International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

September 16, 2003

September 16, 2003





**  Expelling the "elected, legitimate" Palestinian leader will cause a "maelstrom of violence." 


**  Critics say Israel's plan "smacks of desperation and folly." 


**  Muslim writers blame the U.S.' "extreme pro-Israel bias" for allowing the threats to Arafat.


**  Conservative dailies back Israel, because peace is impossible "without Arafat's ouster." 




The cycle of violence will 'certainly worsen' if Arafat is exiled--  Observers warned that Arafat's removal would cause the "irreversible end of the peace process and...a further spread of violence."  The pro-government Saudi Gazette predicted a "volcano of anger will explode" among Palestinians; European papers forecasted Arafat would "be replaced by someone more extreme," resulting in an "escalation of terror."  The UAE's pan-Arab Al-Khaleej termed Arafat "the only legitimate political representative" for the Palestinian people.  Norway's Christian Democrat Vaart Land held that any "decision to remove Arafat must be left to the Palestinians."


Arafat is the 'scapegoat for the entire Israeli nation'--  Critics called Israel's plan to exile Arafat "totally counterproductive."  Spain's centrist La Vanguardia backed "the path of negotiation and peace," and along with the liberal Toronto Star urged Israel to "deliver a viable Palestinian state."  Arab dailies held Sharon's government "directly responsible for the explosive situation," alleging it sought to "erase any Palestinian from ruling Palestinian lands."  The West Bank's independent Al-Ayyam alleged Israel wanted to "denounce the entire Palestinian national struggle" by portraying "Arafat as a criminal and its legitimate resistance as terrorism." 


The U.S. 'should blame itself'--  Unlike other Arab papers, Egyptian and Tunisian dailies blamed the U.S. for not halting "Sharon's campaign to harm Arafat."  Tunisia's independent As-Sabah said the blame for Israel's "provocative and racist decision...should be directed at the U.S."  Cairo's aggressive Al-Akhbar added, "Palestine drowns in a sea of blood while the Zionist lobby at the White House persists with its bias" for Sharon.  The West Bank's official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida linked the U.S. to its "foster daughter" Israel--the "only two occupying powers in the world" that both claim to be "champions of democracy, freedom and human rights."  


'Peace cannot precede Arafat's forced retirement'--  Canadian, Polish and Israeli papers supported Arafat's expulsion, labeling him the "fundamental obstacle that has been impeding Mideast peace efforts."  A writer in Tel Aviv's pluralist Maariv urged Israel to "now do the dirty work--eliminate Hamas, expel Arafat."  Other writers agreed Israelis "have every reason to call Yasser Arafat a terrorist" but worried he would be "restored as a martyr" if exiled.  London's conservative Daily Telegraph said Arafat's "corrupt, despotic rule has disqualified him" from politics but termed the plan to banish him "extraordinarily inept."


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 79 reports from 34 countries over 9 - 16 September 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Talk Of Assassinating Mr. Arafat Is An Admission Of Failure"


The center-left Independent editorialized (9/15):  "The threat to kill Yasser Arafat, the president of the Palestinian proto-state, is disastrous not just because it is uncivilised or morally repugnant--although it undoubtedly is--but because it would be ineffective....  It is a measure of the failure of Ariel Sharon's government that it has nothing to offer a frightened Israeli people but self-defeating gestures of bloodthirsty revenge....  This has further provoked world opinion, which fails to see the line of direct accountability from Hamas suicide bombers to Mr. Arafat that seems so obvious to so many Israelis....  To pass a death sentence against the head of an authority with which Israeli is not even at war is a gross violation....  Worse, openly discussing that option has inspired a huge show of support for Mr. Arafat from the Palestinian people....  The likelihood is that he would be replaced by someone more extreme, pledged to vengeance....  The Israeli right is falling into the very trap that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have dug for it."


"Getting Rid Of Arafat"


The conservative Daily Telegraph maintained (9/13):  "Ariel Sharon's cabinet has announced its agreement 'in principle' to expel Mr. Arafat from the occupied territories....  It has also burnished Mr. Arafat's reputation as the defiant leader of an oppressed people....  Tactically, the decision is extraordinarily inept, raising doubts as to whether any coherent strategy for dealing with Palestinian terrorism lies behind it....  Tragically for the Palestinians, Mr. Arafat has never outgrown the status of guerilla leader.  His corrupt, despotic rule has disqualified him from being a viable interlocutor in the search for peace....  Exiled, he would remain a point of reference for those in the occupied territories, undermining efforts to create an alternative leadership, as he did before returning from exile in Tunis in 1994.  No one doubts that the Israelis have a daunting task in sidelining this repellent yet formidable figure.  But they have made it no easier by proclaiming their intentions in advance."


"Aiming At Arafat"


The independent Financial Times (9/13):  "It is hard to imagine anything more lunatic from Israel's viewpoint than taking out its anger against Palestinian violence by killing or expelling Yassir Arafat....  Mr. Arafat certainly helped undermine the U.S.-sponsored 'road map'....  For Israel and the US, the whole exercise was predicated on the veteran Palestinian leader's being pushed to the sidelines in favour of someone more acceptable to them, such as Mr. Abbas....  Countries can make enemies but they can never pick their enemy's leader.  Mr. Arafat happens to be the Arab world's only elected leader....  Israel's threat to remove Mr. Arafat from the scene merely strengthens his domestic position....  The road map is probably dead.  If so, Israeli leaders are as much to blame as Mr. Arafat, because of their failure to produce any immediate gains for the Palestinians."


GERMANY:  "Alarm Bells"


Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine judged (9/13):  "Israel is used to criticism.  But the decision in principle of the Sharon government to extradite the Palestinian president has rung the alarm bells from Washington to Berlin.  In view of the highly explosive situation and an escalation dynamic against which the roadmap has hardly any chance, an extradition would hardly contribute to calming the situation.  On the contrary, Arafat's extradition would give the PLO leader a new stage where he could present himself again as the hero of the Palestinian cause, or even as a martyr.  It is difficult to recognize why such a solidarity and resistance mania will not result in an enormous loss of security for Israel."


"Fatal Consequences" 


Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich argued (9/13):  "If Premier Sharon finally wants to turn his arch enemy Arafat into a martyr and to a symbol of the Palestinian cause, he only needs to extradite or kill him.  The consequences for Israel, which gives priority to its security, would be fatal.  Arafat certainly tolerated and promoted the change of the formerly peaceful intifada into armed resistance.  But he can hardly be made fully responsible for the full extent of Hamas' terror.  His extradition or killing would definitely suck Israel and the Palestinian territories into a maelstrom of violence.  Compared to the terror with which Israel and the Palestinians would then be confronted, the previous Hamas war would look pale."


"Dangerous Israeli Step"


Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg remarked (9/12):  "The decision of the Israeli cabinet...cannot surprise anybody...but is a dangerous step.  The threat alone to deport Arafat is an affront to the Palestinians, who continue to support their symbolic figure.  If Sharon really decides to implement the decision, this would mean the irreversible end of the peace process and would lead to a further spread of violence....  Arafat's deportation would not resolve the problems.  New Prime Minister Qurei clearly said that he needs Arafat's support to assert his views.  The Palestinians must resolve the Arafat problem on their own.  Only if they succeed in forcing him to retreat, can a further escalation of the conflict be avoided."


"Another Deep Humiliation"


Centrist Badische Zeitung of Freiburg judged (9/12):  "If the decision of the Israeli government is really implemented, many Palestinians would consider this another deep humiliation.  This could result in even greater support for the extremists, since the Palestinian leader is still considered the most important national symbol among wide parts of the population.  Even Arafat critics among the Palestinians are advocating an approach that makes the PLO leader's departure from politics not too humiliating.  But, unfortunately, the Jerusalem government seems to ignore all warnings.  That is why the time has now come for the international community of nations, with the United States at the helm, to interfere more intensely in the Middle East conflict.  It must then not only make stubborn Arafat change course, but it should also not allow his counter player Sharon to continue his course."


ITALY:  “All The Risks Of A Hazardous Move”


Franco Venturini wrote in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (9/12):  “America’s first reaction (to the possible expulsion of Arafat) was negative, since it fears that Arafat may conquer ‘a new stage.’  The consultations of Palestinian PM-designate Abu Ala were interrupted.  Mubarak and Chirac issued strong warnings....  And even the Israelis seem to be divided....  We do not need more to realize the extent of the risks involved in Israel’s announcement....  Anywhere he goes Arafat may become more inflammatory than he is allowed to be in Ramallah.  The crisis of the Palestinian leadership could turn into a chaotic power vacuum, leaving what is left of the Road Map without an interlocutor and favoring further lack of control on terrorist groups.  Should America make the best of a bad job that would lead to another break with the Europeans right when the U.S and the EU are trying to mend the split over Iraq.  The likely development in the Middle East would be another escalation of the violence, and the restoration of Arafat’s role as the symbolic hero of the Palestinian cause--a role that has deteriorated over the course of the years but has not disappeared.”


RUSSIA:  "U.S. Protects Arafat"


Vladimir Konev observed in reformist Izvestiya (9/16):  "Over the weekend it became clear that the Americans had protected Arafat not just from banishment but possibly from death....  The U.S. is sure that exiling, even more so killing, Arafat may literally blow up the Middle East. Washington, with its hands full in Afghanistan and Iraq, can't afford a 'third front.'"


AUSTRIA:  “The Martyr”


Thomas Vieregge held in liberal Der Standard (9/13):  “This is what martyr legends are made of: Israel is planning to get Yassir Arafat out of the country in a single swipe.  Such a measure, however, would only provoke the anger of the Palestinians, and Israel was promptly given a taste of what to expect, should it stick to the plan: Tens of thousands of people vented their anger in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  Ten years after Yitzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat, rather unwillingly, shook hands in a historical ceremony in the White House, the Palestinian leader has become persona non grata, the scapegoat for the entire Israeli nation.  This might be understandable, faced with the setbacks of recent times, the new series of attacks, and the intrigues surrounding the tough old survivor, who has never cast off the uniform or the attitude of a guerrilla leader--but it hardly amounts to a political strategy.  In fact, the plan smacks more of complete helplessness, apart from being totally counterproductive.”


BELGIUM:  “Sharon’s American-Style Diktat”


Chief editor Gerald Papy held in independent La Libre Belgique (9/13):  "The Israeli Government’s decision to ‘get rid’ of Yasser Arafat is the climax of Ariel Sharon’s strategy to deal with the Palestinians in the same manner as George W. Bush has been dealing with the actors of the ‘axis of evil’ since September 11, 2001: as Arafat is nothing but a terrorist leader, he must be eliminated, no matter what the consequences are, even if one of those is an increase of terrorist acts.  That is, of course, not with such a simplistic vision of dispute settlements that the fifty-year-old war between Israelis and Palestinians will come to an end....  Yasser Arafat is not Usama bin Laden. Although Arafat has some responsibilities for anti-Israeli terrorist acts and for the failure of the implementation of the Road Map, one did not need to be an expert to predict that the Israeli-American decision, a few months ago, to exclude Arafat from power and to impose a Prime Minister would arouse resistance.  Strong Israeli and American support of Mahmoud Abbas, and the suspension of Israeli targeted killings would have reinforced the power of Abbas...and gradually isolated Arafat.  But this policy was not conducted, with the consequences that we can see today, i.e. a reinforced power and popularity for Yasser Arafat....  Thinking that a negotiation can be successful by totally excluding the elected leader of the Palestinian Authority is an illusion. Expelling Arafat will only reinforce Palestinian extremists.  It is time for the sponsors of the ‘peace process’ to apply to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the principles that are being applied to any other dispute settlement process: verification of the parties’ commitments, negotiations, and, if necessary, sanctions and international military intervention.”


"The Symbol Arafat"


Erik Ziarczyk noted in financial De Financieel-Economische Tijd (9/13):  “As President, Arafat did not make much impression the last few years.  His regime was notorious for its corruption and nepotism.  Many Palestinians protested against the abuse of power by the people around Arafat.  More than President, he was the symbol of Palestinian nationalism and resistance against the Israeli occupation.  The last ten years, Israel has always had trouble with the ‘symbol Arafat’ but it did not manage to clip his wings.  At a given moment, one had the impression that Israel had found the solution with Mahmoud Abbas, one of Arafat’s followers.  Abbas was known for his aversion for the increasing violence.  He repeatedly urged to ‘demilitarize’ the Palestinian resistance against Israel.  Under pressure from Israel and the United States, Arafat named him Prime Minister in April.  But, Abbas did not succeed in carrying out his promises.  That had a lot do with Arafat who continuously put spokes in Abbas’s wheels.  According to many, however, Abbas also disappointed: he lacked political courage.  In other words, Arafat has shown that he is still pulling the strings.  But, Sharon is a impressive opponent--as he has shown in the past.  As Minister of Defense he forced Arafat to leave in 1982.  After Sharon’s invasion of Lebanon, Arafat and his followers left Beirut and went to Tunis.  If things depend on Israel, Arafat will be exchanging his beloved Ramallah for Tunis soon.”


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Things That Cannot Be Solved By One Shot"


Pavel Tomasek observed in business-oriented Hospodarske noviny (9/16):  "The idea of solving the Middle East conflict by murdering Yasser Arafat--a notion discussed by some members of the Israeli government--is only a more brutal form of the proposed [road map]...which has so far...not been successful....  The Israelis have every reason to call Yasser Arafat a terrorist and they have the same right to go after him as the U.S. has to go after Osama bin Laden....  The question is how many more Israelis will be killed in retaliation for Arafat’s murder....  Even though Israel’s attitudes are understandable, one would expect a more ingenious approach to the matter than to aim for one well-targeted shot."  


"Historical Mistake"


Michaela Rozov commented in center-right Lidove noviny (9/13):  "It has been clear for quiet some time now that the Israelis made a historical mistake when they allowed Arafat to return to the occupied zone....  However, they won’t be able to repair [it] by expelling him....  The expulsion would only lead to the escalation of terror in the Middle East, which is also an opinion shared by the head of the Israeli army...and the head of Israeli intelligence....  Sharon’s government should pay attention to Washington and reassess its decision about Arafat."


"The School Of Civil War"


Zbynek Petracek opined in mainstream MF Dnes (9/12):  "Even the last big act of Palestinian terror against randomly chosen Israelis did not provoke such attention of Czech politicians as did the change at the head of the Palestinian government....  Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said that it was a serious rift because Abbas had signed the Road Map peace proposal....  But the same Abbas shortly after signing the peace agreement also signed a truce with terrorist organizations Hamas and Islamic Djihad...and the same Abbas bears responsibility for not dismantling the infrastructure of terrorism in the Palestinian territories....  It must be clear, neither Abbas, nor Ahmed Qureia belongs to [the Palestinian] hawks, who would--like Arafat--speak differently to the international and the Arab media, and who would in practice actually support terror.  But Palestinian leaders, no matter how rational they are, consider the existence of Israel and its actions against terrorists on Palestinian territories to be a bigger threat than  the existence of terrorists in their own ranks.  In other words: they are more afraid of a confrontation with their own terrorists than with the forces of the state of Israel.  Thus, Palestinians are still waiting for their own civil conflict to resolve key issues.  Until the Palestinians undergo such a civil conflict resolution, any "peace process" and any person in the post of Palestinian premier could have only conditional success."


HUNGARY:  “Sweet Home”


Liberal Magyar Hirlap editorialized (9/13):  “Fact, Arafat is an obstacle to the peace process.  As a statesman he has failed.  But he is the elected, legitimate leader of the Palestinian people.  He is even more.  He is a symbol.  He is an emblematic figure of the Palestinian people’s oppression and fight.  He is Palestine itself, ‘whom’ Israel, as well as Washington, like it not, have to work with.  And Washington ought to draw the conclusion to itself too that Arafat can’t simply be considered 'irrelevant’.  He can’t be simply isolated.  As long as Arafat is the Palestinian president, Washington (and Israel) has to sort out the issues with him, which is still the better option.  Because the other, worse option is that the extreme forces, the Hammas and Jihad, take over power.  And the consequence of it will definitely be a war.”


IRELAND:  "Palestinians Still Missing Chances For Peace"


Niall Stanage noted in the left-of-center weekly Sunday Business Post (9/14):  "A truce will have to be reached eventually, and one of the Middle East's most poignant tragedies is that all those killing each other know it. Furthermore, they know its likely outline: Israel will give up some of the land it occupies on the West Bank and in Gaza in return for an ending of the Palestinian armed struggle. Other painful concessions will have to be made; by Israel on the issue of sovereignty over Jerusalem, and by the Palestinian leadership on the `right of return' for refugees....  Like any leader seeking to end a conflict, Abbas put his credibility on the line. In return, he got no help from America, which failed to prod Israel into making concessions. He got no help from Arafat....  There is a sad predictability about all of this. Few causes combine basic moral force with such woeful tactics as that of the Palestinians....  For all that, there is truth in the saying that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity....  Such moral advantage was thrown away the moment the appalling and nihilistic suicide bombings began again in earnest. There is no sign that the Palestinians are learning from their mistakes....  The Palestinian cause will never prosper like this. Its leaders must oppose Israeli occupation, of course. But they must also break the habit of getting themselves into a mess of their own making.”


NORWAY:  “Oslo Agreement's Ten-Year Anniversary"


Christian Democratic Vaart Land commented (9/13):  "A peace agreement is probably impossible as long as Sharon governs Israel and Arafat is the leader of the Palestinians.  But just as it is only the Israelis that can remove Sharon, a decision to remove Arafat must be left to the Palestinians.”


POLAND:  “Arafat Non Grata”


Dawid Warszawski opined in center-right weekly Wprost (9/15):  “The decision of Israel’s Security Cabinet to expel Yasser Arafat from the Palestinian Authority means that the Israelis are determined to confront the fundamental obstacle that has been impeding Middle East peace efforts for a decade. The aging Palestinian leader, who has spent his life fighting Israel, has not been able to accept its existence (despite the agreements he has signed)....  He has been always guided by the everything-or-nothing principle, and has apparently preferred ‘nothing’ to ‘not enough.’”


“The Dangerous Old Men”


Kazimierz Pytko observed in center-left Zycie Warszawy (9/15):  “Yasser Arafat is 74, Ariel Sharon is 75.  Both are long past the military service age limit, but despite this, they are fighting a fierce war, successfully torpedoing any peace initiatives....  It is obvious that Arafat will achieve nothing positive for his people.  He has no influence, not only on Israel’s actions, but also on Palestinian organizations like Hamas or Jihad.  In spite of this, he does not intend to resign to be replaced by politicians who are younger, more efficient, and better predestined to building peace.  Ariel Sharon...also suffers from the war veteran syndrome.  Unable to get rid of military habits, he reduces his policy to a simple attack-counterattack principle, which hardly has room for compromise.”


SLOVENIA:  "The Last Straw"


Vojislav Bercko noted in left-of-center independent Vecer (9/15):  "In the eyes of the international community, which has--pressed by the U.S.--recently often closed one eye towards Israel’s violations of international standards and human rights, the Israeli Government has evidently gone too far with its decision to extradite [Arafat]....  The decision particularly enraged the authors of the Roadmap for Peace....  The U.S. exercised restraint in its reprimanding of Israel...while other members of the peace quartet decisively condemned the decision....  The ambitious plan--mostly needed by President Bush because of the Iraqi crisis--unhappily failed last week.  Opinions about who is responsible for this differ and will differ in the future....  Sharon feels no desire and no need for a Palestinian state....  The creators of the Roadmap are in a difficult situation: the U.S. will at least publicly not renounce its support for Israel, particularly not one year before presidential elections.  The EU and the UN do not know what to do.  This is why it increasingly smells of a new war in the Middle East.”


SPAIN:  "Deporting Arafat"


Centrist La Vanguardia contended (9/13):  "The international community cannot continue accepting a situation based on the unceasing humiliation of Arabs.  Israel and the Palestinian National Authority should play their cards without wanting to win a game in which there is not, and there should not be, winners or losers.  There is only the path of negotiation and peace, and this involves dismantling the settlements, giving up the infamous wall of shame that Sharon is building and setting the limits of a territory where Palestinians cannot only live, but also have a future."


"Arafat's Expulsion"


Conservative La Razon editorialized (9/12):  "Arafat's time is over....  Forcing Abbas' resignation confirmed that Arafat prefers power to peace.  Israel's decision to exile [Arafat] puts the international community in a difficult situation, which obliges it to intervene quickly.  It is not for Ariel Sharon nor his government to remove Arafat....  If [Israel] acts at its own risk, if it exiles him, the situation may turn against itself.   This would not be taking into account the risk of reviving the figure of an exiled Arafat, who would be restored as a martyr and a symbol of a people's resistance, which will help to conceal what today is only terrorism."


TURKEY:  “Israel, Murder, America”


Ahmet Tasgetiren commented in Islamist intellectual Yeni Safak (9/16):  “Israel has turned its guns toward Sheikh Ahmad Yasin and Arafat.  This policy displays a will to butcher the Palestinian people.  A ‘road map’ will become meaningless on such a path of blood....  The U.S. is merely watching.  Even Shimon Peres has displayed a clearer reaction than Washington, and as have the Jewish intellectuals in Israel sensitive to human rights....  It’s not difficult for Israel to kill Sheikh Yasin and Arafat.  But such murders will never bring peace to Palestine....  The U.S. cannot claim to be a world power by standing behind Israel’s murders.  The world has a negative view of America because of the images of Washington’s bosses clearly visible on Sharon’s face.”




ISRAEL:  "Where Is This Image Coming From?"


Marina Rosenblit noted in conservative, Russian-language Vesty (9/16):  ”Making public the decision [to 'remove' Arafat], which nobody is planning to implement yet, has brought Arafat back to the center of the world's attention....  His name is once again on everybody's lips and the western countries’ leaders express their support [for him].  The image of the Palestinian Authority Chairman improved in a couple of seconds, as if he didn't support terror, hadn't declined Barak's peace proposals...and hadn't forced Abu-Mazen out of a position established for him by the U.S. Administration.  The Palestinians claim that they have never supported Arafat as warmly as now....  It would be interesting to know which goals the Israeli government tries to achieve by divulging strategic decisions long before their implementation."


"Insisting On Stupidity"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz opined (9/15):  "The procedures that preceded the declaration of the expulsion by force of Arafat began with reports about Sharon's office inquiring at the uppermost levels of the U.S. Administration whether Washington had softened its prohibition against harming Arafat, a prohibition dictated to Sharon by President Bush more than two years ago....  As an experienced politician, Sharon should know that the explicit question invites a negative answer.  Bush cannot allow himself to be perceived as a co-conspirator against the head of a quasi-state that Washington was a partner to establishing in the Oslo agreements, when it needs the support of Arab and Muslim states in Iraq.  American readiness to topple regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, including harm to the leaders of those regimes, is irrelevant to their position on an Israeli operation in which Arafat could be harmed."


"Who Will Decide About The Banishment's Implementation?"


Nationalist Hatzofe opined (9/14):  "Before the Cabinet meeting [in which Arafat's expulsion was decided] National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice talked with the Prime Minister's Bureau chief, Atty. Dov Weisglass, clarifying the U.S. Administration's stance on the need to avoid from acting against Arafat at this stage....  The Israeli government does not have the exclusivity regarding the date and means [of putting the Cabinet decision into practice.]  The U.S. Administration will dictate those steps or the avoidance thereof, and will at least be extremely involved in this issue, similar to all matters pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  [Hard-line] Education Minister Limor Livnat may well speak about the double standards of the U.S., but the Israeli government effectively accepts the Bush administration's dictates."


"King Of The Ratings"


Hemmi Shalev maintained in popular, pluralist Maariv (9/14):  "No public-relations professional in the world could conduct such a successful lightning campaign for such a problematic client.  But the Israeli government has done it....  If Arafat were to be thrown out in the middle of the night, the world would wake up to a new morning--for better or worse, it depends on how you look at it--and adapt.  But when the government announces in advance its intention to expel him, it invites, even compels, international pressure in the Security Council and support rallies at Arafat's Ramallah compound; meanwhile Arafat, at least temporarily, was sitting pretty.  The cabinet's decision suddenly thrust Israel, and not the Palestinians, into the position of 'a people that dwells alone,' thundering once more about international 'hypocrisy,' to say nothing of anti-Semitism.  It takes real talent to get into such a public-relations mess when your opponent is Arafat, the arch-terrorist whose time has supposedly passed.  But worse than that, there is a big difference in terms of political ramifications between suffering the condemnation of the Security Council after the fact, for a 'fait accompli,' and disobeying the international community at the outset despite prior warning.  Once the U.S. Administration has been forced to express its opposition in public, for the record, Israel will have no choice but to embarrass its best ally in the world in front of everyone if and when it banishes Arafat."


"Dirty Work"


Ben Caspit noted in popular, pluralist Maariv (9/12):  "It would be difficult to see [Abu Ala] handle terror or initiating a real action [against it]....  Almost as always, the ball has been thrown to the Israeli camp.  It is Israel that must now do the dirty work--eliminate Hamas, expel Arafat.  It is doubtful whether the critical mass for this was produced this week....  Silvan Shalom has advocated this for a long time.  As always, the key is in Washington.  There is almost universal consensus [in Israel] that Arafat's physical demise shouldn't be caused by Israel.  The trouble is that over the past few months Israel has more than once received hints that Arafat would not be expelled and would prefer to die as a 'shahid' [martyr].  Such a mishap could turn the entire region against Israel and the U.S.  Regarding such a decision, Israel must not take risks, even at a time when Sharon is threatened to be overthrown in public opinion polls."


"There Are No Miracle Solutions"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (9/11):  "The necessary war against the terrorist organizations, first and foremost Hamas and Islamic Jihad, cannot be based on shock or draw its justification from the longing for revenge....  What some Israeli politicians view as the ultimate solution should be rejected out of hand: the expulsion of Yasser Arafat....  There are some who are raising ideas for a no-holds-barred assault, along the lines of 'we will crush them'--something that is liable to plunge this region into even greater bloodshed and destruction. These ideas must be utterly rejected. The necessary war against the terrorist organizations, as other nations also know, is a long and wearying battle. There are no one-time miracle solutions to terrorism. Israel must continue to fight, while preserving its moral character."


"Arafat's Expulsion at the Top of the Agenda"


Nationalist Hatzofe observed (9/12):  "The [Oslo] Agreement was supposed to open 'an era of peace' between Israel and the Palestinians.  It eventually led to increased hatred and violence by the Palestinians against the Jews and to grave harm to Israel.  Not only has Yasser Arafat not acted to implement the accord, but also he sabotaged it at every opportunity, when he reckoned that a positive understanding of any kind was being reached....  Without Arafat's ouster, it will be impossible to enter the track of an arrangement between the Palestinians and Israel.  The time has come for Prime Minister-designate Abu Ala to understand this, too."


"Days Of Attacks And Strikes"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz maintained (9/11):  "The Sharon government has made a clear contribution toward the torment suffered by Israelis and Palestinians.  But this contribution pales compared to the roles played by Arafat and the terror organizations.  The atrocities on Tuesday...illustrated anew the base moral decline of a society that worships the blind killing of people, and which seeks to accomplish its goals through bloodshed and bullets.  Israel is to wage war against those who carry out such terror strikes, and those who initiate, plan and orchestrate them; and Israel will continue the fight until it is won.  By defining Hamas and other extremists as terror organizations, without drawing a distinction between 'political' and 'military' wings, the U.S. Government, and even the European Union, have recognized this fact....  If they are to save the diplomatic efforts undertaken in President Bush's initiative from collapse, all moderate Palestinian elements must disavow the terror organizations, and act against them.  A positive step could be the unification of all branches of the Palestinian security apparatus under one viable authority that is determined to get back to the peace track."




Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post held (9/11):  "The world will not help Israel; we must help ourselves. We must kill as many of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders as possible, as quickly possible, while minimizing collateral damage, but not letting that damage stop us.  And we must kill Yasser Arafat, because the world leaves us no alternative....  Killing Arafat, more than any other act, would demonstrate that the tool of terror is unacceptable, even against Israel, even in the name of a Palestinian state.  Arafat does not just stand for terror, he stands for the refusal to make peace with Israel under any circumstances and within any borders.  In this respect, there is no distinction, beyond the tactical, between him and Hamas....  Whom the Palestinians choose to lead them is none of our business, provided it is a free choice, and provided they do not opt for leaders who choose terror and aggression.  So long as the Palestinians choose such a leadership, it should be held no more immune to counterattack by Israel than the Taliban and Saddam Hussein were by the U.S."


WEST BANK:  "The Sharon Decision:  Israeli Policy In One World"


Rajab Abu Sariyeh wrote in independent Al-Ayyam (9/16):  “The Israeli government works hard to denounce the entire Palestinian national struggle by attempting to show its symbol [Arafat] as a criminal and its legitimate resistance as terrorism....  Some international circles, including the Americans and Europeans, maintain that the only way out [for the Palestinians] now is to accelerate the forming of the new Palestinian government.  Unfortunately, this is another proof that they do not oppose the Israeli decision and are willing to continue to ignore core issues through sticking to the illusion that the removal of President Arafat and establishing a new government would increase the likelihood of reaching a political solution....  The Palestinians should explicitly announce that no solution can ever be reached with the Sharon extremist government in power, and that their top priority is to re-arrange their internal security and political affairs.”


"Following The Expulsion Decision"


Samih Shbeib declared in independent Al-Ayyam (9/15):  “The Israeli security cabinet’s decision [to deport Arafat] is in essence an attempt to test the American reaction as well as that of the Palestinian street....  The Israeli cabinet did not take into account that such decision would only increase loyalty to the Palestinian president and strengthen his leadership at a time when the U.S. has resolutely rejected this decision....  The Sharon government’s practices have confirmed that Israel has indeed lost its ‘democratic’ and ‘ethical’ glamour, proving once again that Israel is a racist state that violates all kinds of human rights.  Under this foolish Israeli decision lies a great historic opportunity for Palestinians to take advantage of.  First and foremost, Palestinians should demand that the international community, particularly the U.S. and Europe, adopt stronger and clearer positions on [Israel’s] attempts to wipe out the Palestinian Authority and evade the peace process.  The Palestinians should also make the most of any possibility to reopen channels with Israeli parties and senior figures who oppose the present government.”


"Have The Israeli People Had Their Say?"


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (9/15):  “Finally, the Israelis have begun to realize what has always been clear since the beginning, that their present government, led by Sharon, has achieved nothing but total failure in three main fields: security, economy and the political solution....  Such conclusions have been reached not only by Palestinians but by a number of political analysts and experts in Israel as well....  Now that the Israelis themselves understand how the Sharon government has led both peoples, Palestinians and Israelis, to the current tense situation and how its policies have hindered the achievement of peace and security, it is high time for the international community, specifically the Quartet and the U.S., to move ahead and put an end to the Israeli violence....  It is also the appropriate time for the Israeli people to have their say, especially after the loads of unfulfilled promises given to them by their government.  [The Israeli people] have to understand that as long as their government lacks the courage to make peace with the Palestinians, led by their historic, legitimate and elected leader Yasser Arafat, none of those promises will ever be fulfilled.”


"Israeli 'Arro-ignorance" 


Bassem Abu Sumayya wrote in official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (9/13):  “Israel must have heard the crowds who flocked to President Yasser Arafat’s headquarters and thousands of others who took to the streets until late last night.  I do not believe that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon...expected that the Palestinian response to his troubling decision to deport President Arafat would be a popular referendum on the Palestinian leader.  The result of this referendum is clear: there is no alternative to Arafat, whether Israel likes it or not....  Interestingly enough...the U.S. and its foster daughter Israel continue to deliberately ignore the fact that they are the only two occupational powers in the world, while continuing to claim that they are the only champions of democracy, freedom, and human rights....  These acts fit in with the principles of U.S. civilization and are part of its ‘humanitarian’ mission to eradicate terrorism.”


"A Decision Rejected By The Palestinian People"


Independent Al-Quds held (9/12):  “The decision made last night by the Israeli government to expel President Arafat is ultimately a challenge to the Palestinian people, a clear infringement of all agreements signed by Israel and the Palestinians, a singular underestimation of the international will led by the United States, and a final blow the peace process.  Arafat is not an alien in his own homeland, such that the Israeli government determines his destiny in one of its sessions; he is the Palestinian people’s elected president and leader in pursuit of their national aspirations.  Any harming of him would simply lead to catastrophic consequences at Palestinian, regional and international levels.  The world will not allow Israel to make Arafat a scapegoat for its political failure, its unacceptable negligence of peace process commitments or its insistence on occupying Palestinian land for settlement expansion....  Just as a reminder, it was Arafat who signed the Oslo agreement which led to the Wye River accord in 1998, and it was his hope of achieving peace that obliged him to accept interim agreements that do not meet the minimimum needs of legitimate Palestinian demands, all the while hoping to bring [these agreements] up to an acceptable level.”


"The Struggle's Climax And Aftermath"


Samih Shbeib wrote in independent Al-Ayyam (9/12):  “Abu Ala’s declarations since being designated to form a new cabinet are an indication that he is fully intent on finding mutual guarantees to initiate talks on road map implementation, aiming to avoid prior extreme positions and complications, as matters have reached an intolerable boiling point with the ongoing reciprocal violence....  Palestinians and Israelis now realize that, in practical terms, it is time to re-word their questions about what’s next, bearing in mind that neither side should negate the other....  Additionally, will regional and international pressures and internal Israeli opinion urge the Sharon government to try to re-open negotiating files with the new Palestinian government?  Will the Sharon government realize that the struggle has reached its peak and that it’s time to pursue means of reconciliation?  A radical, arrogant attitude will only lead [Sharon’s] government to push for more bloodshed, bringing about new facts that even the Israelis will find hard to deal with.”


"The Abu Ala' Government:  The Circumstances Of Its Formation And The Size Of The Risk"


Rajab Abu Siriyeh opined in independent Al-Ayyam (9/12):  “The surprising element in the formation of the new Abu Ala’ government was the twin Jerusalem-Tel Aviv bombings.  Unexpectedly, and contrary to speculations that the two bombings would hinder the process, Abu Ala’ took the risk of shouldering national responsibilities and announced his acceptance of the nomination....  After every [suicide bombing] the Palestinian side goes to defense politically in order to withstand outside pressures and stepped-up Israeli threats....  The mission of Abu Ala’s cabinet thus has become more focused and defined, for he himself has stressed that the security issue will be at the top of his cabinet’s priorities....  Therefore, this government’s success in its mission will also depend on complementary work from the National Security Council, which is expected to unify all PA apparatuses to carry out their difficult missions.”


"In Brief"


Talal Okal contended in independent Al-Ayyam (9/11):  “It is unfair to consider the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv bombings as the reason behind the mounting level of danger that Israel tries to point out, just as it was unfair to claim that the Jerusalem bombing about a month ago was the reason for the collapse of the 50-day truce.  Both cases were used as pretexts to justify a previously planned policy aimed at pressuring the Palestinian side to give in to the Israeli-American scheme of achieving a sort of peace agreement that is mainly based on the security of Israel....  The American administration is quite aware of the fact that the Palestinian situation differs from that of Iraq or Afghanistan.  It realizes that President Arafat cannot be overlooked in times of peace or of tension....  The American administration has so far failed to understand that by adopting and supporting Israel’s policies, it encourages more disasters to take place, especially if Israel decides to foolishly carry out incursions into the Gaza strip or expel President Arafat.  This will only bring further uncontrollable, never-ending violence, given that the Palestinian people have all the basic means to escalate their resistance.”  


EGYPT:  "Expelling the Israeli Ambassador"


Salama Ahmed Salama observed in leading pro-government Al Ahram (9/14):  "The recent Israeli decision to expel, or to slay, Arafat...[is] like a check-mate on the Middle East chessboard to make the road smoother for Israel in imposing the desired political settlement or in reoccupying the West Bank and Gaza.  All international reactions condemn the Israeli decision....  Arab countries must make a clear decision about Israel's decision to expel Arafat....  The logical response is for both Egypt and inform the U.S. and Israel that expelling Arafat or harming him will be met with the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and the freezing of all relations and that the U.S. should bear all the consequences of this measure on its interests in the region....  The issue of fighting terrorism, which has become the focus of U.S. domestic and foreign policy, cannot be separated from the state terrorism practiced by Israel against the Palestinian people.  The U.S. should blame itself because it propagates the culture of hatred and violence and works to ignite a new cycle of violence against it and against Israel."


"Palestine Is Paying A Dear Price For U.S. Failure"


Galal Aref contended in aggressive pro-government weekly Akhbar Al Yom (9/13):  "The U.S. Administration, not Sharon, bears the greatest responsibility for Palestine which threaten the entire region.  We all know Sharon is a war criminal whose rightful place, like that of any Nazi, is to be tried before the international court....  The surprise came when President Bush Jr.--who was expected to be more partial to justice--established an Administration governed by Zionist ideology....  The September 11 attacks were a golden opportunity for the Zionist lobby within the American Administration, which instead of reconsidering its policies and trying to establish more understanding with the Arab and Islamic world, was commandeered by the Zionist lobby in the opposite direction....  The roadmap was only an attempt to win time...and Bush's vision of a Palestinian state was merely an Israeli plan to establish a Palestinian entity without borders or sovereignty.  These policies have reached their inevitable, failed end and Palestine drowns in a sea of blood while the Zionist lobby at the White House persists with its bias towards Sharon's gang.  But Arabs will not be the only victims of these erroneous policies.  Israel and the U.S. will pay the toll from their interests."


“Without Cover”


Salama Ahmed Salama observed in pro-government Al Ahram (9/11):  “As many anticipated the roadmap collapsed, a result of American bias towards Israeli objectives combined with the absence of international monitoring on the ground.  Compounding the inevitability of failure was Israeli Prime Minister Sharon’s blanket refusal to accept even the possibility of a peaceful coexistence with Palestinians and the ever diminishing European role, and the differences that broke out between the Palestinians....  The quarrel between Abbas and Arafat was not only a dispute over control of the Palestinian security apparatus.  The conflict was between two visions: one posits that halting all resistance operations will convince the U.S. to interfere on behalf of the Palestinians...the other has no faith in Israel honoring its commitments or the U.S. pressuring it to do so.  Events have shown that to trust American promises regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict is foolhardy....  The U.S. undermined Abbas’ legitimacy by attempting to force him to dismantle the Palestinian factions....  Unless there is a neutral international force to monitor the situation and assess the responsibilities of each side, there can be no peace.”


“Containing Divisions”


Pro-government Al Ahram Editor-in-chief Ibrahim Nafie wrote (9/11):  “The creation of a Palestinian state conflicts with the beliefs of the fundamentalist Israeli right, which reduces the Palestinian problem to the existence of an ‘alien’ people on part of what they term ‘Greater Israel’....  For pragmatic reasons to do with perpetuation in power Sharon has sought to ‘export’ his domestic tensions to the Palestinian side....  To the Sharon government calm is the number one enemy....  For the Palestinians and Arabs the truce was part of an inherently reciprocal political process intended to facilitate the implementation of the roadmap; for Sharon it was a one-way street and the job of the PA (Palestinian Authority), in his view, is to assist Tel Aviv in ensuring the security of Israel....  It is little wonder, therefore, that Abu Mazen increasingly felt his position untenable.  To compound his frustrations Washington made no efforts worth mentioning to pressure Israel into meeting its obligations under the roadmap....  Naturally Arafat, the legitimately elected President of his people, could not relinquish control over Palestinian security....  [Abu Mazen] appealed to the PA Legislative Council, setting a number of conditions that would have to be met if he were to remain in power.  This decision, I believe, was ill-judged.  Had he succeeded a dangerous rift would have opened in the PA leadership....  All the wiser...was Arafat’s choice of Ahmed Qurei to lead the Palestinian government....  Qurei will face many formidable challenges:  unremitting Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people; Sharon’s campaign to harm Arafat and Washington’s extreme pro-Israeli bias, epitomized most recently in the decision to suspend the roadmap, which dovetailed perfectly with Sharon’s designs.”


“Heated Issues”


El-Sayed El-Naggar commented in aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar (9/11):  “Sharon has reconfirmed the ability of Jews to design strife among nations for them to control.  Before Israel diverted the Palestinians’ attention to their domestic strife, the basic issue was the isolating wall, which created a crisis between the U.S. and Israel...and incurred condemnation by the Quartet....  Finding itself in an impasse, Israel deemed it a must to stop international support for Palestinians and to end world condemnation of Israel....  Its plot has succeeded.  We urge the world to be aware of the crime of continuing to build the separating wall on the occupied Palestinian territories.  Mainly, Palestinians should set differences aside for the sake of the greater cause.”


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Olmert Plot"


Jeddah's English-language pro-government Saudi Gazette declared (9/16):  "The world, particularly the West, has not reacted as strongly as it should have to Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's statement that killing Palestinian President Yasser Arafat is an option for the Israeli government. Amidst the deafening silence in the civilized world, there is one question that demands a quick answer: is this how civilized nations behave, and if not, then should Israel's behavior go unnoticed and unpunished?....  The Arabs wonder if this U.S. administration would have reacted in exactly the same manner if a Palestinian official had issued such a threat towards Sharon or some other Israeli official?  A crime is a crime even if committed by a senior government official.  Punishment for a crime cannot be according to the social status of criminals.  The minimum punishment for Olmert should be that he be sacked from the Israeli government.  The Arabs will see if the U.S. and Europe even makes such a demand."


"Volcano Of Anger"


Jeddah's English-language pro-government Saudi Gazette observed (9/14):  "The world is unanimous in condemning the Israeli intention to expel Arafat. The Palestinians have warned that a volcano of anger will explode if Israel goes against their leaders in an irresponsible manner.  It is the responsibility of the world, and primarily of the United States and other members of the Quartet to not let the volcano erupt."


"A High Cost Decision"


Dammam's moderate Al-Yaum opined (9/13):  "We do not want the U.S. administration, in attempt to absorb the anger of the Palestinian people, to put pressure on Israel to prevent implementing of this decision temporally but we want her to exercise pressure on the right direct to force Israel to save the roadmap plan....  The decision at the end of the day represents an open challenge not only to the Palestinian Authority but also to the resolve of the Palestinian people, all concluded agreements including the Oslo agreement and the roadmap plan itself."


"The Palestinian People's Support For Arafat"


Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira stated (9/13):  "It is true that the Palestinian people have no tanks, Apache helicopters nor missiles but they have determination and resolve to thwart all Israeli actions and plans including the decision to expel their leader and symbol Arafat....  Nevertheless, Washington and other country's rejection of the decision will not stop its implementation."


"Immunity Is Political Not Military"


Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (9/11):  "The fedayeen operations are not the best way to re-gain the Palestinian rights.  Israel, with its mighty military power, and protection by international silence about its crimes, can easily wipe out Gaza and the whole West Bank.  Those who executed the two operations on Tuesday, not only did they revenge for the assassination of Abu Shanab, they revenged for the disgrace that hit Abu Mazen and his government....  These operations were retaliation to all the injustices and aggressions against every Palestinian child, woman, and old man."


LEBANON:  “A Referendum”


Sahar Baasiri noted in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (9/13):  “When Sharon and his cabinet decided to expel Arafat, he had no intention of giving Arafat a chance to return to the limelight.  However, his decision backfired.  Sharon’s decision to expel Arafat means that he is at the end of his wits and knows that he had tried everything with the Palestinians but it did not work.  Sharon had assassinated, and surrounded and destroyed and imprisoned the Palestinians but his tactics did not work....  Obviously, Sharon will never admit that his policies have found himself having no other choice but to touch Arafat personally.  The reaction to the Israeli decision to expel Arafat became a referendum for Arafat’s popularity and legitimacy.  The Palestinians, with their different affiliations warned Israel not to touch Arafat.  Great world capitals also warned Israel, and most importantly, Washington itself opposed the decision...justifying its position by indicating that Arafat should not be given a chance to travel around the world.”


SYRIA:  "What Is Behind The Liquidation Plans?"


Government-owned Tishreen argued (9/14):  "The Israeli plan to liquidate Palestinian leaders and nationalist figures is publicized and well known.   Sharon's government has been publicly speaking about this plan for months now and is currently working to implement it through successive operations to assassinate the Intifada leaders and cadre....  The latest Israeli decision to expel Yaser Arafat from the occupied territories represents part of this terrorist plan, which the Sharon government officially adopted.   This clearly means that Israel's ultimate goal is not Arafat or Palestinian leaders in and outside of the Palestinian Authority, rather the entire Palestinian people. The Sharon government wants the Palestinian people to be divided, weak, frustrated, and ready to accept anything dictated to them.  The Sharon government believes that getting rid of Palestinian leaders through liquidation and expulsion will have a direct negative impact on the Palestinian people's activities and Intifada and undermine their ability to deal with any peace efforts....  This view might be correct in some aspects.   However, Sharon and the other extremists in his government overlooked the fact that it is the Palestinian people who produced these political and field leaders and who are able to produce substitutes for them everyday."


"Sharon's Government Is To Blame"


Izziddin Darwish commented in government-owned Tishreen (9/11): "Sharon's government is directly responsible for the explosive situation in the Palestinian Territories and for frustrating the Palestinian people and making them lose trust in any peace initiative, including the Roadmap which is also rejected by Sharon....  What should the Palestinian people do?  Should they surrender to the death, which comes from Israeli missiles and tell Israeli forces they have accepted your occupation and have relinquished our land and sovereignty?  This is impossible."


TUNISIA:  “Historical Mistake”


Editor Raouf Khalsi wrote in independent French-language Le Temps (9/13):  “So Israel has decided to banish Arafat. The U.S. supported the idea of excluding Arafat from the political scene.  Being heavily involved in the Iraqi issue, the U.S. allowed Sharon to revive the cycle of violence, to sow the seeds of anger and to push the Palestinian factions towards extreme radicalization.  Though the U.S. reaction was against Arafat’s expulsion, it still reflects its arrogance as it demonstrates an obsessional disdain for the historic legitimacy that Arafat incarnates.” 


“The Crime Of Silence!”


Editor-in-chief Mohsen Zoghlami commented in independent Arabic-language As-Sabah (9/13):  “If blame is to be directed at one side in reference to the Israeli provocative and racist decision to expel Arafat, it should be directed at the United States that unjustly supports the terrorist government of Sharon....  Hence, the declared American position that seems to disagree with the decision of Arafat’s removal holds no real meaning since the U.S. is considered as a partner of Israel in taking this decision.” 


UAE:  "Erasing The Palestinians"


Abu Dhabi-based pan-Arab Akhbar Al Arab declared (9/14):  "It is obvious that the Israeli government, led by the old war criminal, Sharon, is still overwhelmed with its plans not only to expel the Palestinian president, but also to erase any Palestinian from ruling Palestinian lands."


"Political Crisis"


Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al-Khaleej editorialized (9/13):  "The international warnings and responses to the dangers of expelling the Palestinian president lead Israel to a real political crisis, especially with widespread agreement that he (President Arafat) is the legimately elected representative of the Palestinian people, and that the decision to expel him is considered 'a big mistake,' 'a fatal hit for peace efforts,' and 'has no wisdom,' all which will lead to 'catastrophic consequences.'  The responses to Sharon's decision established that the Palestinian President is the only legitimate political representative...for the Palestinian people, it is hard to think of eliminating or disregarding him."




AUSTRALIA:  “U.S. Must Find Will For Peace”


An editorial in the business-oriented Australian Financial Review read (9/11):  “The Middle East is teetering yet again on the brink of disaster. This is testing a U.S. administration that has been unnerved by the near collapse of Middle East peace efforts, by the continuing rash of suicide bombings in Israel and by debilitating security challenges in liberated Iraq....  U.S. Middle East policy is under enormous pressure.  The administration is struggling to make its case to Congress for additional funding for the restoration of peace to, and reconstruction of, Iraq. The so-called roadmap to Middle East in real danger of following other failed Middle East peace initiatives and, worse, Israel and the Palestinians appear to be sliding towards all out conflict....  A further slide to violence seems inevitable unless Washington can rediscover the enthusiasm for Middle East peace that led to its support of the road map.  It needs to find the will to force the parties back to the negotiating table.”




The independent English-language Standard remarked (9/13):  "The international community is right to condemn a decision by the Israeli security cabinet to 'expel' Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.  Removing Arafat would solve nothing and only harden the resolve of the Palestinians.  Perhaps now we should be looking at an international solution as the U.S.-inspired 'road map to peace' has clearly come to a dead end....  This is not a question about Arafat. It is a question about the Palestinian people and their right to exist as a people in their own homeland.  No one today questions Israel's right to exist.  But its foundations are somewhat questionable. Let us not forget that Palestine became an international issue towards the end of World War I with the break-up of the Ottoman Empire.  It was among several former Ottoman Arab territories that were placed under the administration of Britain under...the former League of Nations....  Over half the Palestinian population either fled or were expelled from the new state of Israel.  And Israel has spent the last 55 years fighting to defend it.  With the road map in tatters, perhaps it is now time for the international community to put right what it failed to do in 1947 with partition.  And in doing so both Israel and the Palestinians will have to make some painful concessions if peace is ever going to come to the promised land."


"Removing Arafat Is No Solution"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post said (9/13):  "Now, Israel wants to remove a man who, for all his faults, remains the Palestinians' most revered leader.  He is both their elected president and an emblem of their hopes for their own state.  As fragile and hopeless as the peace process now seems, removing Mr. Arafat will do nothing but kill it off completely....  Any action to remove Mr. Arafat now will thwart any hope that the new Palestinian prime minister, Ahmed Qorei, might be able to form a cabinet and begin to inch towards peace.  Mr. Qorei was endorsed by Mr. Arafat but he is a committed moderate who seems willing to work for peace--and seems to know how hard that will be.  Progress will depend on his ability to negotiate with and win concessions from both Israel and Mr. Arafat.  From Israel, he will need guarantees of an end to the rising tide of retaliatory violence and reasonable borders for the fence Israelis insist on building to separate themselves from the Palestinians.  From Mr. Arafat, he will need co-operation in disarming groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.  Mr. Qorei will have no chance of accomplishing any of this if the Israelis go ahead with their thuggish plan to exile, if not assassinate, the man many Palestinians look to as their head of state and their representative to the world."


"New Palestinian Prime Minister's Road Is Dangerous And Difficult"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (9/13):  "Ahmed Qorei has participated in the peace process for a long time....  He has won the praise of the Palestinians, who view him as a leader concerned about the hardships of the people.  In the negotiations, Ahmed Qorei was seen as a reasonable and good-natured individual.  Israel also has a good impression of him....  Although Ahmed Qorei is accepted by Arafat, Palestinians and Israel, the difficulties that he faces will not be less than those Abbas did....  The latest test Ahmed Qorei has to face is that the Israeli security cabinet has agreed to expel Arafat and urged the Israeli military to take corresponding action.  The U.S. and the EU object to the decision.  They believe that it will only exacerbate the situation."


INDONESIA:  “Desperation And Frustration Would Intensify With Expulsion Of Arafat”


Leading independent Kompas commented (9/15):  “Desperation, frustration, resentment, hostilities, violence, and aggressiveness would likely mount to more dangerous levels should President Arafat be expelled.  Israel’s threat to expel him has caused strong criticism and protest from everywhere, including Indonesia....  The opportunities ahead would become uncertain if Israel expels Arafat....  The most dangerous consequence would be mounting threats of suicide bombings.”




INDIA:   "No Rambo Act, Please" 


An editorial in centrist Indian Express read (9/15):  "In a patently wrong move, Israel has proclaimed a governmental decision to 'remove' President Yasser Arafat....  It is possible that the Israeli cabinet has now assumed the mantle to champion the US doctrine of regime change as a solution to political problems of dealing with even legitimate regimes.  After all President Arafat is an elected representative....  And it is not so long ago that the Israeli government...had invited him to head the newly-formed Palestine Authority in the occupied territories.  It is not surprising, therefore, that the world--including the US--has reacted in such strong terms....  Russia and the UK have slammed the decision as one which would destroy the prospects of peace in the region while possibly leading to an uncontrolled chain of events. The French president has termed the decision a 'serious mistake'....  Arab and Muslim opinion across the world, incensed by US war against Iraq, is infuriated. The decision has almost immediately resulted in a predictable response from the Palestinians.  Thousands have vowed to defend Arafat with their lives....  Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas had stepped down in sheer frustration at the continuing violence from both sides only recently.  The events related to his exit had demonstrated Arafat's profile as the unquestioned leader of the Palestinians. It is not surprising therefore that Ahmed Korie, the nominated prime minister, has suspended efforts to form a government signaling total support for the man Israel seeks to remove. Israel would, therefore, be well-advised to listen to world opinion and exercise restraint."


"Raising Arafat's Stock, Sharon-Style" 


The nationalist Hindustan Times opined (9/15):  "The decision...of the Ariel Sharon government to 'remove' Arafat from his West Bank headquarters at Ramallah has had a not unexpected effect. It has sent the Palestinian leader's stock soaring among his people. Thus, if Tel Aviv had hoped to remove Arafat as a factor in any negotiations so that the U.S.-directed 'roadmap' might have a chance yet, it may have ended up doing precisely the opposite....  Analysts believe that while Sharon may well take military action against Arafat to address public sentiment in his country after last week's suicide bombings, he has been obliged to keep the timing of the Palestinian leader's deportation open. This is on account of Washington's current opposition to the idea, although it has no love lost for Arafat. The US no doubt calculates that any drastic action against the symbol of Palestinian resistance will inflame Arab opinion.  While clearly keen to have a go at Arafat as he believes that he is 'our bin Laden'....  The US might have to appear more even-handed if the 'roadmap' is to be given a lease of life."


"Shalom, Sharon" 


The Mumbai-based, left-of-center Free Press Journal noted (9/11):  "India's growing cooperation with Israel, particularly in defense and strategic fields, is bound to serve this nation's cause well.  Indeed, given that India too is a victim of terrorism exported by its Islamic neighbor, Indo-Israeli friendship can prove mutually advantageous to the two countries.  If only Indian politicians could learn to be as tough-minded and unbending in the face of the most inhuman terrorist acts perpetrated by anyone anywhere in the world....  Anyone willing to help India bolster its external and internal defenses against foreign aggression and internal subversion should be most welcome. Those opposing the Sharon visit are still living in a time warp even though their ideological masters in Moscow had long ago shed their blinkers and begun to assess their relationship with Israel on a more realistic basis. Divisive domestic politics ought not to intrude in the conduct of foreign relation.  The opponents of the Sharon visit need to update their views in consonance with the supreme national interest."


PAKISTAN:  "Sharon's Game Plan"


The Lahore-based liberal English-language Daily Times editorialized (9/16):  "If Mr. Arafat is killed, the bloodletting will not be confined to a small area.  It will spread far and wide and the United States will be caught in the burning fires inevitably.  That is another reason why the Bush administration needs to leash Mr. Sharon in the larger interest of the United States itself and the world community."


"Threat Of Yasir Arafat's Assassination"


Sensationalist, pro-Jihad Urdu-language Ummat thundered (9/16):  "Besides its self-styled roadmap to peace, the United States has adopted the policy of removing any hurdle that comes in its way for the achievement of its objectives.  The United States has now decided to get rid of 74-year-old Yasir Arafat who symbolized the soul of jihad in the independence movement against Israel just for the sake of the U.S."




SOUTH AFRICA:  "New Crisis"


The liberal Mercury commented (9/16):  "The United States, the European Union and Russian need to exercise every bit of leverage possible on the Israeli government to prevent its resorting to truly desperate measures in its confrontation with Palestinian militants.  When the Israeli deputy prime minister can speak of killing...Arafat as an is time for the world to really worry....  Such an action would convulse the entire Middle East.  Moderate Arab governments that have supported the peace process would be unable to ignore the fury of the streets.  A potent new martyr would be instantly created.  It could set back the peace process a long time....  There is no alternative to the time-consuming and frustrating process of seeking out and engaging the moderate elements on either side."


TANZANIA:  "Israel, Arafat And The Fate Of Peace In The Mideast"


Abdallah Katunzi wrote in anti-government Kiswahili-language tabloid Majira (9/15):  "After President Bush initiated the ‘roadmap', there was hope that this initiative would succeed in ending the long-lasting Israeli/Palestinian conflict. However, despite the peace plan’s noble goals, there is still a long way to go before peace comes to this troubled region.  But a recent statement by the Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofat could threaten the successful implementation of the ‘roadmap’ peace plan. that Israel made a grievous mistake by not expelling Arafat in the last two years. Mofat’s statement begs some questions. Was he speaking as a private person or as a government minister? Is the timing of this statement a coincidence or is it deliberate?  While the Israeli government accuses Palestinians of hindering this peace plan and previous ones, Palestinian officials charge that Israeli constant attacks on Palestine are the real obstacles to peace.  Mofat’s statement will obviously increase tension...and Israel is to blame for this predicament. This statement should be condemned in the strongest terms. All concerned parties should sit down and continue with the peace talks for the benefit of all....  This is not the time to incite hatred and disturbances in an area where tensions are already high. The international community should exercise its responsibility and take to task all those that are bent on torpedoing the peace process in this crisis prone region.”




CANADA:  “Arafat's Problem”


The centrist Winnipeg Free Press reflected (9/15):  “The question [Arafat] the solution or the problem to peace between Israel and the Palestinians? At one time, not so many years ago, that question might have been phrased differently. It might have asked what role Mr. Arafat could play in peace between the Israelis and the Arabs. That question is not really relevant any longer. With the possible exception of Syria--and even Syria is a very doubtful case--there is no longer any Arab government that has a serious interest in a war with Israel. The problem is the Palestinians. Having nurtured them as a weapon against Israel for more than 50 years, the Arabs now find that they will just not go away. Having funded and supported Mr. Arafat for almost as long, they find now that he will not go away, and that creates a problem for every party concerned, but particularly for the Arabs, the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves. Mr. Arafat's record indicates that he has no real interest in a peace agreement....  The Israelis are almost certainly right that if he were out of the way, the road map to peace would be easier to follow. Unfortunately, he is not out of the way. He can not be put out of the way by Israel without making things worse. Arab governments could, however, marginalize him. The road to peace in Palestine begins not in Jerusalem or Ramallah; it begins in the capitals of the Arab world.”


"Wrong Way To Deal With Yasser Arafat"


The leading Globe and Mail contended (9/13):  "For the past two years, Israel and the United States have done their level best to marginalize Yasser Arafat, and with good reason. The president of the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly proven himself both incompetent and mendacious. And, although he has clung stubbornly to power--undermining his fledgling and now former prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, stymieing any real effort to confront Palestinian terrorist groups--it has often appeared the grizzled survivor's days in power were finally numbered. Thursday night, with its staggeringly ill-considered decision to 'remove' Mr. Arafat, the Israeli security cabinet wound back the clock. In that single act, it transformed him from an aging, ailing, isolated has-been into a populist hero and potential martyr....  Israel's deep frustration with Mr. Arafat is entirely understandable....  Eventually it became clear to all who dealt with him, including many within his own ranks, that Mr. Arafat could not be trusted....  Behind the scenes, though, he continued to wield considerable power....  It would have been naive to think Mr. Abbas's designated successor, Ahmed Qureia, would be treated any differently. Without question, Mr. Arafat had to be confronted. But not like this. For now, Mr. Qureia's job has become immeasurably more difficult. Mr. Arafat suddenly is back at centre stage. Governments around the world, including the United States, have demanded that he not be harmed or expelled. His own people are rallying to his cause. Whatever else he may be, he is no longer sidelined. And the goal of a lasting Mideast peace has become all the more elusive as a result."


"Israel Has Put Off The Removal Of Arafat As Long As It Dares"


David Warren commented in the nationalist Ottawa Citizen (9/13):  "It is...clear from the polls in Israel that the country demands the removal of Mr. Arafat, who is their single most deadly and dangerous enemy. The threat he offers has grown larger than that of Osama or Saddam to the U.S. And if the Israeli military has finally been ordered to directly attack Hamas and other terrorist leaders, why not remove the queen bee from the hive? The world will wail, and undoubtedly the Arab Street will fill....  Colin Powell, will utter sombre statements. President Bush himself either has or has not expressed himself to Prime Minister Sharon privately.  And the removal of Mr. Arafat will be, at least in the short term, extremely inconvenient to immediate American interests throughout the region. But it will also strike to the heart of the long-term problem, as did the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It will compel the Palestinians to form a new leadership, and it will communicate the Israeli will to survive to the Arab world at large. No single act since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq is likely to have a more positive actual effect on regional security--after the debris has cleared."


“Father Of Fear”


The right-of-center Calgary Herald observed (9/9):  “Abbas's resignation is a win for Palestinian hardliners and a setback for U.S. President George W. Bush's road-map peace plan. That required the Palestinian Authority to restrain Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists from striking Israel from within its borders; clearly, there is little hope of that happening while Arafat continues to pull the strings. For, by denying Abbas control of Palestine's security organizations, Arafat effectively prevented him from confronting those who desire Israel's destruction. Abbas and Arafat have thus been at crossed purposes from the start, with Arafat enjoying greater popular support, thanks to his relentless propaganda urging Palestinians to accept nothing less than a state which includes all of Israel. Given the stakes, the road-map demand for a moderate Palestinian leader such as Abbas was worth a try. Sadly, it has shown that peace cannot precede Arafat's forced retirement and with it, the corking of his unique vial of ideological poison.”


ARGENTINA:  "Endless Violence In The Middle East"


An editorial in leading Clarin read (9/15):  "Through his decision to expel Arafat from the Palestinian autonomous territory, the Sharon administration explicitly brings back the Middle East conflict to a status similar to the time before the Oslo accords....  The decision to respond every suicide attack with retaliation will spark greater resentment and pain among the Palestinian people, therefore mixing victims with murderers. This dynamic has unleashed a cycle of violence that will certainly worsen if the threat to expel Arafat from Palestine is fulfilled."


BRAZIL:  "Worse Without Him"


 Right-of-center O Globo editorialized (9/14):  "It's impossible to predict with certainty what the consequences of  Arafat's expulsion from the Palestinian territories would be, but it would certainly be a way to keep peace in the region further away rather than closer.  To simply leave the old leader destitute would make him more dangerous  to Israel, as former prime-minister Shimon Peres has warned....  To remove  Arafat from the Palestinian territories would not only make him a living  legend but also create an extremely dangerous leadership gap.  A even worse mistake the Israeli government promises to commit is to  assassinate Arafat, which would turn him into a martyr....  To expel Arafat would only make the conflict even more unsolvable  today.  The fact is that while Yasser Arafat is far from being Israel's ideal interlocutor, he has no substitutes at the moment.  One can hope that a more authentic leader, more interested in attaining peaceful coexistence  with Israelis  may appear...or then to give up waiting and negotiate with  Arafat himself.  But to remove him by force hoping that the gap will soon  be filled by a new, better leader--what other intention may the Israeli  government have?--would be to trust the dangerous illusion that peace may emerge from chaos."


CHILE:  "Insecurity"


Conservative, influential, Santiago-based newspaper-of-record El Mercurio opined (9/14):  "As long as Palestinians are unsure that their territory will have continuity--without Jewish settlements--and as long as Israelis continue to fear that thousands of Arabs will return to their state, turning them into a minority, no government will be able to guarantee peace in the Middle East."


COLOMBIA:  "Mission Impossible"


Top national El Tiempo observed (9/10):  "Abu Ala ‘Ahmed Qureia’ finally accepted becoming the Palestinian Prime Minister....  Maybe this fact is enough to give a second chance to the Road Map....  The truth is that under present conditions there are few reasons to be optimistic.”


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