International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

June 4, 2003

June 4, 2003





**  If the U.S. pressures both sides, the roadmap "provides an opportunity" for peace.


**  Hard-line outlets on each side "warn against raising false hopes."


**  U.S. involvement results from its "preeminence in the Middle East." 


**  Anti-Israel critics charge the impractical roadmap presupposes Palestinian "submission." 




Bush's 'heartening return' to the peace process prompts guarded optimism--  The "historic progress" achieved at the Sharm-El-Sheikh and Aqaba summits drew widespread praise for Bush's "political and personal commitment."  Egyptian papers said the U.S. now has a "golden chance to regain trust" by "pressuring Israel to implement the roadmap," though Jordan's independent Al-Arab Al-Yawm questioned the "extent of the U.S. commitment."  Lebanon's centrist Al-Anwar declared, "Arabs are ready to reach peace," while Tanzania's moderate Nipashe hoped the roadmap would prove "a catalyst for peace" worldwide.


Israeli and Arab conservatives believe the other side 'cannot conceive' of making peace--  A writer in pluralist Maariv wrote that Palestinians consider the roadmap just "a diplomatic trick on the way to Israel's defeat."  The Jerusalem Post warned, "Destroying Israel remains a critical plank of the militant Islamic agenda."  On the Arab side, Jordan's Al-Rai accused Sharon of seeking to "sabotage" the roadmap by drowning it in "ambiguous and loose expressions."  Other Arab dailies were "much more pessimistic than optimistic," citing "Israel's bloody and most brutal aggression" and its "maneuvers, hurdles, and procrastinations."


The U.S.' 'global power' makes Mideast stability its responsibility--  The roadmap comprises only a part of the U.S.' "remodeling of the Middle East," as Washington has "too many interests in the Middle East to let the Arab-Israeli fighting go unchecked."  Given what Saudi Arabia's moderate Al-Watan termed the U.S.' "political weight and regional interests," the summits foreshadow the "end of the Arab political world as it has been conceived so far."  An Italian daily added that if the U.S. gives "a state to the Palestinians and security to the Israelis, nobody would any longer protest its right" to lead the world.


The roadmap is the 'beginning of a new Arab surrender'--  Skeptics termed the roadmap a "deception...based on achieving both occupation and security" for Israel that will only "force the Palestinians into...subjugation."  The rightist Pakistan Observer alleged the roadmap's "many serious problems, deficiencies, omissions and loopholes" reward Israeli "intransigence."  Kuwait's Al-Watan insisted "jihad is the only option" because "the Jews are the Umma's primary enemy."  Other writers labeled the roadmap "heavier on symbolism than substance."  Thailand's conservative Siam Rath ominously called it a "Palestinian genocide plan."


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis was based on 96 reports from 36 countries over 29 May - 4 June 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from their most recent date. 





BRITAIN:  "Bush The Peacemaker"


The independent Financial Times observed (6/4):  "President Bush's pledge seek 'permanent reconciliation among the peoples of the Middle East' marks a heartening return by the U.S. to peacemaking in the region.  What matters now is that Washington turn these words into deeds and at last deals even-handedly in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  While the road map is worringly vague on exactly where it is going, it leaves no doubt that a two-states solution requires the ending of violence and the progressive but simultaneous ending of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip--which the Palestinians regard as the cause of the violence.  If Mr Bush is serious about resolving this conflict, he will have to tell his Israeli ally that he can have peace, or the settlements, but not both.  Mr Sharon appears confident it will never come to that.  Peace requires that the president proves him wrong."


"A Start Along The Peace Road"


The conservative Times took this view (6/4): "Mr Bush will not achieve a breakthrough in just two days of meetings; but he will have undercut sceptics, at home and in the Muslim world, who doubted his commitment to the road map in the run-up to the U.S. elections, and he will have launched the most ambitious U.S. diplomatic mission since coming to office.  Until now Mr Bush has rightly been wary of overengaging the authority of his office in the elusive search for peace.  He saw how his predecessor’s focus on the minutiae made him a prisoner of the region’s politics.  Mr Bush left Evian early, but even his summit hosts joined in the praise from the other G-8 leaders for his determination to concentrate on the Middle East.  He has already achieved important symbolic steps: five Arab leaders have promised to crack down on violence, rejecting terrorism in any form 'regardless of justifications or motives'; and Ariel Sharon released dozens of Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture.  More difficult steps must now follow."


"An Opportunity For Peace In The Middle East, Which Mr Bush Is Right To Seize"


The center-left Independent held (6/3):  "Naturally enough, Mr Bush has been criticised for hightailing it out of the G8 talks so soon.  He could have and should, so the argument runs, have spent much more time rebuilding bridges with estranged allies such as France and Germany.  For those transatlantic differences are deep, and will not be bridged by some flabbily worded communique or chummy body language....  Asking himself what exactly would be the most productive use of his precious time over the coming few days, he opted to capitalise on an opportunity that had presented itself in the Middle East....  He may well delegate more of the role to his staff, rationing his own appearances to the more critical junctures.  The current President Bush will certainly continue to alleviate Israel's security concerns by speaking and acting against state sponsors of terrorism in the region."


FRANCE:  "President Bush Inaugurates His Middle East Peace Plan"


Jean-Jacques Mevel wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (6/4):  “One very revealing item among many others is that not a single Arab news outlet sent a special correspondent to be included in the 200 U.S. and foreign journalists covering the President’s trip to the Middle East.  For them, the President’s tour is obviously less ‘historic’ than for President Bush....  This misunderstanding is not new, and the Iraqi intervention has made things worse.”


"Two Diverging Visions"


Claue Guibal judged in left-of-center Liberation (6/4):  “It was announced that the summit in Sharm el-Sheik would hold no major surprises.  It has nevertheless allowed some disagreements to appear between ‘moderate’ Arab countries and America’s perceptions....  Hence the two concluding press releases instead of the single one that was originally planned.”


GERMANY:  "A Beginning In Aqaba"


Jerusalem correspondent Thorsten Schmitz filed the following editorial for center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (6/4):  "It is too early for premature praise, but for the first time in 32 months, a ray of hope is visible on the horizon.  But this ray would disappear immediately if President Bush gave up his moderation in the Middle East because of the pre-election campaign in the United States.  Israelis and Palestinians cannot be left on their own.  With the summit in Aqaba, the Middle East gets a chance.  A photo opportunity will emphasize this, since one man will no longer be in the picture, a man, whose absence nobody bemoans:  Yasser Arafat."


"A Question Of Honesty"


Rolf Paasch opined in an editorial in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (6/4):  "Without a halfway functioning democratization in Iraq, there can be no lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  If the United States fails with its efforts to rebuild Iraq, all Arab prejudices toward the arrogant superpower would be confirmed.  And without a constructive contribution of the neighboring countries, there will be no security for Israel either.  George W. Bush has understood this and summoned a coalition of the not so much willing to Sharm el-Sheikh....  Between the will of the superpower and the wishes of their people, America's Arab allies looked like actors on the stage in Sharm el-Sheikh desperately searching for an independent role.  But diplomatic pressure on the supporters of Hezbollah in Damascus is as appropriate as is the commitment of the undemocratic Egyptian and Saudi leadership to supporting the roadmap to peace.  But the United States should at the same time also try to convince the 'Arab street' of the honesty and credibility of its Middle East policy by exerting pressure on Israel and by democratizing Iraq.  But if the Bush administration pursues its engagement for a two-state solution with the same kind of negligence that it shows in rebuilding Iraq, the democratic restructuring of the Middle East will fail."


"Peace Of The Brave"


Michael Stuermer opined in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (6/4):  "President Bush is exerting pressure.  He is...signaling to Sharon the end of his patience, and...he makes unmistakably clear to the Arab leaders that they do not have the choice between half peace and half war, but between pax americana, which includes Israel's existence, and fatal instability that is threatening all nations of the region and their rulers....  Bush shows his vision and toughness.  In American terms:  'He means business.'" With this approach, and only with this approach, will peace for the brave have a chance."


"In The Lion's Den"


Wolfgang Guenter Lerch said in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (6/3):  "Without talking the new Mideast roadmap to death, we must warn against raising false hopes right from the onset.  We must concede that President Bush brought together Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas.  But one single Palestinian attack would be enough to destroy this new beginning that should is now supposed to be initiated in Aqaba.  The numerous Israeli objections against the roadmap do not bode well either.  Even before Bush's trip to the Middle East, Sharon was massively attacked by Jewish settlers and 'party friends.'  Will Bush, who will start his pre-election campaign in the fall, be able to remove all these obstacles?  Maybe the meetings from Sharm el-Sheikh and Aqaba will only be an episode."


ITALY:  "When A Mediator Goes To The Front Line"


Ugo Tramballi wrote in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore (6/4):  “Nothing like a President visiting...[can] turn the ‘road map’ from an abstract plan into a realistic guide for a concrete, credible and true peace....  Until three months ago, Bush was in a hurry to wage a war against Iraq and was asking for more time to resolve the Palestinian problem.  The priorities have now been reversed: Bush needs time to stabilize Iraq and wants to close as soon as possible the century-old Arab-Israeli conflict.  If the America that has removed Saddam Hussein were to succeed in giving a state to the Palestinians and security to the Israelis, nobody would any longer protest its right to be the leader of the world.”         


"Bush Wants Peace After Absolution"


R.A. Segre contended in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (6/4):  “Bush left the Sharm-el-Sheik summit with a half-full glass....  But the taste of the drink in the glass is, for the time being, much more American than Arab.  Bush succeeded in making this summit...look like the direct continuation of the military victory in Iraq.  The United States, in fact, notified the representatives of the governments participating in the summit about the line it intends to follow--and to make others follow--in the Middle East: the establishment of new relations that won’t admit any support for terrorism ‘independently from any justifications there may be for it.’...  The glass remained half empty, however, for other explicit and implicit reasons.  The first is that the Sharm-el-Sheik summit represents the end of the Arab political world as it has been conceived so far.  The Secretary of the Arab League was not invited, and Syria, Lebanon and Libya were absent.  And the symbol of the Arab fight, Arafat, was not only not invited, but continues to be almost a prisoner in Ramallah.”


“Middle East Peace, First Round In Egypt”


Eric Salerno wrote in Rome-based centrist Il Messaggero (6/3):  “(There are) conciliatory signals from Israel, conciliatory remarks and some hope from the Palestinians on the eve of the two Middle East summits.  A cautious optimism is in the air in the Middle East, due especially to President Bush’s personal commitment....  National Security Advisor Rice and Secretary Powell will accompany the President.”


RUSSIA:  "Bush's Foreign Policy Effective"


Andrey Zlobin had this in reformist Vremya Novostey (6/4):  "Bush's foreign policy has born fruit: he has done away with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and overthrown Saddam Hussein in Iraq.  Riding on the rest of the victorious wave, then the U.S. President has turned to a politically risky project, willing to help two neighboring states make up so they could live in peace."


"Arafat To Go"


Leonid Gankin commented in reformist business-oriented  Kommersant (6/4):  "It is hard to tell how feasible the U.S. plan is....  But it is a cinch that Arafat will soon be gone.  Politically, of course.  Such is the U.S. position.  Disputing it, as shown by experience, is hopeless and even harmful.  But then, nothing bad will happen even if Moscow keeps fighting to the bitter end, trying to defend Arafat.  Washington will forgive us that just like it has forgiven us for supporting Saddam.  Except that Russia might be taken out of the settlement process in the Middle East.  Too bad--being in promises some dividends."


"Very Long Road"


Aleksandr Kapralov remarked in reformist Vremya MN (6/4): "True, there is a chance, but the road is very long....   Europe wants no more of the United States' amateur efforts to 'democratize' Arab regimes....   Abbas's making the Palestinians stop their terrorist activities... would be a good start for the Roadmap plan."


"Middle East: Fate-Making Week"


Konstantin Kapitonov opined in reformist Vremya MN (6/3):  "This week may make or break the situation in the Middle East.  Bush is going to play the main role in the operation peace.  This is like a boss coming to put his house in order.   Had there been doubts in his mind about this mission, Bush would not have organized summits in Sharm al-Sheih and Aqaba.  Throughout last week Washington held intensive consultations with the Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians and Saudis.   The go-ahead was given after it became clear that there really is a chance for change in the Middle East."


"Bush's Priorities"


Aleksey Reutov noted in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (6/3):  "Under his schedule, Bush might just as well have sat through the rest of the Evian program, but he preferred to arrive in Egypt early, thereby demonstrating his foreign policy priorities.   It is common knowledge what George Bush's close attention to one country or another would end with.  So you may be sure that the Arab leaders who have been invited to the meeting have made conclusions by now."


AUSTRIA:  "Diplomatic Baptism Of Fire"


In centrist Die Presse, Thomas Vieregge maintained (6/3):  "George W. Bush had good reasons for saving his Middle East mission for the end of his trip. Compared to negotiations with shrewd professional politicians like Ariel Sharon, the calamities with Chirac and Schröder look like harmless diplomatic skirmishes....  Until now, the U.S. President has tried to avoid the region as much as possible. Now he finally risks the step into unknown territory--with a high degree of risk. He mustn’t let himself be lulled by declarations and promises, sincere as they may sound, and he must not let himself be taken in by half-hearted compromises--something that both sides in the conflict have become masters at. When it comes to the crunch, only pressure will get results. Bush senior proved this when he put the thumbscrews on Israel’s Prime Minister Shamir after the end of the first Gulf War: he turned off the Dollar-tap. And lo and behold--suddenly Shamir was willing to co-operate. Bush junior has to insist on strict adherence to the peace plan, and he must prevent his Roadmap from being diluted, as the Israelis are now trying to do. Most importantly, he cannot let himself be deterred by setbacks. Only the long-term presence of US negotiators can guarantee success.”


IRELAND:  "Bush Brings Peace Plan To Arab Leaders"


Siona Jenkins remarked in the center-left Irish Times (6/3):  "The President will be hoping to get a strong Arab endorsement of his efforts to revive the moribund Palestinian-Israeli peace process before going on to Jordan....  The Sharm el-Sheikh talks are likely to be heavier on symbolism than substance.  In addition to the road map...the leaders will discuss Iraq, fighting terrorism and economic issues....  Moreover, the leaders President Bush will meet...are all moderates who have already voiced support for the peace plan. But the fact that Mr Bush has come to deliver his message personally is designed to show that he means business....  But while Mr Bush is likely to get a positive response in Sharm el-Sheikh, the Arab leaders will face a far tougher challenge selling the road map and other American plans for the region to their respective publics.  Anti-American sentiment is at an all-time high in the Arab world. The war on Iraq was vehemently opposed by most ordinary Arabs, and its swift conclusion was considered a humiliation. The US is widely seen as Israel's protector, allowing its ally to violate Palestinian rights for domestic political purposes. Few believe that it will guarantee a just peace for the Palestinians."


NORWAY:  “The Difficult Road”


Independent VG maintained (6/4):  "It will be the U.S. President’s task to tempt and threaten the two Prime Ministers [Abbas and Sharon] and try to impress upon both that there is no way back. They have both received a political roadmap, and it must be followed....  Therefore it is permissible to hope, especially if the world's mightiest politician continues his personal engagement.”


PORTUGAL:  "The American Arm"


Francisco Azevedo e Silva commented in respected center-left Diário de Notícias (6/3):  "The President of the U.S. has today in Egypt, and tomorrow in Jordan, the most difficult phase of his seven-day diplomatic marathon....  Truth to tell, the White House never tried to hide where its biggest bet was on this Bush marathon: the 'roadmap'....  The Americans are not unconnected to Sharon's (still insufficient) concessions....  But there is still much to be done, both on the Israeli and Palestinian sides, for today's Arab regional summit to be able to make an important contribution to Palestinian 'pacification', presupposing some more determined work by Bush on Sharon. The U.S. president has already sent signals that he will do so, since he has at his disposal at the moment an augmented capacity for intervention--the waste of which would be negative for American foreign policy itself."


SPAIN:  "From Evian To Aqaba"


Centrist La Vanguardia held (6/4):  "Without a doubt, 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have dramatically changed the situation.  In Iraq, the U.S. is embarking on the biggest process of reconstruction of a country since the end of WW II, a phenomenon that could alter the map of this whole volatile region.  And from there comes the conviction that there won't be even minimal stability in the Middle East if Palestinians and Israelis don't solve their deep and extensive differences at the negotiation table....  According to all indicators the meeting in Sharm el Shiekh went reasonably well....  But moving from vision to reality will demand more than declarations, that is certain."




ISRAEL:  "The Important Words"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (6/4):  "The words uttered today in Aqaba will have a special significance and value.  As President Bush declared yesterday in Sharm el-Sheikh: 'There's a hopeful direction to recent events in the Middle East.'  Both prime ministers who meet with him today have a role in that positive direction and they must send tidings of a better future to their own people--and to the other side, as well....  Abbas's mission when he delivers his speech in Aqaba is to persuade the Israeli citizenry of the accuracy of those intelligence assessments.  In addition, he must choose his words so they send a message to his own people and the entire Arab world of a new Palestinian determination to suppress terror.  As for Prime Minister Sharon, his words about occupation echoed around the world and raised enormous expectations.  The Aqaba setting, where the President of the United States will reiterate his own political and personal commitment to bring peace to our region, will provide a rare opportunity for Sharon to also persuade his listeners at home and over the Green Line [i.e. the Palestinians] of his commitment to compromise and conciliation between the two nations."


"High Noon"


Nahum Barnea wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/4):  "Sharon, who has depended so heavily on the confidence that Bush displays towards him, will find how easily Bush betrays him with his new man of peace, the Saudi crown prince.  Sharon can invite Bush and his men time and again to helicopter flights over the country’s narrow waist: they will continue to think in terms of Texas.  Sharon has dedicated 35 years of his life to building the settlements.  The arguments were strategic, Zionist, messianic.  The opposing camp views them as a national disaster.  Bush does not understand what the debate is about.  In his eyes, the settlements are simply a dumb investment in hopeless stock.  Israel builds them, and the Palestinians will live in them.  Strange, these Jews.  Likewise for the Palestinians: Bush has no ear for their political nuances, for the constraints, for their difficulty to release themselves from the tradition of terror.  He is like a child who is not sure he likes the toy that has fallen into his hands.  If it annoys him, he will kick the toy under the bed.  Clinton took the trouble to learn all the nuances of Israeli and Arab politics, mediated and matched and in return received terror and war.  Who knows?  Perhaps Bush's brutal, somewhat childish simplicity will succeed more than Clinton's patient sophistication."


"How About A Jewish State?"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (6/4):  "If Bush wants to get anywhere with [the road map], he must stop avoiding and accommodating Arab intransigence and deploy the moral clarity that has been his hallmark....  Today, the issue is not Israelis who cannot utter the words 'Palestinian state,' but Arab leaders Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Mubarak who cannot utter the words 'Jewish state'....  What we see now is a U.S. government that seems to have put Palestinian statehood at the top of its post-Iraq agenda.  This newspaper isn't against a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state, but if this cause is to be integrated into the war against terrorism, its focus must be changed....  Destroying Israel remains a critical plank of the militant Islamic agenda, and Palestinian statehood has for decades been seen by the Arab world as a means to that goal.  If militant Islam is America's target, it should be focusing on destabilizing Iran and demanding up front that the Arab world speak, not just of Israel, but a Jewish state.  Then we will know that we are on our way to a new Middle East, rather than more of the same."


"As It Were--A U.S.-Less Middle East"


Nationalist Emuna Elon wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/4):  "Here comes the conqueror--his name is George Bush.  Israel didn't conquer land from the Palestinian people, because the Land of Israel is the People of Israel's country; never--let me repeat, never--has it, or parts of it, been under Palestinian sovereignty.  In contrast, the United States is now conquering the Middle East, including the Land of Israel.  The American conquest of Iraq is a fait accompli, and George the Great is now continuing his splendid campaign of conquest; he plans to establish two compliant colonies--a Palestinian one and an Israeli one."


"U.S. Nurses Illusions On The Road To Aqaba"


Shmuel Rosner opined in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (6/3):  "This week, the U.S. Administration is exploiting a rare moment of agreement on the road to the summit in Aqaba.  There's agreement on the summit itself and on the necessary details to make it a success--but not necessarily an agreement on long-term policies that will follow....  Success is far from certain....  Abbas is currently enjoying a reputation in Washington that someone called 'foggy.'  The Administration is pinning hopes on him but is ready to half admit that it still doesn't have a firm basis for those hopes.  At best, Abbas is a riddle here.  Sharon's situation is ostensibly much better, even if he does not enjoy the enormous credibility that his predecessor Ehud Barak had in public opinion....  But the Administration is coordinated with Sharon 'down to the fingertips,' as one person deeply familiar with the talks between Israel and the White House said, and the appreciation for Sharon has only increased since his most recent moderate statements.  [A Jewish lobbyist] said that the Administration also has a form of illusion about Sharon."


"Understanding The Negotiating Strategies"


Barry Rubin observed in conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (6/3):  "The Palestinian leadership sees no need to impose a cease-fire or end the current fighting.  The battle will continue until Israel accepts all of its demands, at which point there can be a truce while the details of a full peace agreement are worked out....  Probably, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), Abu Ala, Mohammed Dahlan, and others would prefer a more flexible policy toward peace with Israel and a harder-line one toward those determined to keep fighting until anything remaining of the Palestinian infrastructure and economy is completely destroyed.  But Arafat won't let them do so, and they are not going to challenge him seriously....  The Arab states' interpretation is that they don't want to become involved at all.  If Arafat accepts a deal, they will go along with it....  The U.S. hopes to prepare the ground so the best advantage can be taken of any opportunity.  Perhaps it would even be possible in some months to obtain a cease-fire or some interim steps that would ease tensions.  All this is the basic reality behind the flurry of meetings, trips, plans, and proclamations.  In terms of negotiations, not only are the 1990s over but we are back in the 1980s.  The good news is that we are not back in the 1960s or 1970s."


"A Diplomatic Trick"


Hagai Segal commented in pluralist, popular Maariv (6/3):  "[The IDF] will return to [the territories], not because Sharon is cheating everybody, and not because history tends to maintain Israel in the territories despite himself, but because the Palestinians cannot conceive truly making peace with Israel.  They are ready to hold their fire for some time, for a 'hudna'...but they will never sign a multigenerational peace.  Such an agreement would contradict the Palestinian entity's founding challenge--that of the elimination of Israel--and the entire Palestinian folklore.  As far as Abu Mazen is concerned, the road map is but another diplomatic trick on the way to Israel's defeat.  In other words, this land will perhaps be quiet for some time, but the inferno will fully resume afterwards.  The Palestinians will use the upcoming cease-fire in the same way they used the few truces throughout the Oslo process."


"The Betrayal Of The Intellectuals"


Sever Plotker opined in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (6/2):  "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accepted President Bush’s vision of 'two states for two peoples'....  The new Palestinian leadership, under Abu Mazen, also accepted the principle of partition....  The intellectual elites in the Arab world have adamantly refused to compromise with Israel.  Among these elites, and by means of them large parts of Arab public opinion, one of the prevalent ludicrous theories is that the Jews are not a 'nation' but rather a 'religion,' and since they are a religion they have no need for a sovereign state of their own....  The 'Palestinian problem' is used in the Arab world today, just like 40 years ago, as an excuse for conservatism, silencing, dictatorship and shutting off the world behind walls of isolation....  [Arab poets] and their colleagues encourage the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Ramallah to remain in a 'perpetual Intifada,' an Intifada that for the frustrated intellectuals is a spiritual uplifting of sorts in which they are not required to sacrifice anything save a few hateful words.  By so doing the Arab intellectuals betray, first and foremost, their Palestinian brethren.  A summit meeting in Jerusalem, a summit meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, a summit meeting in Aqaba constitute new initiatives that inspire hope.  But as long as reconciliation with Israel fails to take root in the depths of the Arab consciousness as their own natural and voluntary choice and continues to be something that is imposed from without--imposed by the United States, imposed by the Jewish lobby, imposed by globalization--the chances for peace are very slim."


"Bush Is Determined"


Hemmi Shalev wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (6/2):  "The blank check and the generous credit that Bush gave Sharon in the past two and a half years are now being called in, and Bush is coming to Aqaba to collect the debt....  If there was one huge surprise in Jerusalem, it stemmed from the mistaken belief that Bush, for a variety of personal, political, ideological and strategic reasons, from the outset considered the heaps of credit that he gave Sharon as risky debts, if not utterly lost ones.  That conception collapsed on the day that Bush delivered the bill and demanded that the road map be approved.  It was not a change within Sharon, which either occurred or did not, that set the paralyzed wheels of the peace process in motion, but rather a turnabout that occurred, by all signs, with Bush.  Contrary to Sharon, who at least gave early warning of the possibility that he might turn into a peace-seeker, Bush gave no hint that one fine day he would decide to stop being indifferent, would climb off the fence and, in the best Texan tradition, grab the bull by the horns....  After years of false starts by the State Department, the White House got involved and the softness was replaced overnight with tenacity and determination.  Bush will not forgive anyone who tries to ruin the show for him either at Sharm el-Sheikh, where the Arab leaders will serve as decoration for the appetizer, or in Aqaba on Wednesday, where Sharon and Abu Mazen are going to be the main course, and not even in Qatar on Thursday, in a grand finale photo-op, when Bush meets with the American troops that fought in Iraq. Hamas knows this as well and might show self-restraint, but Osama bin Laden has a different agenda."


"Trust Is Not Enough"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (6/1):  "[Israeli] 'good-will gestures' were all apparently made in return for little more than Abbas's announcement that 'the time for peace has come.'  Abbas's vague rhetoric and manner was sufficient to inspire his Israeli interlocutors with hope ahead of the Aqaba summit with U.S. President George W. Bush later this week.  Abbas expressed the hope that a cease-fire with Palestinian terrorist groups could soon be achieved and the buoyed Israeli side chose to regard this as Abbas's interim goal only, trusting that he eventually intends to actually dismantle the terror network.  Yet no sooner did the Jerusalem parley end than another symbolic act took place.  Abbas's immediate move was to call on Yasser Arafat, report to him, win approval, and receive further instructions.  Israel may pretend it is not dealing with Arafat, but its self-delusion cannot be blamed on Abbas.  He doesn't bother covering-up the fact that he is directly answerable to his boss....  No 'confidence-building measures' that risk endangering Israeli lives should be taken without concrete evidence that the Palestinian side is taking action against terrorism.  We help no one neither ourselves, nor Abbas, assuming he sincerely wants to end terrorism by making it easier for terrorists to kill Israelis.  Security officials say the number of attempted attacks is down, but still high.  Given our bitter experience and current circumstances, trust alone is not enough."


WEST BANK:  “Sharm el-Sheikh Summit And The Arab Commitment”


Independent Al-Quds opined (6/4):  "The a sensible Arab statement emphasizing the participants’ support for the American efforts toward achieving some sort of peace settlement in the region based on the Quartet’s roadmap as well as on Washington’s post-9/11 strategy of...containing and fighting violence wherever it originates....  The statements of President Mubarak and President Bush regarding the Palestinian issue reflect the seriousness of efforts exerted at the summit to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict....  Undoubtedly, the Arab commitment to support the current American administration’s efforts toward achieving a settlement is a positive development.  That said, we have to caution against the possibility that Arab will could completely crumble in the face of the American strategy.”


“American Involvement”


 Hafez Barghouti commented in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (6/4):  “The implementation of the roadmap requires a real change in the American position, especially regarding settlements and Israeli state terrorism.  This new American position should not take for granted every Israeli claim regarding its evacuation of some settlement outposts, simply because such outposts are imaginary, a fact that can be easily discovered by the American observers when they get here.  Nevertheless, even when the roadmap takes off, it will need the involvement of President Arafat, without whom no roads can be paved and no maps can be drafted.”


“The Roadmap And The Israeli And Palestinian Peoples”


Tawfiq Abu Bakr said in independent, pro-PA Al-Ayyam (6/4):  "The back-to-back negotiations, in which every side communicates with its public, will never work.  We need face-to-face negotiations without any statements from any side.  Such negotiations, even with an American or European participation, should be conducted in secret and consist of no public statements.  Oslo was the only agreement that really worked because it took place away from the media.  Only after an agreement is reached should the results be presented to the publics, who then will have the final say on it.”


“What Will The Arab Leaders Tell President Bush?”


Ziad Abu Zayyad opined in independent Al-Quds (6/3):  “As President Bush appears on Nile News TV to affirm...that he is committed to achieving peace in the Middle East, the Israeli government goes on tirelessly in its practices that offend all Muslims by tightening its grip around the Al-Aqsa Mosque and preventing worshippers from freely reaching the mosque....  There is no doubt that President Bush aims to tell the Arab leaders, on the eve of his meeting with Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas, that he will fulfill his promises and commit his efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.  But more importantly, the consecutive visits by Bush and Blair to the Arab capitals aim at extracting official and popular Arab legitimacy for the war on Iraq....  So what will the Arab leaders gain from meeting with Bush in Sharm el-Sheikh?  What will they say to the American president? And what are they hoping to gain in return of giving Bush what he’s after?  What the Arab leaders need to do is, first, assert to President Bush that they are unequivocally against making the Iraqi occupation permanent....  Secondly, they have to make President Bush commit to ending all Israeli practices against Jerusalem and demolishing the racially motivated wall and stopping all settlement plans… Thirdly, demand that he exert pressure on Israel to issue a statement recognizing that all of the Palestinian land, including Jerusalem, is occupied territory....  Fourthly, the Arab leaders must make clear to President Bush that President Yasser Arafat will never ever be excluded [from any solution].”


“Our Way From Sharm el-Sheikh To The End Is Difficult”


Hasan el-Kashef commented in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (6/3):  “In dealing with Bush’s vision regarding the different phases of the roadmap, Sharon will try to follow a dual tactic in an effort to tackle the many pressures, hardships and crises in the long way leading to the conclusion of the roadmap.  His first tactic will focus on extracting advance Palestinian recognition of a solution that would neglect Palestinian rights while at the same time acknowledging the Jewishness of the State of Israel. Through his other tactic, Sharon will try to impose the security issue on all Palestinian issues, emptying all of them of any political content....  In Sharm el-Sheikh, the internationally supported American administration will impose its vision toward achieving a solution through [implementing] the roadmap.  President Bush arrives in Sharm el-Sheikh with international and regional blessing regarding the roadmap.  He will leave Sharm el-Sheikh with Arab support and blessing for his vision of a two-state solution.  Tomorrow the American president will arrive in Aqaba to open the way for implementing the roadmap, and he will sure want to appear as a man of peace, one who is dedicating his time and attention to finding a solution to the most difficult problem of all. We realize that the American president is need of burnishing his image as a man of peace, especially after gaining the reputation of a man of war as a result of invading and occupying Iraq without international support or legitimacy.  That said, no one expects President Bush, who has defeated all of his fail.”


“Bush’s Fate Depends On His Ability To Free His Administration From Control Of Hawks”


Ragheda Durgham stated in independent Al-Quds (6/2):  “There are reasons to believe that President Bush will succeed where former President Clinton has failed.  But there are other reasons that call for concern, including the possibility for the Israeli-Palestinian issue to become a ‘deferred vision'....  The American President’s visit to the region and his role as a direct mediator in the new peace process, which is based on the Roadmap that will lead to the creation of the State of Palestine, are undoubtedly important developments.  But the question is: What is the outcome of such developments?  The answer is dependent upon the seriousness of President Bush in his determination to free his administration from the control of hawkish elements, who only believe in the logic of power and military victories, and place it instead under the dual guardianship of sanity and pragmatism.”


“A Critical Phase”


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (6/1):  “These days, the Palestinian people are going through a critical phase in their history. They have to consider decisions concerning their sacrifices in the past three years and be able to deal with the American and international pressure for accepting a solution that may fall short of satisfying the minimum Palestinian national aspirations.  There is no doubt that the Roadmap lacks essential elements demanded by the Palestinians, but this map provides an opportunity that must be carefully considered, including ending settlement activities and, more importantly, establishing an internationally recognized, independent Palestinian state.  It is true that the Palestinian people have the will to continue their struggle and resistance against the occupation.  But this will must also take facts on the ground into consideration and utilize every opportunity to improve the political and regional Palestinian position, in order to ease the harsh

restrictions imposed on our people.  The current situation demands that all Palestinians, including the government and opposition parties, reach a consensus on a national strategy because the entire Palestinian people are in the same boat.”


ALGERIA:  "The American Plan For The Middle East"


Leading French-language independent Le Quotidien d’Oran declared (6/2):  "The consensus on the occupation of Iraq sealed in Evian concretizes the first step of American preeminence in the Middle East. The second step will start tomorrow in Charm El-Cheikh, where G. W. Bush has convoked several Arab kings and heads of state.

G. W. Bush would show the American public, strongly opposed to bombing Iraq in a war which is still considered illegitimate and unjustified, the image of a United States acting for peace and defending it.”


EGYPT:  "Delay"


Nabil Zaki wrote in leftist, pro-opposition Al-Ahaly (6/4):  ”As soon as President Bush arrived in Sharm, Sharon gave orders to impose a curfew in Ramallah following his tanks’ raid on the city....  Sharon wants to win time until next November when the presidential elections start in the USA....  The impression of all those who heard Sharon’s recent speech, even those inside the cabinet, is that he doesn’t value words. For that reason the ministers of the settlement government are not worried.  Although they oppose the road map, they see there is nothing wrong in continuing as ministers in the cabinet....  This extremist right wing who threatened withdrawal from the cabinet if the road map were accepted, is now calm and sees they will remain in their places since nothing has threatened the West Bank and the situation in Gaza has not changed....  The decision of the Israeli Government to accept the road map was taken under pressure.  Consequently, Sharon will try to obstruct its implementation.”


"A Durable Peace"


Ibrahim Nafei contended in leading pro-government Al-Ahram (6/4):  ”Today US President Bush meets with Palestinian PM Abu Mazen and PM Sharon to lay down the foundation stone for durable peace in the ME.  Everyone wishes to see this realized and hopes Sharon’s confessions about the Palestinians and the Palestinian territories are not just maneuvers to find a way out of the siege of international consensus after the Arabs presented their peace initiatives at the same time that Israeli bulldozers were demolishing Palestinian houses and assassinating Palestinians and imposing a horrible siege on them....  The Aqaba meeting emphasizes that if international powers take action, it becomes possible to realize peace.  International powers have already taken action and Israel can do nothing but stick to the road map. But if they continue to put up obstacles and raise unjust conditions, then they will be grasping at the dust of the road and not the road itself, and we will live another fifty years in the whirlpool of wars and assassinations.”


"A New Basis"


Leading, pro-government Al Ahram opined (6/3):  "The whole world is focusing its attention today and tomorrow on Sharm and Aqaba to see a relaxation in American-Arab relations and to see the new basis for the joint work of realizing stability, progress, prosperity, and peace for all the peoples of the region. Certainly these are historic moments because there are new chances on the horizon for dispelling the state of despair and for leading to real work towards realizing these principles. But these chances could melt away if they are just words and not translated into action. This is the responsibility put on the shoulders of the participants in these international and regional events.”


"Golden Chance"


Small-circulation, pro-government Al-Gomhouriya held (6/3):  "In Sharm the US has a golden chance to regain trust in its image and to show that it is a force for rightousness and justice and not a force for occupation, revenge and abduction. Washington realizes that by pressuring Israel to implement the road map and by reviving the principle of land for peace, it will remove the bitterness which it planted in hearts with its biased policy towards Israel and its invasion and occupation of Iraq. We hope that this effort, which the US is exerting, will protect its increasing interest in the region.”




Mohsen Mohammed wrote in liberal, pro-opposition Al-Wafd (6/3):  "Many Arabs have suspicions about what is happening now. They see that Sharon will postpone reaching a solution and will play with the Arabs the Israeli game of the time factor and will exploit every suicidal operation and every political incident in order to stall. The Arabs believe that the US will play with the time factor too and will stall, waiting for a chance. The Arabs think what is happening now serves the game of the American elections which will take place next year in November. There are people in the US who emphasize that those around the President are from the extreme right and that they are supporters of Israel and will spoil everything....  The Arabs need to know that the ME peace process will not be easy and will need time and patience."


"Anti-U.S. Animosity"


Said Sonbol observed in aggressive pro-government Al-Akhbar (6/3):  “The truth that American President GWB should know as he visits the region at this hour is that US credibility in the Arab street is lost, and the feelings of animosity to US policy and to Americans is increasing day by day. The reason behind this is blind US bias towards Israel. This bias has encouraged Israel to bear down on the Palestinians, to deny their rights, demolish their homes, uproot their trees, and humiliate them. America has an historic chance to regain its credibility and standing in the Arab street and eliminate the feelings of hatred and animosity.  This will be the case if it exerts pressure for peace and adopts a just and impartial position that does not side with any party.”


JORDAN:  "What Will Happen At the Aqaba Summit?"


Chief Editor Taher Udwan wrote in independent, mass-appeal Arabic-language Al-Arab Al-Yawm (6/4):  "There are negative and positive aspects of the Roadmap. The first and most serious of those negative aspects is the existence of a right-wing extremist government, headed by Sharon, in Tel Aviv. A few weeks ago, Israel's prime minister said that he is not concerned with the Roadmap. One thing can only explain his presence in Aqaba today and that is, President Bush's strong pressures on him. One of the positive aspects of the summit is that the U.S. president, who sent his troops to occupy Iraq in the name of liberation and democracy is asked  to put an end to the plight of the Palestnians....  The Aqaba summit is a great and historic opportunity for peace that will be crowned with an independent Palestinian state. However, we should not go overboard without hopes and expectations. Wagering on decisive U.S. pressures on Sharon needs facts rather than analyses and hopes. Moreover, the continued existence of Sharon and a Likud government will remain a continuous threat to the Roadmap and to empty it from its contents through Israeli maneuvers, hurdles, and procrastinations. However, we still must utlize this opportunity on a Palestinian and Arab level and this is what will happen at the Aqaba summit today."


"The Road Map At the Aqaba Summit"


Fahd Fanek opined in semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai (6/4):  "The presence of U.S. President Bush at the Sharm El-Sheikh and Aqaba summits is a sign of the United States' commitment this time. It also shows U.S. willingness to exert enough pressure to accept the Roadmap and to start implementing it without any amendments--but also taking into consideration Israel's fears as the president's reputation is standing a test and he does not want to register any failures on the eve of the next presidential elections....  If President Bush succeeds in achieving peace in the Middle East, then this will be a compensation for some of the negative repercussions of the aggression against Iraq and his success in this regard will serve the interests of all parties and will be an accomplishment that no one can deny....  Bitter experiences in the past called for caution. We are much more pessimistic than optimistic and Sharon's acceptance of the Roadmap under pressure may just be a mere tactic, after which Sharon will jump at the first opportunity to back out and render the plan a failure."


"Will The Aqaba Summit Be A Turning Point?"


Rakan Majali declared in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour (6/4):  “We can say that President Bush came out of Sharm El-Sheikh summit, carrying reassurances to the Palestinians and Israelis that any agreement between them at the Aqaba summit will receive the world's blessings as expressed at the Evian summit and the Arabs' blessings as reflected at the Sharm summit....  It is hoped that the Aqaba summit will be a turning point and, primarily, a starting point for the United States to regain some of its credibility, based on which a just and comprehensive peace can be built and Arab-U.S. relations can be improved. It is also the prelude to security and stability in the region."


"Will The Aqaba Summit Succeed In Describing Sharon As An Occupier?"


Sultan Hattab contended in semi-official influential Arabic-language Al-Rai (6/3):  "Those who meet at Sharm and in Aqaba should wrench two issues from Sharon: The first is that the territories on which his forces have been stood since 1967 are occupied territories. The second is that his government should commit itself to a vision of two neighboring states on the historical land of Palestine, namely, Israel and Palestine. This should be done before Sharon wrenches from the meeting, particularly from the Palestinians, the recognition that the State of Israel is a solely Jewish state, which means writing off the Palestinians' right of return."


"An Attempt To Render The Aqaba Summit A Failure"


Mahmoud Rimawi opined in semi-official influential Arabic-language Al-Rai (6/3):  "The way the occupation government [of Israel] has dealt with the Roadmap, after the Palestinians and Arabs have accepted it, surely indicates a premeditated attempt to sabotage the Aqaba meeting. The danger is that the Aqaba summit would be reduced to a forum for Israel's fables and legends, which would drown the Roadmap in ambiguous and loose expressions about a Palestinian state, instead of making a clear commitment to the implementation of the articles of this plan, and to a timetable and mechanisms to monitor, and follow up on its implementation."


"The Summit In Sharm El-Sheikh And The Results In Aqaba"


Chief Editor Taher Udwan wrote in independent, mass-appeal Arabic-language Al-Arab Al-Yawm (6/3):  "If the Sharm El-Sheikh summit is intended for the U.S. to dictate its terms [to Arabs] as some Arab papers have predicted, then the results will be revealed in the statements at Aqaba, particularly that of Sharon. On the other hand, if the Sharm summit aims to establish an understanding between Bush and the other leaders, this will be revealed in Bush's statement, also at Aqaba. This is because tomorrow's summit, not today's summit, will show the extent of the U.S. commitment to the peace process and whether seriousness [in pursuing peace] has replaced its indifference and blind bias for Israel, which were the hallmarks of U.S. policy under the current administration."


KUWAIT:  “To Not Lose Our Path To Palestine”


Essam Al-Fulaij wrote in independent Al-Watan (5/29):  “We must stress that we should not give up the Palestinian territories....  [O]ur conflict with the Jews is a cultural-ideological conflict....  Resisting normalization with the Jewish enemy is very important for the Jews are the Umma’s [Muslim nation’s] primary enemy....  Jihad is the only option we have as otherwise we will lose Palestine.”


LEBANON:  "Indications That Might Support Bush's Initiative"


Nizar Abdel-Kader commented in independent, non-sectarian Ad-Diyar (6/3):  "Leaders in Sherm el-Sheikh should work on convincing President Bush to ask Sharon to be committed to the policy of self-control and to give Palestinians the opportunity to control the situation on the ground.  The moderate flexible language Sharon has been using lately to satisfy and appease the American President is not enough if not coupled with a real effective withdrawal plan from Palestinian cities.  Sharon should help the Palestinians to return to the normal life they had before the intifada."


"If They Only Talk"


Sahar Baasiri observed in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (6/3):  "A very important meeting is to be held today in Sherm El-Sheikh....  President Bush surrounded himself by his Arab allies and all of them are surrounding the new person who joined their club:  the new Palestinian Prime Minister.  The content of the meeting is well know, and let us put aside this joke by President Bush that he intends to discuss with the Arab leaders the peace process, Iraq, combating terrorism and free trade.  Basically, Bush does not discuss issues.  He just informs people and tells them what he wants them to do....  Bush created for himself the image of 'war maker.'  Now he wants to be looked at as a 'peace maker'....  If the leaders in Sherm El-Sheikh are to be allowed to talk, then they should clarify to President Bush that...alienating Arafat from the peace process is not in the interest of this process.  They should also insist on viewing the end result of the roadmap....  Furthermore, they should tell Bush that it is not enough to exert pressure on Sharon, but he should start asking him to take practical steps.  They should also remind him that even if the Palestinians take all possible measures to stop violence, it will not be enough because the only way to stop violence is to remove the Israeli occupation altogether."


"Bush's Bet: A Great Achievement"


Rafiq Khoury held in centrist Al-Anwar (6/1):  "The American President who is planning to attend two summits in Sharm-el-Sheikh And Aqaba, wants the leaders to look into his eyes to see that he has truly decided to reach a peace settlement.  Bush believes that in the past, it was impossible to reach peace with Arafat; however, today he is dealing with different people and different circumstances.  He has Abu-Mazen, Arabs are ready to reach peace, and Sharon knows that the U.S. is committed to Israel's security.  The only thing he has left is make sure that everybody understands that when he says something, he really means it and when he decides to be committed to peace then he really means it."


"The Sharm El-Sheikh Summit And Its Participants"


Walid Al-Hussein wrote in pro-Syria Al-Kifah Al-Arabi (6/1):  "Will Bush really find in Sharm-el-Sheikh the necessary tools that would be able to strike when necessary in order to resolve the destiny of Jerusalem, the return of refugees, and the Israeli settlements?  Except for Egypt, the American President will find out that he is wasting his time on forces that have no value in the Arab world....  The time will come when Arabs will realize that they will have to choose between being friends of the United States or confronting the U.S.  They should remember that even if confronting the U.S. is dangerous, however, being its friend will eventually kill them....  We do not want to change into a nation of murdered people."


MOROCCO:  "Another Time, A Middle East Page"


Abdelahdi Mezrari maintained in semi-official, Arabic-language Assahara (6/4):  "Current U.S. President George W. Bush's tour to the Middle East has reminded us of his father, who following the Gulf War in 1991, went on a tour of the Middle East to arrange the international peace conference which was then held in Madrid....  One does not need to be a story teller to come to know the horizons of the roadmap. Past experience provides the best means to foresee the future. Israel has violated all previous agreements, and  we have all the time to witness Israel's renegation of all future agreements."


"From Monopoly Of Power To Monopoly Of Diplomacy"


Pro-government, Arabic-language Al Ittihad Al Ishtiraki noted (6/3):  "Today an Arab-American summit will be held at Sharam Sheikh between U.S. President George W. Bush and several Arab leaders; and the summit will be attended by Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas....  Observers see in this summit a new reactivation of the Arab-Israeli peace track and an attempt to gather Arab support for American arrangements in Iraq in the context of working with the region on a FTA with the U.S. at the political, economic, financial and strategic levels. Absent from this diplomatic ballet led by President George Bush are the U.N. and the Arab League."


"This Is My Opinion: Will The Roadmap Be Implemented?"


Wassif Mansur commented in pro-government, Arablic-language Al Alam (6/1):  "Apparently, the U.S. position vis-à-vis peace in the Middle East is not opposed to the European one, but practically and in depth, the U.S. position is far from being close to striving for peace since the U.S. Administration wants to achieve a special peace that serves America's interests and satisfies Israel....  Upcoming days will show us whether U.S. pressure on Sharon will strategic or whether Bush would come under Israeli pressure to accept Israel's amendments on the roadmap?"


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Bush: A Difficult Victory Or A Lethal Failure"


Riyadh's conservative Al-Riyadh opined (6/4):  "The Roadmap is an international project, recognized by the Arabs as well as Israel but each with its own conditions. We do not have unrealistic demands or look to embarrass the president. In view of the fact that the Arabs took positive and clear steps toward peace, but to consider them as the weakest and easiest party in presenting waivers, and to treat this attitude as a winning point in signing the surrendering paper to Israel is not acceptable. This attitude encouraged the radicals to establish terrorist networks, which nailed the U.S. and the Arabs, in addition to exploding the Palestinian Intifadah, which is the real explanation of Israeli tyranny against Palestinians. We know of President Bush's hesitation prior to opening dialogue with the Palestinians, since getting involved in the issues led to perceived failures for previous presidents. President Bush realized later on that the American policy couldn't keep avoiding this historical crisis, which is strategically linked to his country. Therefore, engaging in the issue places before him the responsibility of failure or success, as both of the two ways will lead him either to lose or win the next election. However, achieving peace will unlock all doors for him to take over again the White House."


"Between Sharm El-Sheikh And Aqaba"


Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (6/3):  "The summit at Sharm El-Sheikh begins today followed tomorrow by another summit in Aqaba. President Bush can either make a historical event out of these two summits, or just turn them into protocol occasions with floods of promises. Washington, the guardian of peace in this region, with its international role, political weight and regional interests, can turn the order of events toward peace or war. The US can compel Israel to comply with the peace requirements and conditions. The summits in Sharm El-Sheikh and Aqaba are separated by a small amount of time and joined by an opportunity to make peace or war. All interested parties, except Israel, are going to Sharm El-Sheikh with optimism about reaching a peaceful solution for the ME conflict. Israel remains skeptical about peace and believes only in guns and blood. Will Bush bring with him the code for peace? Or will these two summits be just recorded, as their predecessors, in the archives?"




Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina opined (6/3):  "The Bush Administration has given the ME a timeout period. 48 hours out of the President’s time to be spent between Sharm El-Sheikh and Aqaba. Bush’s mission is to make the peace happen and not just look for peace. When we say peace making, it is understood that the vision for such peace must have been already completed by the American decision-maker. Although regional options are limited, one fact should be carefully considered. The American plan is not just the result of the US vision alone and/or Washington’s abilities. It is also the result of active negotiations between some effective powers in the region and Washington. Bush’s vision presented itself in the Road Map that was drawn in Washington and sealed by Europe, Russia and the UN. For this vision to become effective and executable, it must be dealt with as a whole.  A Free trade zone and regional cohesiveness will not materialize as long as there is an Israeli-Arab conflict. Nothing can ensure peace more than justice. Achieving peace in the ME is a big mission. A mission that requires more than just a timeout. However, let us remain optimistic and hope that the American mediator will ask for overtime."


"Road Map Test"


Jeddah's pro-government English-language Arab News declared (6/2):  "It is Bush who probably faces the biggest test of all. Militarily, America has proved it has no equal, but is its diplomatic clout of the same caliber? The Palestinians and Israelis will soon find out. Bush has tried hard to avoid playing a personal role in the Middle East peace process. Events, though, have forced his hand. America's global power is such that it cannot easily avoid becoming engaged in such important geopolitical issues, however reluctant as it and its president might be."


SYRIA:  "Pledges Alone Are Insufficient"


Ahmad Hamadeh contended in government-owned Al-Thawra (6/4):  "The mere pledge to establish a Palestinian state is insufficient. It needs a strong will and practical steps to force an Israeli acknowledgement of Arab rights and an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories including Palestine, the Golan and south Lebanon.  Peace will be absent in the region unless Washington adopts tangible measures to make Israel abide by UNSC resolutions. This is the only guarantee to stop deterioration in the region and create an appropriate atmosphere to revive the peace process on all tracks."


"Towards A More Credible Mechanism"


Mohamed Ali Buza commented in government-owned Al-Thawra (6/4):  "On the tempo of current preparations for the Sharm el-Sheikh and al-Aqaba summit, President Bush talked about peace and difficult decisions confirming that will he do his utmost to achieve it and support it.  Despite its importance, this talk remains within the context of formalities and difficult wishes, but not impossible....  The region has become saturated with promises. Its people have paid dear prices for the world community's refrain from confronting Israel's bloody and most brutal aggression....  It has become difficult to trust the US role and to place bets on it. For 12 years it has failed to prove its credibility and eligibility to be neutral and honest in the peace process. The US must hasten to fulfill its commitments and promises to Arabs and must adopt pragmatic steps to translate its statements on peace into mechanisms that should include all tracks....  Peace is an Arab option; until it become an Israeli option, we wish for U.S. pressure to make it so." 


TUNISIA:  "What Worries President Bush?"


Noureddine Achour wondered in independent Arabic-language Assabah (6/2):  "Is it the future of the Middle East or that of Israel which worries President Bush? Bush did not bring any new perception about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as he focused, as usual, on pressing Palestinians....  This statement precedes the Aqaba Summit, which unveils the Bush Administration intentions about Palestine, as, in spite of previous promises, it still boosts Israeli positions and tries to implement them in order to 'solve' the Palestinian issue....  The US Administration modified its positions about several international issues to avoid problems with some prominent countries, but kept being demanding in regard to the Palestinian people. It regards its struggle towards its independence as 'acts of terrorism,' while Israel, according to Americans, represents a 'threatened country,' while its soldiers commit war crimes on a daily basis against the oppressed Palestinian people. If the US really wants to put an end to the 50-year long stressful atmosphere in the Middle East, it should focus on implementing justice and the right to choose destiny, and adopt a new approach to this conflict. Will the US really focus on the future of the Middle East region, or that of Israel, or will it try to relate both issues for its own interests?"


UAE:  "A Real Test" 


Dubai-based business-oriented Arabic-language Al-Bayan editorialized (6/4):  "The official statement of the American President represents a change in the U.S. vision of Middle East issues, and we hope that these statements will become acts....  The Roadmap is a real test, not for the Zionists who make promises and statements on peace that we don't trust, but for the American administration who we fear will ignore their own promises (which we are used to), especially as the American elections are very soon."


"Don't Surrender!"


Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al Khaleej maintained (6/4):  "The Sharm Al Sheikh summit was very fast, and so was the Arab leaders acceptance of American President George W. Bush's vision regarding terrorism, violence, and extremism 'in any way, from any source, or from anywhere regardless of the excuses and motives,' something the Arab leaders did not say....  President Bush explained it personally, stating that they (Arab leaders) should help the Palestinian administration in its war against terrorism.  And by terrorism, here is the Palestinian resistance."


"Bush's Visit"


Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al Khaleej editorialized (6/3):  "There is concern that Bush's visit to Sharm Al Sheikh and Aqaba is the beginning of a new Arab surrender as Bush and Sharon will not rest while there is still resistance in the region.  And the concern increases in the shadow of talks for deals that will be arranged at the expense of the Intifada and the blood of thousands of martyrs and wounded."


"The Cart in Front of the Horse"


Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al Khaleej stated (6/1):  "Under the Roadmap's beginning, Israeli security is achieved.  This means that the Arabs will pay the price of peace before they get their rights, and that the Palestinians will be paying a double price that might destroy their existence before they reach their promised state.  This is what is feared from the upcoming Bush visit this week, since the continuation of placing the cart in front of the horse means the continuation of a deception that is based on achieving both occupation and security, while the Palestinian only receives promises."




AUSTRALIA:  “Bush The Key To Roadmap”


An editorial in the business-oriented Australian Financial Review stated (6/2): “George Bush will step into the quicksand of Middle East politics this week when he involves himself in the efforts to resolve the long-running Arab-Israeli dispute....  US Administrations historically have been extremely reluctant to intervene in the Palestinian issue, partly because of concerns about a backlash among the Israel-supporting Jews in America and partly because of the argument that interference would be counter-productive in Israel itself. That perception appears to be changing, because the US has now inserted itself into the Middle East calculus in such a way that sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option. The problem for Mr Bush, no less than for all his that very significant compromises are required on both sides for there to be any realistic prospect of a peace agreement....  The two sides have indicated a willingness to make a start, but it will be up to Mr Bush to ensure that he delivers a message loud and clear to Mr Abbas and Mr Sharon that the US is wedded to the road map’s three-stage timetable, and furthermore is committed to doing whatever is necessary to achieve that end.”


CHINA:  “Bush Himself Took The Trip To Promote Peace"


Ji Dongping held in official Communist Party international publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (6/4):  “The consensus of opinion is that Bush may achieve some agreements during his first trip to the Middle East, but has little possibility of making any major breakthrough.  After the meeting, the U.S. will send a group consisting of CIA and the State Department staff to supervise the implementation of the Road Map.  This shows that the U.S. has planned to discard the EU, UN and Russia, the other 3 members of the ‘quartet’, and to lead the Middle East peace process by itself.”


“A Middle East Peace Meeting" 


Yuan Tiecheng commented in official Communist Youth League-run China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (6/3):  Wang Shijie is the Chinese envoy to the Middle East, and said, talking about China’s interest in the Middle East, ‘China has its own interests in the Middle East, but the interests I mentioned are not the same as the interests some power countries claim in the Middle East.  China now is opening up and developing its economy.  China needs a peaceful international environment....  Besides, we hope for a stable oil supply channel to meet our country’s economic development.  But China’s oil imports are not all from the Middle East....  Our stance on the Middle East issue is not completely for our oil interests.”


CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Persevering Against The Odds"


Peter Kammerer wrote in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (6/1):  "U.S. President George W. Bush has added a spark to that glimmer by taking a personal interest.  This week, he will make his first visit to the Middle East since taking office in January 2001 to co-host two summits with key power brokers.  A bold and surprising decision, observers like former U.S. envoy Philip Wilcox view it as a sign that the U.S. is finally willing to push harder to resolve differences between Jews and Arabs.  By doing so, Mr. Bush would be protecting American interests and rescuing Israelis and Palestinians from a miserable impasse that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since the U.S.-backed creation of Israel in Palestinian lands 55 years ago....  Mr. Bush's change of heart was inevitable....  Like every U.S. leader before him, he had realized that America had too many interests in the Middle East to let the Arab-Israeli fighting go unchecked....  A good sign was that Mr. Bush had become the first American leader to go on record as supporting a Palestinian state--although this had not been defined.  The Israeli government would probably allow the Palestinians to have only 40 per cent of the occupied territories, while the Palestinians would want it all."


INDONESIA:  “Bush Trip Reflects His View Of The World”


Leading independent Kompas observed (6/4):  “The trip of U.S. President George W. Bush to Europe and the Middle East recently has been perceived as illustrating a shift in U.S. views about the world after the Iraq War....  Relations are shifting.  The U.S. is getting closer to Poland and Qatar than France and Germany....  Bush seriousness in advancing the roadmap for peace in the Middle East could be seen in the change of Premier Sharon’s attitude after his trip to the U.S. Before his meeting with President Bush in Washington, Sharon tended to reject the roadmap....  After the meeting, Sharon said he accepted the phases in implementation of the roadmap....  Of course, some still doubt Sharon’s seriousness, given his reputation as a Jewish fanatic who is repressive to the Palestinians.  But many are also impressed by his changed attitude.  The room for optimism therefore is beginning to open.”  


“Middle East Increasingly Interesting With Sharon-Abbas Deal”


Leading independent Kompas commented (5/31):  "The image of Sharon, who [prefers] to chose war and conflict, changed a bit this week.  Since early in the week, Sharon has appeared as a leader who supports peace.  Indeed, some people still doubt his seriousness to support the peace, but time will tell....  The preparatory steps for establishing a free Palestinian state are believed to have contributed to the reduction of the tension and conflicts. Moreover, one of the agenda items of the Palestinian struggle is establishing an independent state on their own land.”


PHILIPPINES:  "Push For Peace"


The independent, widely-read Philippine Daily Inquirer noted (6/4):  "U.S. President George Bush will meet Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in the Jordanian city of Aqaba to take a more direct and personal role in pushing for Middle East peace....  The prospect is cautious but bright because the protagonists have offered encouraging measures to build up the confidence of each in the other.... The signs are hopeful not only because the two sides are coming together with some prodding from the United States, but also because the so-called roadmap to peace is sound enough to be credible, and broad enough to accommodate differences, at least for now. The map has been drafted by the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, its democratic character somehow ensuring that the disparate interests of the two protagonists, with their share of allies and partisans, would be protected and upheld....  The convincing inasmuch as its first phase is already under way. It involves the Palestinians reforming their own leadership and cracking down on terrorism (thus, the replacement of the increasingly isolated Yasser Arafat by Abbas, who is also known as Abu Mazen). It also involves the Israelis withdrawing their troops from Palestinian cities, ceasing to build new settlements in the West Bank and Gaza and dismantling those built since March 2001."


"Both Have Persisted With The Roadmap"


Belinda Olivares-Cunanan contended in the independent, widely-read Philippine Daily Inquirer (5/31):  "A series of deadly suicide bombings carried out by Palestinians and the exchange of barbed accusations...threatened to derail the peace plan.  In addition, both leaders (Sharon and Abbas) have come under fire from their own homegrown critics....  The good thing is that under tremendous pressure from Bush, both leaders have persisted with the roadmap....  The protagonists have scaled down their expectations and demands and recognize that concessions have to be made....  As Bush put it, 'We're on the road to peace.  It's just going to be a bumpy road.'  But historic progress is being made."


SINGAPORE:  "Now, For The Push"


The pro-government Straits Times opined (6/2):  "Somehow, the blood-letting must cease. Somehow, Palestinians must be given a state, with secure and viable borders, to call their own. And somehow, Israel's right to exist and to live in peace with its neighbors must be assured. Only one power on Earth has the strength and influence to accomplish these ends--the United States. President George W. Bush will travel to the region this week....  This would be his first visit to the region as President, an indication both of the urgency of the situation as well as of Mr. Bush's desire to exploit the strategic advantages the US has gained from its victory in Iraq....  It would be doubly daunting if Palestine were to explode now in an orgy of violence, and Israel were to respond with its usual unconstrained abandon. No US Commander-in-Chief, not least the current one, can afford to ignore a festering problem that has the potential to adversely affect the mission of 200,000 of his troops. Thus, the urgency with which he has moved to drag Israel and the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table....  Mr. Bush's aim this week must be to achieve enough significant steps along the 'road map' so as to secure the hope and support of the broad centre of Israeli and Palestinian societies for peace."


THAILAND:  “Taking The First Step On The Road”


The independent, English-language Nation declared (6/4):  “U.S. President George W. Bush arrives in Jordan today to begin a landmark peace summit with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmud Abbas....  There have been other encouraging signs that the gap in the two sides’ political positions is closing and the hatred that has marked their relations cooling....  The moment of truth for Abbas will come in following through on his pledge to rein in the terrorist groups that have been targeting Israeli citizens.  He must realize that the issue is central not only to the peace talks but to the credibility of any eventual Palestinian state.  The whole concept of nationhood will fall apart if the government cannot exercise authority over security matters.  Similarly, Sharon must drop his insistence that the Palestinians must fulfill their peace obligations first before Israel will act.  Progress cannot be made unless the two sides take parallel steps.  The first task at the talks will be to build on the nascent momentum for compromise, tenuous as it is, in spite of the anger such progress would ignite among hard-liners.  A new push from Bush--whose commitment to the Middle East peace process hasn’t always been obvious--can help Abbas and Sharon follow through on the difficult commitments they have already made in supporting the road map to peace.”


“Peace Summit”


Rachan Husen commented in conservative, Thai-language Siam Rath (6/4):  “There has been a projected image that peace is likely and that negotiations will see some progress.  That will only be a pipe dream. There will be no official statement coming out of this summit.  Obviously, there are still many conflicts deeply buried underneath this ‘ideal image’.  Cowboy Bush and the Israeli and Palestinian leaders will perhaps announce that the summit has produced a satisfactory progress and disperse.  Then the killings of Palestinians will continue as usual.  And the ‘Peace Plan’ will become the ‘Palestinian Genocide Plan’!!"


“Road Map Shows A Fork In The Road”


The top-circulation, moderately-conservative, English-language Bangkok Post declared (6/2):  “The U.S. is often criticized for its close relations with Israel, but it has strong influence and respect among Palestinians.  Of the four road map artists, only America has the standing to talk directly to almost all parties in the Mideast and to use prestige, leadership, favors and even threats where necessary to push Israelis and Palestinians on their journey.  The road map is fair and unique.  That is, no one from anywhere has come up with a superior plan.  The only known alternative is to allow the conflict to continue, with hard-liners gaining more and more control of an escalating war designed to end in total victory and genocide.  Thus it is critical to stop the violence as a prelude to embarking on the journey to peace in 2005....  Mr. Sharon has talked openly about ‘occupation'....  His Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas has talked openly about quelling terrorism of specific groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad first and foremost.  These statements raise hopes.  So, too, does Mr. Bush’s direct entry into the peace process.  The road map provides directions on how to get from here to there in about two years.  It provides no good will.  Only the Israelis and Palestinians can provide that.”




INDIA:  "Colonial Cousins" 


Kuldip Nayar maintained in the centrist Indian Express (6/3):  "Brajesh Mishra's advocacy of an 'US-Israel-India' alliance is too serious a proposition to be overlooked....  Whatever the truth, the observation is unfortunate. After the fall of Iraq, the Arab world is dismayed and demoralized. There is a change in its thinking. It wants to look towards India and explore civilizational linkages and shared philosophy....  But there were also some misgivings....  We are suspect in the eyes of most Arabs....  Our policy should have been to push Israel towards West Asia where its roots are. At present it is psychologically too near to Washington for the Arabs' comfort....  The anti-American feeling has increased in the Arab world. So has the hostility towards Israel....  America's roadmap for peace in West Asia, if and when implemented, falls short of the Palestinians' expectations....  For a permanent peace, Israel will have to go back to its original borders....  Mishra...justifies the proposal for an US-Israel-India alliance on the ground that it will have 'the political will and moral authority to take bold decisions in extreme cases of terrorist provocation'....  Washington changed the environment to suit the policy when it attacked Iraq without UN sanction. The neo-conservatives who guide President Bush have given a new interpretation to democracy....  By trying to align ourselves with America and Israel, we may be leaving the region to desperate men and mythical characters who dream of vengeance all the time....  India...cannot afford to advocate alliances on the basis of power, strength or money. This negates what we have stood for. Many small, weak countries are pinning their hopes on India."


"Israel's Dominance Over Palestine"


Independent, Urdu-language Siasat opined (6/1):  "The most unfortunate and deplorable aspect of the crisis in the Middle East is the foul play of the U.S., especially under President Bush, which has consistently been supporting, and virtually encouraging, Israel's oppressive and terrorist policies against the Palestinians. Iraq was subjected to most stringent UN sanctions followed by the US-UK aggression only because it dared to defy Washington's dictatorial instructions. Israel has openly and stubbornly violated all UN resolutions and international norms for decades and no sanctions were ever proposed against it. Instead, the Zionist state was rewarded by the self-appointed custodians of peace and justice in Washington by increasing its military and economic aid....  The so-called new road map to peace is nothing but a plan to force the Palestinians into submission and subjugation to Israel. It is part of the old conspiracy to make Israel's occupation of the Palestinian land permanent and declare Jerusalem the capital of the Zionist state. America has been an active party to the conspiracy. Given the thoroughly unfair and anti-Palestinian role that the US has been characteristically playing, the upcoming Sharon-Bush-Abbas summit evokes absolutely no hope."


PAKISTAN:  "Is Israel Sincere?"


Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language Dawn remarked (6/4):  "Is the Israeli prime minister sincere to the cause of peace?....  Let us not forget that Sharon is the man who is responsible for the second Intifada that began in September 2000 and has since then claimed hundreds of lives, mostly Palestinian. Though not in power then, he visited the Islamic holy sites in Al-Quds despite being told not to do so....  Today, there is some change in the geopolitical scenario in the sense that for the first time Washington seems genuinely involved with the Palestinian question.  The roadmap is heavily tilted in favor of Israel. Nevertheless, the Palestinian Authority was the first to accept it....  Sharon is obsessed with hate.  He was not only the brains behind the Begin government's invasion of Lebanon in 1982; he was responsible for the massacre of Palestinian civilians in Sabra-Chattila.  After becoming prime minister, he reacted to the Intifada and the suicide bombings with savage fury....  One hopeful development, though, in the midst of all the depressing signs, is Sharon's admission last week that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza could not be 'sustained' for long....  At any rate, whether the concept of peace and stability in the Middle East on the basis of coexistence between Israel and Palestine as sovereign states envisaged in the roadmap is to materialize, a crucial factor will be the kind of pressure and persuasion that the U.S. and other exponents of the plan bring to bear on Israel to go along and not to look for pretexts and opportunities to undermine it the way it scuttled the Oslo process." 


"Sharon's Change Of Heart?"


Dr. Moonis Ahmar contended in the centrist national English-language News (6/3):  "America was supposed to ensure the smooth sailing of Oslo-I and Oslo-II accords, but it failed to stop the violation of such accords by the Israeli authorities. What is the guarantee that the Bush administration will seek the prompt and full implementation of the roadmap?....  Not only Palestinian, but also the Israeli moment of truth has arrived.  Sharon knows very well that his reoccupation of Gaza and the West Bank has been internationally condemned and the Israelis have achieved neither peace nor security.  Similarly, the Palestinian leadership, whether belonging to the PLO, Hamas or Hizbe Jihad, also knows the fact that they cannot endlessly ask for sacrifices from the Palestinian people.  Therefore, both the Palestinians and the Israelis have reached a breaking point and the only option which the two have in the present circumstances is to accept the reality of living together peacefully."


"Road-Map Or Road Kill?"


Kareem M. Kamel contended in the Islamabad-based rightist English-language Pakistan Observer (6/3):  "In contrast to U.S. and Israeli pressure on the Palestinians to unconditionally accept the dictates of the road map, U.S. policy has always attempted to cover up for Israeli intransigence or justify its brutal policies....  The Palestinian Authority fully accepted the road map.  Sharon insisted that there would be another discussion with Washington over Israel's 15 reservations on the published road map before he would submit it to his Government....  Setting aside the recipe for a Palestinian civil war embedded in the road-map, there are many serious problems, deficiencies, omissions and loopholes in the road-map that would allow Israel to reproduce its brutal occupation in a multitude of different forms.  While 'ending occupation' is an implicit objective, the details of doing so are not clearly defined in the document."




NIGERIA:  "A Road To Be Taken"


Ibadan-based independent Nigerian Tribune editorialized (6/4):  "The Palestinians have accepted the road map to Middle East peace sponsored by the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia.  The road map is not a bad piece of political cartography.  The map shows a road leading to Palestinian statehood by 2005.  But there are many by-roads to be taken before reaching the major road.  The Palestinians, to begin with, will have to stop murdering unsuspecting Israelis.  Their bloody uprising has not brought them near their goal of forcing Israel out of their occupied lands.  Israel cannot be militarily compelled to give up the occupied territories, at least not in the foreseeable future.  The Middle East peace road, as shown on the map, may not be as wide and bump-free as the Appian Way but this should not lead to Israel and the Palestinians not taking it.  It should be a road taken."


SENEGAL:  "Logic of Peace"


Daily-of-record Le Soleil commented (6/4):  "By deciding to go to the region, in the Middle East, the American President George Bush seems to want to retake a posture abandoned by Washington since the failure of the Camp David and Oslo accords.  With this act, the U.S. is opening a new chapter in the dynamic towards peace in the Middle East, and thereby, in the process of reconfiguring international geopolitics of which Palestine constitutes an essential link....  The American-British intervention in Iraq, under the cover of the fight against weapons of mass destruction and the war on terror, seems, from this point of view, to constitute a first milestone towards the installation of a definitive peace in the Middle East.  Even if pacifists...continue to denounce this intervention and the underlying motivations for it....  Washington is keeping to its logic of making this part of the world from now on a zone of peaceful coexistence that it hasn't been since 1947.  Will George Bush be the 'messiah' that will bring this definitive peace so much hoped for by Arabs and Israelis, whose cohabitation should not lead to a spiral of terror?  By deciding to step foot in the Palestinian quagmire, by giving himself the right to bring together yesterday's enemies around the negotiating table, by taking up the obligation of results in this mediation effort, George Bush gives the whole world the assurances of his desire to solve, once and for all, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while creating the conditions for a durable peace in the sub-region."    


TANZANIA:  "May Bush’s Efforts Bear Fruit"


Kiswahili-language independent, moderate, tabloid Nipashe editorialized (6/4):  “The Middle East is the center of international terrorism.  There are many groups in the region that engage in terrorism and see it as a weapon in their fight for the rights of their people....  To press for their demands, Palestinians have been using suicide-bombing tactics.  On the other hand, Israelis have been conducting operations to apprehend and even kill those they suspect of being behind the suicide bombings.  Today, President Bush is taking an important step in trying to end this conflict....  Peace in the region will be a catalyst for peace all over the world.  We have high hopes that these efforts will be successful and once a Palestinian state is in place, we believe acts of terrorism will be a thing of the past."




CANADA:  "Boost Mideast Hope"


The leading Globe and Mail opined (6/3):  "U.S. President George Bush can risk aiming high as he brokers the Mideast peace summit tomorrow in Jordan.  After three years of terror, reprisal and recrimination, exhausted Palestinians and Israelis seem anxious to rebuild trust, and move on.  This is a mood Bush can leverage, for everyone's benefit....  The skeptics doubt either leader will go so far.  They are expected to endorse the road map, cautiously restate the old formula of 'two states' living in peace, and fudge the size of the state and the refugee issue.  Bush should push for the boldest possible declaration.  And clarity.  Why?  Because a stable peace depends on Israel's willingness to create a workable Palestinian state, not a truncated one.  It depends, too, on Palestinians accepting that refugees will be resettled not in Israel, but in their new state.  Why not say so, tomorrow?"


"Along The Hard Road To Mideast Peace"


Leading Globe and Mail opined (6/2):  "The summit called by U.S. President George W. Bush for this week in Jordan is only the latest in a seemingly endless, fruitless string of high-level peace efforts that has turned the very phrase 'peace process' into a joke....  Now the 'roadmap', which lays out a route to Palestinian statehood and Israeli security by 2005....  Now a small window has opened. The U.S. victory in Iraq has given the superpower new leverage in the Middle East and new determination to fix the Israeli-Palestinian problem. The appointment of the pragmatic Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian prime minister likely has given the Israelis a new partner for peace talks. The roadmap sets out a sensible step-by-step route to settlement that has been accepted by both sides. As this week's summit draws near, it bears saying one more time: This dispute is not beyond solution. Partition of the Holy Land would not entail a huge and potentially bloody transfer of populations, as did the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947. Nor would it involve a massive redrawing of borders. With some adjustments, the two peoples would live within the borders they have inhabited since 1948. A deal is in reach that would give each side a secure national home in the bosom of the Holy Land. Concessions will be painful, but not half as painful as the alternative. If Israelis and Palestinians fail to seize this chance, the 50 years of killing predicted by Montgomery could turn into 100."


"Glimpse Of Hope On The Horizon"


Lysiane Gagnon wrote in centrist La Presse (5/31):  "On both sides, under the pressure of President Bush, there have been compromises....  Bush is in a better position than his predecessors to put pressure on the two belligerents.  What has changed the picture is Iraq. Rightly or wrongly Israel saw the regime of Saddam Hussein as their most serious enemy.  Now that the U.S. has paid the price of blood to overthrow him, their President can raise his voice with Sharon....  Other peace factors are at work, such as the growing weariness of the Palestinian people amid the infernal cycle of violence.  The rise of Mahmoud Abbas to a key post has loosened tongues.  More and more Palestinians dare openly protest against a kind of terrorism which only brings military reprisals, growing unemployment and isolation.  All we can do is cross our fingers and hope."


ARGENTINA:  "A New Opportunity For The Middle East"


An editorial in leading Clarin read (6/2):  "The harshest and most nationalistic Israeli PM said for the first time in history that 'time has come to divide this land between Israelis and Palestinians.' In this way, Sharon has produced the most important  gesture in favor of peace since he took power by supporting the 'Road Map' promoted by the U.S....  In fact, the 'Road Map' does nothing else but resume the Oslo Accords (1993) under another name. It includes a territorial partition, or the return of the territories occupied by Israel--the West Bank and Gaza--and the creation of an independent State within three years....  The U.S. presence in the Middle East after the occupation of Iraq, and the weak Palestinian leadership after the confrontation of the last two years are the main differences with the scenario of ten years ago. This does nothing else but increase the Israeli leaders' responsibility to lead this process in search for a solution of the Palestinian conflict without any more bloodshed."


PANAMA:  “Bush In Europe And In The Middle East”


Conservative El Panama America editorialized (6/2):  "In order to deepen the general perspectives of the unilateral military perspective in Iraq, President Bush began a tour: one to France where he will dialogue with the G8 statesmen...and the other in Egypt where he will make an effort to overcome the obstacles that have prevented the peaceful coexistence of the Israelis and Palestinians....  Hussein’s regime has fallen....  But where the skepticism persists is around the remodeling of the Middle East....  These crucial aspects need to be resolved.” ##

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