What Middle East newspapers and observers are saying about the prospects for peace with the U.S.-initiated "road map."
The road map is severely flawed. It asks the parties to take a series of steps that both sides will find difficult to take, yet it provides no clear vision of what the final outcome will be. As well, it conditions steps toward peace on the elimination of all violence. As a result, instead of rewarding the good behaviour and intentions of the majority of the population, the road map, following in a pattern that has been part of Israeli policy for a long time, rewards extremists.
Statement signed by more than 500 Jewish peace and justice activists at a recent conference organized by Tikkun magazine in Washington, DC
Another chilling omission from the road map is the gigantic "separation wall" now being built in the West Bank by Israel: 347 kilometres of concrete running north to south. It is 25 feet high and 10 feet thick. The wall doesn't simply divide Israel from a putative Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders. It actually takes in new tracts of Palestinian land, sometimes 5 or 6 kilometres at a stretch. It is surrounded by trenches, electric wire and moats; there are watchtowers at regular intervals. Almost a decade after the end of South African apartheid, this ghastly racist wall is going up with scarcely a peep from the majority of Israelis or their American allies.
Edward Said in the Cairo-based weekly Al-Ahram
(Mahmoud) Abbas knows the limits of his power. He knows that Arafat is still in charge, that he is still popular among Palestinians and that no matter what he tries to do, the patriarch sitting in his destroyed offices in Ramallah still calls the shots... any settlement must have his blessings. At 68, (Abbas) is known for his impatience and irritability. It is not far-fetched to think that, faced with the overwhelming presence of Arafat, the growing rift between the militant Palestinian groups and himself, coupled with America's pressure on him to deliver on his promises, Abbas might just give up and walk away from it all.
Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates
Palestinians are exhausted by the unequal struggle with Israel, which is a world-class military power. Maybe that's why, lacking any alternative, they might decide to accept the Bantustan state that is meant to absorb hundreds of thousands of refugees. The "closure camps' will nurture poverty and economic distress. Whether their children agree to continue living in "peace' in suffocating enclaves is another question entirely.
Amira Haas in Israel-based left-wing daily Ha'aretz Almost everyone with an interest in the issue has quickly responded to the violence by saying that it must not be allowed to destroy the chance of peace, that there is no option but to continue with the road map. That makes sense. But emotion, not reason, has always been the guiding force in the Palestinian-Israeli problem. The demands for revenge and threats of further attacks being screamed by both sides could sweep the process into the sea regardless of what the rest of the world wants.
Arab News, Saudi Arabia
Are we seriously to believe that Ariel Sharon wants to surrender a square metre of land now inhabited by Jewish settlers? We're talking about a man whose entire life has been spent trying to drive Palestinians out of what he has divinely ordained Greater Israel.
Alexander Cockburn, Znet
Where will the Jewish leadership stand? Will the world, and indeed the Canadian Jewish leadership, have the moral fortitude to stand tall and proud with the people of Israel and advocate that their government does not participate in leading Israel down a road map that has horrific potentiality? The road map eliminates the natural growth of Jewish communities in their ancient home of Judea and Samaria. When a child is born in one of those communities, what will happen? Will parents now be asked to leave because they have an additional family member? Frank Dimant, executive vice-president, B'nai Brith Canada