International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

September 9, 2003

September 9, 2003





**  Lacking support from all sides, Abbas was doomed to fail.


**  Abbas' resignation is a "victory" for Yasser Arafat.


**  The roadmap's future looks bleak; skeptics fear a return to the days when "terror reigned."


**  The jury is still out on new Palestinian PM Ahmed Qurei.




'Abbas did not really stand a chance from the beginning'--  Abbas "did not enjoy any support and could not rely on anybody."  Russia's reformist Izvestiya diagnosed him with the "Gorbachev syndrome": he was "far more popular" abroad than at home.  Viewed by Palestinians as the "manager of Israeli and Western interests," a Norwegian paper judged Abbas unable to implement the "painful compromises" required to forge a "peaceful settlement."  Muslim and leftist European commentators argued that Washington's failure to act as an "honest broker" undermined Abbas.  Egypt's aggressive Al-Akhbar blasted Israel and the U.S. for "destroying" the PM by "putting obstacles in front of any progress." 


'Arafat has, as usual, risen from the ashes'--  Centrist and conservative European analysts concluded that Arafat's tepid support for Abbas and the roadmap led to the Palestinian PM's resignation.  The Netherlands' liberal De Volkskrant contended that Arafat "seemed to find his own survival more important.  He did not really want to share power with Abbas."  Israeli journalists were skeptical about the chances for peace since "terror is again ruling in the PLO."


Has the 'roadmap for peace' changed into 'a roadmap for hell'?--  A majority of writers posited that "the roadmap has failed."  Spain's left-of-center El Pais termed the peace initiative a "fiction" from the outset.  But, a Russian journal remained optimistic, stating that Qurei's appointment breathes "new life" into the peace process.  According to the conservative Australian, the latest setback represents a victory for "extreme elements on both sides."  Arab papers billed Israel's attacks on Hamas as provocations designed to "collapse the Palestinian government"; the West Bank's independent Al-Ayyam warned that "the situation is headed towards a significant new phase of escalation."  In response to these "existential" threats, Israel's nationalist Hatzofe demanded that Sharon "apply a 'strong hand' policy."


Ahmed Qurei: Arafat's 'puppet' or not?--  Analysts disagreed on Qurei's relationship with Yasser Arafat.  Russia's centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta declared that Qurei "is no puppet," while a German commentator labeled him "totally dependent" on Arafat.  Calling him "no different" than Abbas, Saudi papers noted that Qurei must secure guarantees from Israel and the U.S. to avoid his predecessor's fate.  Israel's independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz held that Qurei must "preserve his independence from Arafat" to "lead his people" to an agreement with Israel.


EDITOR: Andrew Borda

EDITOR'S NOTE: This report is based on 64 reports from 29 countries, September 6-9, 2003.  Editorial excepts from each country are ordered from the most recent date.




BRITAIN: "Mideast Peace Will Require Another Dayton"


The independent Financial Times opined (9/9): "The political forces on each side that cannot contemplate the concessions necessary for peace are still stronger than the peacemakers....   The Americans' hope of sidelining Mr. Arafat showed their misunderstanding of the scene.  I do not believe Mr. Arafat is idolized by many Palestinians.  The ramshackle and corrupt nature of his former government is pretty well recognized.  But for most he is still the man who stood up to the Israelis and created the Palestinian identity....  The scene would be transformed if the Palestinians could see any clear prospect of improvement in their daily lives....  But by increasing popular support for Hamas, these killings make virtually impossible the task of those Palestinians on whom the hope of peace depends....  One day a U.S. president will have to act in the Middle East as Bill Clinton acted in Bosnia....  We will also have to maintain an international presence on the ground.  But there is no other way.  None of the adversaries like the treaty of Dayton; but they signed and it stopped the war in Bosnia.  The same pressure will be needed again before Jerusalem is restored to peace and Gaza ceases to be an affront to civilization."


"End Of The Roadmap"


The independent Financial Times editorialized (9/8):  "The internationally underwritten road-map, intended to give the Palestinians a state and the Israelis security, has run out of road.  The road-map was a flawed blueprint for peace, unlikely to get anywhere unless the U.S. applied serious pressure to its Israeli ally.  It did not, so Mr. Abbas stood no chance: of winning his battle for supremacy with Yasser Arafat, the veteran Palestinian leader....  Mr. Arafat was partly responsible, but his meddling in the security services was by no means decisive.  The prime minister never had any popular standing.  Nor was he ever going to acquire any unless Israel and the .U.S enabled him to demonstrate that moderation and engagement translate into concrete gains....  Unless the U.S. is prepared to engage more, and more even-handedly, in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it will find it even harder to attain its other regional goals in Iraq and in fighting Islamist terror."


"Arafat Is The Problem"


The conservative Daily Telegraph noted (9/8):  "If, once Mr. Abbas has departed from the scene, the simmering Middle East conflict now boils over, the blame will lie at Mr. Arafat's door....  But Mr. Abbas's fate proves, if proof were needed, that no truly moderate Palestinian leader can work alongside Mr. Arafat.  Mr. Sharon will only take the risk of moving against Mr. Arafat as a last resort.  It may yet come to that."


FRANCE: "The Middle East’s Uncertain Future"


Left-of-center Le Monde stated (9/9): “Arafat’s final blow was to make Abbas’s task impossible.  Arafat’s strategy is the worst possible strategy.  But Sharon has not done his share either: Sharon, like Arafat, did not want the 'roadmap.’ He did not stop the creation of new settlements; he did not lift certain measure which complicated the Palestinians’ life; he missed every opportunity.  His policy is what is called a policy of the status quo.”


“Unstable Politics”


Francois Ernewein wrote in Catholic La Croix (9/8):  “Day after day the unilateralism of American policies has proved to be increasingly unbalanced. And in the end it has become destabilizing....  Mahmoud Abbas’ position has been undermined.  While George W. Bush has cast Yasser Arafat aside with one hand, with the other hand he has contributed to putting him back in power because of his leniency towards Israel. The most positive aspect of the American policy in the Middle East these last months has of course been its increased involvement and ambitious projects for peace and democracy....  But by viewing the roadmap as yet another tool in the fight against terrorism, the American administration has ignored its other possibilities....  In its desire to run world affairs, the Bush administration has been stripped of its power of negotiation.” 


“Out Of Order”


Gerard Dupuy opined in left-of-center Liberation (9/8):  “As foreseen, the worst case scenario has come about...and as expected the stalemate of the roadmap was predictable since each of the protagonists played the part we knew he would play....  Sharon and Arafat shuffled their feet to come to the negotiating table displaying noteworthy ill will that in the end stripped the negotiation process of any meaning. Mahmoud Abbas heroically played the role of the underdog and Bush of the weak sponsor of a policy that is way over his head....  Aside from Abbas, none of the actors seemed particularly interested in the play they were taking part in.”


GERMANY:  "And The Peace Process Is Still Alive"


Centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin judged  (9/9):  "The roadmap to peace is not 'more dead' than it was two or three months ago.  Israelis and Palestinians are still in the initial stages of their implementation, and nothing has happened that could question its logic.  On the contrary, it has become more vivid because many Palestinians have made a key experience in the few weeks of the cease-fire:  Their life dramatically improved since there were no more attacks....  Cease-fire and part of the roadmap are still popular in Palestine.   It is true that Abbas stepped down, but his resignation does not mean a change of course.  His successor Qurei has been shaped by a dialogue with Israel....  It is possible that Israel, in the near future, will have to deal with a Palestinian prime minister who is able to implement something which the roadmap imposes on the Palestinians: to stop terrorism.  Are these reasons against pessimism also reasons for optimism?  Not in the Middle East.  The situation can still get worse like during the intifada, which turned out to be a dead-end street for both sides.  And the people remember it.  A resignation will not delete this memory."


"Dramatic Escalation"


Center-right Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung opined (9/9): "The spiral of hatred continues to turn.  The dramatic escalation of the situation coincides with the resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas.  The moderate politician had to fail because he had too many opponents and too few supporters.  Israel's government did not help him present results which Abbas urgently needed to get support among the Palestinians.  The United States only halfhearted promoted him, the radical-Islamic Palestinian organizations suspiciously watched his activities, and President Arafat considered him a disliked rival.  It was a smart move by Arafat, to bring Parliamentary President Korei into the plan…but progress to resolve the Middle East conflict will be impossible with a government leader who is totally dependent on Arafat."


"No Palestinian Politician Is Able To Control Radical Groups"


Right-of-center Rhein-Zeitung of Koblenz said (9/9): "There is only one possibility to win peace in the Middle East:  An uncompromising, strong initiative launched by the United States, the UN and the EU.  All powers on which Israel and the Palestinians are financially and politically dependent must implement a clearly tiered peace plan, if necessary by imposing tough sanctions.  It is a fact that no Palestinian politician is currently able to control the numerous radical Palestinian groups.... It is also a fact that no Israeli leader manages to do without retaliatory strikes after a cruel suicide attack.  Both sides are sick with hatred, tremble with fear, and are extremely aggressive.  And both sides have leaders with Sharon and Arafat, who do not believe in peace.  They must brutally be saved by Europeans and Americans from self-destruction."


"All Alone"


Right-of-center Westfaelische Zeitung of Muenster argued (9/8):  "Mahmoud Abbas, the helpless Palestinian prime minister, did not enjoy any support and could not rely on anybody.  From Washington he only heard admonishing words, a rather meager contribution of a U.S. government that had forced him into this office.  In Jerusalem, he was disrespected: the answer of the Israeli government to the bloody terror, which Abbas was simply unable to stop.  And from Ramallah he was always faced with Arafat's influence: he was isolated by Israel but continued to be the Palestinian president and was active almost everywhere.  From a human point of view, his resignation is consistent.  With respect to politics, it is a disaster, a failure of a beacon of hope who buried any hope for the Middle East."


"End Of A Roadmap"


Wolfgang Guenter Lerch declared in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (9/8):  "After an early enthusiasm, which seemed to be orchestrated for the media...the U.S. president reduced his engagement for Palestine and this to the degree to which the Iraq war became more important for him.  The pacification and restructuring of conquered Iraq has turned out to be so difficult that other trouble spots in the Middle East disappeared from his horizon.  The grand design of a new profoundly changed Middle East...sketched by the neo-conservatives in Washington...has failed even in its initial stage....  Objections that this could not function because of religious and cultural differences...were ignored.  Now it is necessary to avoid a total confrontation.  Israel and Hamas are threatening each other with mutual destruction.  Arafat, whom the Israelis planned to neutralize, is back in the play again. The fact that Israel does not want to talk to him does not change this....  On both sides, old men have dug their fingers into each other...and their replacement is not in sight.  Ten years after the Oslo process, one has reached the old helplessness again.  It is a paradox of our world that this America, for which it is too much [to pacify Iraq], is now again called upon to bring the two sides back to reason."


ITALY:  “Arafat’s Final Challenge”


Bernardo Valli stated in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (9/8):  “Yasser Arafat has, as usual risen from its ashes.  Although ever more stunned...he is undying....  The Americans had imposed Abu Mazen on him, hoping that he (Mazen) would, in the long run, become the real Palestinian leader....  And the Israeli government had aimed at the same result.  On the contrary, Arafat has proven that a Palestinian Prime Minister would fumble about without his support....  After Abu Mazen’s resignations, in order to show that Arafat will never be considered (Israel’s) interlocutor, nine ministers of the Israeli government declared to be in favor of his immediate expulsion, and somebody even suggested an execution.  But the White House wants neither an exile nor a martyr.  Thus concluding that Arafat keeps his stunned, precarious balance at the center of this tragedy, as an unaccepted, but inevitable protagonist....  The U.S. President never addresses him, he refuses to deal with him, but he still protects him from Sharon’s rage, because the success of whatever peace plan for the Middle East depends on (Arafat’s) fate....  His exile would fuel anti-Americanism throughout the Arab world.  Martyr Arafat...would make even more difficult the already difficult situation in Iraq.  This is, however, the line of the U.S. diplomacy.  In fact, Colin Powell continues to ask the Israeli government not to touch the compound in Ramallah....  It is likely that Israel’s intransigence won’t fade away too soon, but the Americans will do what they can.”


"After Abu Mazen”


Elite, classical liberal Il Foglio asserted (9/9): “The roadmap has failed.  The next few weeks will witness two separate phenomena in the activities involving the two warring parties: on one side, a revival of the violence, on the other the media and diplomatic game to blame the rival party for the failure of the umpteenth initiative to dialogue.  The roadmap, however, should not leave room for ambiguity....  The roadmap required a clear assumption of responsibility and a clear choice between war and peace not only on the part of the Israelis and the Palestinians, but also on the part of the Arab world and the international mediators.  It was necessary for all to do their part in order to pave the way for the fulfilling of respective obligations by the two warring parties....  The problem, in sum, is not Arafat, as many continue to say, nor is it Sharon.  The problem is the inability of the Arab world to assume its responsibilities.”


RUSSIA:  "Revived Hope"


Reformist Izvestiya asserted (9/9):  "Hope for peace, dead yesterday, is back to new life....  Unlike the 'boss,' Qurei is not very popular.  Even so, the West is enthusiastic about the new appointment.  Israel will have to deal with Qurei again, which is not bad at all.  But then, of course, if Arafat refuses to share power, the new Prime Minister will only be that nominally, just like his predecessor."


"Qurei Is No Puppet"


Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta held (9/9): "Abu Alia is no puppet of Arafat.  Yet their views largely coincide.  He is probably the best informed person when it comes to where the Palestinian money is."


"Arafat's Pyrrhic Victory"


Maksim Yusin held in reformist Izvestiya (9/8):  "With the last illusions gone along with Abbas, the Americans will stake on destabilizing Arafat, trying to push him and possibly all of the discredited Palestinian elite out of big-time politics.   So it is a big question whether Arafat has won by bringing down the lightning rod, something Mahmoud Abbas has been all these months, and whether his victory is not Pyrrhic....  Abbas the Premier could not get rid of the Gorbachev syndrome, being far more popular abroad than at home.  His pronouncements that have won acclaim in the world as testaments of 'peaceableness' and common sense are seen in Palestine as signs of weakness and even capitulation."


BELGIUM: "We Will Have To Wait And See"


Independent Christian-Democrat De Standaard (9/9): “One will have to wait and see whether Qurei will be able to play a significant role.  From the Palestinian angle, he has one advantage: Arafat himself maneuvered him into the chair of Prime Minister.  Qurei will undoubtedly be eager to work together with the President--so that the conflicts over powers should be limited.  Qurei is certainly acceptable to the EU--which has already expressed its support--and probably to the U.S., too.  He is one of the co-founders of the Oslo peace process....  His moderate standpoints yielded him much goodwill in the U.S.  However, it is unacceptable for both the U.S. and the EU that Qurei should function as Arafat’s puppet.  Arafat probably realizes that --so that it may be easier for him to delegate powers to a man whom he himself helped into the saddle.  It will largely depend on Israel whether Qorei can launch a policy of his own.  From the first Israeli reactions it is clear that there is profound distrust of the new Prime Minister and that he will be perceived as Arafat’s puppet.  But, Qurei will probably be given a chance, especially if the U.S. exerts some pressure.  The litmus test will be how he deals with the terrorist organizations.  Qurei will have to show results rapidly.  If not, Israel will take the right in its own hands again--and it may try to exile Arafat, ‘the source of all evil.’  At this moment, Qurei has not shown yet what he has in mind for Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.”


“At The Doors Of Hell”


Baudouin Loos observed in left-of-center Le Soir (9/8):  “Everything is taking place as if Ariel Sharon henceforth had a free hand. The assassination attempt against the Hamas leaders and, first and foremost, against the charismatic Sheik Yassin, illustrates his strategy: the total eradication of the Islamic movement--yet quite an illusory endeavor.  But can the Israeli Prime Minister not been aware of the very likely consequences of his policy? With or without Yassin, the Hamas, and others, will continue to retaliate with terrorist attacks in Israel, to which the Israeli Government will respond by totally occupying the West Bank and by expelling--or even ‘eliminating’--Yasser Arafat.  Is this a Dantesque scenario? Probably so, but it is also very likely. This scenario is also likely to cost thousands of human lives and to postpone indefinitely any prospect of a peaceful settlement.  Will the U.S. Administration prevent this from happening? It is the only one that has sufficient influence on Sharon, but George W. Bush seems to have other priorities, to begin with his reelection in 2004, not to mention trying to get out of the Iraqi quagmire.”


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Chances For Oscar"


Pavel Masa commented in center-right Lidove noviny (9/8):  "The departure of Mahmoud Abbas is not a sufficient pretext for allowing Israel to expel Arafat immediately.  The Jewish state could perhaps overlook the pro-Arafat sentiments of the EU, but it would have to be sure of U.S. support which is very unlikely.  Washington is buried up to its ears in solving problems in Iraq where it would welcome support from Arab states as well as from Europe.  Therefore the U.S. called on Israel for temperance after Abbas' departure.  Arafat has taken roots in Palestinian society, where terrorists are also parasites, but these roots are also very important for ordinary Palestinians.  To really remove Arafat thus requires an entire complexity of diplomatic and economic actions.  One successful step toward this goal happened within the EU.  It was precisely Czech diplomats who pushed through such formulations into EU relations with Hamas at the EU summit in Greece.  Czech politicians like to suggest that the Middle East is one of a few areas where they--thanks to inherited experience--can score.  If somebody put together a plan for removing Arafat's clientism and preserving the Palestine administration, it would be a masterpiece deserving a diplomatic Oscar.  American authors, who currently are busy with an Iraqi happy ending, would not hurry up to rewrite the Palestinian one.  Could colleagues from Prague really help them up?  One possible version of this story's end, which can be eliminated for good after last weekend, is the  one in which an evil despot voluntarily gives up his power and games with terrorists."


HUNGARY:  "Back To Start"


Liberal-leaning Magyar Hirlap contended (9/9): “Arafat has won a battle--but the peace process has lost a lot.  Today we are again at where we were years ago: at the beginning of the road.  With the fundamental difference that now there is no U.S. President with the Middle East peace at his heart who would use his influence to force the opposing sides to make concessions and real progress.  Bush promised a one-time intervention, and he would probably not change his mind even if he could.  But he cannot; since the Akaba meeting, Bush has considerably weakened, and his energies are occupied with the increasingly complicated Iraqi settlement and next year’s presidential election--he has no energy left for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Although the European Union and the Arab countries have maintained relations with Arafat all along, they are not able to influence developments genuinely.  And it may also turn out soon that Arafat’s victory is Pyrrhic: although today he still is the most popular Palestinian politician, but with the support of only 21% of the public, which may run out very soon if he fails to sing the tune the masses want to hear.”


IRELAND: "Bleak Times For Middle East"


The center-left Irish Times observed (9/9):  "How long Mr Korei will be able to survive....  The prospects do not look good....  There have been renewed calls from inside the cabinet for the expulsion of Mr Arafat from Palestine.  Mr Sharon has made clear that selective assassinations of Hamas leaders will continue.  Both policies would intensify the conflict....  Although the scarcely radical package was endorsed by the EU, UN, Russia, and moderate Arab states as a means of jump-starting the peace process, U.S. engagement was never more than token.  Unable, and many would say unwilling, to establish itself as an honest broker the U.S. never applied pressure equally to both sides. Breakdown was inevitable....  Mr Korei, like Mr Abbas one of the key negotiators of Oslo, yesterday spoke of preconditions before he would formally accept the job.  He wants unspecified commitments from the EU and the U.S., and Israeli promises to demilitarise the Occupied Territories. The problem is that the Europeans have no clout, the Americans, elections looming, and the Israelis, the whip hand.  Mr.  Korei has few cards of his own.  These are bleak times, indeed.”


NETHERLANDS:  "The End Of Abbas"


Influential liberal De Volkskrant editorialized (9/8):  "Palestinian prime minister Abbas never really had a chance.  His policy could have only succeeded if Israel would have taken on a more moderate position.  And Israel did not....  But Palestinian leader Arafat, too, is to be blamed. Once again he seemed to find his own survival more important.  He did not really want to share power with Abbas.  Abbas' prime ministership was a political experiment which Israel and the U.S. had pushed for.  The U.S. and Israel--understandably so--had lost patience with Arafat who never really wanted to fight terrorism in an effective way.  However, in the Palestinian areas Arafat is seen as the legitimate leader and Abbas was seen as a manager of Israeli and Western interests.  Therefore, Abbas did not really stand a chance from the very beginning....  The new candidate Palestinian prime minister Abu Ala (Ahmed Korei) will probably not be able to achieve much either.  Palestinian extremists will try to disrupt every approach toward Israel.  Israel sets strict demands to Palestinian leadership but is not taking this leadership very seriously.  The timing of the Israeli attack on Hamas leaders indicates that the Sharon government buried the roadmap for peace for the time being.  Moreover, Israel does not give any hope for an independent viable Palestinian state.  Without that prospect any attempt to find a solution will be doomed to fail."


NORWAY:  “Between [A Rock And A Hard Place]”


Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten maintained (9/7):  "It is hardly a surprise that the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas, tendered his resignation yesterday....  As the situation is now, a Palestinian Prime Minister, whomever that may be, will be between [a rock and a hard place].  Ariel Sharon’s government has not shown any will to live up to the peace intentions in the so-called roadmap. Instead Israel’s demands on the Palestinians are rock hard, many of them are also impossible to meet. Among other things therefore Abbas has not had anything positive to show to the Palestinians who want to believe that a peaceful solution is possible....  Every attempt at peaceful solutions demands painful compromises, and only a Palestinian leader with both political and popular support can accomplish this.  The power struggle that is now going on illustrates this deep dilemma.”


SPAIN:  "The End Of The Road"


Left-of-center El País remarked (9/7):  "Perhaps now they will see that the roadmap promoted by the Quartet...began with a wrong approach by trying to impose on the Palestinians a Prime Minister they did not want in order to short-circuit a President elected by them and whom Washington and Israel saw as a hindrance.  Reality can be changed, but not ignored.  The roadmap was already a fiction which was maintained because it was all there was.  With Mazen's fall, [the roadmap] becomes a worthless document.  The international community should start to seriously think about imposing a solution, but today it does not seem willing.  What is foreseeable is for the situation to worsen even more." 




ISRAEL: "Abu Ala's Chances" 


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (9/9):  "Now, with the announcement by Yasser Arafat of Qurei's appointment as the new prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, it is difficult to say his emergence at center stage raises much enthusiasm in Israel....  However, Qurei's mere readiness to accept the challenge is noteworthy.  The conditions he is presenting--more energetic involvement by the U.S. and Quartet members in lifting the Israeli threat against Arafat--are evidence of political wisdom....  Upon assuming office, Qurei will face two tests: he will have to restrain the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror organizations...and he will have to preserve his independence from Arafat....  In Jerusalem and Washington--and even in Ramallah--there have been those who have amused themselves with the hope that Arafat's grip on power had been so weakened that the aging leader had become irrelevant.  But the events of recent days prove things are not so simple, while the events of recent years--right up to now--prove Arafat is not the man who will lead his people to an agreement with Israel.  Qurei will have to find his way through this thicket of problems and issues." 


"In The Twilight Of A Kingdom" 


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz held (9/9): "It's true that no Israeli prime minister has ever visited the White House nine times, but neither has Israel ever been as dependent on the U.S. as it is now.  'Getting along' with America is a good thing, but it also depletes Israel of initiative and makes its interests subservient to those of Washington.  America will not solve Israel's problems.  It won't always be there to fix Israel's mistakes and rush to the rescue if American interests in the Arab world are harmed in any way.  In the Sharon era, we have lost the drive, creativity and courage that allowed past Israeli leaders to do what was good for our future and survival.  How pathetic to watch Sharon fight the last battle in the twilight of his kingdom on the battlefield of government morality." 


"Oslo, One Decade On" 


Popular, pluralist Maariv declared (9/9): "It would be ridiculous to say that the main conclusions of the Oslo process's collapse are that Arafat is an evil man, or that a fence is needed.  Those technical insights could have been reached as early as during the Lebanon War....  The key conclusion that is taking shape is that solutions should not be imposed for irresolvable situation--in other words: the lack of a solution is to be preferred over a dangerous solution.  When the Peace Camp members invited Yasser Arafat to this country, they acted out of a feeling of emergency and on the assumption that Israel had nothing to lose....  The Left's threshold of suffering was very low, so that Israelis are now paying a hefty price.  Contrary to beliefs prevailing [in 1993] it has turned out that the peace process harmed Israel more than the occupation did....  Before the Oslo Agreement there were no targeted assassinations, no separation fences or so many roadblocks.  Therefore, next time the Left comes up with a new Oslo accord--a calculated risk, as it were--it will be better to say, 'No, thanks.'  Otherwise Israel might some day regret its present condition."


"Terror Again Reigns In The PLO"


Moshe Ishon argued in nationalist Hatzofe (9/8):  "The umbrella that the United States deployed above the head of the Palestinian prime minister was insufficient to protect him from the heavy hail showered upon him by his political detractors who were striving to depose him, under Yasser Arafat's guidance.  Abu Mazen's resignation has produced a vacuum.  In fact, it has brought the situation back to the days when Arafat exclusively held the reins of power, to the days when terror raged everywhere.  In such circumstances, Israel has no choice but to apply a 'strong hand' policy....  The Intifada hasn't ceased.  There is no Palestinian government.  Israel is facing a war against Arafat and the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups.  Terror is again ruling in the PLO."


"The Lessons From The Resignation"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (9/8):  "There is no symmetry to the division of guilt.  Abbas hinted he regards Arafat as a key element that weakened and obstructed his plans, but Israel cannot take comfort in that.  At the end of three years of bloodletting, it is back to the starting point of a new cycle of violence that will bring bereavement, pain and enormous damage to both sides--without bringing them any closer to an agreement.  Even when taking into account that the Abbas evidence that his policy of quitting terror is shared by only a small minority in the Palestinian public and leadership, Israeli society cannot wrap itself in self-righteousness and say that it did what it could to calm the conflict.  It is an existential issue for Israel to end the conflict with the Palestinian people, thus guaranteeing the future of the Zionist enterprise.  It would be a grave mistake to once again sink into armed conflict and despair of even seeking a way out of the conflict."


"The Brakes Are Gone"


Hemmi Shalev wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (9/7):  "The Israeli government is signaling that due to the collapse of the roadmap process, its brakes are gone, it has no more patience, as its supporters put it, or it has lost its judgment, as its critics would have it.  The U.S. at least for the present, believes that Israel's military and political pressure is likely to yield desirable results, or at least to restore the situation to what it was. But it is also true to say that the creative thinking of the Americans and their willingness to intervene in the crisis is diminishing as the presidential election campaign and the complications in Iraq and the U.S. economy gather impetus.  In Israel, from a purely political point of view, this is a suitable time to run wild....  The emergency atmosphere will obscure any thoughts about whether Israel contributed to Abu Mazen's failure, and about the wisdom of Israel's current demand to be allowed to name his successor, because if this is what happens he too will be branded a potential collaborator.  And since the decisions which Israel has to make will have a dramatic and fateful influence on its future, only a very few of us will dare to ask whether our sudden boldness and determination is not aimed at moving the headlines away from the various corruption investigations and towards the issue of life and death."


WEST BANK: "The U.S. Is Responsible for Failure of Abu Mazen’s Government"


Mohammad Abdul Hamid commented in independent Al-Ayyam (9/9): “The resignation of Mahmoud Abbas’ government came as a rational response to the lack of any political achievement and to the frustrated attempts to achieve progress on the roadmap....  The U.S. shares most of the responsibility for this failure due to its role in hindering the Quartet’s efforts, leaving both the Palestinian and Israeli sides wrestling each other uncontrollably even during the most critical times.... The failure of the Abu Mazen government started right after the Aqaba Summit, as the Americans continued to show unlimited bias toward Israel.  While demanding that Palestinians must ‘fight terrorism’ as a first step in implementing the roadmap, the Americans turned a blind eye to Palestinian demands....  Since the Aqaba summit, the American administration has been dealing one blow after another to the Abu Mazen government, leaving him exposed to repeated Israeli attacks, resulting in his cabinet’s fall.”


"One Objective For Any Palestinian Government"


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (9/9):  "Ever since the Palestinian Authority was established, and the first government headed by President Arafat was formed...the main goal...has been ending occupation and settlement expansion and establishing an independent Palestinian state.  This will continue to be the main goal and principle that the Palestinians have to uphold when dealing with all foreign powers, especially Israel and the U.S....  Mahmoud Abbas did not resign due to his conflict with President Arafat over certain authorities; rather, he resigned due to the American-backed Israeli obstacles aimed at undermining his government.  Now that Ahmed Qurei is about to form a new Palestinian government that adopts the firm objective of ending occupation and settlements, it is perfectly clear that if his government fails to secure international and American guarantees to force Sharon to commit to a cease-fire and the roadmap, then his government will certainly not enjoy any better fate than that of Abu Mazen’s.”


"Is This A Good Time?"


Adil Sadek commented in official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (9/6):  "If the [positions] of Arafat and Abbas are indeed identical, then have personal factors...on the rivalry between the two men played a role in holding Palestinian society, the national cause and the Palestinian destiny hostage to the consequences of this rivalry?  If diagnoses of the two positions are not identical, why then do we not call a spade a spade?  Why do we not dot the i's and cross the t's?  Why do we not clarify exactly the differences between the two men?....  The only way to describe the situation that we are in today is to say that it is worse than a state of occupation.  We are suffering from an occupation that is not content with what it has done; rather, we are suffering from an occupation that attacks, destroys, sheds blood, and builds racist walls that are turning into huge detention camps....  Consequently, considering the position of the Sharon government on the peace process, as described by Abu Mazen, is this the right time to put conditions on ourselves regarding language related to the rule of law, the legitimacy of arms, and other such governance issues?  The problem we face today is simply one of existence, to be or not to be.”


"Before And After Resignation"


Talal Okal wrote in independent Al-Ayyam (9/8):  “The resignation of Mahmoud Abbas last Saturday is not the only indication that the situation is headed towards a significant new phase of escalation.  Israel has tirelessly worked to justify its ongoing war against the Palestinians.  Prior to submitting his written resignation to President Arafat, Abu Mazen has clarified that his government was obstructed by American and Israeli deception, as well as obstacles set forth by the Palestinian President’s office....  We believe that Israel carefully plotted the collapse of the Palestinian government, while at the same time being able to influence the American administration to adopt Israel’s position on this matter....  Certainly the Palestinian leadership, specifically President Arafat, will figure out a way to deal with the crisis, although this will not prevent Israel from continuing to escalate the situation even further.”


EGYPT:  “Washington And Israel Are Behind Abu Mazen’s Resignation”


Editor-In-Chief Galal Doweidar noted in aggressive, pro-government Al Akhbar (9/8):  “Israel and Washington, despite their support of Abu Mazen, have worked on publicly destroying him by putting obstacles in front of any progress in the peace process....  Confronted with these swift and sudden developments, Tel Aviv couldn’t hide its enmity to this democracy and announced that it would not cooperate with any prime minister designated by Arafat, who is publicly elected, which confirms its conspiratorial position against peace.”


“The Six Rivals”


Pro-government Al Ahram columnist Abdel Moeti Ahmed held (9/8):  “Do we laugh or cry over the strife going on amongst Palestinian brothers over seats and ranks while Israeli occupation persists and assassination and repression continue?..  Have they forgotten that Israelis continues to totally occupy their country and people?  This is shameful for all Palestinians and Arabs and harms the cause....  Obviously Israel achieves more benefits when watching Palestinian leaders fight over power rather than against occupation.  It must be happy when the U.S. is pre-occupied with the deteriorating situation and its losses in Iraq....  If desperation is not to prevail, all Palestinian parties must place national interest ahead of personal interests.”


SAUDI ARABIA: "Arafat's Message"


Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (9/9):  "Arafat’s victory was a clear message to many parties, which worked hard to achieve a solution apart from him.  The U.S., in particular the administration of President George Bush, has isolated and minimized his role to greater extent and dealt with unimportant parties among the Palestinian public opinion.  It gave them an unlimited political support but no financial support....  The big mistake, which brought Abu Mazen down was his absolute confidence in the U.S. and Israel....   Ahmed Qorei is no great different than Abu Mazen, both were the engineers of the Oslo pact and both are friends of the Americans and Israelis, a matter Arafat fully aware of.  But Arafat wanted to send an important message to the Americans and Israelis that he, although under siege, controls the Palestinian (peace) track.


"Desired American And European Guarantees" 


Mecca’s conservative Al-Nadwa editorialized (9/9): "The ball now is in the court of the international community.  The Americans, and specifically the Europeans, must play the required role to push the peace process forward, especially when the U.S. remains committed to the Roadmap.  In the coming phase there should not be any delays.  Honesty dictates that pressure be exerted on Israel since it is the aggressor, killer, and destroyor.  Israel is the one who provokes the Palestinians to retaliate against its incursions."   


"Arafat's Role"


Riyadh’s English-language moderate Riyadh Daily (9/9):  "Newly named Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei has come with the most appropriate counsel for Israel--to change its ways in dealing with elected President Yasser Arafat.  The divisions within the Palestinian ranks have been caused by Israel’s insistence of a premier’s post....  For Qorei to be effective, Israel and its backers would need to adapt a more pragmatic approach toward Arafat....  Qorei’s first task, as he has somewhat indicated, would be to correct the pariah status accorded to Arafat by this small, yet powerful, coterie of international players."


"Two Steps Backward"


Jeddah’s English-language pro-government Arab News contended (9/8):  "It was an incredible decision on Israel's part to try to kill Yassin, leader of the biggest Palestinian resistance movement. It was a red line the Israelis should never have crossed. But cross it they did.  The result is that already some of Hamas’ members are calling for the blood of Sharon....  For the moment, however, Abbas’ resignation and the attack on Sheikh Yassin amount to two steps backward for the peace process.  The first event will cause debilitating delays and the second can only lead to more bloodshed."


"Abass's Resignation"


Jeddah's conservative Al-Madina noted (9/7):  "The U.S. did not support Abu Mazen in his struggle; they left him moaning between a rock and a hard place. By intervening in the disputes between him and Arafat the U.S. caused an escalation of the disagreements to the point of no return. Abu Mazen's popularity among his people was negatively affected....  The consequences of this step will be far more dangerous than what Arafat has thought."


"Abu Mazen's Resignation"


Mecca's conservative Al-Nadwa maintained (9/7):  "If we go back to the main facts, we will find that Israel is the prime reason behind the resignation of Abu Mazen. Since his appointment the Palestinian Prime Minister has done a great deal. The courageous steps that he had taken towards a peace settlement were unthinkable. He publicly denounced violence, and affirmed that peaceful means can accomplish much more than violent actions. He called for a cease-fire in the Intifadah. But Israel did nothing to help Abu Mazen gain the support and trust of his people. To the contrary, its actions helped weaken his position. Only a symbolic number of prisoners were released, and instead of putting an end to the assassinations, the number of the targeted leaders doubled. Therefore, Israel is the one who pushed Abu Mazen to resign by not cooperating with him in executing the Roadmap's terms."


SYRIA:  "The Syrian Pan-Arab Effort"


Government-owned Tishreen said (9/7):  "The current Arab position is not solid as is required. This is not a secret. Developments in the region and around it assert the inevitability of reforming this position....  In the final analysis, the Israeli enemy targets all Arabs... What is happening in Iraq and Palestine need no more explanation....  Syria holds to its principle position in continuing work and exerting efforts to uplift the Arab position to what it should be. Syria will not give up regardless of circumstances."


TUNISIA: "The Snare And The Escalation"


Independent French-language Le Temps stated (9/8): “As to be expected, the Hebrew state did not miss the opportunity to maliciously exploit the turmoil at the heart of the Palestinian leadership....  Ariel Sharon weaves his diabolic plan to attribute the most somber image to the Palestinian Authority and to its historic and legitimate leader.  What is even more bitter is that Tel Aviv has succeeded in selling this wretched image to the rest of the world that is being convinced of the Israeli thesis.  Aside from the U.S., unconditional strategic ally of Israel, even the EU, usually more understanding of the problems of the Arab world, is currently taking energetic positions against the Palestinian resistance movements.  The inclusion of Hamas on the list of terrorist organizations is an example of this."


“An Inextricable Situation”


Independent, French-language Tunis Hebdo asserted (9/8):  “As is the case of many of the epidemics suffered by the developing world, the Middle East is today infected by a second cancer, Iraq, in addition to that which infected Palestine.  The imbroglio has become such that the Arab/Muslim public opinion no longer knows where to look.  And often, the events in Fallujah casts a shadow over those in Jenin, a fact which profits all those seeking to destroy the Arab world, particularly the bloody Sharon and the falcons that circle the White House....  Bogged down in Iraq, Washington has not been able to reign in Sharon who goes as far as assassinating the Palestinian leadership from within the ranks of Hamas.” 


UNITED ARAB EMIRATES:  "Palestinians Must Unite, Put All Conflicts Aside"


Abu Dhabi-based semi-government Al IttihadU editorialized (9/7): "The situation escalated and reached its peak yesterday through the targeting of Hamas's leader.  Also, the resignation of the Palestinian Prime Minister established the reality of the division and conflict in the (Palestinian) National Authority that has been focused on these conflicts instead of trying to obtain a clear vision of how to confront the continuous attacks....  With the obviousness of the goals of the Zionist right wing, which stamped the Israeli community with the characteristic of radicalism, the Palestinians must, today more than any other time, unite and put all conflicts aside."


"Israel Is The Real Problem"


Influential Al-Khaleej remarked (9/7): "So, the Palestinian problem is not with the roadmap or the people who put it, but it is with Israel and their strategy of targeting (Palestinian leaders) that denies the Palestinians any just solution that could return their eligible rights to the Palestinian people, and also with the U.S. who are supporting Israel and considering this to be part of their war against terrorism, since resistance has become terrorism and killing, destroying, and assassinating has become self protection....  Israel is the problem, and no one else.  This problem should not be minimized to a conflict between two people while Sharon is slaughtering everyone."




AUSTRALIA: “The Middle East Dominos”  


An editorial in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald observed (9/9): “Only five months ago, as the United States President, George Bush, proclaimed the "end of major combat operations" in Iraq, that country was cast in the role of regional "beacon".  In a simplistic "domino theory" of democracy, the transformation of the Middle East was supposed to flow from the liberation of the Iraqi people.  In declaring that Iraq is now the "central front" in the war on terrorism, and by his appeal yesterday for multinational troops to bolster US forces in the postwar quagmire, Mr Bush has implicitly conceded the naiveté of that vision.…The problem Washington faces in forging effective relationships with key Palestinians, as well as Iraqi and Afghani leaders, is a reflection of a wider problem. It is the distrust of Washington on the so-called Arab street. “


“Arafat Tears Up The Peace Aap”


The national conservative Australian editorialized (9/8):  “Every setback for the roadmap to peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict--and Saturday's resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas was a massive one--is a victory for extreme elements on both side....  The tragedy is that before the Jerusalem bomb there were real signs of a softening in the Israeli position, with a release of Palestinian prisoners, limited troop withdrawals and an easing of security at checkpoints. If the terrorists had been properly called off, there can be little doubt U.S. pressure would have kept Israel's nose to the roadmap. But presented yet again with a choice between victimhood and statehood, the Palestinians have chosen badly. “


CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Mideast Peace A Matter Of Unity And Resolve"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post opined (9/8):  "The U.S. is as much to blame as Israelis and Palestinians for the regrettable situation.  All vowed on June 4 to do their utmost to move towards the common goal of creation of a Palestinian state.  On paper, that seemed achievable, but in reality, the necessary unity and willingness for such an eventuality did not exist.  Mr. Bush gave his administration the task of making the dream a reality.  But its focus was lost amid the quagmire of instability in Iraq and domestic issues in the U.S. ahead of the campaign for next year's presidential election....  The roadmap rested on the premise that Israelis and Palestinians wanted peace and what was lacking was the choreography to get them there.  With the goal set but no clear means laid out to resolve issues such as borders, the return of displaced Palestinians and the status of Jerusalem and holy sites in the city, the process would always be difficult....  There can be no roadmap while such divergent opinions exist.  All sides must work towards the same goal and it is up to the U.S. to make that happen."


JAPAN:  "The Collapse of The Roadmap Must Be Stopped"


Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri observed (9/8):  "The Middle East 'roadmap' peace plan is on the verge of collapse following the resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas. But the post-Abbas departure crisis, apparently caused by escalating feuding between him and Palestinian President Arafat, cannot be allowed to worsen. The world community--especially Israel and the Palestinians--must do what they can to overcome the ensuing turmoil.  It is certain that the US, the peace mediator which put the roadmap together along with the EU, Russia and the UN, does not want to see the roadmap collapse. If Washington plans to support Mr. Abbas' approach toward the peace process, now is the time for the Bush administration to urge Israel to exert self-restraint."           


INDONESIA: "U.S And Israel Miscalculated Arafat's Charisma And Influence"


Independent afternoon Suara Pembaruan commented (9/8): “Efforts to isolate Arafat from the Palestinian Authority were attributed more to President Bush and Premier Ariel Sharon.  Although Egypt managed to engineer the rise of Mahmoud Abbas, the U.S. and Israel miscalculated Arafat’s charisma and influence among the Palestinians and the militant wings....  Washington and Tel Aviv should not again ignore Arafat’s role and forcefully appoint other pro-peace leaders because the peace process would become even more difficult to reach. Arafat still deserves a respectable portion [in the process].”


“The World Astounded By Resignation Of Palestine PM”


Leading independent daily Kompas commented (9/8): “Uneasiness again looms in the Middle East following the resignation of Palestinian Premier Mahmoud Abbas.  It caused waves of astonishment and concern all over the world because it could affect the peace process....  The scenario of regeneration in Palestinian leadership could be in jeopardy.  Abbas' chance to replace Arafat is getting weaker.  But it is similarly not easy for Arafat and Palestine to find a leader of Abbas’ caliber, one that can be accepted by the Palestinians as well as by Israel and the U.S. for his moderate stance.”   


MALAYSIA:  "Abbas’ Resignation A Glitch To The Peace Process."


Government-influenced, Malay-language Berita Harian contended (9/8):  "The resignation of Mahmoud Abbas as the Prime Minister of Palestine has made it more difficult for the U.S. efforts for peace negotiations.  However, this has strengthened the position of Yasser Arafat, as Abbas was viewed as too “cooperative” with the U.S. and Israel ever since Abbas was elected PM (even this at the behest of U.S. President George W. Bush).  Many times Abbas bowed to the pressure of the Bush Administration and Israeli leader Ariel Sharon, to crack down on Hamas, Jihad Islam and other factions.  It was no surprise that he had to resign because he failed to gain control of the Palestinian security forces from Arafat who had already been sidelined by Bush.  In the face of the atrocities committed by the Israeli military and the oppression enforced by Sharon, the Palestinians continue to resist, not leaving their fates to Bush’s lies.  All this time it has been Arafat’s will that has kept the Palestinian hopes alive. Whoever replaces Abbas must keep in mind the rights and aspirations of Palestinians and not push the agenda of Bush and Sharon."




PAKISTAN: "Middle East: Back To Square One"


An editorial in the Lahore-based liberal English-language, Daily Times declared (9/9): "The Middle East roadmap is dead, unless of course a deus ex machina was to intervene to save the situation. But that is wishful thinking and cannot be a substitute for earnest diplomacy and honest brokering.  Both ingredients were lacking even as President Bush announced the scheme at Aqaba in June this year....  Can the peace process be salvaged?  Yes and no.  Yes, if the U.S. begins to put pressure on Israel and gets Tel Aviv to move meaningfully on the roadmap.  Foremost, it would mean getting rid of the Wall and resolving the issue of illegal settlements.  The U.S. also needs to appreciate Mr. Arafat’s power and stop trying to upstage him through his own nominees. That policy has not worked and is unlikely to in the future.  But none of this may come to pass, since the Bush administration, late-comer to the Middle East anyway, is unlikely to muster enough political resolve to get Israel to deliver.  That is a grim scenario but the situation may prove grimmer still."


"New Wave of Tension in Middle East"


An editorial in the Lahore-based populist Urdu Khabrain noted (9/9) "The resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Premier’s threat for killing the entire leadership of Hammas has acerbated the situation in the tension-ridden Middle East....  Until and unless both the sides adhere to the roadmap for peace, the dream for peace in the Middle East would not materialize."


 "The Outcome Of The American Roadmap At The Hands Of Israel"


An editorial in Karachi-based pro-jihad/Taliban Urdu-language Islam read (9/8):  "The present situation in the Middle East suggests that the American roadmap to peace has badly flopped and its entire responsibility falls on Israel.  Israel had not accepted this roadmap from its heart.  Since the United States is an unconditional patron of Israel, it could not be expected to take a note of Israel stubbornness.  However, it is binding upon the international community to rein in Israel for the establishment of peace in Middle East and play its role in providing their due rights to Palestinians."


"The Inner Story Of Abu Mazen’s Resignation"


Dr. Jassim Taqui observed in the Islamabad-based rightist English-language Pakistan Observer (9/8):  "In fact both the Americans and the Israelis have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to the downfall of Abu Mazen by selecting him as the 'darling' Prime Minister, who can be a substitute to the legendary leader Yasser Arafat.  And that is exactly the blunder they committed since Abu Mazen’s role as a 'man planted by Washington and Israel' to run the PNA has tarnished his image beyond any repair....  In an election year, the U.S. administration changed its mind about the so-called roadmap to peace in the Middle East.  The administration’s full support to Israel has put the peace process in dangerous straits.  Now, the roadmap for peace has changed into a roadmap for hell!"




SOUTH AFRICA: "Middle East Solution Lies In Washington"


The moderate Pretoria News declared (9/9): "The overthrow of Saddam and the destruction there has nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction.  It has nothing to do with al-Qaida either.  It is merely a settling of old scores.  The source - a gaping festering would - is and has always been the Middle East.  It starts there and it will end there.  But the solution ironically lies in Washington.  Israel is strong politically and militarily because the US stands by it.  Those who lobby for Israeli interests in the US make sure that there is a price to pay for anybody who threatens those interests.  Until and unless Palestinians and their Arab supporters create as powerful a lobby in Washington, peace in the Middle East is not possible in the near future."


"Roadmap In Tatters?"


Balanced Business Day commented (9/9):  ""There may be no deal while Arafat remains in power, but any moves by Israel to exile him would simply solidify his support among Palestinians and in the Arab world.  The US has been quick to warn Israel against harming or hurting Arafat.  With little to show in the way of stabilization in Iraq, the US is now under increasing pressure to show that hope remains for the roadmap."


"Middle-East Blow"


The Liberal Mercury commented (9/8):  "If seems there will be a five-week interlude before his resignation becomes effective.  That needs to be used as a pause during which both sides can reflect on the enormously negative consequences of a complete breakdown of the peace process.  It should also be used by the United States, Russia, the European Union and the Arab nations of the region to exert maximum pressure on both Israel and the Palestinians to scale down the conflict...  Every effort has to be made to keep the roadmap on the table because there is no alternative...   The only realistic way out of the impasse is the creation of a viable Palestinian state alongside the Israeli one, the security and survival of each guaranteed.  It never was going to be easy, but the momentum for peace has to be maintained."




CANADA: "The Wrong Man Quit"


The leading Globe and Mail opined (9/8): "Mr. Abbas's resignation on the weekend deals a severe and perhaps fatal blow to the new peace process....  Fingers of blame are pointing in many directions: at Mr. Sharon, for failing to make the significant concessions that might have given Mr. Abbas some credibility with his people, at Mr. Bush for failing to push Mr. Sharon to make those concessions and at Mr. Abbas himself for failing to defang Palestinian terrorist groups.  The greatest blame lies with a man who was not even invited to the Aqaba summit, and resented it.  Yasser Arafat made it clear from the beginning that he felt outside forces had foisted Mr. Abbas on him.  He was perfectly right.  The U.S., Israel and many other nations made it clear to him that they were disgusted with his collusion with terrorist groups and fed up with the corruption and mismanagement that has marked his administration.  They insisted that he appoint a new, more credible leader if he expected the Palestinian cause to make progress....  Yesterday, Mr. Arafat nominated a new man as prime minister.  Ahmed Korei is the speaker of parliament and, like Mr. Abbas, a moderate and architect of the 1993 Oslo peace accords.  His appointment will mean nothing unless Mr. Arafat lets him do his job. The international community should insist on it. If it was not clear before it is clear now--Mr. Arafat is a major obstacle to peace.  By doing in the estimable Mr. Abbas, he has once again frustrated the search for a just settlement.  If Mr. Arafat cannot step aside, he should step down."


ARGENTINA: "The Future Of An Illusion"


Left-of-center Pagina 12 opined (9/7): "'Third vias', the illusion of finding -or creating- moderate and acceptable partners within an opposed field, are typical of US diplomacy....  This illusion crashed yesterday again....  The invention of Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian PM...never was something else but a laboratory invention.  In fact, it is the Palestinians, not the U.S...., who should elect the leader of the Palestinians.  Last week, Arafat said that the 'roadmap' was dead.  But in fact it had never lived: it was only a fiction....  From the Israeli point of view, the roadmap had the advantage that (Israel) did not have to deliver one square inch of territory in exchange for peace promises....  But there is something new: the security wall Israel is building around the West Bank Palestinian areas....  The building of this wall is opposed by Arafat..., the U.S. State Department, and also by Israeli pacifists and ultra-right wingers....  But since yesterday it is hard to tell how Powell or the Israeli enemies of the wall will be able to prevent the (Israeli) PM from doing whatever he wants particularly when he has a precedent in his favor: a similar wall separates Israel from the Gaza Strip....  Lastly, yesterday's events buried the concept that after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a 'new Middle East' would be born.  The invasion...could never have influenced the Middle East conflict...because Saddam Hussein was not a decisive actor in it."


JAMAICA: "Re-engineering The Roadmap"


The centrist, business-oriented Sunday Observer (9/7): "The circumstance of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict demanded crafty and well-crafted diplomacy.  Neither was forthcoming from the Americans, whose approach was not only unbalanced but overly muscular.  Every snide and sneering remark against Mr. Arafat made Abu Mazen, among Palestinian people, not an equal on the other side of the table, but a collaborator.  Moreover, the Israelis' less than clinical targeting of militants and property further eroded his credibility....  Maybe the roadmap can be saved, but it will require a fair bit of re-engineering."




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