International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

July 11, 2003

July 11, 2003





**  Abbas badly needs "visible and tangible results" to maintain support from his population.


**  "Almost everything depends" on strong U.S. participation in the process.


**  Skeptics say prospects for the roadmap are growing "markedly pessimistic." 


**  Arab dailies decry Israel's ongoing "humiliating treatment" of Palestinians.




Abbas' resignation would result in 'nothing but extremism and terrorism'--  The U.S. decision to directly grant aid to the PA reflects how badly Abbas needs "the means to really fight Hamas"--as well as Arafat, who is "waiting for his comeback."  Israel's left-leaning Ha'aretz agreed, "Israel has great interest in strengthening Abu Mazen."  Jordan's center-left Al-Dustour praised Abbas' efforts to "reconcile" the Palestinians' "various contradictions," while Saudi Arabia's conservative Al-Madina contended that assuring unity among Palestinians was "a direct responsibility of the Palestinian leadership." 


Euros, Asians praise Bush for being 'so positively involved'--  President Bush's "determination" to make peace received widespread praise.  Germany's center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine judged that "Bush has got what it takes," while a Thai paper called U.S. involvement "the first reason to hope" for peace.  Canada's leading Globe and Mail warned extremists not to "underestimate the President's resolve."  Arab dailies more critically blasted "American silence on Israel's procrastination."  Tunisia's independent Le Quotidien assailed the "White House hawks" who make policy by "total osmosis with Zionist phalangists."


The roadmap is 'full of deficiencies and flaws'--  A sizable minority of editorials were "markedly pessimistic" because recent events "put into question the roadmap's implementation."  An Israeli writer downplayed the cease-fire, advising that "no Palestinian state...will be established until Hamas is dismantled."  The West Bank's independent Al-Ayyam countered that violence will not end until "occupation ends and settlements are dismantled."  China's official World News Journal concluded, "Today's peace is still fragile." 


Hardline Arab papers accuse Sharon of trying to 'torpedo the roadmap'--  Hawkish Muslim writers termed Israel's plans regarding its fence and Palestinian prisoners a "real mockery."  Lebanon's pro-Syria Ash-Sharq declared, Sharon "wants to destroy all possibilities that might lead to a peace settlement."  Despite the roadmap, said the UAE's pro-government Gulf News, Palestinians are still "suffering from the ravages of occupation."  The West Bank's semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida assailed Israel's "vicious and barbaric" thinking.  Conversely, Israel's nationalist Hatzofe opposed any Palestinian prisoner release when the PA has not taken "significant measures against terrorism and its infrastructure."


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 49 reports from 22 countries over 5 - 11 July 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date. 




FRANCE:  “The Middle East: Bush’s Financial Weapon”


Economic-oriented right-of-center Les Echos held (7/10):  “Presidential campaign or not, according to the White House spokesperson, Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush is personally committed to the Middle East....  While discussions over the famous Road Map are getting nowhere, the U.S. administration is faced with a difficult choice: to give financial aid to the Palestinian authority....  This decision would mean a complete political about-face....  The American president’s goal today is to give the new Palestinian Prime Minister a reason to trust...and the means to really fight Hamas....  The U.S. is far from united on the subject....  And Bush Jr. cannot forget the consequences that a personal commitment to the peace process had on his father’s campaign in 1991.”


GERMANY:  “Abbas At The Abyss”


Charles Landsmann opined in center-right Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (7/10):  “Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas is fighting for his political survival....  He is fighting against an internal opponent apparently superior in strength: Yasser Arafat, the old guard of former exiles of the Fatah movement (of which Abbas is a member) and its young hotheads, the radical Islamists rejecting compromise, and not least the unyielding Israeli government.  Abbas urgently needs visible and tangible results for his population.  Most of his ministers support him as does the increasingly impatient American government and--the Israeli Prime Minister Sharon if only in word at the moment.  Abbas’ non-Palestinian supporters can help him in two ways: to show Arafat, cunning obstructionist, his limits in order to weaken or eliminate him politically--a so far unsuccessful attempt--and to support Abbas with concrete measures.  The U.S. with the help of the EU can do the first; the second task falls to Sharon.  When Washington will now provide funds for the Palestinian territories, although not via channels controlled by Arafat, this is a long overdue start of a reasonable process, which the EU should join too.  And when the U.S. exerts pressure on Sharon, to be serious about the dismantling of the hundred settlement outposts and to release a larger number of prisoners than the 350 announced, then there will be hope that Abbas has a real chance to win his fight for survival.  That he succeeds is in the interest not only of the American and Israeli governments but above all in the interest of his Palestinian compatriots.  For without Abbas their plight will worsen, the horror pictures of massacres and revenge attacks will return, and there will be no longer any prospects for them and an own state.”


“Arafat’s Shadow Over Abbas”


Heiko Flottau judged in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung (7/10):  “President Bush Sr. said after Saddam’s defeat in the first Gulf war that there was a unique chance for solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  The Oslo peace accords were made.  They foundered because the problems about refugees, borders, and Jerusalem remained unresolved....  Today, the solution is not called ‘Oslo’ but ‘roadmap’, which is not to be upheld by Arafat but by Abbas--but a re-edition of Oslo will hardly lead to peace.  For again, the solution to difficult questions has been put off.  Abbas already threatens to step down because his co-fighters in the Fatah organization expect Israel to make more concessions.  In effect, just a fraction of the 6,000 Palestinian prisoners has been released.  The people in the towns, especially in Gaza, which still are all cordoned off by Israel, are disappointed.  They too feel like prisoners.  The only remaining supporters of the Palestinian prime minister are the authors of the peace plan, in particular the U.S.  Meanwhile, Arafat, isolated by Israel, is operating behind the scene.  If Abbas fails, he can reject any blame.  Arafat, reputed to be politically dead not for the first time, is waiting for his comeback.”


“The Vision Of The Third Force”


Joerg Bremer said in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (7/8):  “Europe, Washington, Moscow and the UN have closed ranks.  The roadmap of the Quartet has incorporated initiatives by moderate countries and the Arab League; apparently the whole world seems to support the new plan....  Now all previous requests--from Camp David, from Taba--are back on the table....  But which compromises need to be made?....  Most Israelis want to give the peace plan a try, but few believe that the ceasefire will last for long.  The Palestinians, too, want the ceasefire, but their doubts are greater.  If the checkpoints and the street blockings remain, and farmers continue to be prevented by Jewish settlers from sowing in fall, the extremists will seize control again....  President Bush has committed himself to a Jewish and a viable Palestinian state, thus indirectly supporting a border along the Green Line of 1967....  He determines the course, which both sides accept.  Both sides tend to go America’s way....  The roadmap only points the way, the objective, however, was indicated in Camp David and Taba.  The Sharon government still bets on a long period of time, and wants to withdraw from as little territory as possible, not to mention half of Jerusalem, and to dismantle just a few isolated settlements....  The painful compromises promised by Sharon need to be mentally digested first.  Both sides must recognize the historical roots, both sides live on the same land, and be in favor of partition.  Only then the extremists wishing to claim the whole land for themselves will lose out....  A third force is needed to bring back to both nations the hope for a just peace.  Bush has got what it takes.”


“Big Fences Make For Good Neighbors”


Daniel Dagan opined in right-of-center Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (7/8):  “In Germany, it is very difficult to take a view that pleads for the erection of barriers between neighboring communities.  Everybody, of course, is for open borders between Israel and Palestine, close cooperation with all Arab countries and the creation of a regional union along the line, which has proved to be good for Europe....  This vision cannot be achieved in the Middle East for the time being...due to the emergence of a new form of violence: suicide attacks....  Suicide attacks are potent and efficient weapons; they can bring countries to their knees, destroy societies and wipe out whole cultures....  Israel is forced through this kind of threat to erect barriers, which will make it far more difficult for suicide attackers to infiltrate towns and villages.  One can argue about the position of the fence....  Like the Wall in Germany, the fence in the Holy Land can and will disappear one day.  But now, it is a necessary requirement--not least for economic cooperation, which only works in a state of peaceful coexistence.  Today and until the suicide attacks are a thing of the past, the following prevails: high fences make for good neighbors.”


ITALY:  “Abu Mazen Threatens To Resign”


Leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore declared (7/9):  “There’s a fracture between Abu Mazen and al-Fatah. The Palestinian leader threatened to resign as prime minister over disagreements with the proposals put forth by the organization on the handling of the peace negotiations....  But the fate of the truce between Israelis and Palestinians is hanging by a thread....  The U.S. runs to Abu Mazen’s rescue and announces the first direct aid to the Palestinian administration: 20 million dollars, which are destined to the water and sewer systems and roads in the areas which have been left clear by the Israeli contingent. This is an even more significant commitment given that President Bush is supposed to furnish the first chunk of aid without Congress’ approval, by placing the sum under the ‘unexpected expenses’ column. In the next few months, the National Palestinian Authority could receive much more from Washington, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars, to reinforce infrastructure and public security. All of this on one condition--that progress be made in the ‘road to peace.’”


RUSSIA:  "The Fate Of Abbas Government Is In The Balance" 


Alexei Andreyev wrote in liberal Nezavisimaya Gazeta (7/10):  "In short, recent events again put into question the implementation of the Middle East settlement plan. If Abbas manages to follow through with his resignation, the Israelis will again have to deal with Arafat, something representatives of the Sharon cabinet had previously refused to do."


"Where Will The Roadmap Lead?"


Valentin Prussakov maintained in neo-communist Sovetskaya Rossiya (7/10):  "It is obvious that the American administration and President Bush personally have a big stake in achieving progress on Middle East settlement: the US has to improve its image in the Arab and Islamic world and this can only happen if Palestinian-Israeli tensions are defused because public opinion in some countries sees the issue as a gross injustice for which the Americans are chiefly to blame. But how far is Bush prepared to go in becoming involved in the current peace process? How ready is America for economic sacrifice in order to help create a Palestinian economy? For without it a Palestinian state cannot be viable. And one more thing: one should not forget that the US is entering the election year and Bush will need the support of the pro-Israeli lobby if he is to have any chance of winning a second term....  Assessments of the prospects of the peace process in the Middle East are markedly pessimistic."


"Eternal Guide" 


Ivan Danilin wrote in reformist weekly Profil (7/8):  "By pushing through its plan of peaceful settlement known as the 'Road Map' the US is seeking not so much to achieve peace as to make up to the Arabs the moral damage of the Iraq war. Most probably it will achieve neither aim....  No one can guarantee that a free election that is to be one of the stages of the 'Road Map' will not bring radicals to power in Palestine and Israel. Ariel Sharon is criticized for concessions to the Palestinians even by the members of his own party. At the same time the popularity of radical Islamic organizations in Palestinian territories is well known. Hamas and others of its ilk may, when the opportunity presents itself, parlay that popularity into an electoral victory."


DENMARK:  “U.S. And Israel Must Show Commitment To Change”


Center-right Politiken editorialized (7/10):  “If the U.S. and Israel mean what they say about their commitment to the roadmap...they out to show the Palestinians that they respect their new leader and step up the tempo of the peace process.  So far, the abandonment of some occupied areas has been accompanied by new settlements in other locations.”  


“Unfair Criticism Of Abbas”


Left-wing Information opined (7/10):  “Abbas’ reward for his efforts to establish a ceasefire has been that he has been accused of weakness from all sides.  Ironically, these allegations of weakness could damage his reputation further and lead to his fall.”


IRELAND:  "On Track"


The center-right populist Irish Independent editorialized (7/7):  "It is still too early to hail the week-old ceasefire announced by the Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah with anything other than resignation. The move by move progression of measures by both the Israelis and the Palestinians must encourage at least a retreat from pessimism, if not a tentative move to optimism.  One factor is President Bush's apparent, and so far demonstrated, determination to keep the pressure on the two sides. Palestinian peace was not the reason the US went to war, nor the prime intention. But it could become one of the more beneficial results, as even opponents of the war should hope.  Peace can ultimately be forged only out of mutual trust. And that is singularly lacking at the moment. In the meantime, all that can be said--and it is no small thing--is that, thanks to President Bush's determination to get the parties started on the road map, the peace car is on the move, and so far, on track."




ISRAEL:  "Camp David, Three Years"


Sever Plotzker wrote in mass circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (7/10):  "Three years to Camp David, it is obvious that no such summit will be held again....  Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen--courageous statesmen, honest and truthful--met and will meet in the Middle East, with no need to go far afield to the cabins of Camp David....  And as for the role of the US: its current president, George Bush, does not see himself as the servant of two masters, Israeli and Palestinian, who must satisfy their conflicting wishes.  The reverse is true: it is vigorously demanded of them that they satisfy his wishes.  Jews and Arabs were not within 'touching distance' of an agreement at Camp David, they were a war’s distance away.  Only after the Camp David illusion died completely, in the thousand days of fire, blood, terror and prevention, has the time now come to begin a new and realistic political discourse between the two stiff-necked peoples."


"Resignation Threats"


Nationalist Hatzofe declared (7/10):  "Abu Mazen who is cooperating with Arafat on almost every asking to present before the U.S., Europe and Israel hardships that stand in his way in order to squeeze more gestures--the release of more Palestinian prisoners--from Israel.   Arafat is interested is assisting Abu Mazen so that Israel will release as many killers and terrorists as possible and in parallel Europe and the U.S. would give money to the P.A. to make the lives of those who plan the next terror attacks more pleasant....  Israel is now paying an expensive price for a peace of paper called the road map when the other side is paying nothing."


"Calm Needs To Be Nurtured"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (7/10):  "The attack in Kfar Yavetz [and]....  The political events in the Palestinian Authority...seemingly placed more obstacles on the road map, so much so that it seems the tremendous effort invested to bring the sides closer won't produce the desired results....  The cease-fire did not include an insurance policy.  It needs nurturing and strengthening by both sides so it can serve as a fulcrum for the road map and from there to fulfillment of the political process....  The cease-fire has to be tested every day, and the frequency of the attacks will determine if it is for real.  But its longevity not only depends on the Palestinians, but also on political openness on Israel's part.  There is no substantive reason to distinguish between Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners and those from Fatah when deciding on the list of prisoners to be released....  Israel has great interest in strengthening Abu Mazen and the PA so they can build a relevant leadership that enjoys the support of the Palestinian public.  Only thusly will it be possible to uproot the terror phenomenon."


"Entering The Depressive Stage"


Hemi Shalev wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (7/9):  "Only a few days ago, we still basked in the air of conciliatory summits and the first signs of the war on terrorism.  And within a few hours, after an isolated terror attack and quarrels in the upper Palestinian echelon, we sank into the pessimistic feeling that all was lost.  In the swinging pendulum of manic-depression, we have entered the depressive stage....  It seems that the announcement of the cease-fire burst the dam of patience that characterized both sides over the three difficult years of this Intifada, and now everyone is searching for instant, overnight solutions.  Public opinion is irritable, and frayed nerves will make life difficult for both leaders, Sharon and Abu Mazen, who will need patience, nerves of steel and, it seems, also massive American pressure, to keep from a quick tumble down the slippery slope, which will put them and us straight back into the hell from which we have just begun to escape."


"Renovation Job"


Gideon Samet maintained in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (7/9):  "The fear that a sweeping release of prisoners will bring back the violence is an argument that contradicts itself--because if the process does not move forward, it will anyway sink.  A season like this demands a calculated risk.  If the effect of dramatic, high profile goodwill gestures brings good results, the risk will be worthwhile.  If not, the situation will return to a depressing reality within a few weeks.  Without such gestures, not only will the hudna break down, early proofs of national improvements will also be cut short.  And we have a heavy national agenda that is anyway difficult to deal with....  The state needs a renovation job. Without the calm continuing though, labeled with the price tag of compromise, that job won't have a chance."


"The Prisoner Release"


Nationalist Hatzofe editorialized (7/9):  "There is no rationale for a release of Palestinian prisoners when significant measures against terrorism and its infrastructure have not been taken.  There is no rationale for a prisoner release when we hear threats in the background such as 'There is no hudna without the release of all prisoners.'  There is no rationale for a prisoner release when the most important questions still remain open: the right of return, the status of Jerusalem, the final borders.  Without Palestinian concessions on these subjects, it is clear as day that terrorism will keep on striking, and all those released prisoners will take part in it knowing that in the end, they will be released again, and so on.  The prime minister wants to make gestures to the president of the United States, but these are gestures that in the end will lead to Jewish blood  being spilled.  Therefore, we should pass them up, especially at so early a stage in carrying out the agreements."


"Temporary Will Stay Temporary"


Akiva Eldar observed in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (7/8):  "Those who think, or hope, the hudna--like everything else around here that is temporary--will turn into a permanent arrangement, are wrong.  Prime Minister Ariel Sharon won a promise from U.S. President George W. Bush that no Palestinian state--provisional, temporary or permanent--will be established until Hamas is dismantled....  Abu Mazen and his minister for security, Mohammed Dahlan, aren't even considering dismantling Hamas....  Abu Mazen has already told Bush that the PA rejects any attempt by any foreign element to dictate which means should be used to impose law and order in the territories given over to the PA.  To prove this is no gimmick, Abu Mazen's advisers are working on legislation that would severely punish anyone caught carrying a weapon without a permit as well as have the weapon confiscated....  To win the street's support, Abu Mazen and Dahlan have to get as many prisoners back on to as many streets as possible....  Hamas has already announced it has no intention of giving up its weapons as long as the reason for holding them--the occupation--remains in force.  That means that if Israel continues building the separation fence and avoids dismantling outposts and the peace process doesn't make any progress, the cease-fire will go down in history as one of those rare occasions when something temporary indeed remains temporary."


"The Prime Minister's Visit"


Ofer Shelah asserted in mass circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (7/8):  "Throughout the entire process in which Abu Mazen was elected the Palestinian prime minister, political and military officials in Israel warned against giving the new leader a 'bear hug.'....  It seems that this period of caution is over.  In the past two weeks Israel has been hugging Abu Mazen so strongly one gets the feeling that his bones are about to crack.  On the other hand, it isn’t clear just how much support he is being given in terms of real steps on the ground....  It is hard to be envious of the Palestinian prime minister, who is facing a difficult leadership test. Israeli officials expect him to clash within a few weeks with Hamas, people in the territories will judge him on the basis of the relief he provides them from the distress of their daily lives.  If Israel genuinely has an interest in helping him, instead of celebrating the feeling of imaginary victory, perhaps we ought to take real steps that will allow him to be seen as someone who can get results instead of inviting him to the Knesset."


WEST BANK:  "The Prisoners' Issue:  A Blind Israeli View And Counterproductive Outcomes"


Ashraf Ajrami commented in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (7/11):  "There are a lot of indications that the Israeli government has not yet made up its mind to move ahead toward a realistic and acceptable peace settlement.  In fact, this government’s actions indicate its indifference to achieving any peace agreement.  Such actions include limiting its withdrawals [from Palestinian cities], insisting on building the separation wall...and, more importantly, refusing to free the prisoners....  It seems that the Israelis have not only failed to understand the Palestinian view on the prisoners’ issue, which has become clear to everyone by now, but also have failed to realize the importance of this issue to their own security.  Their lack of understanding of this issue stems from the accumulated feelings of revenge, hatred and racism that they have toward the Palestinians.  It is impossible for the Palestinian people to see the efficacy of the peace process while a great number of their heroes are behind bars.  Therefore, punishing the prisoners and maintaining the current status of tension will only endanger the security of Israel and that of its own people.”


“Incitement Between Language And Reality”


Abdullah Awwad commented in independent, pro-PA Al-Ayyam (7/10):  “I don’t really know what the joint committee on the prevention of incitement will discuss.  What I know is that, firstly, there is no connection between what’s happening on the ground and the issue of incitement, and that, secondly, the incitement in the Hebrew press falls under the free speech category, while when it comes to us, it falls under terrorism....  Anyway, all the talk about change these days focuses on stopping the so-called incitement, referring to [Palestinian] calls urging the public to resist occupation, be it through armed resistance or peaceful means.  This anti-incitement campaign targets, first and foremost, writers, journalists and the Palestinian media in general....  Stopping incitement is a dream that can only be achieved when occupation ends and settlements are dismantled.  Otherwise, stopping incitement will only be an attempt to create a new culture among the g

eneral public.  Such a culture will overlook facts on the ground as well as the reasonable actions needed to change those facts.”


"Will The U.S. Succeed In Imposing Democracy On The Arab World?"


Mohammed Yaghi contended in independent, pro-PA Al-Ayyam (7/10):  "There is no doubt that the ‘winds of change’ in the Arab countries started blowing as soon as the occupation on Iraq began.  It seems that Arab regimes are worried that they will face the same fate as the old Iraqi regime, and thus felt the need to preserve their existence.  But changing public opinion is a totally different story, for if a change is to take place, two main factors have to come to pass. The [United States] must try to prevent drawing any resemblance between [its occupation of Iraq] and the Israeli occupation of Palestine by forcing Israel to withdraw its forces to the June 4 borders.  Such a crucial action on part of the United States will give a huge momentum to its efforts to promote democracy in the Arab world.  Once this happens, bridges of trust between the two peoples will start strengthening through overcoming the fear that the occupation of Iraq will support the [Israeli] occupation instead of ending it. The other major factor [for changing public opinion] is to ensure that the United Nations assumes the leading role in the rebuilding of Iraq and the disbursement of its money and wealth.”




Yousef Qazzaz commented in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (7/9):  "At a time when [Transportation Minister Avigdor] Leiberman arrogantly expressed his instinctive desire to drown the Palestinian prisoners in the Dead Sea, the Palestinians were cleaning anti-Israeli graffiti off of the walls of homes and stores throughout the Gaza strip all in the spirit of the truce....  This Israeli call of incitement to murder Palestinian prisoners is just one form of the vicious and barbaric Israeli way of thinking that reminds us of the old Israeli policy.  Such thinking states that the only way to deal with the Palestinians is through either murder or mass transfer....  The questions to be raised here are: How can we counter these calls of Israeli incitement? And are Leiberman’s remarks just the tip of the iceberg in a poisonous sea of racial discrimination?”


“The Palestinians’ Trust In Mahmoud Abbas Is Based On Merit And Facts”


Faisal Abu Khadra opined in independent Al-Quds (7/9):  “We know that [Palestinian PM] Abu Mazen realizes that by negotiating with Israeli officials directly, he may be putting down Abu Ammar.  But he knows that Abu Ammar is actually ridiculing those who think that he is unhappy with what Abu Mazen is doing.  We also know that Abu Mazen is aware of the pressure being exerted on him by the U.S. through its support of the ongoing negotiations in order, among other things, to marginalize Yasser Arafat....  We also know that Abu Mazen recognizes President Bush’s need to appease the Jewish American lobby in order to win a second term in office....  Regardless, what we really care about here is the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state and for the suffering refugees to be able to come back to their homeland.  If President Bush can achieve this goal then we will be happy to thank him and his father before him.  In any case, we believe that Abu Ammar will be among the first ones to congratulate President Bush if he’s reelected.”


“The Truce And The Question Of Defeat And Victory”


Hani Masri stated in independent, pro-PA Al-Ayyam (7/8):  "It would be difficult to answer questions on victory and defeat regarding the 1,000-day confrontation that has ended up in an unpredictable truce.  The answers to such questions require considering the reasons behind the eruption of the confrontation and its objectives....  If the present truce is destined to be the end of the confrontation, history will record that neither side has attained its objectives.  What led to the truce was not victory by one side or the other; rather it is the extreme exhaustion afflicted on both sides, as well as the intensive American pressure to impose the truce....  But if negotiations are not quickly launched or do not achieve a breakthrough, we will be facing the possibility of renewed confrontations, probably in a bloodier and more violent form....  If we take a closer look at the results we have attained so far, we will find that they are far from what we had hoped for.  The ongoing negotiations do not seem to be based on the outcomes of previous negotiations; instead, they are totally based on a new platform, namely the roadmap. However, the roadmap that we see is not how it was originally drafted. It is how Israel wants it to be, and the American Administration has stated that it will take into consideration Israel’s reading of the map.”


“What Incitement?”


Adli Sadek commented in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (7/8):  “Even before Israelis protest against [Palestinian] incitement, many Palestinians complain that the over-zealous language and ideologically-driven speeches about facts related to the Palestinian issue delivered in mosques and festivals are incitement material that must be stopped.  However, I, for one, don’t really believe that all the terms of incitement contained in the [Arabic] language would make a difference one way or the other when it comes to the level of Palestinian rage...caused by the continuing Israeli murders. These days, for an example, in the midst of talk about calm, our people are being humiliated at checkpoints and entry ports and are denied the most basic rights....  Thus, I would like to warn against being drawn into the over-usage of the term ‘incitement’ even though it is stated in the roadmap.  The Palestinian political speech and language used to describe [occupation] are all true,

so there is no reason for them to be labeled as incitement, which is supposedly based on falsehood.  Maybe, [the Israelis] mean to ask us to stop our motivational speeches aimed at fighting occupation....  Anyway, if the occupiers are really interested in stopping incitement then they should take advantage of the current opportunity and stop all their practices that inflame the [Palestinian] anger.”


"What Has Israel Offered So Far?"


Independent Al-Quds declared (7/7):  "The humiliating treatment of Palestinians and the great suffering they undergo at Israeli checkpoints throughout the occupied territories are still in place....  Thousands of Palestinian POWs are still being incarcerated in Israeli jails and detention camps, a fact that is causing additional suffering to tens of thousands of Palestinian families.  But despite all this suffering, the talk in Israel still revolves around the conditional release of a limited number of POWs, not to exceed 200 people....  We maintain that Israel would be making a big mistake if it believed that peace and security can be achieved by a mere decrease in warnings of possible Palestinian operations or a decline in the so-called incitement against Israel.  It would also be mistaken if it imagined that partial or limited measures of easing the Palestinian suffering could yield in a substantial change in the situation.  If Israel is really concerned with peace, it has to take advantage of the current opportunity as the Palestinian side is exerting every possible effort to support the ongoing peace efforts.  Israel should also take substantial steps in order to convince the Palestinians that it really wants peace.  Such steps include lifting the siege and closure, stopping the humiliating treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, halting settlements construction, and demonstrating true commitment to the roadmap.”


JORDAN:  “The Stage Of Difficult Tests”


Center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour observed (7/9):  "Facts on the ground in the Palestinian territory seems to be very complicated and difficult....  The suffering of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas seems quite evident as he tries to reconcile between the various contradictions on the Palestinian front and manage negotiations with the Israeli side that continues to carry out maneuvers in an attempt to jeopardize everything that Mr. Abbas is trying to achieve....  The Islamic Jihad Movement did well to declare that the latest operation, which was done by one of its members, had not been part of its program and that it is committed to the truce.  Yet, as important as this clarification is, there has to be total control over such action, in order not to give the Israelis the pretext or the justification for refusing the release of prisoners who belong to those Palestinian factions....  We continue to urge the Palestinian factions to block Israel’s way and call for further American follow-up and direct mediation in order to remove the obstacles that Israel is placing in the path to peace and help everyone overcome this stage of difficult tests."


“When Mahmoud Abbas Resigns”


Semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai editorialized (7/9):  “The resignation of the Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas from Fateh takes the Palestinian domestic front back to square one, just when things have started to look like they were heading towards calm and quiet....  Pushing Abbas against the wall and tying his hands behind his back achieves nothing but what we think would be a not so noble objective, simply because it means suicide.  This is because the hole that would be left by Abbas’ resignation from government will prove to be a success and an opportunity for the Sharon government to portray itself as the one that wants peace and the Palestinians as wanting nothing but extremism and terrorism; Israeli charges by all means."


LEBANON:  “Sharon Is Working On Destroying The Roadmap”


Aouni Al-Kaaki commented in pro-Syria Ash-Sharq (7/7):  “All of Sharon’s decisions are leading to the destruction of the roadmap.  He is focusing on pushing the Palestinian factions to relinquish the truce....  Sharon did what seems to be a real mockery.  He announced his approval on releasing about 450 out of 9000 Palestinians among them women and kids.  Those who will be released are administrative detainees who were not charged with anything in the first place....  The issue of the prisoners and the way Sharon is dealing with it is a reflection of what Sharon is planning.  He wants to destruct all possibilities that might lead to a peace settlement.”


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Test Them"


Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina editorialized (7/10):  "The current negotiations between Abu Mazen and the central committee of the Fateh movement must lead to solidarity in the Palestinian position and unified goal. It is also expected to convince the visionaries in Washington that the American silence on Israel’s procrastination and unsatisfactory delivery on its obligations, will only lead to tear apart of their Roadmap.  Washington said that it is envisioning a Palestinian state in 2005.  The Palestinians are expected to believe this.  Not because President Bush, the trustworthy, said so, but because we must trust them to test them. Trust them to believe them." 


"Running Away"


Jeddah’s English-language pro-government Saudi Gazette (7/10):  "The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has every right to demand an explanation from the U.S. over its envoy’s insulting remarks describing Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas as a 'relatively weak person' who tends to 'run away from problems;' more so, the PNA should get a public apology although neither act will put bread on the table....  Daniel Krutzer’s remarks were uttered in public forum while acting as the representative of the U.S. and as such his insults were delivered in its name....  American foreign policy on the Mideast crisis is proven to be worse than 'relatively weak' in the face of the Zionists and their allies in Washington DC, and there aren’t many who would argue about it....  With people like Krutzer representing the U.S. Abbas may well be running away.  Who in his right mind will be willing to put their neck and that of his entire people in the hands of a peace sponsor like that?"


"The Responsibility Of The Palestinian Authority"


Jeddah's conservative Al-Madina contended (7/9):  "The latest suicide-bombing mission that has been attributed to one of the Jihad Al-Islami cells could not have benefited the latest truce and peace negotiations. Israel must stand along side Prime Minister Abbas and comply with the Roadmap for peace terms and obligations. This will help Abu Mazen foil the destructive attempts of those who are trying to ruin the chance for peace. The unity of the Palestinian lines is a direct responsibility of the Palestinian leadership. It is also an effective weapon in the fight for peace."


"Maintaining The Cease-Fire"


Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira noted (7/9):  "Palestinian compliance with the cease-fire and their real intention are shown in practical actions on the ground. Despite that, there are others trying to disrupt the Palestinian unity. This requires the existence of an unbiased international party to monitor the cease-fire, and to coordinate between the Palestinians and the Israelis for the purpose of maintaining the progress achieved in the peace process." 


"This Is How Washington Makes Enemies"


Abha's moderate Al-Watan editorialized (7/8):  "The current American administration could be the best at creating animosities at a time when it should be seeking friendships and allies.  For the sake of protecting Israel's security, this administration has antagonized all of the Arab and Muslim worlds.  It described Israel as a tame lamb who has become a prey to the vicious Arab wolf.  In the aftermath of the war in Iraq the U.S. administration assumed the role of an arrogant conqueror." 


SYRIA:  "The Map Of Maneuvers"


Ahmad Hamadeh noted in government-owned Al-Thawra (7/10):  "Israel claims that it will withdraw from the occupied territories out of its willingness to carry out the Roadmap. Soon we find out that this a tactical and non-serious Israeli step....  Israel claims that it will dismantle Jewish settlements in some parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip; but in practice, Israel is misleading the world opinion by talking about unauthorized settlements....  The Roadmap is full of deficiencies and flaws. It lacks objectivity in the way it deals with Palestinian rights. It will be sentenced to death at Israeli hands."


"The Ideal Solution"


Ahmad Dawa commented in government-owned English-language Syria Times (7/9):  "The U.S. call to establish a Palestinian state and its insistence on this in the Roadmap remains hostage to the continuing Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. The Roadmap is important as the region and the world are passing through a critical and delicate period.  If the US is serious in this call, it must start to eliminate the main obstacle, namely Israeli occupation. It also must avoid partial solutions that complicate the situation, especially with Sharon doing his best to torpedo the Roadmap by escalating tension in the Palestinian territories and playing the card of the approaching US elections."


"UN Diplomacy"


Chief Editor Fouad Mardoud wrote in the government-owned, English-language Syria Times (7/9):  "The new crisis caused by Israel's tough terms over the release of 8000 Palestinian prisoners hovers now between tragedy and farce in its repetition of past history. It will be foolish if Sharon thinks he can stop the Roadmap by raising the temperature at this moment. Yet the US already backs his attitudes....  UN diplomacy remains the only intelligent way--especially if it is coupled with US and EU pressure."


"Sharonite Hypocrisy"


Mohamed Khair Jamali held in government-owned Al-Thawra (7/8):  "The route to a real peace in the region is still thorny, rough and full of Israeli obstacles....  Israel's political thinking represented by symbols of extremism in the Israeli government is the source of blockade for peace and foiling of its efforts."


TUNISIA:  “Washington, A Finger On The Trigger”


Mustapha Ben Ammar held in independent French-language Le Quotidien (7/9):  “Saddam Hussein’s regime was considered as embarrassing and even dangerous to the Bush administration only when it became a real threat to Israel....  The White House Hawks that run international policy by a total osmosis with Zionist phalangists feel motivated to go further in order to implement their concealed plan of breaking up this rich region and controlling its enormous resources. This way they will kill two birds with one stone--safeguarding Israel’s security and controlling the oil of the Gulf region. Iraq, then, possibly Iran and then why not, as a third step, a direct administration that will govern all the Gulf countries?....  It is the dream of the American evangelist missionaries, who are deeply convinced that the third era should be American.  But history has its own logic, which could distort the very ambitious plans any time.”


UAE:  "Palestinians' Release Undecided"


The pro-government English-language Dubai-based Gulf News declared (7/8):  "Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is playing fast-and-loose with the emotions of Palestinians. While holding on to hundreds of Palestinians, most of whom have never been tried in a court of law, or even charged with any crime, the Israeli government declares it will release 'some' prisoners, but not disclosing how many, and only after they have been vetted and approved for release by Israel's Shin Bet security service. At the same time, Sharon claims that if there is 'no genuine effort to fight and eliminate' terror, then the releases, which have yet to take place, will cease.  This is typical of Sharon, who gives with one hand a mere morsel, but grabs with the other a hoard. Threats, accusations and intimidation are all part and parcel of Sharon's methods of diplomacy, while acknowledging the blessings and cheers of American politicians and those with vested interests in the U.S. Little wonder, therefore, that the Palestinians doubt the integrity of any so-called peace overture made by Sharon....  The much-publicised manoeuvrings made by Sharon, to the general praise of the Bush administration, need further examination....  The Israelis have, over many years, perfected the art of grabbing the media's attention and hoodwinking the western press, generally, into believing that any half-hearted attempts at compliance by the Israelis are magnificent sacrifices....  Closer examination will reveal that the only sacrifices being made are those made daily by the Palestinians, suffering from the ravages of occupation by an unfriendly power."




CHINA:  “How Long Can The Peace Last This Time”


Chen Zhuang commented in China Radio International-sponsored World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (7/7):  “As for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Bethlehem this time, the situation and environment has changed greatly compared with last year....  With the U.S.’ promotion, Palestine and Israel accepted the Road Map peace plan and are conducting it right now.  However, every Bethlehem resident is aware that every measure and image of the peace could be destroyed by a single attack.  Today’s peace is still fragile.  Can the new situation bring Bethlehem a new fate this time? A new fate different from other times?”


THAILAND:  "Ceasefire"


The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately-conservative, English-language Bangkok Post read (7/7):  “The first reason to hope (for the road map success) is the American involvement.  President George W. Bush last year laid out his vision of a Palestinian homeland by 2005.  Seldom since President Jimmy Carter cajoled and bullied Egypt and Israel into a historic rapprochement a generation ago has Washington been so positively involved in a major peace offensive in the region....  There is no guarantee of success, however.  For one thing, it will be necessary sooner rather than later to deal with the three major Palestinian groups who declared a ceasefire and the smaller but equally bloody-minded terrorist groups.  President Bush is right to be concerned at the continuing support of terrorism by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and particularly by links between these groups and decidedly un-peaceful officials abroad, particularly in Iran....  Additional steps have been taken since the ceasefire.  Israel has pulled its troops out of Bethlehem.  Palestinian security has moved against terrorist groups, as it must.  Big issues remain, including dismantling some Israeli settlements and the role of Jerusalem.  Before that, it will be necessary to deal with Hamas and other violent groups.  Ironically, their ceasefire which provided the means to begin peace talks will end, and they cannot be allowed to intimidate negotiations.”


PAKISTAN:  "Beyond The Truce"


The Islamabad-based rightist English-language Pakistan Observer maintained (7/8):  "Now that the Palestinians have fulfilled their responsibilities under the first phase of the road-map it is up to Israel to reciprocate.  It is Israel's turn now to withdraw its forces to their positions before 28 September 2000, to take the necessary measures to alleviate the sufferings of the Palestinian people and to refrain from violating any of the conditions stipulated in the Palestinian truce statements.  Certainly, if Israel meets these obligations it will encourage the Palestinians to continue to meet theirs, and there will evolve the mutual confidence needed to ensure that the road-map arrives at its destination: the creation of an independent Palestinian State by 2005."




BRAZIL:  "Roadmap Becomes Real"


Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo declared (7/5):  "Skepticism about another symbolic handshake is understandable. The meeting between Ariel Sharon and Mahmud Abbas has served to advance the roadmap--the plan in which the U.S. seems to have firmly engaged itself after the war in Iraq.  The Palestinian groups have imposed a series of conditions for the truce, but they will obviously be ignored....  Nothing is clearer than the fragility of the small positive steps from both sides....  The roadmap is designed to make small advances more valuable than immobility....  This must guide the U.S.'s participation--on which almost everything depends--in the process....  The idea behind the plan is that regardless of what will happen, each day produces a positive move toward peace. The immediate challenge is to remove terrorism from the center of the conflict."


CANADA:  "Made-in-America Middle East"


Shira Herzog wrote in the leading Globe and Mail (7/10):  "Whatever one thinks about the motives for the war in Iraq, the United States' military victory and its occupation of that country has transformed the politics of the entire region. The U.S. is now a Middle East power and its presence holds the key to the recent Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire....  On balance...the new U.S. presence in the region has created just enough leverage to bring the parties to this point. What next? Is there enough common ground to go beyond a shaky ceasefire that is risk-laden for Israelis and Palestinians alike? In recent statements, Mr. Bush has already signalled his intention to firmly hold both parties to their obligations. For Israel, this means that he will not let the traditional Israeli argument that security must come first override his desire to see Palestinians live and move more easily and freely. For the Palestinians, this means that the acceptance of Mr. Abbas's strategy will fade if terrorism and violence resume. If I were Mr. Abbas or Mr. Sharon, I wouldn't underestimate the President's resolve on both these counts."


COSTA RICA:  "Effort In The Middle East"


Spanish-language, left-leaning El Heraldo observed (7/9):  "In spite of all the preventions, insecurities and distrusts between all the participants in the peace process initiated between Israelis and Palestinians, there is no doubt that an important effort is taking place, and that so far everything has gone a little bit further than the observers were expecting. President Bush’s policy for the region, where he keeps its operations in Afghanistan and where he is engaged with Iraq’s occupation, needs to release tensions between Israelis and Palestinians....  With existing high levels of distrust on both sides, it is clear that the success of the plan depends on, mainly, international pressure, not only from the US, Russia and France.  The main pressure is from the world’s public opinion and all the governments that love peace.  This has to be a firmly supported aspiration from all people."


ECUADOR:  “Bush and Bin Laden”


Carlos Alberto Montaner opined in Quito’s leading centrist El Comercio (7/6):  "Serendipity is a noun that is about to take its place in the dictionary.  George W. Bush sent his troops in search of weapons of mass destruction allegedly held by Saddam Hussein.  They did not found them, but it is possible that he will end up achieving peace in Palestine....  How did this happen?  The massive presence of the U.S. military in the region after the sweeping defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan, followed by the almost instantaneous defeat of Iraqi forces, lent a weight unknown since the times of Teddy Roosevelt to statements by the White House....  In reality the peace so fervently desired by Israel has never been so close before, and never before has the possibility of creating a Palestinian state seen so many good omens and godfathers.  But to get to this point, an energetic combination of strength by Israel and clear threats by the U.S. to those nations supporting terrorism has been required.  It is true then that one has to pray to God while carrying a big stick.”


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