International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

August 12, 2003

August 12, 2003





**  There is widespread pessimism that the cease-fire can "survive the coming days."


**  Critics say Israel's "racist wall" will only "create hatred." 


**  Syria and Iran are using Hezbollah to "rekindle the fire on Israel's northern border." 


**  Arab dailies see Israel "killing off" the roadmap, seeking neither "tranquillity or peace."




The roadmap process is rapidly becoming 'more fragile'--  Reflecting widespread pessimism, one German writer contended it was "only a question of time until...implementation of the roadmap [is] frozen."  Israelis blasted Abbas' reluctance to "dismantle the apparatus of terrorism," with left-leaning Ha'aretz saying Israel "can't shut its eyes while the terror organizations are enjoying a breather to organize."  Arabs accused Israel of creating a "fresh incendiary atmosphere" given its "conspicuous stinginess" on prisoner releases.  Jordan's center-left Al-Dustour blamed the U.S.' "absolute bias for Israel" for the roadmap's difficulties.


The fence is 'incompatible with the roadmap'--  Critics claimed Israel's "defensive fence" was "blocking the roadmap."  Canada's leading Globe & Mail urged Israel to "adjust" the wall to minimize the "seizure of Palestinian land."  Arab dailies blasted "Sharon's well-fortified, divisive wall," insisting peace cannot be "imposed by a fence."  Saudi and Philippine dailies claimed the fence's "unspoken purpose is to annex as much of the West Bank as Israel can."  Conversely, Israeli papers blamed "the dramatic the route of the separation fence" on "capitulation to an American veto" after the U.S. threatened possible financial sanctions.         


Hezbollah, backed by Syria, seeks a 'deluxe escalation'--  The world must pressure Syria and Iran "to stop their support of Hezbollah."  Israel's Maariv opined that Hezbollah sought to incite a "continuation of the war on Israel" despite "relative calm between Israel and the Palestinians."  Syrian dailies criticized Israel's "clear provocative moves," while the West Bank's independent Al-Ayyam accused Israel of "escalating confrontations with Lebanon in an effort to involve Syria."  Lebanon's anti-Syria An-Nahar cited "tension...between the U.S. and Syria" to explain why Syria "continues to hold onto its Hezbollah trump card."  


There are 'deliberate Israeli attempts to undermine' the roadmap--  Arab writers agreed that Israel "continues to hinder the implementation of the roadmap."  The West Bank's independent Al-Quds stated, "Israel has this strong desire to torpedo the cease-fire."  Saudi Arabia's conservative Al Nadwa urged the U.S. to "exercise pressure on Israel to fulfill its obligations."  Other Saudi dailies held Israel responsible for "violating the cease-fire" by its raid in Nablus.  Egyptian and West Bank papers alleged Sharon wanted to "involve the Palestinians in internal fighting" and "incite the Palestinian factions to violate the truce."


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis was based on 48 reports from 18 countries over 8 - 12 August 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




GERMANY:  "War Of Wirepullers"


Thorsten Schmitz reported in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (8/12):  "The flaring up of Hezbollah attacks...must be seen in a wider context. Hezbollah is financially supported by Syria and Iran and gets its weapons from these countries....  Both countries are opposed to the U.S.-initiated attempt to create accommodation between Israel and the Palestinians....  It is absurdly enough that an undemocratic state like Syria is now presiding the UNSC.  That is why the UN General Assembly, but also the United States, must increase pressure on Syria and Iran to stop their support of Hezbollah.  Otherwise, the danger is great that the skirmishes along the Israeli border region with Lebanon will turn into a conflagration.  One thing is sure:  Israel will not accept Hezbollah attacks after it withdrew its army from the security zone."


"Sharon's Wall"


Left-of-center Hamburger Morgenpost argued (8/12):  "Of course, it must be allowed to compare Sharon's wall with other monstrosities.  Ulbricht's Wall in the GDR, for instance.  The reasons for both structures were protection from terrorists and war, and the ones who suffered the most were ordinary people....  But both walls are also political declaration of bankruptcies, since those who build a wall around themselves do not trust their neighbors and do not believe in a joint future.  With this wall, Sharon creates a symbol....  Entire generations of young Palestinians will consider it a new source for hate and frustration.  Peace in the Middle East--in the shadow of an electric fence and eight meter high walls this dream has become a bit more unlikely."


Solidly Built"


Left-of-center Sueddeutsche Zeitung held (8/11):  "It was only a question of time until either the Palestinians or Israel declared the implementation of the road map for peace to be frozen.   Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's accusation of the Palestinian Government under Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas sounds plausible.   Abbas is refusing to disarm and disband the Palestinian terror groups HAMAS and Islamic Jihad--but that is exactly what is called for by the first phase of the plan to create two nations worked out by the Middle East quartet.   Instead, Abbas is relying on the--fragile and time-limited--ceasefire and is already selling it as his success....  Israel, in turn, is also blocking the road map for peace by building the defensive fence in the West Bank--thus sowing only mistrust.   The fence, compared by Palestinians to the Berlin just as incompatible with the roadmap as is Abbas's attempt to integrate the terror groups into the political system of the autonomous authority--the very same groups, which in their statutes call for the destruction of Israel.  The halting implementation of the peace timetable was to be expected, since Israel and the Palestinians are dependent on the mediation of the U.S.  The U.S. Government must now emphatically work on both sides before President George W. Bush runs out of time for mediation.   The pre-election campaign in the United States begins already in the fall."


"Without Confidence"


Wolfgang Guenter Lerch maintained in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (8/11):  "It would have been a small but effective step if Israel had suspended the construction of the 'security fence.'   But we could have expected the decision to continue construction....  The 'hardliner' camp in the government asserted its view.  The Palestinians...must consider the decision a sign that [Israel] has no confidence in the Palestinians, let alone the cease-fire.  The radicals among the Palestinians in particular will know how to integrate 'the wall' into their propaganda, and Prime Minister Abbas cannot even contradict them.  To sum up, we must say that the situation in the Mideast has become more fragile again.  Hezbollah again attacks Israel from Lebanon and Israel carries out the usual 'retaliation.' We have reason to doubt that the cease-fire will survive the coming days."


ITALY:  “The U.S.  And Sharon’s ‘Wall’”


Fiamma Nirenstein wrote in influential, centrist La Stampa (8/11): "When it threatens serious economic measures if Israel doesn’t stop the construction of the barrier between West Bank and its territory, as Colin Powell warned, the U.S.  is taking an important decision aimed at strengthening Abu Mazen’s leadership.  The Palestinian Prime Minister is facing two political issues, which are far from the roadmap, but strictly linked to its image as well as its popularity.  Those issues include the prisoners and (Israel’s) wall.  The (U.S.) Administration is supporting Abu Mazen by urging Israel to please him, because it is afraid to get him lost into the mouth of the extremists.  However...had the U.S. paid more attention to Sharon’s statements, it would avoid...getting the opposite result.  Sharon reiterates that it impossible to stop completely the construction of the wall, because the Palestinian leadership--against the rules established by the roadmap--is still reluctant to face the terrorist organizations, and he also reiterates that, after one thousand dead in three years of attacks, Israel won’t give in....  Sharon will actually slow down the construction (of the wall) to avoid a dispute with Bush, but he will never admit that (Israel’s) security be pushed in the background.  The negotiation over Territories won’t be effective as far as the first part of the roadmap isn’t sealed on the physical truce.”


IRELAND:  "Middle East"


The center-right populist Irish Independent editorialized (8/9):  "It is a hopeful gesture, even though the comparatively small number of releases may frustrate and antagonize some Palestinians....  Many will wonder what the point of talking about territorial change really is, when the Israeli government is happy to spend 1 million pounds per mile to build a concrete wall across the Occupied Territories....  Much of the same goes for Mr Sharon’s manifest reluctance to remove the unlawful Israeli settlements on the West Bank....  The point is that the roadmap’s process of building trust requires some trust between the sides to begin with, and there is a depressing lack of that at the moment.”




ISRAEL:  "Capitulation To American Pressure"


Amir Rappaport opined in popular, pluralist Maariv (8/12):  "No matter how you look at it, the dramatic change that appears to have been made in the route of the separation fence constitutes, in practice, capitulation to an American veto....  Bush, who is riding on the wave of the success of the war in Iraq, feels that he is the cowboy of the Middle East, and now Sharon understands too that this cowboy has no problem drawing when he feels the need.  He does not hold unnecessary debates, but imposes his will.  The fear is that this pattern of behavior will recur when issues that are far more fateful for Israel, such as permanent borders and Jerusalem, are on the agenda.  Should the revised route of the separation fence be approved, a number of pitfalls will be removed, though by no means all of them.  The Palestinians probably still will complain to the United States about the new route, not to mention the de-facto annexation of East Jerusalem.  It is safe to assume that in the event that the new route is approved by the cabinet, all eyes will be turned once again to the cowboy from Washington in anticipation of his decision."


"The Semifinals"


Yoel Marcus wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/12):  "The hudna has already reached the semifinals and nothing good has happened yet.  All we can say is that the time is flying and the Palestinians haven't done the most important thing they've been asked to do, by Israel and the U.S. Administration, which is to disarm the terror organizations.  And what makes that so important?  Because we're talking about a really tight schedule here.  The road map calls for a Palestinian state with temporary borders by the end of the year, and a Palestinian state with permanent borders by the end of 2005....  Without snuffing out these organizations, the road map will not be implemented.  Because if the PA, which claims to be ripe and ready to establish a state, is not capable of carrying out its very first commitment, Israel's right-wing extremists will have an excuse not to withdraw to the '67 borders or evacuate settlements.  Israel can't shut its eyes while the terror organizations are enjoying a breather to organize and build up their strength.  Sharon and Bush are right to stick to their guns and insist that the Palestinians confront their own opposition.  If the central government can't get a handle on the terror organizations, the region is marching to hell with its eyes wide open."


"No Precedents?"


Yael Gewirtz observed in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (8/12):  "We do not live in a land that 'has not known any precedents'.  Even if one should ignore the logic behind a step that the Muslim side could perceive as a provocation, and if one should leave aside the debate over the wisdom underlying Sharon's challenging visit to the [Temple] Mount in September 2000, the various 'faithful' [Jews who wished to visit the site] last week served as a reminder that they did not intend to bring flowers and doves.  Their public expressions were nothing less than explosive...and could have turned...the War of Gog and Magog into child's play....  [Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi] could not possibly have taken such a step [opening the site for visits by Jews] without having weighed its security aspects and its international repercussions."


"Nasrallah's Illusion"


Amit Cohen wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (8/11):  "Hezbollah’s great achievement is its ability to split their struggle into several apparently independent areas.  If Israel does not fly in Lebanese airspace, the northern communities will not be attacked.  If Hezbollah operatives are not blown up in Beirut, roadside charges will not be detonated along the fence.  But this is really an illusion.  All these areas are closely intertwined and form Nasrallah’s fighting plan for the continuation of the war on Israel.  Even if Israel eases up on the accelerator, Nasrallah still has a plethora of excuses....  The near future will be critical.  The relative calm between Israel and the Palestinians worries Hezbollah, and Iran no less.  This is the time that Nasrallah can...heat up the region and test Israel’s tolerance threshold once again."


"Hezbollah Brinkmanship"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz held (8/11):  "Except for [one] incident [in March 2002], all the casualties until Sunday were from the armed forces and that was taken as a sign that Hezbollah wanted to keep it a limited conflict.  This is brinkmanship, an attempt to avoid total conflict that would result in the full force of the IDF being brought to bear in an assault to destroy the military framework of Hezbollah and force the Lebanese government to impose its will on southern Lebanon.  Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah is free to provoke Israel and drag it into an all-out conflict, lest it result in American intervention, while U.S. forces are located in Iraq and threatening Syria and Iran....  Nasrallah is trying for a deluxe escalation....  Now, after a teenager was killed in Shlomi Sunday and other civilians were wounded, the balance is beginning to shift toward a solution by force.  So far, Israel's responses have been mostly diplomatic, through Washington and the UN, and that was good.  The international elements must enlist in the effort to rein in Hezbollah and rid it of its arms, before Lebanon is once again swept into war."


"Looking For Escalation"


Sever Plotker opined in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (8/11):  "Sunday, Hezbollah murdered Shlomi resident Haviv Dadon in cold blood, with no reason or provocation on Israel's part.  This murder had a well-defined purpose: to rekindle the fire on Israel’s northern border, thereby returning Hezbollah to the Arab media headlines and to Palestinian consciousness....  Since Israel’s pullout from Lebanon, with the approval of the international community and UN backing, Hezbollah has gradually lost its reason for existence....  The agitation, frustration and fear of a collapse of motivation increased among Hezbollah leadership upon the appointment of Abu Mazen as prime minister of Palestine.  The meetings between Abu Mazen and Prime Minister Sharon and President George Bush have even cancelled the formal need for Hezbollah to support the holy Intifada of terror--since this has ended and been declared contrary to the interests of the Palestinian people....  Through this premeditated murder, Hezbollah said to Israel: 'I murder, therefore I am.'  It may be time to convey the opposing Israeli response to the leaders of Hezbollah, and particularly to its leader Nasrallah: 'If Hezbollah murders, it will not exist.'"


"Faulty Balancing Act"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (8/10):  "Last week, U.S.  Secretary of State Colin Powell made one of his clearest statements yet that a temporary cease-fire on the part of terrorist groups is not enough....  What is disturbing is that, in almost the same breath, Powell confirmed reports that the U.S. was considering deducting from its economic assistance to Israel amounts related to Israel's construction of a security fence....  It's high time the State Department reflected on whether it dispatches the right messages by giving Israelis the impression that, no matter what they do, some pretext will be found to upbraid them.  The same goes for using aid to twist an ally's arm.  No assistance should be taken for granted and we never naively assume that no strings are attached....  But linking aid to an issue of self-defense raises the specter of double standards.  Why is aid, for instance, not used to bring leverage on Egypt in matters of human rights or the unabashed dissemination of the most noxious anti-Semitism?  To use loan guarantees to squeeze from Israel concessions that could well cost numerous Israeli lives is not only unconscionable.  It is also counterproductive from America's point of view, because it reduces the pressure on the Palestinians to do what really matters, which is to dismantle the apparatus of terrorism."


"The Real Confrontation Over The Future Border"


Nationalist Hatzofe observed (8/8):  "In reply to journalists' questions at his vacation home earlier this week, US President George Bush said that clarifications were continuing with Israel concerning the 'separation fence' in Judaea and Samaria....  The feeling is that, following the compromise on this issue now being worked out by Washington and Jerusalem, the 'fence' ultimately will not deviate greatly from the border in place prior to the Six Day War. This, in any event, is the subject of the present Israel-US dispute.  The question is: Will Israel back off? Authorized sources in the Prime Minister's Office are endeavoring to refute reports of pressure from Washington to halt the erection of the fence in Judaea and Samaria....  Despite outward efforts to stress that it is business as usual where the fence is concerned, the Prime Minister's Office has announced the completion of the first stage of the fence along an approximately 120 km long stretch from Bet She'an to Kefar Saba, and it has stated that work is continuing according to plan. Actually, the plan is subject to almost daily changes. This is particularly conspicuous where Ari'el is concerned. All of a sudden this town, with its tens of thousands of inhabitants, has remained outside the fence....  If Ari'el has been placed outside the fence, it is not exactly difficult to imagine what will happen to other towns and villages in its vicinity.  Whoever decided that Ari'el should be outside the fence has intimated that he no longer perceives this town as an integral part of the Jewish state in the Land of Israel. That, in any event, is the obvious conclusion and it must sound an alarm to everyone for whom Jewish settlement in Judaea and Samaria is an unassailable part of the State of Israel.  The debate on the fence is not confined only to security issues; it also refers to political issues on our agenda. Any doubts in this respect will be resolved by the decision to relegate the town of Ari'el to the other side of the fence, revealing the real intentions of those who oppose it....  The ongoing argument about the fence is in fact focusing on Israel's future borders. This is no time for intelligent men to be silent."


WEST BANK:  “Rice Changes ‘Naivete’ Into ‘Ideology’”


Jawad Bashiti held in independent Al-Ayyam (8/12):  “On August 8, the Washington Post published an article by American NSA Rice entitled ‘Change Course in the Middle East'....  In order to sound more convincing in highlighting the U.S. support for the Arabs following the ‘European footsteps’ [post WWII], Rice likened the 'enduring, extensive European transformation process’ with the current situation in the Arab world, which is going through a historic period similar to that experienced by the Europeans right after World War II.  Rice maintains that the U.S. is willing to offer the Arabs what it offered to the Europeans.  But, what Rice has failed to realize is the fact that the lack of democracy in the Arab world is a direct result of an American and Israeli shared interest [in preventing such democracy from taken place]. The Arabs, whom Rice claims to sympathize with, are in desperate need for democracy, human rights and freedom in order for them to defend their national existence and to confront their number-one national enemy, Israel, as well as to protect themselves from the U.S. hegemony over the Arab world.  The lack of democratic freedoms in the Arab world has enabled Israel and the United States to repeatedly defeat the Arabs and their national rights....  What we see now, apart from any illusions, is a well-planned devastation of the Arab national existence at the hands of Americans and Israelis, who try to convince us that this devastation is in fact part of the construction process....  Is Rice that naive to believe that Arabs are only a crowd of fools?”


“Deliberate Obstruction Of The Peace Process”


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (8/12):  ”It is very obvious that the Israeli government, which is determined to undermine the roadmap, will not be satisfied until it sees the Palestinians entangled in a bitter internal dispute that will consume their attention and divide them from their national struggle to end the occupation and settlements....  In the meantime, it seems that the U.S. enthusiasm to implement the roadmap and its President’s vision of peaceful settlement continue to diminish as the American forces struggle in Iraq....  The deliberate Israeli attempts to undermine the ongoing peace efforts do not only threaten the Palestinian objectives of achieving liberation and independence, but also pose a serious threat to the security of the Israelis themselves and their acceptance in the region, as well as to American interests in the Arab world.”


"Destiny Of The Truce:  Between Response, The Right To Respond And Wisdom"


Hani Masri argued in independent Al-Ayyam (8/12):  “The policy and conduct of the Sharon government reflect a rejection of the truce and an endeavor to undermine it but with minimal cost to Israel.  At first, the Israeli government tried to involve the Palestinians in internal fighting amongst each other, but when it failed, it embarked on a campaign to incite the Palestinian factions to violate the truce so that Israel can free itself from its obligations toward the roadmap....  Thus, we should learn from our previous experiences.  For many days, weeks and months, we have been approached by representatives from the entire world, specifically Europe and the U.S., who succeeded in convincing us to accept a truce...without nothing much in return from Israel....  Nevertheless, Sharon continues to inflame internal disputes between the Palestinians, and, at times, he has initiated direct attacks on them.  The truce does not mean surrendering...and a great caution should be considered in order to hold Israel responsible for the failure of the truce.”


“The Israeli Escalation, Where To?”


Talal Okal contended in independent Al-Ayyam (8/11):  “The most recent Israeli practices [against Palestinians] are a serious escalation and an indication that the American concerns [about the peace process] and repeated warnings issued by American administration officials are not serious.  The Israeli government continues to hinder the implementation of the roadmap, which could end up leading to a severe deteriorating in the situation not only in Palestine, but in the entire region as well....  The latest events in Nablus, Jenin and the other Palestinian cities are evidence that Israel is not seeking tranquility or peace.  The Israeli government does not hide its intentions or show any regrets regarding its interest in escalation.  Defense Minister Mofaz blatantly stated that he would give the Palestinian National Authority a chance to root out the resistance until the end of September or else, he threatened, Israel would be obligated to act on its own....  Moreover, acting as an authorized agent for the United States, Israel is escalating confrontations with Lebanon in an effort to involve Syria in the struggle and probably also to pave the way for an American military intervention under the claim of fighting ‘terrorism.’  There is no doubt that Israel is seriously interested in dragging the entire region into a war, particularly with U.S. involvement....  The vast experience we have in dealing with Israel highlights the need to have international--not American--protection forces and observers as a key requirement of any political initiative.”


"A Bet To Kill The Truce"


Samih Shbeib commented in independent Al-Ayyam (8/11):  "The Israeli Defense Minister’s most recent statement [giving the Palestinian Authority until the end of September to dismantle the Palestinian militant groups] is a clear indication of the Israeli government’s unwavering determination to go back to the period that preceded the Palestinians’ announcement of a truce, when Israel enjoyed free and secure military movement inside the Palestinian territories....  Obviously, the Israeli government is neither interested in implementing the roadmap nor willing to provide any support to the new Palestinian government.  Quite the opposite, Israel’s repeated attempts to negatively portray the Palestinian government as too weak is a first step to holding this government responsible for possible failure of the roadmap....  Meanwhile, the Israeli government successfully continues expanding settlements and building the separation wall while emptying the roadmap of its political content and distancing the roles of the Quartet and the Arab initiative.”


"Eagerness To Undermine The Cease-fire"


Independent Al-Quds declared (8/10):  “Not a single day has passed since the announcement of the cease-fire agreement between Palestinians and Israelis without a violation committed by the Israeli forces, who carry out their government’s orders.  They have committed more assassinations of activists, carried out more incursions into cities and refugee camps, and arrested more Palestinians under all sorts of pretexts.  The worst Israeli violations of the cease-fire, however, were committed two days ago in the Askar refugee camp near Nablus and in the city of Jenin, where Israeli forces launched a large-scale military campaign killing a number of residents and arresting many others in addition to demolishing several houses....  Given the fact that Israel has this strong desire to torpedo the cease-fire, one may wonder why Israeli officials don’t come out and reveal their real intentions without deception.  As for the American administration, which initiated the roadmap plan as a means to achieve a political settlement, it is required to safeguard its credibility and sincerity through activating the peace plan and preventing Israel from undermining the roadmap.” 


EGYPT:  "Precaurious Hudna"


Khaled Amayreh commented in pro-government English-language Al-Ahram Weekly (8/11):  "Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders, like most Palestinians, reacted coolly to the Israeli decision to free some 424 Palestinian prisoners....  Even the usually more circumspect PA Premier Mahmoud Abbas criticised "this modus operandi of deception and cheating" on Israel's part....  What is irking the Palestinians most, however, is the fact that the jail terms of nearly all the 183 convicted prisoners Israel has agreed to free have either expired or are about to expire....  Israel's conspicuous parsimony and perceived deception on an issue as sensitive and emotional as the release of Palestinian prisoners seem to be galvanising the Palestinian public anew....  While Israel and the U.S.  are the usual villains, the reformist Palestinian government has been increasingly blamed for not doing enough to free the prisoners....  Sensing the growing public impatience and indignation over the prisoners' plight as well as the continuation of crippling Israeli restrictions within the West Bank, Abbas reportedly decided to cancel a proposed meeting with Sharon....  The symbolic and desperate step will not do much to soothe mounting public anger....  Moreover, Israel's continued construction of the 'apartheid wall' in the West Bank, despite ostensibly disingenuous American objections, is effectively killing the roadmap and evaporating whatever modicum of hope among Palestinians that the Bush administration will rein in Israel.  The Palestinians had hoped that Bush's public criticisms of the wall...would be translated into a meaningful pressure on Israel to stop construction on the wall....  As Israel continues to build the wall and create new realities on the ground, and with Israeli roadblocks and checkpoints strangulating the daily lives of Palestinians, a fresh incendiary atmosphere is being fostered in the occupied territories."


"Dividing Lines"


Chief Editor Samir Rajab remarked in small-circulation pro-government Al-Gomhuriya (8/10):  "Israel seems to be acting according to an Egyptian proverb that goes, 'He beat me and cried, then rushed to complain before I could complain!'  It wasted no time to lodge a complaint with the UN against Syria and Lebanon for Hizballah's attack on Shab'a farms.  This is what Israel did at a time its forces are overrunning Palestinian land and killing, wounding and arresting whoever they want.  Over and above, they still issue misleading statements claiming that they are not violating the truce and turn a blind eye to what their dirty hands had done.  It is they who committed the mean and cowardly the time of the raids on Nablus.   Despite all that, the Palestinians have shown maximum self-restraint and only asked the Quartet, which supervises the road map, to move to protect them from the savage raids that disregard conscience, ethics, and religion....  All indications are that Israel had decided, at least before the road map was adopted, not to withdraw from the land it had occupied by force, not to abandon its settlement policy, not to allow the return of refugees, and not to stop building this security wall.  Suffice it that President Bush yesterday simply said this wall is a problem because it snakes across the West Bank making it extremely difficult to set up a Palestinian state with the passage of time up to 2005.  Naturally President Bush did not tell us how to overcome this problem or who will bear its consequences, the Palestinians or the Israelis? Bush's words clearly show that it is the Palestinians who will have to pay the price....  The U.S.  has automatically joined Israel in directing clear warnings to Syria and Lebanon holding them responsible for the grave consequences if they did not stop the Hizballah militants from launching more attacks as if peace cannot be achieved without unchecked Arab bloodletting while the Jews need every protection and their security needs to be insured on all sides.   Woe be to anyone who dare come near it.  Down with the abhorrent double standard policy." 




Anis Mansoour noted in leading pro-government Al Ahram (8/9):  “I am sorry to have said before that Bush, the kind Christian leader, will fall [in the elections] because he failed to settle the Palestinian issue....  The influential Jewish lobby in the U.S...will not forget the great role Iraqi Jews played when they presented the Iraqi government....  Since the end of the war, only 50 Americans have died.   Moreover, Bush has started to retract his words.  Now, he blames Palestinians for not dissolving their factions.  He is describing Israel’s cement wall as nothing but a chicken farm fence....  That is why I believe Bush will return to the White House on a whiter horse.”


“A Commotion To Deceive”


Leading pro-government Al Ahram contended (8/8):  “The media commotion arranged by Sharon’s government ahead of the release of a group of Palestinian prisoners was designed to tell world public opinion that Israel supports the roadmap....  In fact, an accurate reading...reveals the manifest deceit and procrastination of Sharon's policy.  It wants to imply the ball sits now in the Palestinian court although the opposite is true....  Israel's coercion can once again push matters toward violence....  The Sharon government retracted its previous promises to withdraw from Palestinian sites and has once again put the cart before the horse by demanding prior disarmament of Palestinian factions come....  It wants to put Abu Mazen’s government in a real dilemma and in confrontation with the Palestinian people.”


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Checkmate Sharon"


Jeddah's English-language pro-government Saudi Gazette maintained (8/11):  "The Palestinians cannot be blamed for violating the ceasefire.  Israelis have broken it by raiding the refugee camp in the occupied West Bank and murdering four Palestinians without any provocation....  But, it is advisable that the Palestinians resist the temptation to retaliate immediately....  There must be plans for the situations created by Israel's continues violation of the ceasefire or for the progress made on the Roadmap with or without U.S. pressure on Tel Aviv....  Self-restraint and holding the ceasefire until its last day is the best interests of the Palestinians.  It will take Sharon government to a checkmate position." 


"Security Fence A New Israeli Ploy"


The moderate English-language Riyadh Daily held (8/11):  "The factions of the Palestinian national struggle led by Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations have decided to go back to armed struggle against Israel, which has failed to honor its commitments as regards suspension of building Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.  To grant legitimacy to the expansionist policy of the Israeli government, the Israeli Knesset enacted some few days a ago a law which stipulates that the Palestinian territories are not occupied territories, but they are liberated territories which should be inhabited by the Jews and not by the aliens (Palestinians).  Following this development the Israeli government took the executive measures for Judaization of all occupied Palestinian territories.  Israel has been going ahead with violation of the international laws and norms in the light of the weakness of the Arab countries, the indifference of the international community, and the blind support of Washington....  Sharon made it clear that by establishing the security fence, Israel was planning to isolate the Palestinians and to contain them in a narrow area so as to force them emigrate, leaving their lands to the Jews.  Israel thinks that when the Palestinians are forced to emigrate, then it can easily annexe their lands and gradually Judaize them....  As it was done in 1948 when Israel forced the Palestinians to leave their homeland, Israel is currently planning to force the remaining Palestinians to leave their lands.  This step will enable Israel to annex the entire Palestinian lands and subsequently Judaize them.  Really, it is a dangerous development and so the Arabs should remain vigilant and support the Palestinian national struggle so as to put an end to the Israeli terrorism against the Palestinians."


"Why Do They Like Sharon?"


Jeddah's conservative Al-Madina observed (8/10):  "The latest opinion poll...showed that most Israelis are content with their PM's performance and his policies.  Why? Because, since September 11 he managed to take advantage of the Arab leaders' failure, the general animosity against Arabs and Muslim in general to score a few goals for his people.  For example, Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements have both been put at the top of the terrorist organizations list.  He used the war on Iraq to achieve other goals on the Syrian-Iranian front, and finally his government is fishing in dirty water, trying to ruin the Saudi-American relationship.  Israelis love Sharon because he represents their aggressive attitude and delivers their corrupting message on earth."


"Peace Hopes Dashed"


Riyadh's English-language moderate Riyadh Daily held (8/10):  "The flare-up in the violence in the West Bank clearly indicates that the past few weeks of calm have been nothing but illusory.  The Israelis have failed to honor their side of the cease-fire arrangement.  And it is out of sheer frustration now that the militant groups have vowed to adorn the war paint all over again....  With Likud hard-liners in power, there is simply no hope for peace....  It is time that the Israelis themselves pressure their radical leadership to see reason.  In fact, only the ouster of the regime of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would serve the people' interest and put the country on the road to real peace."


"Unifying Arab Positions"


Mecca's conservative Al-Nadwa remarked (8/9):  "The Kingdom's efforts have always aimed at achieving a unified Arab position.  In the Arab League Initiative, the Kingdom was successful in bringing all Arabs to one side regarding the comprehensive peace plan in the Middle East....  Now with the current peace plan, which has been known as the Roadmap for peace, Arab countries need to have one position on the matter. The United States must be convinced to exercise pressure on Israel to fulfill its obligations otherwise another chance for peace will be lost."


"An American Position To Build Upon"


Jeddah's conservative Al-Madina editorialized (8/9):  "Perhaps the most important challenge the Palestinians face is Sharon's well-fortified, divisive wall, which would encircle a massive settlement built on the West Bank.  Arabs must build upon the U.S. Secretary of State Collin Powel's criticism of this fence.  The U.S. has warned against building such a wall that would foil any plans to establish a Palestinian state....  We need to hear similar Arab criticisms and diplomatic escalations that would throw the ball back into Israel's court."


JORDAN:   “Bush And The Road Map”


Musa Hawamdeh observed in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour (8/12):  “We want to wait and see if Bush will succeed in convincing Sharon that the wall is a problem and that it is better to build a peace wall rather than a war and racist wall.  However, he will not dare to make any statement or exert any pressure on Sharon, neither behind nor in front of the scenes, as some Arab analysts are deluded to think.  The truce may not last long, although we would have hoped that it last long enough for Bush to understand that the problem is not just with the wall, but with the Zionist mentality  and the United States’ absolute bias to Israel that will not help establish peace or justice, and that leniency towards Israel which translate to strong support for it.  We are aware of the gentle language used by U.S. officials to criticize Israel while the Arabs and Palestinians are bombarded with missiles, statements, and orders.”


"The Wall--Security Fence Or Separation Barrier?"


Omar Karmi stated in independent, English-language Jordan Times (8/11):  "While the world watches and waits to see if an increasingly tenuous ceasefire (hudna) will last....  A concerted campaign against the barrier was launched last year by a coalition of Palestinian NGOs....  The wall is a product of the culture of fear insurmountable obstacle to peace....  The barrier is turning into a classic Israeli-Palestinian confrontation where even the terms used to describe it are contentious. Israeli officials refer to it as a 'security fence'....  Palestinians usually refer to it as a 'separation wall,' or, in some cases, an 'apartheid wall,' and see it as a mixture of collective punishment and a unilateral indication of future intent....  The barrier is in fact part-wall, part-fence.... Qalqilya is the hardest hit Palestinian community so far....  Many farmers have seen their lands cut off from their homes by the barrier, and some are choosing to camp on their lands for fear that they won't be able to access their only means of a livelihood....  Both US President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell have publicly expressed their reservations about the barrier....  In effect...the barrier...would leave some 42 per cent of the West Bank for a Palestinian state....  Peace means co-existence and co-operation. The barrier is separation and will only create hatred between neighbours....  Without US and international pressure, Sharon will continue building this wall, and there will be no peace.”


KUWAIT:  “The Most Courageous Decision For Sabah Al-Ahmad”


Abdelamir Al-Turki wrote in independent Al-Seyassah (8/10):  “When Kuwait asks the PA to apologize for its support of the Iraqi invasion in 1990, it is in fact supporting the PA and its people who are suffering under the Israeli occupation....  This is how the Kuwaiti position must be understood. We demand an apology from the PA....  It is not acceptable to consider the occupation of Kuwait legitimate, while Israel’s occupation of Palestine is illegitimate. This is the core of rejecting the visit of Abu Mazen to Kuwait.”


LEBANON:  "Hear The Region’s Guns--And Its Call For Reform"


The independent, English-language Daily Star declared (8/11):  "The events around the Arab world and the wider Middle East this weekend were depressingly familiar: Israel and Hezbollah exchanged fire across the Israeli-Lebanese border, a dozen Iraqis and British and American soldiers were injured in clashes, Palestinians and Israelis continued their tense face-off....  Most of the problems in this region, including chronic violence, can be traced to two major reasons: first, slightly incoherent and badly distorted domestic political governance systems that abuse the use of power and fail to tap the energy and creativity of the people of this region; and, second, a recurring penchant for military occupations and colonial adventures with a frequent Anglo-American-Israeli tinge to them.  Historically, colonialism and its lingering consequences set the stage for many of our region’s sufferings. For example, the battles between Israel and each of Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Islamic Jihad stem almost solely from the Israeli occupations in south Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza and Arab East Jerusalem.  Yet most of colonialism’s catastrophes also have a shelf life, and the Middle East has had ample time to overcome that ugly historical legacy and move into the modern world and its promises of personal dignity and national well-being. Most of Middle Eastern states have not done so primarily because they have not devised coherent, equitable domestic governance systems that respect individual rights yet also deliver on collective promises....  The sooner that our region starts serious reforms, the more likely it will be to expect a future of normalcy, rather than abnormally chronic conflict. If we want to drown out the noise and agony of the guns all around us, we should listen more carefully to the voices among us calling for reform."


“American-Syrian Pulling Of Strings Manifests Itself Along The Border”


Rosana Bou-Monsef commented in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (8/11):  “Local political circles had the impression that the Hizballah operation in the Shebaa Farms last Friday was limited in time and place...and viewed it as a retaliation attempt against the assassination of one of Hizballah members....  However, this impression has quickly disappeared yesterday afternoon when Hizballah refrained from limiting its operation to the Farms and...killed an Israeli civilian.  This operation did not only raise concerns over a possible Israeli retaliation, but also fears of raising American anger against the Lebanese and Syrian Governments.  The regional situation the last two weeks has been gradually escalating:  The truce between Israel and the Palestinians seems to be deteriorating and tension is escalating between the U.S. and Syria.  It is impossible to separate what is happening between Hizballah and Israel from the above-mentioned regional situation....  The Syrian Minister of Defense Mustafa Tlas confirmed his country’s support for Hizballah following the last operation, while the Lebanese officials remained silent.  This proves that Syria continues to hold to its Hizballah trump card and control it.  So far, American pressure did not succeed in convincing Syria to discard this trump card....  It seems that the Syrian-American tension reached a very high level--enough for it to mobilize the southern front in Lebanon.”


“Hizballah Operations Surpass The Decision To Retaliate Saleh’s Assassination”


Ibrahim Amin argued in Arab nationalist As-Safir (8/11):  “Hizballah is careful to say that their latest operations...have nothing to do with the assassination of Hizballah member last week.  An operation to retaliate against this assassination needs special preparations and, indeed, it is on its way towards implementation.  Hizballah does not link the current resistance to a process of actions and reactions, in the sense that it realizes that a number of its members will become martyrs and believes that this is a normal part of the battle....  The Hizballah Party believes that Israel’s mistake in assassinating Saleh gave it the opportunity to resume operations which were stopped for seven months because of developments in the region.  In another context, it seems that the Party is interested in trying to understand the reasoning behind Israel’s decision to assassinate Saleh?  Did Israel need this kind of action to compensate for its constant failures?  Did Israel assume that the time is right to test Hizballah’s reaction to an operation of this type....  Whatever the case may be, there is no doubt that the situation before Saleh’s assassination was totally different than the current situation.”


SYRIA:  To Where is Israeli Escalation Heading?"


Omar Jaftaly stated in government-owned Tishreen (8/12):  "Israel's extremist stands in the occupied territories coincide with its new terrorist escalation of tension in south Lebanon....  All this is taking place on the eve of US envoy William Burns's visit to the region in a new US endeavor to calm the situation, to resolve the separation wall crisis...and tackle the dangers of the Israeli escalation of tension in Lebanon....  The visit of Burns or any other US official will remain useless if they tackle the situation only according to Israel's racist points of view."


"Make Israel Comply"


Chief Editor Fouad Mardoud wrote in the government-owned English-language Syria Times (8/12):  "Lebanon finds itself at war again....  Lebanon's best alternative was to go to the UNSC and to file an urgent protest against Israel....  The Security Council appears unprepared or unable to take the necessary steps to keep the Israelis at bay and control their desire to set the region on fire once again....  President Lahoud called it 'air terrorism' meant to automatically draw resistance anti-aircraft fire. Meanwhile, Israeli leaders continue threatening Syria and Lebanon in a clear provocative move....  The situation in the region suggests the need for an active, quick-witted American policy....  The U.S. has cards to play, but is it ready to play those cards if they concern Israel?"


“Israel Aborts the Quartet Project”


Mohammad Al-Khoder stated in government-owned Al-Ba’th (8/10):  “Israel is killing off whatever remains of the Quartet’s Roadmap by a series of attacks, including the assassination of members of the (Palestinian) resistance, by forging ahead with settlements, as well as by ignoring international demands for the release of (Palestinian) prisoners.  These (Israeli) positions that contradict international legitimacy and the Quartet’s project to establish a Palestinian state by 2005 require a clear and firm stand against Israel’s leaders. It is not acceptable to release only 338 Palestinian prisoners out of a total of 6,000, and then allow Israel to represent such a step as part of the implementation of the Roadmap!”


TUNISIA:  "Where's The Room For Bush To Maneuver?"


An unsigned editorial in government-owned French-language La Presse read (8/11):  “The U.S.' will to see the Roadmap implemented is evident. There is no doubt about it. President Bush is working on it personally....  He made it clear to the Israelis that what they call a ‘security fence’ creates a serious problem....  The fact that the American administration is willing to use possible financial sanctions against Israel, is very significant in itself. With more than one year before the presidential election in the U.S., can Washington keep its room to maneuver as it wants both in the Middle East and in Iraq?  This is questionable. With the falling of Baghdad and the end of the war in Iraq, the Chief of the White House thought, it is  good timing to start dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue. But the U.S. army has found itself confronted with more and more bloody daily attacks....  Plus the file of WMD is far from being closed....  The last subject and not the least of the Bush administration is the state of the U.S. economy, noting that the internal political problems have a stronger impact in the choice of the American electors.  In these conditions, does the Bush administration still have the time, the means to react and to modify the events in the Middle Eat? Let’s wait and see.”


UAE:  "The Innocent And Frightened Israel"


Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al Khaleej editorialized (8/11):  "Israel, who possesses the most modern weapons from America's deadly arsenal of WMD and is capable of threatening and attacking any place in the region under American protection, is complaining to the UNSC while hiding behind a fence.  Nevertheless, resorting to the Security Council is an Arab habit, and building the wall is a positive sign that the occupiers can't go on with their occupation and brutality without further losses or fear, despite all the massacres that they committed and might commit."


"Save The Region From Sharon's Fires"


 Dubai-based business-oriented Arabic-language Al-Bayan declared (8/10):  "Without shame, the Zionists presented an 'Official Complaint' to the UNSC against Syria and Lebanon.  So now the tyrant attacker is complaining about the innocent....  The only way to stop the fires in the region is for the Israeli troops to withdraw from occupied Arab lands.  Without this, there is no hope for peace."


"Is Sharon Out Of His Wits Again?"


The pro-government English-language Gulf News said (8/9):  "The continued construction of the massive fence which is attempting to physically divide Israel from Palestinian territory is wrong, and American acquiesence in the plan is also wrong. The concept of the fence is wrong since peace can only be based on trust, not imposed by a fence; and as the fence crosses Palestinian land at several points, it is cutting villages off from their fields, so further inflaming relations between Palestine and Israel.  U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has said he will explain to the Israelis that the administration 'has a problem' with the fence if it goes over the Green line. This is not enough. The whole Arab world remembers that when the Israeli forces invaded Jenin and large parts of the West Bank, George Bush had told Sharon that he had a problem with the invasion. Sharon ignored him.  The fence shows how irrelevant are the attempts to start a dialogue to peace, so do the reports of $95 million to be spent on attracting new settlers to the Israeli colonies on the West Bank and Jordan Valley. At a time when the colonies should at the very least be frozen, a plan to increase them is more proof that the Israeli government has no interest in peace."




JAPAN:  "Don't Erect Security Barrier!"


Liberal Asahi opined (8/12):  "President Bush has engaged in a 'double-dealing' diplomacy that is a no-no, particularly in the Middle East. The President told Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas late July that Israel's erection of a security barrier stands in the way of Middle East peace. But during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, held shortly afterward, the President gave tacit approval to the security barrier's erection. Only two months ago, Mr. Bush publicly endorsed the 'road map' peace plan, getting the long-stalemated Middle East peace process back on track.  But the President's expression of his tacit approval of Israel's erection of the security fence is tantamount to abandoning the role of a fair mediator between Israel and the Palestinians....  Mr. Sharon should also be aware that the erection of the security barriers and 'virtual imprisonment' of the Palestinians would not bring genuine peace. To implement Middle East peace, Israel and the Palestinians must observe the cease-fire, as specified in the road map, and return to their dialogue-first position of three years ago. US neutrality, the Palestinians' suspension of acts of terrorism, and a sincere commitment by Israel to the "roadmap" will greatly enhance the chances for peace in the Middle East."


MALAYSIA:  "Ruse Of Peace"


Government-influenced English-language New Straits Times editorialized (8/12):  "Appeasement is not working and again, the result is legitimised murder. When Adolf Hitler was appeased, six million Jews went to the gas chamber. Now Israel will not be appeased as it goes after alleged Palestinian militants. It's been more than a year since large swathes of Palestine, including the president's compound, were bombed, bulldozed and razed to the ground. Still, the Israeli army will not stop.  The recent killing of two Hamas members said to be planning attacks on Israel during a truce declared by Palestinian militants indicates clearly that Tel Aviv will not respect the peace process. Closer to the truth is the opportunistic nature of its actions since Ariel Sharon was chosen prime minister. This former general is a man with more than political will to use violence as the means to security.  Israel's militaristic posturing has but one way to go. Implicit in this logic is the ultimate destruction of common borders with independent Arab nations. Under the paradigm of violence, only neighbouring regimes that embrace the security of Israel's borders are acceptable. Iraq is the experiment. If it works, the Middle East will be politically refashioned according to Washington's blueprint. This must inevitably include the integrity of its client state, Israel.  It is no wonder that the Bush Administration is doing nothing to discourage the current round of Israeli aggression. Sharon's assault on the Palestinians is blatant arrogance. The peace process brokered by Washington is looking more like a ruse every day, one to extract further concessions from a people already brutalised many times over."


PHILIPPINES:  “Fencing In Bush”


The independent Manila Times commented (8/12):  “On barrier that Israel is building in the West Bank, President...Bush was equivocal, even tentative.  All he said was that the fence could be ‘a problem.’  That hint was enough for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to make a spirited defense....  The fence will… result in the permanent occupation by Israel of 10 percent of the West Bank....  The money for these...barriers comes from the U.S.  We welcome recent statements by officials of the White House and State Department that a plan is being put together to withhold loan guarantees....  However, this is not enough.  President Bush should make it crystal clear to...Sharon that the roadmap guarantees to the future Palestinian State a contiguous territory....  Its (the fence’s) purpose is to protect Israel from terrorists, but its unspoken purpose is to annex as much of the West Bank as Israel can before the final settlement brings forth a Palestinian State.”


PAKISTAN:  "Israeli Fence Around Palestinian Area"


Center-right Urdu-language Pakistan opined (8/11):  "President Bush has warned that the erection of Israel's fence around Palestinian territory would endanger the creation of a Palestinian state....  America always pampered Israel.  Now Israel has turned into a genie that has come out of its bottle and started to challenge America.  America faces a tough test; let us see what it let us see what it does for the success of the roadmap for peace." 




CANADA:  "The Liberties Taken By Israel's Wall"


The leading Globe and Mail opined (8/8):  "U.S. opposition to the wall--not the right to build it, but the path it is taking--may have forced Israel to drop a plan to extend it about 30 kilometres into the West Bank to include the large Jewish settlement of Ariel. Nevertheless, the Bush administration is reportedly considering the imposition of limited economic sanctions against Israel for other incursions. It need not come to that. Israel should heed the concerns of the international community and adjust its plans for the wall, minimizing the seizure of Palestinian land and forgoing construction along the Jordan Valley. This would help build confidence between the two sides just as further strains are showing between Mr. Sharon and Mr. Abbas....  Israelis have an absolute right to be free of terror, but this should not come at the expense of Palestinian land."


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