Middle East


Mixed Messages on Mideast Policy

Israeli Soldiers in Bethlehem
An Israeli soldier runs alongside an armored personnel carrier in the Daheisheh refugee camp on the outskirts of the West Bank town of Bethlehem, July 5, 2002 (Photo: AFP). 

Budapest Nepszabadsag (liberal), June 14: George W. Bush appears to have no solid idea as to what kind of peace he wants to establish and what price he is willing to pay for it, nor how much territory the Israeli state would have to sacrifice for a Palestinian peace....The president sent...the most ambiguous messages in the tensest situations....Now the president is thinking about a temporary Palestinian state, if he is thinking at all.
—Laszlo Seres

Athens Eleftherotypia (liberal), June 13: Consistent with its “hot and cold game,” the United States, through Secretary of State Colin Powell, confirmed that it will continue to cooperate with Palestinian Authority head Yasser Arafat in order to promote the launching of an international conference for the Middle East, meanwhile partially distorting Bush’s statement regarding “a temporary state.”

Bridgetown, Barbados Daily Nation (privately owned, independent), June 13: The United States may have finally grasped that [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon’s attempts to crush the Palestinian uprising by military means have led to an ever-worsening spiral of terror and retaliation. Its refusal to spell out a timetable for statehood or to offer the Palestinians any hope at all does not make the United States appear even-handed in mediating this conflict.

Amman Al-Dustour (pro-government), June 15: This current idea floating around of a temporary/partial Palestinian statehood is incomprehensible....Isn’t that what Palestinians already have with the Palestinian Authority?...The idea itself seems to have Israeli origins as it would allow for much of the ongoing processes [settlements] to continue while Palestinians remain in a suspended waiting game.

Tel Aviv Yediot Aharonot (centrist), June 17: Not only is it clear that there is no such animal [a temporary Palestinian state], but...there is nothing more permanent than that which is temporary....What is needed to calm the conflict is not another thread of verbal formulation but a thick American lariat that will define the way ahead and require actions.

Singapore The Straits Times (independent), June 8: To break the impasse, Mr. Bush should not delay presenting his own peace plan for the region and convening an international conference to discuss it. Last month, he struck a deal with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah, agreeing to deliver Mr. Sharon to the peace table if moderate Arab states pressure Mr. Arafat to crack down on terrorism. The Arabs have more or less kept their promise, but the United States has yet to keep its own.

New Delhi The Times of India (conservative), June 11: U.S. President George Bush appears altogether to have dropped the pretense of impartiality with his statement ruling out a timetable for a Palestinian state. While this may be music to the ears of Israeli hawks, it will do nothing to soothe tensions in the region.