistance and refuses to blame Israel or the terrorist Sharon....  Europe and Russia do not think silence about Israeli crimes is enough, they even shamelessly hold Hamas, Jihad, and Arafat responsible for blocking Middle East stability and welfare.  Amid all of this, voices of Palestinian children and women and even some inside Israel have been raised telling the U.S. and the West, ‘enough lies’....  Israeli, American and Western allegations are feeble excuses to deprive the Palestinian people of their sole pressure card, the resistance....  The resistance against occupation, which is legitimized by international conscience, is the only way to regain rights, without which any agreement Palestinians sign will be a document of surrender.”


"The March Of Peace And Lack Of Comprehension"


Pro-government Al Ahram columnist Abdo Mubasher wrote (10/1):  “Is there a sane person who fails to realize that Egypt regained its sovereignty over its occupied territories in the Sinai due to the Camp David Accords?  Can people fail to comprehend that if not for these accords, Egypt would still have been mired in a bloody dispute to regain its land?  All parties and currents realize that Egypt, after the 1973 October War, lacked any military, economic, or industrial capabilities to regain its land by force....  Did some people lose insight and objectivity and so insist on rejecting Camp David?  Truly, the West Bank and Gaza are still under Israeli occupation, but this reality has been the natural outcome of the Palestinian leadership’s rejecting joining in the march of peace.  What Palestinians rejected in 1978, they accepted in Madrid and Oslo....  Everyone realized the soundness of the Egyptian march for peace boldly initiated with vision by Sadat in 1977.”


"Secret Aims Of Sharon’s Visit To Al Aqsa Mosque"


Aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar editorialized (10/1):  “Sharon’s visit to the Al Aqsa mosque was necessary for Israel.  It was a well-studied plot to elicit a Palestinian reaction...and thus the Jewish response to this intifada, i.e. re-occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, which came under Palestinian autonomy after the Oslo accord....  Israel has never for a single day desired to deliver land to the Palestinians.  Israel claimed the 1967 war regained Judah and Samaria, to the historic Jewish territories, and these are the Jewish names for the Palestinian West Bank.  That is why Sharon visited, with Barak’s approval, Al Aqsa.”


SAUDI ARABIA:  "The Security Fence"


Mecca’s conservative, Al-Nadwa contended (10/2):  "The latest Israeli decision to resume the construction of the security fence represents a powerful blow to the roadmap plan.  It also proves Sharon’s determination and intention to blowup the foundations of the roadmap.  Israel has found in the American and international silence an excuse to disrespect its concluded agreements with the Palestinians.  In order to stop Israel’s destructive steps and plans an international decisive action has to be made."


"An Affront To Humanity"


Jeddah’s English language daily, Arab News judged (10/2):  "By approving the so-called security wall, the Israeli cabinet has made it clear to the world that it cares nothing for human rights, international law and accepted norms, and the plight of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories....  For by separating the two peoples in such a crude and contemptible manner, the cabinet of Ariel Sharon has made a peace deal between Palestinians and the Israelis more unlikely than ever....  The question now, as ever, is whether the U.S. will really embrace its trumpeted role as honest broker and put its money where its mouth is."


"Fence Plan"


Riyadh’s English language moderate, Riyadh Daily observed (10/2):  "Once again Israel has found itself on the wrong side of the international community.  A UN report this week has said that the controversial wall being built by Israel through the West Bank amounts to the illegal annexation of Palestinian territory and must be condemned by the international community.  The report does not in any way lend any hope for the Palestinian community as far as the wall is concerned, but it once again exposes Israel’s plain disdain for world opinion....  But at this juncture, Israel is already deep into the project.  Its first phase is almost complete....  Though Washington has denounced the plan, it would be of no avail unless there is definite action like, say, sanctions, to force Israel to drop the fence plan for good."


"Basement Bombs"


Jeddah's English language daily, Saudi Gazette remarked (10/1):  "No one challenges the fact that Israel possesses all types of weapons of mass destruction.  As for nuclear bombs, former Prime Minister Shimon Peres had once admitted that they were in the basement....  What's surprising however, is that while talking about nuclear non-proliferation, no one has discussed Israel's nuclear weapons.  Perhaps this is because Israel has never officially confirmed that it possesses nuclear weapons.  But then, Iran has not said so officially either."


"Israeli Nukes"


Riyadh's English language moderate, Riyadh Daily stated (10/1):  "The world's sole nuclear watchdog has been harsh on the alleged nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea but is incapable of addressing Israel's clandestine, though well known, nuclear capabilities....  Israel, not being a party to the NPT is outside the purview of international nuclear monitoring.  This is a fundamental flaw in the international nuclear control mechanism....  Every effort must be made to put pressure on Israel to sign the NPT and make the Middle East a region completely free of weapons of mass destruction."


LEBANON:  "The Barrier Is Blocking A Settlement"


Joseph Samaha wrote in Arab nationalist As-Safir (10/2):  “It is worthwhile to mention that there are a number of Americans who say that the barrier which is being built by Israel is against Bush’s vision.  Perhaps this is true, however, in depth, the barrier does not contradict Bush’s policy which assumes that the Middle East should be re-organized in order to co-exist with Israel’s expansionist Zionist policy....  Sharon is going to complete the western barrier and will not hesitate to build the eastern part.  The result will be the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians, inclusion of half the West Bank in Israeli territory, in addition to separating it completely and for good from any international borders....  All this is taking place in the name of security and combating terrorism....  The bottom line is this:  to continue building the barrier means to say farewell to any hope of a peace settlement in the region particularly in the shadow of the current Arab-American-Israeli-Palestinian balance of power.”


QATAR:  "To Those Who Make History"


Faisal Batout wrote in semi-independent Arabic-language Al-Watan (10/2):  "Sharon will go on with building his stupid fence, but that will not make the brave 12 [sic] Israeli airmen return back to killing innocent Palestinians again.  Those 12 airmen proved without a doubt that people, even enemies, are brothers in humanity.  Those 12 airmen said no to Sharon because they finally discovered that his is sick and mentally unstable.  And I believe more Jewish Israelis will say no soon to the stupid fence.  This fence is not against the Palestinians but it’s against humanity and international will.  Like the 12 airmen, I am sure that Israelis with vision will make history and stop Sharon from moving on with his stupid fence.”




CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "The Best Bet For Peace--Arafat"


Sunanda Datta-Ray held in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (9/30):  "The U.S. has done it again.  Its veto of the United Nations Security Council resolution calling on Israel not to remove Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat reiterates the U.S.' determination not to allow Israel to be brought within the discipline of international law....  Instead of dismissing Mr. Arafat as a failed leader who should be removed, Mr. Bush should recognize him as the legitimate leader who embodies [the] Palestinian identity and national aspirations, to quote UN envoy to the Middle East Terje Toed-Larsen....  Mr. Arafat is the best bet for a lasting solution.  Instead of sidelining him, the U.S. should strengthen his hand so that he can show his people that he has won a just peace.  That means withdrawal from the territories--the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, east Jerusalem and the West Bank--that Israel seized in 1967.  Whether or not a Palestine is ever conceded sovereignty, there will be no peace in the Middle East as long as Israel is allowed to enjoy the fruits of conquest."




PAKISTAN:  "Walling Out Palestine"


The center-right national English daily, The Nation editorialized (10/3):  "A more sinister aspect of the second phase of construction is a plan to build a series of barrier around five other Jewish settlements deep inside the West Bank.  The Sharon hawks have the gall to publicize this as keeping these settlements outside the 'Berlin Wall,' an eyewash to placate any opposition in Capitol Hill; and to safeguard Washington's $9 billion loan guarantees to Israel.  Hints are already surfacing within Israel itself, that there will be a third phase of land grabbing when these walled-in settlements will be connected to the so called 'security fence'."




TANZANIA:  "Roadmap Is Political Deceit Of The Highest Order"


Ziabu Unda opined in the Kiswahili pro-Islam weekly tabloid Nasaha (10/1):  “There have been very many unsuccessful attempts by Jews to assassinate Yasser Arafat.  The latest attempt to send him into forced exile is additional proof of the terrorism being perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people, while the so-called civilized world watches.  True peace between Israelis and Palestinians is only possible if Palestine becomes an independent state and Israel surrenders all the Palestinian territory it has occupied....  We are witnessing the hypocrisy of the UN.  The UN Security Council has passed numerous resolutions calling on Israel to return Palestinian land, but to no avail.  What is stopping the Council from taking action against Israel?  Is it nationality, skin color, or religion?  What a shame, for an organization that bears the responsibility for ensuring that all people in the world live in peace!  This is the reason why France, Germany, and Russia have refused to support a new UN resolution asking them to send more troops to Iraq.  After the American invasion of Iraq, we think it is the right time for the international community to stand up against American and Jewish schemes against Palestinians, by sending in an international force to oversee the implementation of the Israeli/Palestinian peace process.  Left alone, the U.S. would not ensure justice.”


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