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Europe

European Press Review: A Porous Wall

European editorials on Monday focussed on the bomb attack in Israel and last week's condemnation of Israel's West Bank barrier by the International Court of Justice.

European papers largely condemned the Tel Aviv bombing and support the International Court of Justice's decision to condemn the West Bank barrier. The Aftenposten from Oslo said there are "two interpretations of the attack: Israel's government is calling it proof that the barrier is necessary for Israeli security," the paper wrote. But on the other hand the Palestinians see the attack as meaning that "in spite of all of Israel's attempts to make its people safe, they can keep on launching successful attacks," the daily commented and added: "There is a lot of evidence for the second interpretation," because "this is not the first time in history that a land has tried to protect itself from enemies with a physical barrier. These attempts have not lived up to their expectations."

Nonetheless, according to La Croix from Paris, "Israel's government feels secure behind a different kind of "wall": its alliance with the United States, and the support it has among Israelis themselves.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, according to London's The Independent, are "squandering a moral victory" by attacking Palestinian targets while the court's decision is still a fresh memory. "The bombing played into the hands of Ariel Sharon's government and came at a time when the court's judgement had begun to provoke some real heart searching, even among some right-leaning (Israeli) commentators, about the fast-growing and illegal privations visited on the Palestinians by the barrier and its route," the paper said and cautioned that the decision "shouldn't be squandered in a way that justifies" the "cruel jibe about the Palestinians never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

De Volkskrant from Holland feared that "the fervor with which Palestinians and the Arab world are celebrating the court's decision could lead to new anti-Israeli rhetoric in the

United Nations." The paper doubted that "this would bring us closer to peace," and believes that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel "Sharon's government would see its impression confirmed that the court's decision was politically motivated." And Palestinians "could fully play out their role as victims -- instead of putting a halt to the extremists, who, with their terror attacks, have themselves borne the stones of the West Bank barrier."

The Fränkischer Tag from Bamberg summed up the opinion of almost all the papers: "It's understandable that Sharon reacted bitterly to the attack" in Tel Aviv. "However, it's harder to bear his invective against the United Nations' International Court of Justice." The paper reproached Sharon for "calling the court an indirect accomplice to murder -- a court which tried to give a neutral evaluation of the security barrier."