Yasser Arafat's death on Thursday filled front pages across Europe Friday, with editorials wondering if the Palestinian leader's absence might lead to a new start with new possibilities for peace.
In France, Liberation wrote that Arafat's death is a new chance for peace in the region because it frees Arafat's successors from the Palestinian leader's overpowering and paralyzing presence. The daily also believed that Palestinians can now also free themselves from the 'bloody' dead end of the Intifada that they say will never force Israel to withdraw from the territories.
Britain's Independent also suggested that there is an unexpected opportunity to move the peace process forward with outside help. Israeli leader Ariel Sharon has approval to move out of the West Bank, editors wrote. President Bush is probably thinking about his place in history and the European Union has an interest in showing unity in foreign policy and wants to help develop Gaza, they added.
German dailies, including the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Süddeutsche Zeitung, opined that Arafat's death raises hopes for a new start to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Berlin daily Tageszeitung wondered whether there would be war or peace after Arafat. Bild, Germany's largest circulation newspaper, played the death down, relegating it to a small paragraph on the front page. Editors seemed more interested in the details of the internment than the impact of Arafat's death on the peace process.
Russia's Gaseta saw Arafat as the founder of modern terrorism whose methods have been copied world-wide. He was the first partisan leader to recognize that the only way to achieve objectives is to use both legal and illegal means, the paper wrote. This tactic is still bearing fruit everywhere, it said.
In Hungary, Nepszabadsag said Arafat wouldn't be remembered as a leading founder of terrorism. That description would be untrue and wrong, it wrote and argued that he had to wage his war with equal intensity against Israel and his Arab brothers, who would have best liked to lock him up.
The Netherlands' Algemeen Dagblad commented that Arafat's death will force Israel to more concessions. His death puts great responsibility on Israel, argued the Hague newspaper. Israel always portrayed him as the biggest obstacle to peace and as rejecting generous offers to reach it; there's nothing to stop Israel renewing those generous offers now.