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Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

April 30, 2003

April 30, 2003





**  Mazen's appointment offers a "concrete possibility" for "tangible progress" in the Mideast.


**  "Hamas, Islamic Jihad and extremists loyal to Arafat" threaten Mazen's authority.


**  Global outlets move closer to Israeli position that Arafat is the "principal obstacle" to peace.


**  Arabs demand roadmap release and insist U.S. "impose its implementation" on Israel.




There is a 'greater hope' for peace after the 'erosion' of Arafat's influence--  Abu Mazen is a "tough and serious negotiator" and "credible partner" whose appointment is a "great victory for the Middle East" if he can achieve "genuine authority independent of Arafat."  Italian and Australian papers agreed Mazen's appointment opens a "window of opportunity for peace."  Arab pro-government papers also backed Mazen, with Tunisia's La Presse declaring, "serious reasons for optimism exist."


Arafat has lasted in his own 'tortuous way' due to a 'pathological attachment to power'--  Israeli writers, among others, feared Arafat "will try to remain important."  Left-leaning Ha'aretz stated, "As long as Arafat lives, Abu Mazen won't be able to move a pinky without his say-so."  Bangkok's independent Nation criticized Arafat's "authoritarian ways and self-serving political games."  Prague's center-right Lidove noviny warned Arafat may discredit Mazen as a U.S. "messenger boy," as his cabinet is "viewed as American and Zionist proteges."  Independent Arab papers said Arafat remains "the legitimate and elected President" of the Palestinians.  


The roadmap is 'cover for the aggression' against Iraq and Israel's 'barbaric' actions--  Papers in Muslim-majority countries dismissed the roadmap as "completely in the hands of the Israeli government."  West Bank outlets blasted Israel for "imposing a series of impossible conditions" ahead of the roadmap's release.  Calling for an end to the U.S.' "procrastination" as well as Sharon's "daily massacres," Arab dailies accused Israel of "looking for pretexts to avoid" negotiations to achieve its goals of "expansion and domination."  Israel's Arabic-language Kul al-Arab concluded, "The roadmap will fail."  Conservative Israeli papers decried U.S. plans, demanding Mazen "stop the terrorist activity--and only afterwards proceed to the roadmap."


As Israel's 'main sponsor,' only the U.S. can 'force Israel' into genuine negotiations--  Arab dailies cited the U.S.' "biased position favoring Israel" in questioning the "truthfulness of American intentions."  Only if the U.S. ends its "double standards policy" will the peace process have "any chance of succeeding."  Lebanon's moderate Daily Star warned any U.S. "failure to resist the pressure applied by Israel" to delay the roadmap will prove disastrous for "America's interests."  European papers, especially on the left, asserted that "Washington's ability to impose" the roadmap on Israel is "vital for the credibility" of U.S. foreign policy.


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This survey is based on 90 reports from 27 countries over 18 - 29 April 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




FRANCE:  “Bush And The Aftermath Of The War On Iraq”


Left-of-center Le Monde maintained (4/25):  “President Bush is face to face with his first test of the post-war period: making public the Middle East roadmap. The gesture will be the first test for the Bush administration....  The two main figures of the soon-to-be formed Palestinian government are proof that on the Palestinian side, there is a will to go beyond the era of terrorism....  But the fate of the roadmap will depend more on Washington’s ability to impose the implementation of the roadmap’s first phase on Israel, than on the goodwill of the Palestinians....  There will be numerous obstacles on the ground: the Palestinians will not trust a diplomatic process that does not go hand in hand with an important and rapid Israeli withdrawal....  On the very day of the Palestinian government’s announcement, there was a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv soon followed by the destruction of two homes in Gaza by the Israeli army: two tragic incidents proving to President Bush the magnitude and difficulty of the task that lies ahead, if he truly wants to impose on the Israelis and the Palestinians an agreement for a ‘viable’ peace.”


“Palestine On The Map?”


Bruno Frappat declared in Catholic La Croix (4/25):  “Are we on the eve of a victory of reason or is this one more illusion? While nobody has the answer, Abu Mazen’s nomination may be one of those events which are recognized, after the fact, as being a milestone....  And Arafat’s acceptance of Abu Mazen, under pressure from the international community, is one more positive sign.”


GERMANY:  "A New Beginning In The Middle East"


Inge Guenther commented in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (4/25):  "As much as the Middle East peace process and the Iraq war are completely different issues, the two things are also inextricably connected.  On the one hand, the U.S. wants to portray itself a promoter of peace now that the Gulf offensive is over....  On the other hand, the threat scenario has changed in Israel's favor:  Saddam...has gone, and Syria, the other safe haven for militants, is politically on the defensive and militarily under U.S. pressure.  These are not bad conditions for the peace roadmap....  Just how much progress can be made on the 'roadmap' will become clear at the negotiating table.  Abbas will want to find out for sure, and Sharon will not be able to say no immediately now that he has a credible partner.  But there will be movement only if Bush junior exerts the same level of pressure on the Israeli side that he put into sidelining Arafat."


"Missed Opportunities"


Erik-Michael Bader noted in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (4/24):  "The brief history of the Palestinian people on the political stage is by and large a tale of missed opportunities and accidental self-sabotage.  If Arafat and Abbas had not succeeded in reaching agreement on the composition of a cabinet within the constitutionally-set timeframe, it would have represented another chapter of understandable but disgraceful intransigence on the way to the tragic finale....  It is uncertain still whether the goal of two peoples living together in peace has come any closer, but the chance of achieving such a goal has not been lost."


ITALY:  “Nobody Vouches For The Terrorists”


Marcella Emiliani commented in Rome's centrist Il Messaggero (4/29):  “Today is a crucial day for the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The parliament of the national Palestinian authority will cast a vote of confidence for Abu Mazen, who might then present his own government. This, in turn, would represent the first step towards the ‘road map’ for the resumption of negotiations, which in the end would lead to the creation of a real Palestinian state by the year 2005....  Today there is greater hope. In the first place, the regional situation has changed. After the end of Saddam Hussein’s regime, a new order in the ME is taking shape, which, based on the Anglo-American victory in Iraq, will be less and less willing to accept dictators and despotic regimes, which use terrorism to gain leadership in the Arab and Muslim world....  In view of his installation as Prime Minister, Abu Mazen promised European diplomats yesterday that in his inaugural speech he would reject violence as an instrument of political struggle, and this is already an excellent first step. But, since Hamas and Islamic Jihad are out of the parliamentary game, who will vouch for them and who is going to deal with them?”


“The Two-Fold Challenge Awaiting Abu Mazen, A ‘Dove’ Caught Between Two Fires”


Sandro Viola stated in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (4/26):  “Nothing is clear yet.  Certainly the political conditions have changed.  The road of negotiations seems to be more viable than it was on the eve of previous peace processes.  But the feelings of the two parties at war, their wounds, their mutual hatred, their violence--all of that has, instead, worsened.  The uncertainty over a possible solution of the conflict, in sum, is the same as it has always been.  We can only wait and see.”


“The Government Of Hope Is Born In Palestine”


Sandro Viola commented in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (4/24):  “What counts now is that the Abu Mazen government is born and that, according to the commitments made by the Americans, the so-called ‘road map’...will be outlined over the next few days....  A new, concrete possibility to put an end to the longest conflict in contemporary history has opened.  Albeit weakened politically and morally by too many years of ambiguity and too many mistakes, Yasser Arafat has nonetheless been the soul and the symbol of the Palestinian national movement.  Nobody can take that away from him.  It is he who resurrected after each defeat, raising again on the international level the Palestinians’ sacrosanct right to their own land and their own state.  It is he who always reorganized and boosted Palestinian resistance after so many defeats.  That is why the world has become convinced that the problem of a Palestinian state can no longer be deferred.”


”Arafat Gives In, Agreement On Government”


Guido Olimpio wrote in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (4/24):  “After a day of extenuating talks, Arafat and Abu Mazen came to an agreement over the composition of the new Palestinian government.  This is an important development indeed....  The pressure exerted by international diplomacy and by regional mediators was decicive....  The Palestinians urged Washington to maintain its promises by immediately presenting the ‘road map’....  Abu Mazen and Dahlan are seen as the right men to begin democratic reforms but, most of all, as the men capable of controlling armed groups....  And then Arafat.  By provoking the tug-of-war he wanted to demonstrate that, despite everything, he still counts.  And he will try to remain important by avoiding to be relegated to a marginal role as the Israelis and the Americans are hoping for.  Abu Mazen will have to watch out.”


“Not Even Arafat Is A Man For All Seasons”


Marcella Emiliani declared in Rome's center-left Il Messaggero (4/22):  “When ‘heroes’ become old, i.e., is it possible that Yasser Arafat may currently represent one of the main problems for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?  Perhaps the question is not posed properly, but many are asking it vis-à-vis the tug-of-war between the PNA Chairman and Palestinian PM-designate Abu Mazen, unable to form a new government--which is what Israel and the U.S. are waiting for in order to create a negotiating agenda--due exactly to Arafat’s veto on several names and particularly on the person responsible for security, Mohammed Dalan.”


“Arafat Attacks Abu Mazen: ‘Your Government Is Sponsored By The United States’”


Enrico Franceschini wrote in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (4/22):  "Abu Mazen is a reformist dressed in a traditional style, and not a revolutionary with a Kalashnikov on his desk.  That is why his popularity among the Palestinians is not so high, with only 2-3 percent of them identifying with him, while Arafat, albeit on the decline, continues to be the most popular leader, with 22 percent.  But the President has gradually lost the support of the international community.  And now his pathological attachment to power could make all peace hopes fade away again.”


RUSSIA:  "Doubts"


Grigoriy Asmolov remarked in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (4/25):  "Many right-wing politicians in Israel doubt that Mahmoud Abbas and Muhammed Dahlan are truly willing to declare war on Palestinian terror.  They recall that the preventive security service in Gaza, of which Dahlan was the chief, was more than once involved in planning and committing terrorist acts against Israelis.  Therefore, far from all right-wingers approve of Ariel Sharon's plans to start negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas soon."


AUSTRIA:  "Declaration Of War On Abbas"


In liberal Der Standard, Markus Bernath stated (4/25):  "The extremists in the West Bank have given the first Palestinian Prime Minister a taste of things to come even before he’s officially taken up office: The suicide attack of an 18-year old Palestinian in the Israeli city of Kfar Saba, which cost an observant policeman his life, was a clear declaration of war of the militant Fatah on Premier Mahmud Abbas, who used to lead this largest Palestinian group together with Yassir Arafat....  Many questions are still unanswered: Has the ideal of a terror-free government been realized? Only a quarter of the Palestinian cabinet has been newly appointed. Is Ariel Sharon’s government going to support Abbas’ cabinet? The question of settlements will be addressed at a later stage, the Israeli Premier said. For the Palestinians, this issue is the first priority. How persevering are the efforts of the US in the Middle East going to be? Will Abbas prove to be capable of disarming the extremists? Not only Hamas and Djihad will have to relinquish their weapons--so will Fatah, whose unity Arafat is trying so hard to preserve.”


"Bush’s New Order"


Peter Michael Lingens noted in independent political weekly Profil (4/18):  “In the course of the war, George W. Bush and Tony Blair announced a new initiative for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Of course, their timing gives reason to believe that this was a propaganda-motivated red herring.  But this is not necessarily the case. The U.S. victory in the first war against Iraq paved the way for peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, and this war could revive them.  The Israelis should be grateful to Bush for eliminating their most dangerous enemy and depriving the Palestinians of their biggest patron.  At the same time, I think that--contrary to popular belief--all other Arab states are now going to feel more respectful rather than more hateful towards the U.S.”


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Arafat Is Losing Power"


Pavel Masa opined in center-right Lidove noviny (4/24):  "It must have seemed to Yasser Arafat this week that he is receiving his last judgment.  The Americans, the Brits, the Spaniards, the Greeks are on the list of countries which told him that his authoritarian power is over.  And he was even exposed to pressure from those who embraced him long time ago--the Egyptians, and other Arabic brothers, and the Russians--to give the reins of power to Mahmoud Abbas.  Arafat has succumbed to the demands in the end, but he may try to use the fresh anti-American mood on the Palestinian streets to reverse yesterday's verdict on the dispute over the post of the head of Palestinian security forces. However, in such a case he would not only start digging his own political grave, but he would also take down the hope for a creation of an independent Palestine."


HUNGARY:  “ Hopeful Of A Majority”


Ferenc Kepecs judged in pro-government left-wing Hungarian-language Nepszava (4/28):  "Mahmud Abbas has two trump cards. One is the support of foreign counties (first of all the moderate Arab countries). The other one is the fact that his policy rests on common sense.  Abbas’s [political] agenda is quite simple and basically matches the expectations of the world. Its basic goals are the following. The Palestinians should stop provoking further violence. Israel should end the occupation of Arab land. A Palestinian state should be established and it should live in peace with Israel. The only problem is that the powers in Israel today are quite unwilling to make a compromise.  Washington should work with Sharon to be more understanding of Palestine. And Abbas should work the Islamists to be more understanding of Israel. And certainly the Palestinian society badly needs to be democratized. For if things will be decided in the balloting boxes (and not at by arms) the world could expect surprises. It could be that the quiet majority is on the side of common sense in Palestine too.”


“Farewell To Arafat”


Csilla Medgyesi asserted in liberal Hungarian-language Magyar Hirlap (4/25):  ”Arafat committed a fatal mistake when he rejected Bill Clinton’s and Ehud Barak’s settlement plan and launched a second intifada instead.  The spiral of violence could not be stopped any more.   The renegotiation of peace became hopeless.  Arafat became a burden for the Palestinians.  Mahmud Abbas has an exceptional chance.  He enjoys the full backing of the United States, the European countries and most of the Arab leaders.  And, as signs suggest, he can expect that even Ariel Sharon offer him cooperation.  Abbas, even if he is unable to prevent every cue attempt, might manage to cut the ties between the Palestinian Authority and terrorism.  And that's all what Sharon expects from him.   Sharon then will, in return, offer (if not voluntarily than under American pressure) a compromise in the issue of [Israeli occupied] territories.  Because it is vital for Washington to reopen the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to encourage a government to Washington’s taste in Iraq.”


IRELAND:  "Palestinian Shift"


The center-left Irish Times declared (4/26):  "A compromise agreement among the Palestinian leadership has this week opened the way towards a renewed peace process with Israel in the wake of the war in Iraq....  As a result the US government has become much more actively involved in the process, as Mr Colin Powell prepares to visit the Middle East next week. The US is now committed to publishing the road map drawn up with the United Nations, the European Union and Russia....  In principle this could lead to the creation of a Palestinian state if all parties adhere to the agreement--a difficult but not an impossible condition and certainly a hopeful one. Interpretations differ in Israeli and Palestinian media as to whether these developments represent the end of Mr Arafat's domination of Palestinian affairs or yet another successful adaptation by him to changed circumstances. The Sharon government enjoyed President Bush's support over the last year for its policy of opposing Mr Arafat and seeking to marginalise him within the Palestinian leadership....  Mr Abbas is on record as opposing the violence and has appointed people determined to confront and control those responsible for it....  A great deal will depend on how determined President Bush is prepared to be in coming months."


"Hope For Peace As Arafat Accepts Cabinet"


David Horovitz remarked in the center-left Irish Times (4/24):  "Succumbing to extraordinary international pressure...President Yasser Arafat yesterday dropped his objections to the cabinet team...and thus re-opened the path to a possible resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and, ultimately, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state....  The PA's feuding veteran leaders agreed what was described--face-saving for Mr. Arafat--as a compromise....  Under the 'compromise', Mr. Dahlan will not hold the title to which Mr. Abbas had wanted to appoint him--Minister of the Interior--which the new prime minister will retain himself. But Mr. Dahlan will instead become Minister for Security Affairs and will do the job Mr. Abbas wants him to do--take charge of the PA's security forces in order to confront Hamas, Islamic Jihad and extremists loyal to Mr. Arafat who have been carrying out attacks. Mr. Abbas has described the 'armed intifada' as a grievous mistake, and his purported resolve to end it explains why Hamas is worried, why Israel supports his appointment and why the Bush administration has made the publication of the 'road map' to Palestinian statehood conditional on his taking office as a prime minister with genuine authority independent of Mr. Arafat....  American and European leaders will start pressing for Mr. Abbas to take on the extremists, Israel to start withdrawing its troops from deep inside the West Bank, and the two sides to get back to the negotiating table."


SPAIN:  "Arafat, Cornered"


Centrist La Vanguardia observed (4/25):  "The old guard [of Arafat] is resisting being displaced by a new generation of politicians, those who can count initially on international good standing and would be accepted by Israel as interlocutors to put in march the road map which the Madrid Quartet (the US, EU, UN and Russia) hopes will establish peace in the Middle East....  Not to lead a new peace conference might be a personal failure for [Arafat], but to end the Middle East conflict is now a worldwide priority."


"The U.S. Makes Its Move In Palestine"


Independent El Mundo opined (4/24):  "The agreement [of Arafat to the new Palestinian government] was vital for the credibility of the Bush foreign policy....  The U.S. president is probably the only person in the world able to persuade Sharon that peaceful coexistence with the Arabs is worth a generous agreement with the Palestinians.  It's too soon for that agreement, but something has started to change.  Abu Mazen has in his hands the opportunity that Arafat didn't know how to, or couldn't, use."


"The Road To Palestine"


Left-of-center El País held (4/24):  "If Arafat has given in, it has been because of the concerted pressure of all the members [of the Quartet].  It opens an essential hope for stability in the region, even though it is not advisable to indulge in excessive wishful thinking.  This is a play with several players and Sharon controls more than one.  Israel’s selective assassinations, ongoing destruction of Palestinian houses in Gaza and its influence on the United States, where the Presidential elections will take place next year, along with Palestinian terrorism do not make peace easy.  But a door has opened."


"The Hour To Replace Arafat"


Conservative ABC opined (4/22):  "Today, almost no one considers it essential that Arafat continues leading the process and all bet on a Palestinian leader able to sign agreements and to carry them out, to stop terrorism and advance towards democracy....  Mazen is a tough and serious negotiator, accepted by the international community and a part of the Palestinian leadership.  Sharon himself has talked again about the 'painful concessions' Israel will have to make and has offered to meet the new Prime Minister as soon as he forms a government....  After the worst of the Iraqi crisis, now it is time to turn to the question of Palestine.  Arafat has to accept the facts, and Spain, and President Aznar, with discretion and constancy are playing an important role."


"Tanks Against Peace"


Left-of-center El País editorialized (4/21):  "If there is no Palestinian Government next Wednesday, Arafat will have to designate another prime minister and this will postpone the peace process....  Perhaps this is what Arafat is looking for, conscious that with U.S. Presidential elections in November 2004 Bush will have little room for maneuver to impose peace on Sharon....  These are decisive moments for the Middle East.  Now the stability of the region depends more of what will happen between Israelis and Palestinians than what will be the outcome of the war in Iraq, although this conflict changes the equation.




ISRAEL:  "On Revolutions That Consume Their Sons, And Vice-Versa"


Yoel Marcus remarked in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/29):  "Don't be fooled by the inauguration of the Abu Mazen government.  Relevant or not, as long as Arafat lives, Abu Mazen won't be able to move a pinky without his say-so....  Like Arafat, [Sharon] is a national symbol, although under his stewardship Israel has never been worse off.  In mentality, Sharon is closer to Arafat than to Menachem Begin, who had the courage to give up all of Sinai and evacuate the settlements.  The two old foes are still fighting yesterday's war.  Arafat is still chief of the PLO, battling the Jews, and Sharon is still living in the era of reprisal attacks.  There is no chance that the man who built most of the settlements will dismantle them, and there is no chance that Arafat will affix his signature to any clause that surrenders the Palestinian right of return.  What does seem likely is that the window of opportunity will have to wait until these two are no longer running the show."


"Give Abu Mazen A Chance"


Dan Margalit wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (4/29):  "It is meaningful to reflect upon the kind of terror that would have been carried out against an isolated Israel had it not been for Oslo and Camp David.  However infuriating it is to many people, this reminder is necessary in order to advise the Government to take the risky approach of Abu Mazen, first of all as a manifest repudiator of Palestinian violence and as an initiator of permanent peace with Israel.  This does not rub out his having played a negative role at Camp David, and having all but denied the Holocaust.  To all intents and purposes, this would mean allowing him to run the Palestinians' lives in most of the territories inhabited by his compatriots without the presence of numerous...[Israeli] forces.  If Israel is obliged to undergo yet another round of violent terrorism on the way to the yearned-for peace, Sharon had better take Israel back to imposed fighting in less auspicious conditions but with international support, as did his predecessors, Rabin, Peres and Barak, whom history is likely to judge favorably, despite the disparagement of their efforts."


"Back To The Future?"


Alexander Maistrovoy stated in popular, pluralist Russian-language Novosty Nedely (4/28): "President Bush did not succeed in forming a coalition prior to the military operation in Iraq....  The Palestinian problem is going to be even more difficult....  Bush has defined two main conditions for renewing the peace talks: Arafat's removal and the end of terror.  Today, both of those look rather doubtful and even unreal.  Arafat continues to enjoy the support of Western Europe, which does everything to jumble the White House's cards.   Not only has Arafat remained a legitimate Palestinian leader for the largest part of the world, but he also got 'a second breath' as leader of a people.  The latest polls show that his popularity has grown tremendously...whereas Abu Mazen and Muhammad Dahlan are viewed as 'American and Zionist proteges'....  Abu-Mazen might have serious problems in calming down the terrorist groups and even changing the political climate in the PA.  Most likely, neither [Abu Mazen nor Dahlan] will take any significant measures....  Dahlan has objective difficulties...with the counter-intelligence military leadership in the territories, which is still loyal to Jibril Rajoub....  Abu Mazen and Dahlan will try to convince the terrorist groups to 'cease fire' temporarily, and if possible to convince the U.S. that the first and most important step to peace has been walked.  Then a lot would depend on Bush's and Sharon's reactions.  Should Bush pretend that this meets his requirements, and Sharon give in the pressure, Israel risks returning to the initial point of its 'bloody trip'--an updated version of the Oslo accords."


"Back To Oslo"


Hemmi Shalev wrote in popular, populist Maariv (4/28):  "Sharon’s policy is not without achievements....  The pressure that brought about Abu Mazen's appointment as prime minister, as well as major points in the 'road map,' are some of the most prominent fruits of the Israeli policy.  On the other hand, Israel has also had time to learn a lesson or two.  In its present declared willingness to let the new Palestinian cabinet handle terror on its own, Israel is admitting the final failure of the unilateral use of force.  In fact, despite the fact that it cannot be said too loudly, the basic premise of the architects of the despised Oslo accords is now making a comeback, with perfect circularity, as even a bona-fide right-wing government headed by Sharon admits that only the Palestinians themselves, with the encouragement of political concessions, can do the job....  This is a complex and intricate process, in which Sharon will insist--as he has committed himself and as he should--on the fulfillment of every iota of the commitments that the Palestinians undertake.  On the other hand, any progress is fated in advance to failure if the expectation is for an immediate and absolute cessation of terror.  In order to give this a chance, Sharon will have to take away the veto that he granted the avowed terrorists upon coming to power, and explain to the public, despite the difficulty, that there is no other way."


"Doomed Again?"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post held (4/28):  "On June 24, Bush finally looked at the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with his post 9/11 glasses and saw, not a morally amorphous 'cycle of violence,' but a fellow democracy under terrorist attack.  Bush's revolutionary idea was met by a fierce counter-reaction from Europe, the State Department, and our own Labor and Meretz parties, resulting ultimately in the 'road map' we are about to see today.  Now, we can again safely, if unfortunately, predict that Powell's upcoming trip to the region will fail, absent a major course correction by Bush.  Rather than bog down in the details of the road map, the overarching correction needed from Bush is to do something very 'unevenhanded' and say the truth: Israel is a democracy that wants peace, and it is the unconditional obligation of the Arab world to end its century of war against the only Jewish state.  Until Bush returns the burden of realizing his two-state vision more starkly to Palestinian and other Arab shoulders, Powell might as well stay home."


"Abu Mazen's Government In The Shadow Of The Bombing"


Nationalist Hatzofe editorialized (4/25):  "The Kfar Saba bombing became known almost at the same time as Abu Mazen's success in forming his government.  Despite the apparent utter lack of connection between the two events, it would be hard to separate between them....  According to reports from the U.S., President Bush intends to publish the 'road map.'  However, this newspaper believes that as long as terror is rampant, steps must be made first of all to stop the terrorist activity--and only afterwards proceed to the road map."


"Arafat Has Gone.  He Is Staying.  He Will Stay"


Nahum Barnea wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (4/25):  "The government forced upon Arafat is zigzagging on its way.  The Americans' patent intention was to castrate Arafat, to turn him from the omnipotent ruler of Palestinian politics into a picture on the wall.  That move was unsuccessful.  Arafat was humiliated and wounded, but he survived in his own tortuous way.  The new Palestinian government...will be like the Hydra from the Greek mythology.  One of its heads is Arafat: he controls the General Security forces--the largest armed body of the Palestinian Authority--and Tawfik Tirawi's intelligence service.  Many of the ministers follow his orders.  To all intents and purposes, he has a government within the government.  The [Hydra's] second head is Abu Mazen.  He is propped by international backing.  The third head is Muhammad Dahlan, who received control of the police and the security branches, in spite of the 'hatyar'--the old man."


"Limitations Of The Roadmap"


Ultra-Orthodox Hamodi'a editorialized (4/25):  "In accordance with its understanding and perception, the U.S. leadership intends to demand the adoption of a diplomatic plan that would require many concessions from Israel.  The problem is that...there is no real willingness on the other side to exhaust the chances of diplomatic negotiations.  The other side doesn't have the ability to impose constraint and avoidance of bloodshed on all terrorist groups, which control the street and the general atmosphere.  Not only would such a diplomatic move not bring the longed-for change in the Middle East any closer, but it would postpone it for a longer period."


"Woe To The Victors"


Ben Caspit maintained in popular, pluralist Maariv (4/24):  "The Palestinian masses are under siege in their villages, cities and refugee camps, looking askance at the goings the top echelon of the Palestinian oligarchy fighting for a slice of the miserable ruling pie and the right to face Ariel Sharon in the peace negotiations, whose results no sane analyst is prepared to guarantee.  If this is winning, then Abu Mazen won.  On the other hand, and there is another hand, Arafat lost.  True, for an historical 15 minutes he returned to center stage, but his slow and steady decline continues.  Now everything depends on Abu Mazen.  If he succeeds in realizing his potential, in cutting through the tunnel, in turning on the light at the end of it and mobilizing the entire world in his favor, this will be the beginning of the end of Arafat's regime.  Abu Mazen will need much help from the world, including Israel, as well as a lot of luck....  On the one hand, in contrast to many of his predecessors, [Sharon] is privileged to see the downfall of Arafat and to stick one more nail in his coffin....  [On he other hand,] the success of Abu Mazen and the failure of Arafat put the 'road map' on Sharon's table, and bring Sharon to a major crossroads of decisions he fears....  The main problem that Abu Mazen and Israel have is not who is the new Palestinian minister of agriculture, but what happens in the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip."


"No Bear Hugs"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (4/24):  "It is difficult at this stage to determine whether the [Arafat-Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen)] understanding will be fulfilled or last very long.  In any case, it is clear that the compromise was imposed on Arafat, but also weakens the new Prime Minister.  Neutralizing Arafat is the key to the renewal of the negotiations--there is a broad consensus about that in regional capitals and throughout the West.  It is to be hoped that Arab and European countries, and of course the U.S., will maintain their pressure to see him removed from the Palestinian decision-making process.  However, Israel must be very cautious in this matter.  There is no point to statements creating the impression that this is an ultimatum or an Israeli dictate to the Palestinians. Abu Mazen, a long-time leader of the Fatah and Palestine Liberation Organization, has long been considered Arafat's No. 2 and he does not need any involvement by the Israeli government on his behalf, an intervention that would be guaranteed, as far as Abu Mazen is concerned, to become a destructive bear hug."


"Arafat Is Still Here"


Nahum Barnea and Ronni Shaked wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (4/24): "It is true that Arafat is on his way out, it is true that he is bruised and wounded, but it is too early to eulogize him.  The Chairman's smile Wednesday in Ramallah was the wink of an old fox, a veteran of many battles for his survival.  Arafat could make his prime minister miserable yet....  [However,] Abu Mazen's [Mahmoud Abbas's] real test will not be against Arafat, but how he meets the expectations of those who expect him to stop terrorism and show flexibility in negotiations on a final status agreement with Israel.  In the eyes of the world and of Israel Abu Mazen's government has one purpose: eliminating terrorism....  Abu Mazen will have to prove to the Palestinian public that he did not act against Arafat, the leader who is still considered a symbol.  He will have to prove that he is not the messenger boy of Israel and the U.S.  In the short term, a string of Israeli gestures will help him a great deal: the removal of closures and checkpoints, an end to assassinations, a release of prisoners.  Israel will not be able to grant him these things if there is a terror rampage....  The establishment of a Palestinian government brings closer, as was expected, the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians.  Contacts between Sharon’s bureau and the White House have produced reports that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will arrive in the region in ten days, with the goal of re-starting the process.  The Iraq war is behind us, and the diplomatic campaign is ahead."


"Deepest Leadership Crisis Since 1983"


Danny Rubinstein remarked in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/22):  "Senior Palestinian officials are hoping for a compromise today in the most severe leadership crisis in the Palestinian national movement since the 1983 rebellion against Yasser Arafat's authority after the PLO was evicted from Beirut.  But everyone is aware that the differences between Arafat and the putative prime minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) remain profound and a compromise might not be possible.  Since the 1983 rebellion, Arafat has been the one-man ruler of the Palestinian leadership and nobody dared challenge that authority.  But the current struggle between Abu Mazen and Arafat says more about how much Arafat has been weakened than it does about the adoption of democratic principles in Palestinian politics.  Arafat's weakness and a measure of democratization in Palestinian society was already evident a year ago when the Palestinian Legislative Council rejected an Arafat-proposed government....  Although many expect a compromise, it is very possible Abu Mazen will announce tonight that he has failed to form a government, in which case Arafat must select someone else to try to form one....  From Abu Mazen's perspective, American support for him while U.S. troops are in Baghdad is very embarrassing because of the rising tide of anti-Americanism in the Arab street and Palestinian territories."


"Arafat Vs. Abbas"


The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (4/22):  "The struggle [between Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen)], which seems to hinge on Abu Mazen's determination to give Muhammad Dahlan authority over security matters, highlights the fact that Yasser Arafat is and always has been the principal obstacle to any meaningful peace process, in any peace agreement.  In a sense, the struggle is a lose-lose one for Arafat: either he 'wins' and sends Abu Mazen packing so that terrorism can continue, rendering his own eviction from the region an inevitability, or he loses and must hand over real authority to Abu Mazen and his cabinet.  In either case, the terror campaign will be ended....  Now nearly everyone, including Europeans and Palestinians, admits both that Arafat is the obstacle that the U.S. and Israel have said he is."


"Hitching A Ride On Success"


Yoel Marcus commented in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (4/22): "It doesn't really matter if the new views of the Prime Minister, which have made waves around the world, are the honest truth or uttered with a wink.  The very fact that he has articulated them is an act of bravery considering the problematic home crowd sitting in the bleachers.  Whether he meant what he said is not important.  Anyone who publicly accepts Bush's vision, accepts, in principle, withdrawal to Israel's 1967 borders, with some adjustments, plus the establishment of a Palestinian state.  He meant it; he didn't mean it--it makes no difference.  The moment he said it, it's a fact....  From now on, the test will be one of leadership.  America will not exert pressure on Israel.  But Israel must accept the assistance and mediation services it offers.  Turning America down is to risk being thrown into the European lions' den, which is not a very good place to be.  Sharon has said the right things at the right time.  But he will be tested by his actions....  Sharon does not always tell the truth.  But as a tactician, there is no one who understands better than he that now is the time to hitch a ride on the historic victory of the United States."


"The Road Map"


Deputy Editor-in-Chief Zuheir Andrawus observed in Arabic-language weekly Kul Al-Arab (4/18):  "The Palestinian people, who are defending their just cause in their sons' blood, won't defend a dictator; neither will it allow the senior leadership of the Palestinian Authority to apply Hamid Karzai's model in Palestine....  The Palestinian people won't allow America, Israel, Europe or the collaborating Arab regimes to bend them....  The U.S. road map will fail, as did the Oslo Agreement....  Without an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, the bloodshed will continue."


WEST BANK:  “Abu Mazen’s Government: Necessary Steps To Pass The Tests”


Ashraf al-Ajrami opined in independent, pro-Palestinian authority Al-Ayyam (4/28):  "The Palestinian government has to work on regaining the trust of its citizens by conducting democratic reforms in the ministries and in all the Palestinian Authority’s institutions. It is true that radical changes cannot be carried out in one day, for it is undoubtedly a lengthy and an exhausting process. Nevertheless, there are important steps that can be carried out quickly and have immediate effects on people’s lives. One of these important steps is to start the reform process in the police department and judicial systems. The rule of law is the cornerstone for any stable system.”                 


“An Impossible Condition For Each Step”


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (4/28):  "While everybody is focused on the declaration of the ‘roadmap’ and its implementation following the PLC vote of confidence tomorrow...political and military circles in Israel continue trying to throw up roadblocks and procrastinate by imposing a series of impossible conditions on the Palestinian side in return for any measure that Israel may have to implement in the future. This is a well-known method that takes advantage of the element of time and evades any effort or political action that would make Israel honor a requirement of peace.”


“Insult To All The Palestinian People”


Independent Al-Quds observed (4/26):  "The remarks of President George Bush in his interview with NBC, in which he welcomed Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmmod Abbas (Abu Mazen) to the White House while excluding President Yasser Arafat, are an insult to the Palestinian people. Such remarks also reflect a plain ignorance of many facts. President Arafat is the legitimate and elected President and is the head of the PLO executive committee, which is the sole representative of the Palestinian people. These remarks also contradict the principles and doctrines of democracy and freedom, which the American President is supposed to believe in....  The ability of the United States to play a neutral and an effective role in the peace process depends, first and foremost, on its respect of the Palestinian people and their legitimate leadership. The United States must also end its biased position favoring Israel and refrain from considering itself the criterion for justice with rights to chose leaderships of other nations. In addition, it should respect international law and resolutions pertaining to the Palestinian issue. No Palestinian prime minister would be able to push the peace process forward while Israel is clinging to its extremist position and while the American administration is maintaining its biased position toward Israel, holding the Palestinian side responsible for the escalation of tension in the region.”


"The New Cabinet And Issues Of Internal Conflict”


Samieh Shubeib opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (4/25):  "It is clear that this [Palestinian] government will be required to deal on the regional and international levels with the implementation of the ‘roadmap’ and work diligently on implementing the first phase of it, at least. Also, it is clear that armed Palestinian national factions see that the formation of this government is endangering them and their armed operations. Therefore, these factions voiced their concern of the dangers of an internal conflict or the attempt to disarm the Islamic and national factions by force. These armed factions think that the next phase is for resistance and not negotiations.”


“Pretext To Elude Peace”


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (4/25):  "Violence should be stopped on both sides. If the Israeli government wants the Palestinian organizations to stop the activities Israel describes as terrorism then it should stop its military operations. In addition, it should stop its occupation of the Palestinian areas and halt collective punishments, sieges, house demolitions and humiliation of Palestinian citizens at Israeli military checkpoints, which have become a daily concern for every Palestinian. Such treatment at checkpoints has a indescribable negative effect on the various aspects of the economic, educational and social life of Palestinian society. It is unrealistic for a nation living in security, tranquility and leading a decent life far from occupation and settlements to practice violence against a neighboring nation.”


“Real Challenges After The Government’s Formation”


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (4/24):  "The agreement to form the new Palestinian government headed by Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), following appreciated efforts by Egypt and other Arab countries, is considered a success in favor of Palestinian diplomacy. It is also a tangible progress in the Palestinian issue, which is going through difficult international challenges. The overwhelming American and British imperial invasion is now looking for new victims, especially after the fall of the Iraqi regime.”


"The Roadmap:  Project For A State With Temporary-Permanent Borders"


Mohammed Yaghi observed in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (4/24):  "If the Bush administration is really concerned with ending the conflict and achieving security for Israel, even though it is we who need security more than Israel, then it does not need a map. Instead, there has to be a clear demand by the White House that Israel end the occupation of the land begun in 1967. The Bush administration can then demand that the Palestinians give up their weapons in order to guarantee Israel’s security....  If the Bush administration fails to fulfill these demands, then it would be seeking a long truce, which has also been Sharon’s demand ever since he began heading the current Israeli government.”          


“The Half Majority Plus The Tenth”


Hasan el-Kashef observed in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (4/22):  "As usual, the Palestinians have managed to attract wide attention from the international media.  Powerful countries and Arab states are probably feeling jealous of the Palestinians, who still do not have their own state.  The whole world is following every detail of the consultations and arguments regarding the formation of the cabinet while other cabinets are being formed and dismantled in major and small countries without much interest from the rest of the world.”


“Caesarean Government”


Adli Sadeq commented in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (4/22):  "I waited up late last night before writing these lines, hoping that the crisis of forming the cabinet would have been over and an agreement between President Yasser Arafat and Abu Mazen would have been reached.  The hope was that they would have been able to face the pressure wisely in order to overcome the obstacles and complications of this critical phase.  We also hoped that they would have managed to shift the pressure exerted by external powers toward Israel, which occupies our land and kills our people and controls the life of Palestinians.  Nevertheless, President Arafat and Abu Mazen are sticking to their positions, which will intensify foreign pressure on the Palestinian leadership.  Consequently, Israel will continue its crimes without international objection and without even the Palestinian Authority itself keeping an eye on the invasions and the killing throughout the land.”   


"Reaching Up To The National Responsibility”


Independent Al-Quds opined (4/22):  "The American peace initiative called the ‘roadmap’ is about to be declared.  This initiative, however, may turn out to be no more than a maneuver to gain time or an attempt to cover for the aggression carried out against Iraq.  Nevertheless, this does not prevent us from dealing seriously with this American vision assuming that it might be a good-faith initiative aiming to impose American peace on the Palestinian and Israelis.  It is worth mentioning, though, that that the biased American position toward Israel will limit the effect of this initiative and place it completely in the hands of the Israeli government.”


"American And Israeli Interventions Rejected"


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (4/21):  "The American and Israeli intervention in forming the Palestinian government is totally rejected.  The Palestinian people and their leadership, who have struggled for long years to achieve freedom and liberation and underwent the most difficult political hardships, are capable today of forming the Palestinian government according to the high interests of the Palestinian people....  Israel and the U.S. would be wrong if they thought that pressuring and bluntly intervening in internal Palestinian affairs would enhance Palestinian democracy, the Palestinian reform process or the formation of a stable government enjoying the trust of all Palestinian factions and milieus.”


EGYPT:  “Give it Your Confidence”


Leading pro-government Al Ahram columnist Farahat Hossam Eddin wrote (4/29):  “The success of the Egyptian mediation between Arafat and Abu Mazen in reaching a a victory for the Palestinian people, and not a victory for one party over the other....  Washington threatened Arafat with expulsion to Sudan....  Although Secretary Powell announced he would not visit Palestinians or Israelis unless a government, with Abu Mazen as its head, was formed, Israel leaked a scenario for the reoccupation of Arafat’s residence....  As Israel does not miss any opportunity to drive a wedge between Palestinian leaders, once the government was announced, its press banners said: ‘Bye-bye Arafat!’....  The Palestinian themselves are divided....  What should happen?  If the Bush Administration is truly prepared to declare an immutable roadmap for a Palestinian state having recognized borders and in accordance with timetables...the Palestinian legislative Council should give the new government its confidence.  If the new government achieves the desired goals, they should continue to support it; if it fulfils Palestinian fears that it is the product of U.S.-Euro-Israeli pressures, the Palestinian president should use his right to remove, without cause, the new prime minister.”


“The Roadmap And Dahlan’s Country”


Mohamed Abul Hadid commented in small circulation, pro-government Al-Gomhuriya (4/24):  “Everyone is panting after the U.S. to declare the Roadmap....  Let us be frank....  Arabs have become accustomed to hailing anything that America throws to us and consider it a miraculous solution....  President Bush determined 2005 as a date to establish a Palestinian state. This date is suspicious, because Bush may either win the American elections in 2004 or lose it to his Democratic competitor.  This competitor may not abide by Bush’s vision....  Many fail to realize...that there is an American-Israeli agreement, that is the cornerstone of the strategic relationship between the two countries, where the U.S. vows not to allow a Palestinian state beside Israel unless it eliminates all sources of danger to Israel....  Iraq is only a first station on the roadmap.”


“Arafat-Abu Mazen: A Dispute of Wills”


Aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar carried a comment by Hala El-Issawy saying (4/22):  “The dispute over the formation of the [Palestinian] government is not between Arafat and Abu Mazen, but rather between the Palestinian and American will.  Washington accuses Arafat of seeking to abort Abu Mazen’s mission, or rather the American mission.  Arafat wants to play a game with America to prevent it from controlling this Arab piece of the dice.”


JORDAN:  “Must Not Fail”


Jamil Nimri contended in independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (4/21):  "Mahmoud Abbas's failure to form a Palestinian government is a political disaster, the responsibility for which we do not believe the concerned parties will be able to bear....  Whatever happens, the cabinet must be formed.  In reality, Abu Mazen was heading towards total failure had it not been for a few people who understood the outcome of the war on Iraq.  Arafat could therefore not put an end to this project, knowing that it is an international condition for proceeding with the roadmap.  Sharon committed another massacre yesterday...and he would find no better gift than this Palestinian political failure for him to continue his barbaric actions.”


LEBANON:  "'Road Map' Will Be Bush's Road To Glory--Or Infamy"


The moderate, English-language Daily Star declared (4/26):  "The Israeli government is angling for more than a dozen changes in the 'road map' to peace before it has even been released.  Seeing as how the Palestinian Authority has voiced no such objections despite having some very real (and well-founded) fears, now is the time for George W. Bush to stand firm.  Failure to resist the pressure applied by Israel and its supporters in Washington will doom his policies in the region, and therefore America's interests....  The road map is expected to demand simultaneous reciprocity of both sides.  It will not work if one of them is allowed to ignore it with impunity, especially if the manner in which it does so is designed to provoke that which the other is tasked with controlling.  Officially, the United States is on record as that that the settlements have to go.  If it wants the peace process to have any chance of succeeding, it must not shrink from that judgment--either now or in the future.  If there are exceptions, they must be balanced with fair swaps of comparable land.  This is where Bush will show his true colors--and where the fate of his country's plans in the region will be decided."


"Nasrallah's Warnings Do Not Mean Confrontations"


Kassem Kassir contended in Hariri-owned, Christian-oriented Al-Mustaqbal (4/26):  "Regarding what Nasrallah announced in his recent statements about his preparedness to confront any Israeli or American aggression against Lebanon....  It was noted that despite this announcement he did not talk about a direct role for the Hizballah Party in Palestine and Iraq.  Sources close to Hizballah indicate that the 'Party is taking into consideration the changes that occurred in the region lately, and does not want to give the Americans or the Israelis a pretext to attack Lebanon and Syria.'  It was also clear that the Party is deliberately keeping the situation in the Sheba' Farms quiet, is not talking about any role in Iraq and insisting that the Iraqis have the ability to confront the future by themselves.  Nasrallah's declarations and strong positions do not mean that Hizblalah is planning to open new military fronts, it only means that Hizballah is preparing itself for any development."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Powell's Tour And The Roadmap"


Mecca's conservative Al Nadwa editorialized (4/28):  "What is required at the present time is not just to unveil the Roadmap, but also to put the plan in real action, this objective will not be accomplished unless the US demonstrates its real role, by means of pressing on Israel, as well as narrowing the maneuvering margins, through obliging Israel to react positively. If the US does not do that, Israel will not show any initiative for the sake of the peace process, since its nature and history testify to that. Moreover, if the US does not oblige Israel to comply with its patronized Roadmap, it says that the US has favored adopting a double standard in the region, by considering Israel's interest on one side, and distracting the Arab world with empty promises on the other side." 




Dammam's moderate Al-Yaum opined (4/26):  "The determination of the U.S. government and European countries to make the roadmap a success, requires the Palestinian people, through the Palestinian parliamentary, to endorse Abu-Mazen's government and, especially for the U.S. Secretary of State to visit the region to discuss the roadmap with concerned parties....  In order to make Abu-Mazen's government a success and to enable it to gain the support of a larger number of Palestinians, the U.S. should force Israel to stop building settlements and to soften economic and security measures against the Palestinian people....  The success of Abu-Mazen's government requires international and Arab support, which we hope it will obtain from all parties, in order to weaken extremist elements."


"An Intelligence Role In Forming Abu-Mazen's Government"


Abha's moderate Al-Watan noted (4/26):  "Abu-Mazen emerged victorious in his confrontation with Arafat, but that victory might backfire on him and on the political line, which he represents.  Abu-Mazen's government is described as an imposed government on the Palestinians, thus it would be under suspicion by all Palestinian factions including the Fath (movement) in which Abu-Mazen holds a leading position."


"We Reject The Price Of The Roadmap"


Jeddah's moderate Al Bilad editorialized (4/26):  "First it was Mitchell, then Tenet, and now the Road Map and still no real solutions to the Palestinian cause. No light at the end of the tunnel for the Palestinian people. When the US finds itself involved in an issue closely related to the Arab world, we find many initiatives toward resolving the Palestinian-Israeli struggle are being activated. However, these initiatives are quickly put back into the freezer until further notice. The Palestinian cause is the only issue that the US can utilize to temporarily please Arabs and Muslims, but unfortunately with unfinished projects. The Road Map is of great benefit to the US. It portrays America as a fair and peace-loving nation, but the truth is something different. If the Palestinian-Israeli struggle is not quickly resolved, the White House will find itself in a very critical and embarrassing situation. The truthfulness of American intentions regarding this issue will be of historic importance to the US. If at the end of the tunnel this Road Map really works, we hope that it does not come at the cost of Iraq's occupation. Because then it will be just a matter of exchanging masks, and that is something we, as a Muslim and Arab nation, reject."      


'It's All Israel's Fault!'


The English-language Arab News observed (4/26):  "As the dust settles over Iraq and the cacophony of excited voices on our television screens dies down, the Arab world has begun to stir from the confusion into which the swift fall of Baghdad had thrown it, to take a good look at itself and take stock....  For decades it has been difficult to find anything in the opinion pages of the Arabic language press that did not concern Israel. Every problem faced by Arab societies was blamed, in however obscure or far-fetched a way, on Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. The issue served as a sort of lowest common denominator, satisfying many journalists who were not equipped to write about anything else as well as many of those who rule the Arab world and who would prefer Israel--rather than their own shortcomings--to be the subject of heated discussion in the 'Arab street'....  The days when the Arab world could just scream "Israel", as if that one word were sufficient answer to every question about every problem that came its way--as though saying that one word could deflect all further inquiry--are over. The time for peaceful coexistence, internal reflection and healthy, progressive thinking has come."


"Abu-Mazen’s Dilemma And Loss Of The Roadmap"


Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira published a commentary by Jaser Al-Jaser saying (4/24):  "The U.S. support for Abu-Mazen is embarrassing because of its timing.  Occupying troops from the U.S. army are now present in Baghdad and sentiment against the U.S. is growing in the Arab world and in the occupied Palestinian territories.  In addition, Abu Mazen was invited to visit Washington, although it is unlikely that he agrees to become the first Arab leader to visit President Bush at the White House after Iraq’s occupation....  In respect to chairman Yasser Arafat, his delay to approve Mahmmoud Abbas’ cabinet shows him, as the Americans say, to be an obstacle to the last chance for the Palestinians.  Moreover, he provides another argument for both the Americans and the Israelis to postpone or block the roadmap."


"Palestinians Disagreements And Foreign Intervention"


Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira editorialized (4/24):  "It is always important to respect the decisions of the Palestinian people, especially by those parties that endorse and protect democracy....  Adherence to democracy requires foreign parties to put equal pressure on Israel in order to make her surrender to the fundamentals of a just and comprehensive peace. Such pressure would convince Palestinians that those foreign movements are fair and effective in bringing about peace."       


"The New Palestinian Government"


Mecca’s conservative Al Nadwa declared (4/24):  "Arafat finally agreed to the appointment of Abu Mazen, Mahmmoud Abbas, to form the new Palestinian government. The decision was made under tremendous national and international pressure. We do not want external pressures to ruin the historic relations between the two men. We trust that Abu Mazen and Arafat possess enough wisdom and experience to rise above these differences. Their combined efforts will hopefully bring about a resolution to the Palestinian issue. This would also spoil the chance for Israel to execute its tyrannical strategies."


"Abu Mazen's Government"


Jeddah's moderate Al-Madina maintained (4/21):  "The Americans said that they would announce the Road Map as soon as a Palestinian government--which Mahmoud Abas (Abu Mazen) is elected to head--is formed.  Day after day the Palestinians demand the activation of the Road Map...a plan that has been drawn by the US, EU, Russia and the UN. The U.S. procrastination in executing the Map is attributed to the fact that the Palestinian Government hasn't yet been formed.  So far, Palestinians seem to agree with the terms of the plan, while Sharon's government is attempting to make alterations and to implement changes that would strip the Map of its realistic and objective dimensions.  During the war, the Road Map was mentioned twice by President Bush and PM Blair, which ironically coincided with domestic turmoil on the home fronts of both leaders.  Is it possible that they will forget their promises now that the war is over?  Time is of the essence here.  We should not waste more time and consequently spoil a chance for the Palestinian people to live in peace."


SYRIA:  "The Meaning Of War" 


Government-owned Al-Ba'th said (4/29):  "Threats will not instigate concessions, and adherence to constants will not close the door for dialogue.  No one can be forced to admit, two weeks after the overtaking of Baghdad, that much has changed with regard to the general structure of the conflict in the region. Arab lands are still under occupation, Palestinian people are still deprived of their national and basic rights, and the US is still giving its full and unconditional support to Israel. Meanwhile, the concentrated campaign of pressure conducted by important figures and institutions in the (US) Administration and Congress bring us back to square one: control of Iraq, coordinated threats against Syria, skepticism about any rapprochement between Iraq's regional neighbors, and increasing obstacles in the face of the "Roadmap," all of which factors are in the service of Israel." 


"Singularity In War And Peace" 


Ali Nassralah observed in government-owned Al-Thawra (4/27):  "Everything that has been proposed--starting with the Mitchell report, the Tenet Plan, Zinni and Burns' proposals and the Roadmap--are nothing more than security plans prepared jointly by Israel and the US without the participation of any others lead this all with these plans and proposals to failure.  One could ask why won't the Roadmap succeed if it was written by the Quartet? The response is that: If the Quartet drew up the plan and was concerned with its implementation, then why have scores of Israeli amendments been accepted, and why does Washington maintain it and reserve the right to declare it, and why postpone this declaration so many times?  Zalman Shoval, Sharon's adviser, dispelled any illusions about the Roadmap when he said that his government has all reason to believe the US will take into account all Israeli amendments, and Washington is in accord with Israel that the US will have sole responsibility for implementing the plan without the involvement of the EU, Russia or the UN, and that Israel will not be bound to any specific timetable for implementation. This means that the US Administration is adamant about implementing unilateralism in war and peace. This will lead to failure."


"Occupation Is The Root Of The Problem"


Government-owned Tishreen said (4/27):  "When we say that resolutions 242 and 338 include the basic provisions for ending military occupation and establishing a just and comprehensive peace in the region, this means that any procrastination or selectivity in dealing with these two resolutions harms the efforts aimed at addressing the occupation issue. Also, US pushes the region into futile rows, which gradually divert the attention away from the core issue, which is occupation, nothing else.  Syria said and continues to say that peace, which the international community talks about and which is the ambition of the region in the first place, can only be achieved by ending Israeli occupation under the principle of land for peace. Syria also said the only solution to the core problem lies in ending occupation, which continues to be the cause of tension, instability, and lack of peace.  Israel deliberately publicizes its hostile plans against Arab states, especially Syria and Lebanon.   Israel does not refrain from making threats, incitement, and taking advantage of tension resulting from the war on Iraq to divert the international community's attention to other problems so that it may achieve its goals of expansion and domination."


"Pan Arabism, Target of Neo-conservative Ideology"


Bassam Hashem stated in government-owned Al-Ba'th (4/24):  "Americans have exposed that privatization of Iraqi oil is a giant step towards the so-called liberating Iraq. They hint that the acknowledgement of Israel is the substantive prelude to make Iraq return to the lap of international community.  This political-economic project is more absurd than the political project. It confirms that the US Administration is persistent in its ignorance of the Arab region.  Since the Arab liberation battles, the pan-Arabism movement constituted the backbone of Arab societies. Pan-Arabism lead the battles of the political liberation battles...and conducted the battles of reforms and development....  The adventurous neo-conservatism claims combating fundamentalist movements, while it is rooted in its religious hallucinations. It claims to protect intellectual properties while it desires to rob the wealth of others by arms. It claims separating religion from state, while it smashes and weakens secularism....  The US wants the Palestinian state to be a free zone crowded with businessmen and investors who abroad. It wants the Arab region an area for carpet-baggers... The war plan treated the Iraqi desert as if it is an empty land. The US imagination about reconstruction assumes that the Arab cities are an empty vacuum without any features."


TUNISIA:  "Cautious Optimism"


Government-owned, French-language La Presse contended (4/27):  "In Washington, everything seems to indicate that it has decided to get things moving: Secretary of State Colin Powell will return to the region next week and it will not be a surprise if the 'road map' is announced publicly in the next coming days....  First things will depend on the Israeli mood, after more than two years of Infitadha....  Second, we don't know if the Iraqi crisis will have an impact on the Middle East file or not. If the members of the Quartet--U.S., UN, EU and Russia--will succeed in overcoming their differences in order to be better heard by Israel; the U.S. in particular,  which looks to 'exclude' Arafat and to draw 'red lines' to Abu Mazen, risks putting in jeopardy the survival of the Palestinian Authority. Serious reasons for optimism exist, but one should be have cautious optimism!"


"Eternal Alibis"


Editor-in-chief Chokri Baccouche observed in independent French-language Le Temps (4/25):  "Neither the reform of the Palestinian Authority nor the creation of a new cabinet led by Mahmoud Abbas seem to have satisfied the Israeli Prime Minister who is always looking for pretexts to avoid the negotiating table. It is very likely that the roadmap that foresees the creation of a Palestinian State between now and 2005 will not be implemented tomorrow. The Hebrew state has always been against this project and will find all the means to nip it in the bud. The United States who wants to be the sponsors of peace seems to have gotten used to this situation. It even worsens the situation by asking the Europeans to not consider the Palestinian leader, Arafat, as a viable interlocutor any more....  The pax Americana, of which we have a foretaste in Iraq, will probably go through Palestine, where only one choice will be offered to the Palestinians; accepting the fait accompli of a Sharonian peace or dying slowly in near-indifference." 


"Moment Of Truth!"


An unsigned editorial in government-owned French-language La Presse read (4/26):  "Nothing seems to oppose the release of the Palestinian road map project now. Is it really the case?....  Two factors need to be raised: the first one is the attitude of the American Congress that intends to limit as much as possible the role of the UN, the European Union and Russia, signatories with the U.S. of 'the roadmap', in order to punish them for their position on the war in Iraq.  The second factor is the attitude of Sharon who has never hidden his rejection of peace....  Would he be forced to review his bloody policy or will he once more try to empty this initiative of its gist by demanding unacceptable reforms from the Palestinians?  Let's say that the moment of truth for the thorny Israeli-Palestinian conflict approaches."


"Variable Concepts"


Senior editor Hajer Jeridi stated in independent French-language Le Temps (4/21):  "The magic potion that will bring back peace and security to Palestine is the famous road map that has yet to reveal all its secrets....  Any opposition or obstacle to a government supported by the U.S. and, in an indirect way, by Israel could prevent the publication of the road map.  Hence, one needn't be a keen strategist to guess about the clauses of this document which are supposed to accord independence to Palestine and self-determination  to its people.  The application of this document requires the Palestinian side to respect a series of measures but nothing is demanded from the Israeli side.  The double standard policy is perceptible right away which does not bode favorably for any success of the process."


UAE:  "U.S. Must Fully Back Abu Mazen"


Mustapha Karkouti wrote in the pro-government English-language Gulf News (4/29):  "As the newly formed government of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) awaits endorsement by the Palestinian Legislative Council expected this week, now it is the turn of the United States and Israel to pay off.  While the Palestinians have kept their word and delivered what the Bush administration and premier Ariel Sharon have been asking for, the first item on his agenda should be a direct demand for a prompt and effective pressure by the administration on Israel to declare it is genuinely committed to the ultimate goal of the peace plan as visualised by the president....  As the main sponsor  of the Jewish state, the U.S. is the only power that can feel sufficiently confident to muscle the Israeli government down to the negotiation table without further delay.  Furthermore, it would be entirely foolish to deal with  the Abbas government as a rival authority to that of President Yasser Arafat. If the administration goes down this route the U.S., and subsequently Israel, would only prolong the bloody conflict and add intolerable measures to the already desperate Palestinian misery....  Abbas should demand the immediate lifting of the brutal Israeli occupation and an entrance into meaningful negotiation to achieve the ultimate goal of self determination and independence....  The road ahead is rocky and uncertain. But unless the Bush administration wholeheartedly support Abbas to fulfilling the just national Palestinian goals and find agreeable solutions to the refugee problem, Jerusalem and independence with clear-cut unambiguous sovereignty, his government is doomed.The road ahead is rocky and uncertain. But unless the Bush administration wholeheartedly support Abbas to fulfilling the just national Palestinian goals and find agreeable solutions to the refugee problem, Jerusalem and independence with clear-cut unambiguous sovereignty, his government is doomed."




Salim (alias) wrote in pan-Arab, Sharjah-based Al-Khaleej (4/23):  "The daily Israeli massacres in Gaza strip and the West Bank are committed in the midst of Arab and international silence, and as a result, these massacres are becoming a routine that no one cares about.  It is as if Israel has the right to do what it wants.  From Iraq to Palestine... It is as if Arab bloodshed is permitted to an extent where there is no disapproval whatsoever.  So now we have become a tasty morsel....  We are waiting for the 'Roadmap'....  But which road?"


"The Conflict Between Arafat And Abu Mazen" 


Abu Dhabi-based, semi-official Al Ittihad editorialized (4/23):  "It is not reasonable for democracy to occur in the midst of operations of killing, siege, and tank bombing, in addition to insisting of building more settlements, and requesting many alterations to the 'Roadmap.'....  The people around the Palestinian President indicate he is worried that he will be isolated from power and that he will only become a historical leader for the Palestinians and his authority only symbolic....  We need a positive initiative (from Abu Mazen and Arafat) in order for the 'pigheaded' (Israel) to drop their weapons and look for peace."


"The Formation Of A New Palestinian Government"


Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al-Khaleej held (4/22):  "The war of positions, names, diplomatic pouches, and authorities going on behind the scenes of the formation of the Palestinian government should be stopped, so Israel, along with the U.S., will not take advantage of it and sow further divisions among the Palestinians, either within the authority itself, or between the authority and other powers....  What Palestine needs now in particular is to struggle and exert the efforts of all powers in order to end the occupation, it (Palestine) does not need fighting in order to negotiate with them (Israel) or to satisfy them."




AUSTRALIA:  “Road Map To Peace Must Bypass Arafat”


The conservative Australian stated (4/28):  "Yasser Arafat is a major road-block on the 'road-map towards peace' that has been drawn up, but not yet revealed, by the US, the European Union, Russia, and the UN. The battle-scarred and corrupted old warrior needs to realize, once and for all, that he is part of the problem, and get himself out of the way of a solution....  The overthrow of Saddam Hussein, which has tossed all the Middle East balls back up into the air, together with indications that both Israeli and Palestinian public opinion is swinging towards negotiation, are positive signs for the success of the road-map.”


CHINA:  "Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Escalated Again”


Huang Peizhao commented in official Communist Party-run People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao) (4/24):  “Analysts think the sudden escalation of Israeli-Palestinian conflict is closely connected with the overall situation of the Middle East.  Earlier, the U.S. was busy attacking Iraq and it stopped Israel from attacking the Palestinians in order to earn the support of Arab countries.  Now the Iraqi war is basically over...and Israel who benefited a lot from the war bore no more pressure from the U.S., so it thinks it is the time to take action.”


CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Why Arabs Reject U.S. Democracy"


Peter Kammerer wrote in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (4/19):  "Last June, Mr. Bush outlined a vague agenda of democratization, with his 'road map' for the creation of a Palestinian state as the centerpiece.  The war on Iraq was the beginning of that process.  Experts agree the details are vague....  Neither was the road map for a Palestinian state being taken seriously by many Arabs.  They believed the initiative had been taken to pave the way for the attack on Iraq.  The approach was flawed and concerned the creation of a market economy in the region rather than democracy....  The people ruled by Arab governments wanted democracy--on their own terms--to emancipate and liberate them from oppression, injustice and corruption....  Iran was the most democratic country in the region, although the process was in its infancy and it was still imperfect as a model....  As an ideal for the Middle East, democracy is an admirable suggestion, and few dispute that it is longed for by Arabs suppressed by monarchies and autocracies.  But if Mr. Bush and others in his government are sincere in achieving such a goal, they have some steep hills to climb."


INDONESIA:  “The Palestine Issue”


Islamic-oriented Pelita stated (4/26):  “Now the Iraqi issue has diminished and the political disagreement in Palestine has ended. It is natural, therefore, for a New Initiative to begin concrete steps towards the peace process. Many have expressed that one of the keys to peace in the Middle East is the settlement of the Palestine-Israel problem. And the U.S. must have understood this.  President George W. Bush promised that after the invasion of Iraq was complete, the Palestine issue would also come to an end. Although the concrete details have yet to be announced, Bush looks serious and has ordered the State Secretary Colin Powell to immediately participate actively in the Middle East peace process. Hopefully, the promise of President Bush and the concrete steps of the New Initiative will be in line with expectation because the world is looking forward to a lasting peace in the Middle East.”  


"Settlement Of Palestinian Internal Conflict Relieving”


Leading independent Kompas commented (4/25):  “A political compromise was finally reached between president Yasser Arafat and PM Mahmud Abbas in the process of setting up a Palestinian reformed government.  It is a relieving development because it will avoid the conflict from protracting and spreading.  Arafat endorsed Abbas for the position of the Minister of Home Affairs...a very important position in the Palestinian government because it is expected to straighten up the corrupt bureaucracy and maintain security as well.  Moreover, the Palestinians now have to face the violence with Israel.  He is expected to reduce and end the waves of violence that have happened over the past 30 months and taken some 2,000 lives among the Palestinians and some 800 among the Israelis."


MALAYSIA:  "U.S. Continues To Hide Threat Of Israel’s WMDs."


Government-influenced Malay-language Berita Harian declared (4/29):  "George W. Bush announced recently that Saddam Hussein was no longer a threat to the U.S. with his weapons of mass destruction.  In reality, Iraq was never a threat.  The accusation against Iraq was a ploy to distract from the large amount of weapons being hoarded by Israel.  It is not wrong to say that the U.S. is only targeting Islamic countries.  After attacking Afghanistan and Iraq, Washington seems to be putting pressure on Syria now. As the so-called champion of justice and human rights, the U.S. cannot remain quiet while Tel Aviv continues its non-compliance of UN resolutions and ignoring international laws.  The Zionist regime cannot be allowed to collect WMDs and become the threat to peace in the region."


THAILAND:  “Glimmer Of Hope For Middle East”


The lead editorial in the independent, English-language Nation read (4/29):  “The power-sharing agreement that was finally reached last week between Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, the moderate chosen for the new post of prime minister, reopens a window of opportunity for peace in the Middle East.  Encouragingly, the deal will see an erosion of the influence held by Arafat, whose authoritarian ways and self-serving political games have long been an obstacle to a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has indicated he is ready to talk peace again after spending three bloody years trying to undermine Arafat.  And Washington, the key power broker in the decades-old conflict, also now has someone in Abbas that it feels it can deal with in implementing its ‘road map’ for the strife-torn area....  To be sure, it won’t be easy.  Sharon has promised to make ‘painful concessions’ for the cause of peace, but his history of spilling Arab blood and inciting anti-Palestinian passions among his people doesn’t augur well for the process.  In the U.S. as well, neo-conservatives inside and outside the government are pressing President George W. Bush to dilute, or even abandon, the road map.  Bush should end these calls by saying without equivocation that diplomacy, not military action, will remain his first resort in the Middle East.”




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Move Swiftly"


Allister Sparks observed in three leftist papers (liberal Natal Witness, the liberal Star, and left-of-center Dispatch Online) (4/23):  "If Bush is to counter the increased threat of terrorism his war in Iraq has provoked, he should move swiftly to achieve a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict....  Getting a settlement will not be easy.  Bush has committed himself to a 'roadmap' for peace drawn up late last year by the U.S., the European Union, Russia and the UN....  The problems are multiple.  Firstly, such incremental steps have a way of unraveling, as the Oslo agreements showed....  Secondly, both Israel and the Palestinians have singularly unfortunate leadership personalities....  Bush needs to cut through all this with a bold vision of his own.  Instead of piecemeal steps he should leap ahead of the a single dramatic stroke....  If Bush could muster the same kind of single-minded determination he showed over Iraq, he could pull off something like that.  American has that kind of leverage over Israel, and the weakened and bewildered Arab world would likely be co-operative in applying pressure on the Palestinians to settle....  The catch is the words 'full withdrawal', for that means abandoning the Jewish settlements....  [Sharon's] vision of settlement is clear:  he wants the bulk of the settlements to remain under Israeli jurisdiction, encircled and interconnected by roads which Israel would control militarily....  It is an apartheid 'solution,' and there is no way the Palestinians can be expected to accept it.  This is the nettle Bush must grasp....  Tough though it may be to move the old war-hawk [Sharon], this is what Bush must pressurize him into doing [ completely abandoning all the settlements].  A single, clear, ahead-of-the-game commitment.  It is in America's own vital security interests that he do so.  It is in Israel's too."




ARGENTINA:  "David's Secret Imposes Respect On All The Middle East"


Ignacio Montes de Oca noted in business-oriented InfoBae (4/29):  "One of the most striking phenomena in the Middle East is Israel's ability to impose respect on the nations that wish 'to push it to the sea once and for all', as an Arab leader said....  Israel is reported to be testing a new version of atomic warhead with an 1,800 kilometer-reach missile recently provided by Germany.  The Israeli nuclear power explains Syria's maneuver to relate a commitment on chemical or biological weapons to a wider deal banning all kinds of WMD in the Middle East. Most analysts agree that, in spite of the fact that the evidence could be overwhelming, Israel will hardly acknowledge it has atomic weapons and even less will it agree to dismantle its nuclear program in response to Syria's or another Arab state's pressure. Doing it could mean to lose a deterrence weapon that keeps its harshest adversaries away. Israel's secret is having created a weapon able to turn the small David into a powerful Goliath who is able to take nuclear Armageddon to any country that dares jeopardize the Jews' right to live in their ancestral land."


"The Impact Of Iraq On The Middle East"


Leading Clarin editorialized (4/26):  "The expectation of a truce in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict after the U.S. settlement in Iraq is taking a long time to be reflected in facts. In the latest weeks, the Sharon administration continued its military offensive in the occupied territories while the conflicts in the harassed Palestinian leadership and the reiteration of suicide attacks hinder the unblocking of stalled peace negotiations....  Loaded with the responsibility of this deadlock between irreconcilable positions, the Israeli and Palestinian leaders will come to a point in which they will have to agree on mutual concessions. With the control of Iraq, the US is now much closer, in geopolitical and geographical terms, to guaranteeing the conditions of this possible deal. However, constructive scenarios and mutual acknowledgment are still missing in the diplomatic board to be able to overcome the brutal demonstrations of military force and deadly violence. In this framework, the deal between Arafat and appointed prime minister Abu Mazen to form a new government opens lukewarm prospects of a new negotiation stage between Palestine and Israel, hand-in-hand with the persistent violence."


"Possible Palestinian Cabinet, Jeopardized"


Daily-of-record La Nacion said (4/23):  "Yesterday, Arafat and his appointed Prime Minister Abu Mazen maintained their differences over the appointment of their chief of security. This opened the door to Mazen's possible failure in his attempt to establish a cabinet, and he may be forced to resign....  Mazen's resignation could lead to a delay in the implementation of the Middle East 'roadmap', a 'step-by-step' plan, sponsored by the U.S., which will lead to the creation of a Palestinian State in three years' time....  Negotiations 'between Arafat and myself failed. I won't argue any further on this,' said Mazen yesterday....  This deadlock took place despite growing international pressure for Arafat to accept certain conditions imposed by his prime minister, backed by the U.S. and the EU. But the old Palestinian leader doesn't seem willing to give in."


BRAZIL:   "New Faces"


Right-of-center O Globo stated (4/25):  "The U.S. and Israel blame Arafat for the wave of violence in the occupied territories; he allegedly has done nothing to prevent the actions of Palestinian extremists.  Under pressure of Americans, Israelis and Egyptians, among others, Arafat has accepted to divide power with a prime-minister, and soon a new Palestinian Cabinet will be formed.  The delicate issue of domestic security will be entrusted to a known Palestinian professional who, as head of Gaza Strip security, has arrested notorious activists hostile to Israel.  Now one waits for Israel's reaction to those crucial changes on the Palestinian side.  Prime Minister Sharon could, for instance, immediately suspend the construction of Jewish settlements in Palestinian lands."


“Palestinian Reform”


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo declared (4/25):  "Good news has come from the Middle East. Yasser Arafat and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas have reached an accord to form a new cabinet. The arrangement paves the way for the implementation of a new peace plan for the region....  If Mahmoud Abbas proves to be reasonably strong, it is possible that the Israeli government will decide to resume the peace process. This would imply a freeze on new Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories and the removal of troops from those areas....  The next step would be the creation of a Palestinian state....  More delicate questions, such as the status of Jerusalem, would be discussed later on. A strong supporter of the settlements, Ariel Sharon will probably yield to U.S. pressure. The current situation is similar to the one that followed the first Gulf War in 1991, which led to the first accords between Israelis and Palestinians. The obstacles to peace are enormous, but it would be premature to say it does not have any chance.”


CHILE:  "New Cabinet For Palestine"


Leading-circulation, popular independent Santiago-based La Tercera opined (4/25):  "Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen made it through his first tough test, when last Wednesday he reached an accord...with Yasser Arafat to reform the cabinet....  The deal is a great victory for the Middle East and opens the door for the Washington-designed peace plan for that region....  The victory for Mazen and the 'quartet' negotiating peace--the U.N, the E.U., Russia, and the U.S.--was getting Arafat to include the Gaza Strip's former chief of security, Mohamed Dahalan, in the cabinet....  In spite of the caution shown by Israel, the U.S., which has committed to assist the future autonomous government, celebrated the pact.  This confirms the White House is planning to remain in the region after the conflict with Iraq and promote democratic institutions to prevent outbreaks of violence like the ones that have ravaged this subcontinent for decades." 


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