International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

May 22, 2003

May 22, 2003





**  The recent suicide attacks gave Sharon a "perfect pretext" to postpone his U.S. trip.


**  Israel's "brutal attacks" clarify Sharon's "rejection" of the roadmap.


**  Palestinian radicals are succeeding in their effort to "bury the roadmap."


**  The U.S. must "intervene quickly and effectively" to force Israel to grant "substantial concessions."




'Terrorism is playing into Sharon's hands'--  Arab and leftist Euro papers termed the latest attacks "useful for Sharon" by allowing him a "welcome opportunity" to postpone implementing the roadmap or visiting the U.S.  Because Sharon "does not want to accept the peace plan," said a German daily, the attacks are the perfect excuse for "freezing the roadmap."  Saudi Arabia's conservative Al-Madina called Sharon the "sole beneficiary" of suicide attacks.        


The roadmap will fail because of 'Israel's indifference to the violence it commits'--  Muslim writers agreed Israelis are the "inciters of terrorism" through "inhuman" actions in the occupied territories.  The roadmap is "destined to fail" because of Sharon's "anti-peace attitude," according to Egypt's leading Al Ahram.  Israel's "aggression and colonization" proves it is "not interested in a peaceful and negotiated solution."  The UAE's business-oriented Al-Bayan concluded, "Israeli policy is responsible for the escalation" of violence.  Leftist Israeli papers claimed Sharon's "polite obstinacy" calls his sincerity into question over the roadmap.


Extremist suicide bombings have 'torpedoed' the roadmap--  Israeli and right-wing Euro dailies blamed the PA's inability to "fight terror at its source" for the inevitable failure of the "utopian" roadmap.  The bombings prove the new Palestinian government "does not have the means to stop" terrorism by the "radical Palestinian forces."  Canada's liberal Le Devoir highlighted the "grasp of the fundamentalists" on Palestine's political future.  Singapore's pro-government Straits Times said the suicide bombings demonstrated "how easy it is for the radicals to derail the peace process."


America's 'forceful mediation' is necessary--  In initial responses to Bush's plans to visit the region, Euro outlets hailed his willingness to commit "personal prestige" to the peace plan.  Global media agreed that "only the U.S. has the power to create peace" if Bush is "fully committed."  The U.S.' "complete bias" in favor of Israel and its obligation to "exert pressure on Israel" were two themes consistent with previous reporting.  Syrian, Pakistani and Palestinian dailies demanded the U.S. stop Israel's "oppressive and brutal policies."  Israel's pluralist Yediot Aharonot agreed that without Washington's "clear intervention," the "stalemate" will continue.  


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This survey was based on 79 reports from 31 countries over 17 - 22 May 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Time Bush Told Sharon To Choose"


The independent Financial Times took this view (5/20):  "The Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers met at the weekend....  Ariel Sharon said all terrorism must stop before Israel began moving along the roadmap.  The Bush administration now faces a hard choice.  It can dutifully echo Mr. Sharon, as it has done since this hardline champion of Greater Israel came to power just over two years ago.  Or it can state forthrightly that this peace process--unlike the ultimately abortive Oslo accords of the 1990s--is not subject to veto by extremists on either side.  If Washington is serious, that means the road map it has underwritten cannot be negotiable and that both sides have to move along it simultaneously, irrespective of the bumps they will hit on the way.  But how serious is Mr. Bush (let alone Mr. Sharon)?  Oslo was not killed just be suicide bombings or Mr. Arafat's temporizing with the militants.  It died because Israeli governments, of all stripes used it as cover to double the number of settlers.  As the road map itself says, Israel has to end that occupation."


"All Map, No Road: Terrorism Again Blocks The Mideast Peace Process"


The conservative Times opined (5/19):  "The significance of these assaults is that they were directed as much against Mr. Abbas and his supporters as Mr. Sharon and his colleagues....  When Israeli officials reacted to the suicide bombings, they did not brand Mr. Abbas complicit, but suggested instead that he was the victim of an alliance, explicit or unspoken, between the Arafat fraternity and a network of militants.  The blunt truth is that until terror is seen to be dealt with, nothing positive will happen.  The diplomatic 'roadmap' is thus in danger of being all map and no road.  It would be a tragedy if the opportunity opened by Mr. Abbas's arrival disappeared again in just a few weeks....  It took the coordinated effort, led by Arab leaders to convince Mr. Arafat that he had to move one hand off the levers of power....  A similar exercise may be required to oblige him to surrender authority to Mr. Abbas entirely."


FRANCE:  “Islamic Radicals Challenge Mahmoud Abbas”


Marc Henry noted in right-of-center Le Figaro (5/21):  “The new Palestinian Prime Minister is walking on eggshells. Mahmoud Abbas has to do battle on several fronts simultaneously....  No less than five suicide bombings in Israel since his talks with Ariel Sharon: this is a challenge for the man who claimed he could ‘disarm’ the Intifada....  The Islamic extremists have no reason whatsoever to play along with him. Hamas is in a position of strength...while Yasser Arafat cannot forgive him his nomination, under pressure from the Americans, the Europeans and Israel....  And sections of the Palestinian police refuse to obey him....  Finally, he does not seem to be very popular among the Palestinians....  The Israeli threat of sending Arafat into exile if the wave of suicide bombings continues does not help: Arafat’s exile would make Abbas look even more like America’s and Israel’s puppet. His only option then would be to resign.”


"A Bitter Victory"


Jean-Jacques Mevel wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (5/20):  “Yesterday’s attacks in Afula may well have sealed the fate of the Middle East roadmap.  The promise for the Middle East, which President Bush made before the war in Iraq, will be hard to keep.  Soon, President Bush will be taken by the election campaign....  In Washington, the realists are losing hope: the suicide bombers have torpedoed the roadmap and provided the Likud and its members with the excuse they were waiting for."


"Targeting Peace"


Bernard Guetta commented on government-run France Inter radio (5/20):  “The attacks in Israel, Riyadh and Casablanca are intended as so many messages from the Islamic extremists to say that armies can be victorious over other armies, but that they cannot fight against suicide bombers....  Terrorist organizations continue with their infernal dance, forcing Ariel Sharon’s hand: he immediately cancelled his trip to Washington.  A few more suicide bombs and peace will have lost completely.”


GERMANY:  “Matter For The President:  Peace”


Hubert Wetzel argued in business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg (5/22):  “The latest protests in Palestine demonstrated that at least part of the Palestinians has recognized that bombs and missiles on Israel have not improved, but contributed to deteriorating their lot.  And George W. Bush’s telephone conversation with Mahmoud Abbas makes clear that Bush has realized that only his personal commitment can save the peace plan….  There are even reports that Bush is planning a trip to the Mideast.  Bush should go.  If there is any outsider who has enough political influence to set in motion the rigid fronts in the Mideast, then it is the U.S president.  The peace plan is a matter for the president.  Secretary Powell’s failed peace missions showed this clearly….  Bush has realized that he personally is called upon to intervene….  Without peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, there can be no stability for the region.  For Bush, this is a decisive part of his superior goal to contain terrorism.  But it is unlikely that Bush will get so much involved in the Middle East minefield as Bill Clinton did.  And the U.S. president will not openly exert pressure on the Israeli president....  But he will succeed only if he tackles three problems: repair the burdened relationship between Russia, the EU, and the UN, preventing Israelis and Palestinian from playing Europeans and Americans off against each other; end the bickering...between the Israel-friendly hardliners in the Pentagon and the moderates in the State Department; and show the right-wing conservative lobby groups in Washington their limits....  There is no guarantee that Bush's engagement will lead to success.  It is part of the tragedgy of this conflict that, as soon as the peace process gains speed, radicals carry out attacks....  If Bush does not dare a courageous move, radical forces could finally gain the upper hand.  Bush’s goal to contain terrorism in the region, would then be a distant goal.  Israelis and Palestinians must make peace.  But Bush can do more to help them achieve this peace.”


"Symbol Arafat"


Stefan Kornelius opined in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (5/20):  "In the Middle East it has been important to differentiate between right and wise decisions.  It is certainly right to take Yasser Arafat no longer seriously as negotiating partner...but is it wise to do this in public by isolating and humiliating him?....  Israel’s Premier Sharon no longer wants to receive international visitors who negotiate at the same time with Arafat….  But refusal is not a method among states in their relations.  Sharon cannot decide with which politician a German or American foreign minister wants to speak in the autonomous areas.  That is why this new needle prick is stupid.  For a long time, Arafat has not been the only one on the list of visitors.  This measure will only increase Arafat’s status as martyr; Sharon’s true goal is not to speed up the peace process.  On the contrary:  After the Iraq war, the usual petty war will begin again in the Middle East.  And the more this petty war is waged in the Mideast, the more excuses will there be for Sharon to evade the real tough decisions that the peace process requires from him.  The prime minister is as inflexible as his opponent Arafat.”


“Attackers Playing Into The Hands Of Israeli Hardliners”


Inge Guenterh wrote in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (5/19) and left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (5/19):  “We knew that mainly the U.S. was interested in the meeting between...Sharon and...Abbas.  Not so much because Bush...would have liked to present to the world encouraging pictures of a historic handshake as evidence of his peace policy in the Mideast.  This coincided with Ariel Sharon’s interest, since he wants to present himself as a man of peace without having to pay too much for it.  Mahmoud Abbas approved the meeting out of necessity after Colin Powell begged him to do so.  This speaks for the courage of the Palestinian premier, since he knew that he had to lose more than he had to win.  But his own people interpreted his willingness for dialogue as a weakness in view of the ongoing harsh Israeli military moves.  Radical Palestinian forces, not so much Sharon, are to blame for the failure of the meeting.  They, with their terrorist attacks, saw to it that the meeting focused only on terrorism.  That is why we can say that the planners of the attacks played into the hands of the Israeli hardliners, since Israeli settlers are almost pinning their hopes on the two-state vision being settled once and for all.”


“Sharon’s Helpers”


Thorsten Schmitz argued in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (5/19):  “Ariel Sharon can consider the meeting with...PM Abbas as a double success.  Since taking office, Sharon has refused to meet Yasser Arafat.... Israel now has an interlocutor in Mahmoud Abbas who fits his views.  Sharon’s second success:  Abbas came to the meeting...and Sharon met him only in order to avoid being criticized as hardliner.  And the latest attacks were also useful for Sharon, since Palestinian terror groups consider talks between Israel and the Palestinians a danger.  A narrowing of differences would deprive them of their existence, since they are interested in Israel’s destruction, not in the establishment of good neighborly relations.  In addition, terrorism is playing into Sharon’s hands, because he does not want to accept the peace plan....  Instead of depriving the Palestinian terrorist of the control the peace process and giving peace diplomacy a chance, Sharon has now a perfect pretext to cancel his trip to Washington....  Sharon is certain that the Christian, pro-Israeli and Jewish groups in the U.S. strictly reject the peace plan and a Palestinian state.  That is why Sharon is playing for time.  His commitment to a Palestinian state is hollow, because he knows that George W. Bush will be...busy with his presidential election campaign.  Out of consideration for his voters he will then slow down his engagement for the implementation of the peace plan.”


ITALY:  “Peace Is Far Away, But One Can Hope Now”


Marcello Foa commented in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (5/22):  “(There are) several little signals, and a voice that is speaking up, an important voice because for a long time--too long--it has remained silent: the voice of the Palestinian civil society....  There are strong, unmistakable and unusual messages that had never been heard since September 11.  Has anybody perceived them?  Certainly George W. Bush has.  Sharon’s decision to cancel his trip to Washington in the wake of the latest terrorist attacks irritated the U.S. President....  And it was the disappointment over the ‘moral escape’ of the Israeli PM that prompted the White House chief to encourage the other warring party, the Palestinians.  Bush telephoned Abu Mazen last Tuesday evening and yesterday he made it known...that he is considering a trip to the Middle East and convening a three-party summit--Arab-Israeli-American--with the support of the United Nations, Russia and the European Union.  America, in sum, believes so strongly in the peace process to commit the personal prestige of his President, despite the political risks and the negative experiences of the past.  Bush’s determination is likely strengthened by one hope: now that Saddam has been removed, and that Iran, Syria and Lebanon have been warned, it will be more difficult for Palestinian terrorists to find political and, most of all, military and financial sponsors.”


"Jerusalem: Arafat Is The No. 1 Problem"


Fiamma Nirenstein opined in centrist, influential La Stampa (5/20):  “The road map?  What is it?  At this moment in Israel, a few hours after the meeting between Abu Mazen and Sharon, we get sarcastic remarks when we ask about the possibility that the road map will be successful.  Nobody rules it out, yet.  Sharon knows very well that the post-Iraq, sooner or later, must start from here.  Bush continues to ask for it as a sign of friendship….   But now people and politicians are asking themselves something different: how much does Abu Mazen count? Is Arafat stifling him?  Indeed, the wave of terrorist attacks has put violence back in the foreground.”


"And This Is How The Already Weak Abu Mazen Falls To Pieces"


Antonio Ferrari judged in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (5/20):  “They did not even give him a grace moment in order to allow his government to make its first moves.  The fury of the extremists and the suicide attacks…are destroying Abu Mazen’s role and image.  He is the man who believes in keeping a low profile and who is trying to save, with the strength of reason, what remains of the Palestinian Authority….  Former Israeli PM Rabin used to say that it is necessary to negotiate as if terrorism didn’t exist and to fight terrorism as if negotiation didn’t exist.  It is a lesson of realism that Abu Mazen shared and that nobody wants to listen to today.  This is why the adventure of the first Palestinian PM risks coming to an end even before having really started.”


“Israel, Palestine And A Map Without Ways Out”


Sandro Viola observed in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (5/19):  “The new Palestinian government doesn't have the means to stop terrorism, and the Israeli right finds justification for its intransigence in each massacre carried out by suicide terrorists....  The scaring wave of terrorist attacks is, in fact, focusing attention, once again, on the war against al-Qaida and its satellites, pushing the Palestinian issue in a corner again.  As it wages its war against terrorism, the Bush administration believes (wrongly) that it shouldn't create any problems for Sharon.  The latter will thus feel free to carry out any actions of force, including the expulsion of Arafat from his trench in Ramallah....  The peace plan that was expected to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is stuck.  The plan by American neo-conservatives to ‘redraw’ the Middle East configuration is vacillating under the impact of Iraqi turbulence and al-Qaida attacks.”


RUSSIA:  "There's No Getting Away From The Roadmap"


Andrey Pravov reported in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (5/21):  "According to observers, the Israelis and Palestinians can't do without the Roadmap.  It will be put into effect soon.  The Americans have made up their minds.   George Bush, it is pointed out, has resolved to put an end to the many-year conflict and establish an independent Palestinian state despite protests from the Israeli right and terrorist acts by Palestinian radicals."


"The U.S., Israel Strengthen Extremists' Hand"


Vasiliy Safronchuk charged in nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (5/20):  "By betting on Mazen and by trying to remove Arafat from power, Washington and Tel Aviv, unwittingly, deepen the rift in the Palestinian resistance movement and boost the positions of extremist organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad....  The Palestinian administration is simply unable to check the radicals, who receive support from outside.  The only way to solve the problem is for the Israelis to pull out their troops from all occupied lands, including Syria's Golan Heights.  But Israel and the Zionist circles in the United States, which support the Israelis and use the Bush administration as a vehicle of their interests, will hardly accept that."


"Blasts Damage Roadmap"


Natalia Babasian commented in reformist Izvestiya (5/19):  "The Jerusalem blasts have spoiled the game.  Palestinian terrorist groups are out to bury the Roadmap.  But actions by suicide bombers play into the hands of the Israelis who believe that the new peace plan 'encroaches on the interests of the Jewish State.'   Now Sharon has every reason to demand that the international mediators amend the Roadmap."


"Sharon Not To Go To Washington"


Yulia Rusanova stated in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (5/19):  "The Roadmap's fate remains undecided.   Experience shows that whenever there is a serious initiative to bring about peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, the Palestinians react to it by staging terrorist acts, and the Israelis follow up those with acts of retribution.  All that undoes diplomatic efforts. To believe official reports, both Sharon and Abu Mazen are of the opinion that ceasing terrorist activity is the first key step to peaceful negotiations.   But given the events over the weekend, even the first step is out of the question now."


AUSTRIA:  “A Problematic Partner”


Eric Frey commented in liberal Der Standard (5/19):  “It would seem that the recent suicide attacks in Jerusalem have offered Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon a welcome opportunity to save himself and his host George W. Bush the trouble of a meeting neither of them was particularly keen on....  Sharon has made it clear that--unlike his Palestinian counterpart--he is not interested in following the roadmap to peace....  As in 1991, the Iraq war offered a small chance for peace in the Middle East. More than a decade later, though, the situation has become much more complex: All the more reason for the U.S. to take on the role of the active mediator and force both sides to make some concessions.  Bush letting Sharon have his way and shelving the roadmap as another one of those failed Middle East initiatives could turn out to be the worst mistake of his presidency.”


DENMARK:  "Big Four Must Act To Help Palestinians"


Center-left Politiken editorialized (5/19):  "It is important that the four founding fathers of the road map address the fact that peace process has stranded yet again.  This is crucial, because the condition of the Palestinians are getting worse every day." 


"U.S. Must Turn The Screws To Secure Mideast Peace"


Conservative Jyllands-Posten asserted (5/19):  "Only the U.S. has the power to create peace in the Middle East.  This will require that the U.S. puts pressure on Israel.  For example, the U.S. could say that every crane in the occupied territory costs $100 million in support."


NORWAY:  “Troublesome Roadmap”


Independent VG commented (5/21):  "Extremist powers on both sides of the deadlocked conflict in the Middle East attempt to tear down the so-called roadmap for peace that the U.S., Russia, the EU and UN is behind....  The big question is therefore whether Bush dares to start a politically tough tone against Israel, something that is absolutely necessary for the parties to get out of the evil circle.”


"The Middle East Near The Shipwreck”


Roger Hercz said in social-democratic Dagsavisen (5/21):  "There is much talk about the hindrances to a peaceful solution between the Israelis and Palestinians. But in many ways the problem isn’t only in the relations between the two parties, it is just as true that the real enemy is found on home ground on each side....  The suicide actions were an attempt to stop any hope of peace between the parties--for any such solutions will involve compromises on one side....  During the last months there have been many debates about the U.S. role in the Middle East. And there is little doubt: Washington needs to play a stronger role. But if the last weeks’ incidents have shown anything, then it must be that there will never be peace, regardless of pressure from outside, if the parties themselves do not want it. But peace comes with a price. And then the question is more about what they really want. And how much they want it.”


POLAND:  “With Roadmap To Peace”


Jacek Kwiecinski wrote in rightist weekly Gazeta Polska (5/21):  “In spite of its bad experiences with making concessions--like consenting to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority or withdrawing from Lebanon--Israel appears to understand the situation is special. Still many say that the [peace] plan is almost utopian....  Pressure on Israel alone will not suffice. The only hope is that individuals like Abbas-those who understand that the Palestinian state will never come to existence if difficult and courageous actions against terrorists are not taken-will have the real power in the Authority.”


PORTUGAL:  "Terrorism Against The Opportunity For Peace"


Editor-in-chief Jose Manuel Fernandes remarked in influential moderate-left Público (5/20):  "These [terrorist] attacks coincided with the first meeting between the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the new Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority Mahamoud Abbas....  Such a temporal convergence wasn't a mere coincidence....  The bombs exploded to impede was what evolving, around the "road map" proposed by the United States, the European Union, Russia and United Nations, an opportunity for peace.  It is to torpedo the efforts of approximation between Israel and the Palestinian leadership headed by Abu Mazen....  As paradoxical as it seems, there is only one way to triumph over this terrorism:  resisting stoically the suffering that it provokes and following the difficult road of approximation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority....  For peace to have an opportunity it is necessary not to fall into the trap set be the terrorists.  That Israel maintains its cold blood, even when the images of bodies torn apart by bombs--bodies of young innocents--inflame the souls.  And that Abu Mazen gives signs that he really wants to control the Palestinian terrorists, even though he lacks the means and popular support to do it successfully."


SLOVENIA:  "Hypocrisy"


Left-of-center independent Dnevnik judged (5/20):  “Despite the fact that the Roadmap is [not a perfect] guide for the path to a Palestinian state and allows double interpretation...the Palestinians have unconditionally accepted it.  Sharon is not even close to being ready for this....  Last week, Secretary Powell left the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem empty-handed....  The Palestinian people will not agree with Mahmud Abas’ order for the disarmament of extremist groups if...Israel does not fulfill its duties at the same time.  The Israeli settlements--which [Sharon] will not renounce--are the [reason] for Sharon’s postponing the Roadmap....  Palestinian organizations regard [terrorist attacks] justified means for rebellion against Israeli occupation.  Yet, they do no good for the Palestinian people.  Namely, Sharon uses each attack as an alibi for giving ‘stimulating interviews’ in which he expresses readiness for ‘painful compromises’.  However, he has never had to prove his readiness with deeds.  The question which the Palestinians are asking these days is whether the American President will do something about the hypocrisy of his closest ally in the Middle East.”


SPAIN:  "Sharon And Mazen"


Centrist La Vanguardia wrote (5/19):  "The suspension of Sharon's trip to the U.S. confirms that violence has once again triumphed over diplomacy....  Despite the fact that their interests are so different, Mazen and Sharon can only see themselves as allies, as hard as that may be for both of them.  There is something that links them, or at least it should--none other than the common objective of signing a peace treaty that could end a conflict that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians can win....  Apart from bombs and shells, it's time for international diplomacy.  The U.S., as much as Europe and Russia, now that the fighting is over in Iraq, has to finish the job.  Peace in Middle East is the unavoidable pre-condition to stop Islamic extremism from feeding off of Israeli arrogance.  Global peace or global terrorism.  Those are the alternatives."




ISRAEL:  "When 'Yes, But' Meets 'Not Now'"


Aluf Benn wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (5/22):  "After more than two years of laxness in the Middle East, there's been a sudden outburst of diplomatic creativity in Washington.  Senior officials, frustrated by the freeze, killing, and mockery of the Europeans and Arabs, have found the right answer to Ariel Sharon's 'yes, but' and it's 'not now.'  The Administration has been worried that Israeli reservations about the road map would threaten to add it to the junk pile of previous mediation proposals that crashed due to the obstacle of Palestinian terror and the prime minister's polite obstinacy.  Therefore, it responded with some stubbornness of its own....  [Personal Sharon envoy] Dov Weisglass wants a new road map, with Israeli comments?  No hurry.  The Administration signals it will support the Israeli positions, but the key is that 'we won't waste time on marginal comments,' as Condoleezza Rice has said....  Bush was interested in knowing how Sharon perceives the endgame and the way to get it....  And then came the terror attacks over the weekend.  Sharon postponed his trip to Washington, and the Administration woke up to new frustration and despair.  Weisglass headed off to Washington again to discuss saving the political process from another collapse and to present evidence to his hosts of Abbas' weakness against the pressure from the terror groups and Yasser Arafat."


"Not Just Arafat"


Nadav Haetzni declared in popular, pluralist Maariv (5/22):  "Oslo is still here, albeit with a change in casting.  Abu Mazen has replaced Arafat in the role of the good guy.  Even Ariel Sharon is now speaking softly in our ears: 'Nothing will prevent the PLO leaders from establishing a Palestinian state amongst us; only thus will there be a solution'....  There is only one reason for the crazy leap in the statistics [of Israeli casualties]--Israel has introduced a cancerous growth into its own body.  It therefore makes no point to uproot Arafat only.  The whole PLO establishment must be deported beyond the border....  This is possible both practically and internationally....  The earlier Israel implements what is inevitable, the sooner the slaughter will be stopped."


"Men Of Destiny"


Calev Ben-David contended in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (5/21):  "Any discussion of whether there is a 'new Sharon' seems as irrelevant as whether his Palestinian counterpart is a 'moderate."  The simple fact that Sharon, against the wishes of the majority leadership of his party, publicly declared his willingness to support the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza (regardless of the exact borders) represents a quantum ideological leap by the old 'Jordan-is-Palestine' Sharon....  Is he being sincere, or is this only a delaying tactic to forestall diplomatic pressure from America?  The only one who can put him to that test is Abbas, by making a sincere effort to curb the violent extremists in his Palestinian camp who have been on a bloody rampage for the past five days.  Arafat foolishly thought he could extract diplomatic gains from Israel by allowing such carnage to go unchecked.  Abbas must know that only the exact opposite is true.... Unfortunately, you don't get to be a man of destiny without taking real chances.  Mahmoud Abbas must now prove himself ready to meet the challenge, or exit the stage until the day some other Palestinian leader does."


"Sharon Has The Power"


Gideon Samet held in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (5/21):  "Not a hair would fall out of Sharon's conniving head if he were to push--now, despite the attacks--an unconditional initiative with significant gestures.  If he really wanted an agreement...there's practically no doubt the moves would win him popularity.  His prognosis that seeks to fulfill itself, as if conciliation would bring down his government, would be disproven.  It's in his hands.  He should not only blame the shaky Palestinian Authority.  He should not say he doesn't have the political power to pry the process forward and even come out of it a winner.  He has the political power.  He has the personal authority.  As far as can be seen, it's the desire he doesn't have."


"Cities Of Refuge"


Nationalist Hatzofe editorialized (5/21):  "Arab communities neighboring Jewish ones and that respond properly to every terrorist attack, openly and covertly, are very cautious about all their steps!  As long as the attacks are continuing and Israel is counting its dead, there is no place for compassion.  An innocent Palestinian population-- such a one exists--can ask to emigrate from the country and it must be helped.  The rich from the West Bank cities have already left; it is possible to negotiate with the United States the opening of the gates of Iraq to mass immigration by Palestinians suffering here because of the terrorist organizations.  Iraq can also become a city of refuge for Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters.  U.S. soldiers would cope with them with proper humanity; according to all international conventions, this would be a reasonable substitute to house demolitions."


"Arafat And Terror"


Sever Plotker opined in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (5/20):  "The Chairman of the Palestinian Authority doesn't, and will never understand that terror only defers the fulfillment of the dream of Palestinian sovereignty....  [In any case,] deporting Arafat from Palestinian wouldn't be an easy measure.  It could inflame the Palestinian population and even produce demonstrations in the entire Arab world.  However, Israel has no other option than taking those risks.  Removing Arafat from the budding Palestinian state and securely placing him in an old-age home in Sudan or Libya would serve the interests of the Palestinians, Israel, the international community and peace.  Not only is Arafat's very presence in his headquarters encouraging terror and preventing Palestinian progress towards peace, but it has also served as a great pretext for Sharon's--previous and current--governments not to find it worthwhile to make efforts for peace."


"Double Game"


Amir Rappaport wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (5/20):  "It very frustratingly appears that the American move that was meant to push Arafat into a corner and bury him in his headquarters, through heavy pressure that brought about the nomination of a new prime minister, has actually strengthened him.  Like on each previous occasion when Arafat felt he was in a private existential struggle, he again regained utmost strength and proved he was the Palestinian people's uncontested and only leader.  In fact, international pressure is now the only hope of stopping the vicious cycle of terrorist actions that engender 'expansive operations in the territories.'"


"A Change in Tactics"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (5/20):  "In Iraq, the U.S. toppled Saddam...mainly to send a signal to all radical regimes that they must fall into line or just fall.  With the Palestinian Authority, Israel is sending a very different signal: 'you can continue to preside over a hotbed of terrorism, the terrorists can continue to show disdain for your meaningless condemnations, and Israel will fight terror for you, as if you are not accountable. '  To the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Israel sends a similar signal: 'as long as you do not personally handle mortars, bombs, and bullets, Israel will not kill or capture you, because to touch 'political' leaders would be to escalate.  This must change.  If Sharon, understandably, does not want to part ways with the U.S., he should say to Bush that Israel, like the U.S., must fight terror at its source, from the top down, rather than letting more of us die to test the intentions of leaders he has already said must be removed.  Bush will understand, and even if he does not, further restraint will only serve to legitimate the terror against Israel."


"Pointless Talks"


Nationalist Hatzofe contended (5/20):  "In effect, the Abu Mazen-Sharon meeting has failed....  The Palestinian prime minister, who was overseen by Arafat's men, was prevented from accepting Sharon's practical offers....  The Abu Mazen-Sharon meeting, which was held under a shadow of blood, raises a question regarding the Prime Minister's decision to hold further talks with the 'Prime Minister of Palestine.'  Now is not an auspicious time, when Jewish blood is being spilled like water."


"Terror Versus An Opportunity"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (5/19): "PM Sharon's first meeting with Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) since he became the Palestinian PM was accompanied by a series of terror attacks in the territories and Jerusalem....  The disappointment in Abu Mazen could yet end up a self-fulfilling prophecy, if Israel does not help him win the confidence of his people....  In its effort to end the violence, Israel has tried nearly every form of deterrence, attack and punishment.  These vigorous efforts have yielded significant accomplishments in foiling terror attacks and it has become clear to the terrorists they cannot erode Israel's resilience.  But that is not enough to advance toward a solution to the conflict, and some of the steps actually distance a solution.  The war against terror must be accompanied by steps that give hope, including high-level political contacts.  From that perspective, the cancellation of the PM's trip to Washington and postponement of his meeting with President Bush, will be recorded as an achievement for the rejectionists and terror."


"Loss Of Control"


Alex Fishman held in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (5/19):  "[Abu Mazen] is not built for a confrontation with Hamas....  Arafat's greatest sabotage lies in the fact that he, as a Palestinian symbol, doesn't turn to the street to halt terror, on the contrary: he sends messages to the street that it is possible to continue.  But Arafat is also a weak leader, despite the fact that the Israeli side still aggrandizes him....  There is an impression that the senior political echelon in Israel is not suffering too much from the picture of fragmentation within the Palestinian leadership and the weakness of the two heads.  This enables them to freeze the situation on the political level as well, not only the military level, while making noises about the desire to move forward.  There is also an impression that the U.S. Administration--meaning the White House--is not really adhering to the road map, since it is not necessarily making a direct contribution to the President's election campaign.  If there is no clear intervention by the U.S. Administration in the region...we will remain stuck with this stalemate.


"The Evasive Bomber"


Avraham Tirosh contended in popular, pluralist Maariv (5/19):  "By any logic, PM Ariel Sharon should not, from his own considerations, have delayed his visit to President Bush, but on the contrary, should have flown there as quickly as possible and caught Bush 'while he's hot'....  To catch Bush 'while he's hot,' means fresh from the terror attacks in Riyadh and Casablanca, fresh from warnings that all these are merely an aperitif prior to even more atrocious acts of terror, fresh from the fact that bin Laden, in his hiding place, has held him up to ridicule and scorn.  And perhaps fresh also, in the wake of all these, from the latest terror attacks in Israel...there are allegations of al-Qaida involvement....  According to [Sharon's] thinking, it is better not to start [acting on settlements] at all, not even with a commitment to the President, as long as a sharp knife is not pressed against the back of your neck.  And when it is, then you'll see.  And that is in essence Sharon's policy: to bombard the whole world with promises of 'painful concessions,' gestures, the evacuation of settlements and a Palestinian state, but to be as evasive as possible--and try to do this until the end of his term in office."


WEST BANK:   “Toward Deepening And Defining Sharon’s Crisis”


Talal Okal commented in independent, pro-PA Al-Ayyam (5/22):  “The expected challenge [in any future political negotiations] will not be between the governments of Abu Mazen and Sharon. Rather, it will be between the latter and the American Administration, which finds itself unable to continue to cover for [Israel’s] policy of not only rejecting international and American efforts for peace, but also going as far as hindering those efforts by introducing additional obstacles and complications....  American concerns about the possibility of escalation in military attacks on its own soil as well as against its interests and presence in many other areas have forced the U.S. to heed advice that it has so far ignored.  Many voices have started demanding that Washington resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict, whose continuation inflames conflicts, deepens hatred and widens terrorism.  These voices terrify the Israeli leadership, which fears that they will compel Washington to exert pressure on Israel and make it pick up the price tag of enhancing American policy toward the region.  Thus Sharon is expected to vehemently evade and try to postpone [progress in] the political process.”


“Who Destroyed The Plan For A Solution?”


Muhannad Abdel Hamid opined in independent, pro-PA Al-Ayyam (5/20):  "Contrary to the somewhat optimistic assessments, the tone of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict rose to its highest pitch in the last few days. The spate of bloody Israeli aggressions and the subsequent bombings in Jerusalem by the Islamic opposition have crushed the elusive ray of hope that rose on the horizon, predicting that a political solution was near.  With record speed, the illusion was extinguished and the political horizon seemed to evaporate completely.  The question that begs an answer is, which side is to blame for the renewal of the political impasse and the addition of more obstacles? Israel, of course, has a ready-made answer to this question that it uses to justify all actions wherever and whenever they occur....  The fact is that Sharon's government is exploiting the time to impose its control on the Palestinian land and hills in order to transform them first into illegal settlements and later into permanent ones....  Sharon's Israel is ignoring the fact that there is a close connection between occupation and settlement-building activities on one hand and resistance and violence on the other; between a political breakthrough and a security solution; between Israel’s economic crisis and the suffocating Palestinian economy.  It ignores the fact that there is a close connection between the slow death of Israel’s conscience and the continuation of occupation and persecution of the Palestinian people.”


"Is There Room For Optimism?"


Mohammed Abdullah commented in independent Al-Quds (5/20):  “It must be said that the U.S. role is more responsible than any other role in causing the current disastrous situation in the Middle East to reach such a state of paralysis in political, economic and security affairs.  The American administration’s hesitation to firmly confront Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, its failure to prevent settlement activities, and its lack of the courage needed to demand the end the occupation that began in 1967, in addition to its unlimited and unconditional military and economic aid to Israel, have empowered the radical Right in Israeli society....  It seems now that Israel has the upper hand in any political disagreement with the American administration.  Even though such a disagreement is will become clear during the Sharon visit to the White House that the most powerful influence belongs to the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S., which will do whatever it can, and will probably succeed, to freeze the American Roadmap and hinder peace efforts....  Pessimistic view?  Maybe.  But what more can anyone expect from the leaders of Israel and Washington?”


"As Long As There Is Occupation, There Is Resistance:  Facts And Falsehoods In This Slogan”


Tawfiq Abu-Bakr stated in independent, pro-PA Al-Ayyam (5/19):  "For a few thousand times, we have heard our friends in Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Palestinian factions repeat the same statement over and over again....  First of all, we need to bring this statement down from heaven to earth and strip it of its holy and sacred nature that prohibits any argument or discussion.  Let us tear it apart and find out what is true and what is false about it....  You ask them: What occupation are you talking about?  And they give you the same answer they have given a thousand times before: all of Palestine is occupied.  In the Cairo dialogue--which I called the dialogue of the deaf because it really was so--these people rejected the main statement of the Cairo initiative, which...says that the objective of armed struggle is to end occupation of the Palestinian territories.  They [Hamas and Islamic Jihad] approved the first part of the statement: ‘to end occupation,’ but rejected the second part, because [to them] all of Palestine is under occupation.  Therefore, we are facing an imaginary goal that is absolutely impossible to accomplish.  They demand that resistance continue so long as Israel is occupying Haifa and so long as there are Jews in Tel Aviv....  The fact they are missing is that any resistance must end up in negotiations.  Resistance will have to stop at one point and negotiations and the reaping of fruits will begin. He who sows shall reap.  Only a ‘criminal’ would sow and not reap, leaving the fruits to rot and fall to the ground.  We now have a roadmap that explicitly speaks of ending the occupation that began on June 5, 1967.  Let us try to reap the fruits with the help of the entire world.  This is indeed a historic opportunity.”


“Is It A Roadmap Or Road Maps?”


Talal Okal wrote in independent Al-Ayyam (5/19):  “It seems that the general situation is not yet ripe for implementing the Roadmap or any other map for that matter....  In order for this roadmap to have any possibility of implementation or of influencing the region, at least one of two things must take place.  The first is that both sides reach a state of exhaustion that forces them to accept compromises in their ambitions and goals; the other is that the international community is willing to impose a settlement on both sides....  Sharon, on the one hand, refuses any reciprocal recognition with the Palestinians and rejects any compromise that may lead to undermining his self-planned and self-built projects.  He is a man of war, destruction and occupation....  Bush, on the other hand, seems to have no problem with Sharon postponing his trip to Washington, nor does he show any displeasure toward Sharon’s intent to change the agenda of their meeting.  All in all, it is clear that the international environment has not matured to impose a settlement on both sides, especially considering the U.S.’ readiness to do whatever Israel wants it to do.”


"Why Do People Hold A Grudge Against The American Administration?"


Bassam Abu-Sharif commented in independent Al-Quds (5/18):  “Despite President Bush's promises, these oppressed people believe that while the American administration is behaving arrogantly toward Syria and Lebanon, it is meek in front of Sharon.  U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was recently snubbed by Sharon, warned Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen that he must launch a war on Hamas and Islamic Jihad in order for the American administration to exert any effort to secure Sharon's approval of the Roadmap.  But what is this Roadmap anyway?  I believe that it is a plan for triggering a Palestinian civil war while leaving the promise of a Palestinian state uncertain.…  Does the American administration not understand that justice is an indivisible, lofty human value and that peace cannot be imposed with the use of tanks and planes, but can only be achieved through justice?”


"The Shortest Way"


Adli Sadeq commented in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (5/19):  "Our position on the Jerusalem attacks as well as other attacks [against civilians] that they are unhelpful to our desire to achieve calm; neither do they help in advancing any serious effort toward the resumption of the peace process....  But it must be said that the killings [committed by Israel] and the repeated attempts to crush the will of nations are the leading causes behind the emergence of such reactions, which tend to cross all lines, stirring up anger, bitterness and fear and leading to the quelling of all rational thinking....  The shortest way to end this bloody circle of violence is for both sides to be reasonable and willing to engage in the peace process....  Once again we stress that we feel the pain of the daily killings of innocent civilians on both sides.  We also feel sad that some of our sons would find justifications to express their anger by committing these bombings.”


“That’s How Hope In Peace Vanishes”


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (5/19):  "There is an official Israeli policy to commit violent acts against the Palestinians, where Palestinian blood is shed on a daily basis.  There is also, on the other side, Palestinian violence committed sometimes against [Israeli] civilians.  We must condemn all violent acts committed against innocent civilians on either side.  However, the main obstacle in the way of peace is Israel’s indifference to the violence it commits while insisting that Palestinian violence be stopped.  This Israeli position encourages violent acts against the Palestinians....  It is important for the international community, especially the U.S., if it is serious about reviving the peace process, to impose a mechanism to stop violence on both sides.”


EGYPT:  "A Failed Category”


Leading pro-government Al Ahram senior columnist Salama Ahmed Salama wrote (5/22):  “Washington has yet to achieve its stated goals in Afghanistan; all the signals are that it is becoming bogged down in Iraq.  Nor is its roadmap...likely to lead anywhere.  The reasons are simple.  The U.S. seeks to reinforce its domination of the world and the world is expected to be subservient....  U.S. Secretary Powell met with only stubbornness in his talks with the Israelis... Despite every indication that Sharon will not budge, Abu Mazen agreed to meet him, even as Israeli forces continued the siege of Beit Hanoun...  The most recent terrorist [sic] attacks in Israel...have come as no surprise.  Sharon had ignited the fire before meeting Abu Mazen when he decided to permit Jews into the courtyard of Al Aqsa Mosque...  Once again Washington is destined to fail.”


“Good Morning”


Said Sonbol held in aggressive, pro-government Al Akhbar (5/21):  “The question is: ‘Why can’t the Palestinians agree on a ceasefire for, say, a year?--a time during which they can foil Sharon and deprive him of any excuse about fighting terrorism.  Martyrdom operations only lead to an increase in Sharon’s popularity and have freed his hand to oppress and humiliate the Palestinian people.”


“When Will Violence Stop?”


Leading pro-government Al Ahram editorialized (5/21):  “Violence between Israelis and Palestinians has risen in an unprecedented way in the past weeks. This is a repeat scenario and the natural outcome of the climate prevailing in the region.  Palestinian resistance operations arose in response to constant repressive acts by the Israeli army against Palestinians....  Apparently the Sharon government has not abandoned its logic in dealing with the Arab-Israeli dispute....  The situation in the Middle East may slide into more danger...unless the international community, especially the U.S. and U.N., interfere immediately to force the Israeli government to stop its aggression.”


“To Block Sharon’s Way”


Editor-in-chief Galal Dowidar maintained in pro-government Al Akhbar (5/21): “What I fear most is that there might be an Israeli plan by the Mossad for increasing the rate of criminal actions against Palestinians to provoke their resistance factions into reacting, in a way that reflects their despair and frustration, with martyrdom operations.  In this way, Sharon’s cabinet, which has no commitment to any moral values or human rights, would achieve its aim of finding excuses for freezing the roadmap and for not going to the negotiation table.   The suspicious movement of the Israeli lobby and its allies from the conservative rightist Christian groups in Washington exposes this anti-peace attitude.”


"Separating Lines"


Small circulation pro-government Al Gomhouriya held (5/20):  “As long as Israel continues to deal with the Palestinian issue from a military angle, the Middle East will never witness safety or stability.  Sharon and his gang do not want to understand that there is no other way but a comprehensive political settlement....  Constructing a wall will not stop ‘fedaie’ (commando) operations because frustration and violence can only harvest the same.”


"A Map To Eradicate The Palestinian People"


The aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar editorialized (5/20):  “It seems that Sharon, since the announcement of the roadmap, is pressed to intensify his attacks and efforts to kill more Palestinians....  The most likely prediction is that Sharon will soon blow the roadmap despite all its requirements of the Palestinians and giving up....  If President Bush doesn’t see the swamps into which Sharon is pulling him and recognize the destructive road towards which this foolish mass killer is leading him--and upon which the interests of the U.S. will be harmed, not only in the Middle East but the whole world--then he would have committed a grave error.”


“Egyptian Worries”


Opposition Al Wafd's editor-in-chief Abbass Al-Tarabili noted (5/19):  “Sharon managed to turn the conflict between himself and the Palestinians into an inter-Palestinian conflict.  Either through Sharon’s insinuation or pressure, Abu Mazen even accepted the resignation of Erekat, known to be a tough negotiator....  Could Abu Mazen put his history as one of the Palestinian fighters for the Palestinian cause at risk?...  The best thing Abu Mazen could do is to coordinate with Arafat.”


JORDAN:  “Operations Here And There”


Urayb Rintawi contended in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour (5/21):  “There is a strange coincidence of time between two phenomena that have never coincided before: the wave of operations in the West Bank and Gaza and Israel, and the wave of Al-Qa’eda operations in Riyadh and Casablanca....  It is a purely circumstantial coincidence of timing, nothing more and nothing less.  Yet, this coincidence carries with some disturbing indications, namely that it can be employed to better serve Israel’s objective of ‘Talbanizing’ the Palestinian Authority, of linking the Palestinian struggle with international terrorism, and of turning Israel’s racist-based aggression and colonization into another chapter of the legitimate international war against terrorism....  Once again, the recent wave of operations in Palestine and the Arab world shows that combating violence, terrorism and extremism and containing the anti-peace movement cannot be achieved by military and security means alone, rather by addressing the faults, namely the occupation, the oppression, the frustration and the desperation.”


LEBANON:  "Erekat's Resignation And String-Pulling"


Sahar Ba'asiri contended in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (5/17):  "Saeb Erekat's resignation from the Palestinian Government...says a lot about the relationship between Arafat and Abu-Mazen, and consequently about the approach towards the prospective Palestinian negotiations with Israel....  The reason for Erekat's resignation actually...reflects the battle of pulling strings between Arafat and Abu-Mazen on who the real decision-maker is specifically regarding the negotiations with Washington....  In any case, keeping Ereket's away from the Palestinian negotiating team does not really serve Palestinian interests."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "When Resistance Becomes Legitimate"


Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina pointed out (5/21):  "During 48 hours five explosions were carried out against the Israeli occupation, but the sole beneficiary was not the Palestinian cause or the Palestinian people....  But Arik Sharon and his government....  It provided Sharon with cards, striaght out of his dreams, to thwart the roadmap project.  Furthermore, it provided him a rare opportunity to put pressure on Washington instead of being under its pressure....  Legitimate resistance must lead to liberation of the land not to free the occupier from legal and moral obligations or otherwise it becomes an illegal foolish act.


"Breeding Terrorism"


Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina stated (5/17):  "It is fair to assert that the terrorism breeding grounds, which must be dried out, are not exclusively Arab and Islamic but are also American, Israeli and international....  What the Israeli Home Security Minister announced (opening Al-Aqsa mosque for Jews) is terrorism in itself and an incitement for others to terrorism....  The war on terrorism must include Tasahi Hanjbi (the Israeli Home Security Minister) and his boss, Sharon both as big inciters of terrorism around the world....  Those who want Muslims and Arabs to declare an open war on terrorism and terrorists must help them in that war."


"Opening The Al-Aqsa Mosque To The Jews"


Mecca’s conservative Al-Nadwa opined (5/17):  "In a step that is regarded far more dangerous than any other preceding it, Israel is preparing to open the Al-Aqsa Holy Mosque for Jews in order to profane it, as Sharon had once done. His actions then, ignited the fire of the Intifadah, which has not yet been put-off. This action can only be interpreted as Israel’s intention to escalate tensions in the region, and a desperate attempt to cover up Sharon’s rejection of the Road Map. Israel’s decision to open the Mosque to Jews must be stopped. It is not a convent or a synagogue, it is the shrine where Muslims first headed for prayers. Being under the control of occupying forces is not an excuse to profane its holiness. If Israel continues with this provocative action, rage will once again start a wave of violence. Palestinians and Muslims cannot withstand another defamation of the Mosque."


SYRIA:  "Israeli Rejection"


Government-owned Tishreen thundered (5/22):  "Within the framework of Israeli rejection of the basics of peace, Israeli Foreign Minister Shalom rejected any discussion of the Palestinian right of return...recognized by UNSCR 194 and guaranteed by international laws....  While Shalom rejects the Palestinian right of return, the Israeli government refuses to receive a US delegation to discuss implementation of the Roadmap. According to the (Jerusalem Post), the Israeli government justified this by stating that the time is not appropriate to discuss the Roadmap nor dismantle settlements....  The Sharon government will not accept peace nor respond to any peace efforts... The Roadmap is an example this despite the fact that it is sponsored by the US Administration, the closest and only supporter of Israel."


"Void Justifications"


An unsigned editorial in government-owned Tishreen read (5/21):  "Sharon has not approved the Roadmap and apparently never will approve it....  The announcement of the Roadmap was delayed several times...(due to) the US Administration's preoccupation with the campaign against terrorism, then the Israeli elections, afterwards the formation of a Palestinian government. This gave the impression that there was (Israeli) approval of this plan....  But, soon as the Roadmap was officially presented to Israel, several facts have emerged: growing (Israeli) reservations have started deepening, Israel is refraining from implementing measures concurrently."


"Occupation Is The Source Of Terrorism"


Government-owned Al-Ba'th declared (5/21):  "The recent Palestinian resistance operations in Jerusalem and Afula confirm that Sharon's promises on security are mere illusions, and electoral promises that enabled him to get another term in office....  The main message of these operations is that security cannot be achieved as long as occupation continues....  Israelis are blocking international peace initiatives. This is a crystal clear fact that cannot be hidden even by the U.S.' unlimited support for Israel....  It is impermissible for Israeli aggressors to remain outside the framework of questions and pressure while Palestinians are required to stop their resistance under the weak pretext of giving Israelis time to prove their good intentions."


"Israel Does Not Seek Peace"


An unsigned editorial in government-owned Al-Ba'th read (5/19):  "By rejecting the Roadmap, Israel has exposed its true face anew and that it does not seek peace; rather it endeavors to ruin international peace efforts....  As Secretary Powell failed to extract Sharon's approval for this plan, the U.S. Administration has started focusing pressure on the Palestinians to force new concessions and please Israel by getting acceptance for its amendments. Media sources report that President Bush has approved 13 out of 15 amendments....  The U.S. is called upon to intervene quickly and effectively to make Israel stop its aggressive practices and force it to comply with international resolutions... If the U.S. is really concerned about cementing peace, there is no need for more plans and initiatives."


UAE:  "U.S. Must Play A More Active Role"


Dubai-based business-oriented Arabic-language Al-Bayan editorialized (5/21):  "There is still a golden opportunity for the U.S. to gain a lot of what it has lost in the Arab and Islamic street, and that is through forcing Israel to accept a just solution to the Palestinian problem that gives the Palestinians a right to a Palestinian country and the right of return to refugees and announces Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.  If this is not achieved, then the region will never know a just peace, and American interests will never live in comfort with the Arab and Islamic hatred increasing towards its (U.S.) unjust policies towards Arabs and Muslims and complete bias for Israel."


"No One Benefits But Israel" 


Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al Khaleej editorialized (5/19):  "The morals and ethics exhibited by Arabs in particular and Muslims in general, and the defense of these (morals) in confronting the brutal attacks from the Zionist entity or any others are damaged by acts (terrorist attacks) at the core (of the issue), and their loses are uncountable....  Whatever shakes the security or stability in any Arab country is considered a free service for this enemy (Israel) and whoever supports it."




CHINA:  “Five Bombings Within Two Days in Israel: Violence Continuously Threatens Peace, Too Much Blood Makes People ‘Numb’”


Xu Qisheng commented in official Communist Party-run international news publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao)(5/21):  “The U.S. did not put enough pressure on Israel.  The implementation of the Road Map has encountered many difficulties, and the continuous suicide bomb terrorism attacks make it even worse.”


"Peace Is The Only Resolution"


Huang Peizhao commented in the official Communist Party People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao) (5/19):  "The Road Map guided by the U.S. has set an agenda for the main phase of the Palestine-Israel peace process.  The international community commonly agrees on an early realization of a Palestine-Israel peace.”


CHINA (MACAU SAR):  "Israeli-Palestinian 'Road map' Off To A Bad Start"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (5/21):  "Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas met for the first time in Jerusalem to discuss the peace 'road map.'  This is the highest-level dialogue between the two sides since the latest wave of Israeli-Palestinian clashes broke out in September 2000.  Expectations for this first meeting were low, and the meeting ended with each side speaking its own language.  The U.S. originally wanted the 'road map' to be part of its new strategy for the Middle East, which also includes 'Middle East democratization' (starting with the Iraqi Interim Authority) and a 'Middle East free trade zone.'  This, of course, is just wishful thinking by the U.S., which has always supported Israel without urging substantial concessions for Palestine.  Moreover, the U.S. has continually pressured other countries in the Middle East, exacerbating Muslim hostility towards Israel and deepening the Israeli-Palestinian clashes.  Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that the 'road map' has gotten off to a bad start."


JAPAN:  "Peace Plan Should Be Implemented"


Liberal Mainichi editorialized (5/20):  "Israeli Prime Minister Sharon put off a visit to Washington following a suicide bombing by an Islamic radical that occurred in Jerusalem after Sharon and Palestinian Premier Abbas failed to narrow differences over the interpretation of a new 'road map' for Middle East peace.  The way to Middle East peace is, indeed, long and difficult.  The U.S., a co-sponsor of the road map, and the rest of the international community should join hands to persuade Israel and the Palestinians to implement this peace plan. Prime Minister Sharon should accept the plan first, while Abbas should do whatever he can to prevent the recurrence of terrorist bombings in order to convince Sharon that accepting the peace plan would best contribute to Israel's peace and security."    


INDONESIA:  "Forcing Sharon To Agree"


Independent Koran Tempo observed (5/20):  “Israel for the past three years has experienced a budget deficit because it has had to pay for the war against the Palestinian terrorists in the occupied territories and the West Bank.  It also faces an increasing number of unemployed.  Therefore, Israel is now fully dependent on the U.S. for aid.  Last month, the U.S. Congress agreed to provide aid valued at a total of US$2.7 billion for developing Israel’s military and as loan guarantees.  If Bush wanted, disbursement of the funds to Israel could be put off until it agrees to implement the road map the U.S. proposes.  On paper such scenario can work but the question is whether Bush will do it.”


PHILIPPINES:  "Trying To Jump-start The 'Road map'"


Associate Editor Beth Day-Romulo wrote in the conservative, independent Manila Bulletin (5/21):  "Palestinians have 'accepted' the terms of the 'road map.'  Israel has not....  While the road map, which is familiar to both the participants, calls for simultaneous steps to be taken by both parties, there seems to be disagreement about who should move first....  Powell is working both sides of the street, and the vision he offers for a peaceful and productive Middle East is tantalizing.  He was in Cairo, enlisting President Mubarak's support and speaking of a possible Middle East Free Trade area by 2013.  He also thanked Egypt for its help in establishing a new Palestinian leadership, with whom Israel and the U.S. are comfortable. Not only Israel but also the U.S. has said it will no longer negotiate with Yasir Arafat although he is still acknowledged by Europe as the duly elected leader of the Palestinians....  There are a couple of obvious questions....  Does the new Palestinian Prime Minister have the power to reign in his terrorists--with Arafat breathing down his neck and still in charge of much of Palestinian funds and security? Has Sharon the heart to dismantle those West Bank settlements he encouraged? Some insiders suggest Sharon's obdurate stance about retaining the settlements is no more than a political ploy to please his majority right-wing Cabinet ministers.  Where he personally stands may become more apparent when he visits President Bush in Washington.  He has said in the past that he was prepared to make 'painful choices'....  The threat posed by Saddam, Israel's nemesis, has been removed.  Arafat has been replaced.  It's time Sharon learns how to say 'accept' before the Middle East fractures again."


"Trying To Jump-Start The Road Map"


Beth Day Romulo contended in the conservative, independent Manila Bulletin (5/20):  "Powell is working both sides of the street, and the vision he offers for a peaceful and productive Middle East is tantalizing....  Several news services have already headlined Powell's energetic efforts as 'a failure' since no concrete action seems to have been taken.  The one positive outcome is that the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers are meeting, after a hiatus of two and half years, to clarify their positions and, hopefully, consider ways to go forward.  Rather than get bogged down in squabbling about the overall plan, Powell is urging them to take conciliatory steps....  The threat posed by Saddam, Israel's nemesis, has been removed.  Arafat has been replaced.  It's time Sharon learns how to say 'accept' before the Middle East fractures again."


SINGAPORE:  "Bad Start For Peace" 


The pro-government Straits Times opined (5/21):  "The latest wave of Palestinian suicide bombings...threatens to wreck the Middle East peace process, but United States President George W. Bush seems determined to prevent such an outcome....  This is going to take much effort and resources because without America's forceful mediation, there is scant hope for a secure Israel and Palestinian statehood. But first, the carnage must stop or both sides--Jews and Arabs--will end up eventually as losers.  Just as Mr. Bush is sticking with the road map for Middle East peace, Israel will have to show its commitment to work in tandem with the Palestinians. This calls for the two parties to do what they must in a three-stage process....  It calls for simultaneous moves by them to push the peace process forward. But this has proved easier said than done....  The latest suicide bombings show just how easy it is for the radicals to derail the peace process....  Whatever the difficulties, the road map should not be jettisoned because it provides the best chances for a lasting peace in the Middle East. Whatever it takes to reach a settlement, both sides will eventually have to make hard choices to reach a compromise....  To be sure, anything which the Palestinians or the Israelis do to repudiate the new plan, will stall the peace process and perpetuate the violence. There is no doubt that the rash of suicide attacks is not just a demonstration of Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation. They are also an open challenge to Mr. Abbas and the road map itself. Which is why, despite the provocations, all those who want peace must soldier on."




PAKISTAN:  "A 'Road Map' To Nowhere"


The center-right national Nation declared (5/21):  "While going through the text of the 'Road Map', one comes to the conclusion that the Israeli government's principle of 'Security-for-Peace' has been given preference over the basis of the previous agreements based on 'land-for-peace.'  Also, Palestinians are asked to take the first visible steps to ensure an end to violence and terror followed by reciprocating steps by Israel, which is tantamount to accepting the Israeli position, and blaming the beleaguered Palestinian side of perpetrating 'terrorism' following the eruption of second Intafada in September 2000....  Contrary to the previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians--Oslo Accord of 1993, Taaba Agreement of 1995, and Camp David Accords of 1997, and 1998--this road map outlines steps aimed at reforming the Palestinian polity, institutions, and even the administrative structure, which is tantamount to interference in the internal affairs of the Palestinian state and people....  The time period set out for drafting a constitution is too little, and, secondly, it will not be drafted by the elected representatives, but through an interim handpicked group of people, unless the constitution has already been drafted by the mandarins in the US State Department....  The timeframe set for each phase, as well as an overall settlement (2003-2005) is highly unrealistic given the yawning differences between Israelis and Palestinians....  The Palestinians are to hold free, fair and open elections in the first phase. One wonders how could this be achieved when the institutions conducting elections, as well as election lists and electorates have not been established so far....  The involvement of only Quartet members and absence of representative from Arab or Muslim countries' may adversely affect the talks, since issues like refugees, and Jerusalem are sensitive for the latter as well.  Moves to keep the Muslims away from any dialogue process in the Middle East would only serve to exacerbate the problem even further away from peace, and would only serve to rub in the fact that the United States is determined to bulldoze enforced solutions to issues in regions around the world."


"Threat To Arafat"


The Islamabad-based rightist English-language Pakistan Observer judged (5/21):  "Israel has announced several measures aimed at isolating popular Palestinian leader President Yasser Arafat.  Following two suicide bombings on Sunday and Monday, an Israeli Government spokesman alleged that the Jewish State was facing a 'well-planned effort by terrorist organizations in coordination with Yasser Arafat to carry out as many attacks as possible'....  There are reports that expelling Yasser Arafat from his West Bank base is now again on the Jewish agenda.  The Israeli Government has also issued a warning that it will boycott any foreign official who meets Yasser Arafat.  Ariel Sharon told his Cabinet on Sunday that any foreign diplomat or politician who schedules a meeting with Palestinian leader will not be seen by any Israeli official.  This disgusting attitude clearly shows that Israel is not interested in a peaceful and negotiated solution of the problem.  The International community and especially the sponsors of the peace plan should exert pressure on Israel to discard its oppressive and brutal policies to create a conducive atmosphere for talks to succeed."


SRI LANKA:  "Middle East Peace, That Both Parties Don't Agree"


Independent Tamil-language weekender Sunday Virakesari commented (5/18):  "The biggest problem is that the U.S. is supporting the invaders rather than warning them....  President Bush is dancing to Sharon's tune.  The U.S. is happy to talk to Palestinian Premier Mohammed Abbas, but not to President Yasser Arafat.  They think it is easier to work with Premier Abbas, who would agree to work according to the U.S. plan....  One might conclude that peace is at hand.  The truth is that the path to peace is rough and thorny."




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Rocky Road To Peace"


The liberal Star held (5/21):  "We condemn such attacks--they are inhuman and cannot possibly help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock.  It continues to exist despite the fact that a road map to peace is now on the table....  Islamic militants have chosen to escalate the violence.  Perhaps this is because the road map is not to their liking; perhaps they do not trust the Americans or the Israelis; perhaps they are not happy that Mahmoud Abbas should appear a more reasonable man than Yasser Arafat; perhaps the PLO leader is fuelling the violence.  But then Israel...has not demonstrated any convincing willingness to opt for peace either....  What the road map to peace...requires is that both Arafat and Sharon should vacate the political scene....  Both should be told by their own constituencies...that it is time to go--and so give peace efforts a chance of succeeding."




CANADA:  "The Lost Cause"


Serge Truffaut contended in liberal Le Devoir (5/21):  "The series of attacks committed these past days in Israel confirms the grasp of the fundamentalists on the political future of the Palestinians....  Hamas and the Palestinian Jihad now orchestrate both military and political actions....  The gun shots between rival Palestinian sides in the outskirts of Beirut illustrate the deep divisions between those who favor and those who are opposed to the road map....  The kamikaze bombs symbolize the upper hand fundamentalists have over Palestinians of the secular generation surrounding Yasser Arafat....  The Palestinian project imagined by its early leaders: 'a Democratic Palestine where Christians, Jews and Muslims could live' is now anathema to Hamas and its allies."


ARGENTINA:  "An Uncontrolled Process"


Jorge Malena opined in business-financial InfoBae (5/22):  "The US consolidation as the sole global and imperial superpower calls for the control of a new order from Morocco to Afghanistan with high political costs: instability in the Middle East, largely due to an escalation in the terrorist virulence, and the reactivation of the Palestinian-Israeli crisis. In our opinion, the US military victory in Afghanistan and Iraq probably created the momentum for Washington to pressure in a conclusive and energetic way in order to achieve substantial progress in the solution of the Palestinian-Israeli crisis but without seeing its interests affected. Therefore, while the road map allows the US to visualize terrorist organizations...the creation of a Palestinian State in the short run, and peace and stability imposed on the region will be modeled by Washington's designs....  The process unleashed will hardly be controlled bearing in mind that the US will have to get more involved in the Middle East if it wants to strengthen its achievements in the battle field, which will be counterbalanced by the rejection of those organizations that perceive the current peace plan as a new way of domination."


BRAZIL:  "Playing The Game Of Terror"


Right-of-center O Globo opined (5/21):  "Two terrorist attacks last Sunday in Israel, caused three deaths and wounded 60 people. Altogether there have been five attacks since Saturday.  Ariel Sharon reacted by canceling his trip to Washington where he would have discussed with President Bush the peace negotiations with the Palestinians.  If the attacks intended to sabotage the chances of understanding, what Sharon did has shown the efficiency of terror--and has stimulated it.  When there exists a sincere desire to achieve peace, the right answer to violence is to insist on negotiating and never interrupt it."



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