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No easy solutions for any involved in Mideast conflict

Posted: Monday, April 22, 2002

Because the United States is an indispensable ally to (Israel), (Ariel) Sharon has made a gesture -- he would withdraw from the West Bank and be prepared to participate in a great international conference on the Middle East, but without (Yasser) Arafat.

The latter is undoubtedly prepared to do the same thing, but without Sharon. ...

How can one imagine discussing the lot of the Palestinians without the Palestinians themselves?

Sharon's offer of negotiations in this landscape nonetheless marks his acceptance of the internationalization of an eventual settlement. This way of speaking to Arab nations over Arafat and (Colin) Powell's shoulders is condemned to failure. ... Sharon is also excluding the Europeans, being too pro-Palestinian, from the virtual negotiating table. At France's instigation, the Europeans signed a resolution of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights condemning ''the massacres and mass killings'' committed by the Israeli army.

There isn't a sadder diplomacy than that which doesn't distinguish facts from propaganda, even in a region where this blending is a sort of rule.

--Liberation, Paris

April 16

With U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's departure from the region today, after a scheduled stopover in Cairo, time has come to take stock of his achievements. Before leaving the U.S. 10 days ago, Powell said he might not return with a cease-fire agreement. He said as much again yesterday.

He was right.

Powell met three times with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. But he failed to convince him to end the Israeli military onslaught against the Palestinians. Palestinians and Arabs nurtured high hopes that Powell could restart a political process and talk some sense into the Israeli government as to the need to go beyond security issues.

Those hopes were shattered.

Powell, and the whole world, realized that the U.S. is not a superpower when it comes to Israel. No political pressure can come between Sharon and his blind determination to rid Palestine of the Palestinians.

Powell must be asking himself as he flies home, what he really came here for. And the administration in Washington must ask itself if it has the moral stature to ''lead'' -- to use one of President George W. Bush's favorite verbs -- or if it wants to continue being just a military superpower.

--Jordan Times, Amman

April 17



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