Crisis in the Middle East: What the papers say

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at
Thu Oct 12 12:33:47 MDT 2000,2763,380129,00.html

Crisis in the Middle East: what the papers say

Derek Brown, The Guardian,  Tuesday October 10, 2000

There is no mistaking the mood of real crisis in the region, after 12
days of bloody clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians. Nor is
there much evidence of a willingness to compromise, with each side
looking for the other to blink first.

The Jerusalem Post, among the more hawkish of Israeli papers, is
indignant about the UN condemnation of Israel's massive military
response to the rioting.  Its editorial sarcastically comments: "An
innocent observer reading the resolution might reasonably conclude the
Palestinians were quietly minding their own business when, out of the
blue, Israeli forces decided to throw seven years of talks out the
window and attack their negotiating partners. The opposite is  the case.
After weeks of official Palestinian broadcasts encouraging violence and
lionizing martyrs, and after  attacks against Israelis in which both
soldiers and civilians were killed, Yasser Arafat took advantage of
Likud leader Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount to turn the flames
on full burner."

The far-right Sharon is cold-shouldered by the more liberal Ha'aretz
daily, which rejects suggestions that he be brought into a government of
national unity. The paper comments: "Sharon's past teaches us that his
temperament and personality do not tend toward level-headed thinking or
restrained suggestions during times of crisis or war. Military measures
taken under his command or with his permission have more than once taken
on much greater proportions than initially intended. Israel is better
off without a man with these kinds of tendencies in the government."

The few Palestinian websites which offer English translations are
woefully behind the times. Even the excellent Jerusalem Media and
Communication Centre - a boon to many correspondents in the region - is
somewhat behind the times, though the outrage of Palestinians is
forcefully expressed.

The Palestine Times, a monthly English-language digest, devotes
virtually its entire web edition to the latest bloodletting, though it
is already slipping behind the news.

The Palestinian National Authority too is struggling to keep pace with
events, and is hampered by the leaden bureaucratic prose favoured by the
Ministry of Information. Here is its statement on last week's attacks on
religious sites: "While the PNA expressed its indignation towards the
irresponsible act that caused damage to the Joseph Tomb in Nablus, and
noting the subsequent instructions issued by President Arafat to begin
restoration works on the site, after which the relevant authorities
began its restoration works immediately, the PNA view with contempt and
extreme anger the actions of Israeli gangs who this morning burned in
full view of the Israeli police the mosque in Tiberias and attempted to
burn another mosque in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem."

The ministry also offers a brief summary of headlines from the local
papers, all seething with outrage against the Israelis.

In the wider Arab world, there is growing concern that the conflict
could infect the region. The Jordan Times, not given to scaremongering,
wonders whether the proposed Arab summit will help. The paper is not
optimistic, but its editorial notes: "we believe that the summit could
be considered somewhat successful if it manages to achieve a unified
Arab position, and if such position translates into firm and effective
support for Palestinian President Yasser Arafat."

In the United Arab Emirates, the Khaleej Times reports the scathing
condemnation of Israel by the government: "The cabinet condemned the
barbaric massacre of defenceless Palestinians by Israeli occupation
forces and held the government of Israel responsible of the provocation
which has led to deaths of a large number of Palestinians and resulted
in severe violations of the human rights of the Palestinians and has
posed a threat to the Middle East peace process and the security and
stability of the region as a whole."


Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
PhD Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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