European Press Review: Expected Failure of Middle East Peace Plan | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 03.12.2003
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European Press Review: Expected Failure of Middle East Peace Plan

The majority of European papers has been lamenting the Israeli and Palestinian leadership’s lack of acceptance of an alternative peace plan.

The so-called Geneva Initiative was drawn up by Israelis and Palestinians who are more lucid and more courageous than their leaders, wrote France’s Le Monde but it has already been rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the basis of fear, it added. It’s as if official Israel and the national Palestinian movement are afraid of confronting their camps with the compromises involved for peace, wrote the daily.

London’s Independent wrote that the point of the Geneva Accord is not that it is about to be embraced as the basis for a settlement by the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government. The hostile reactions on the part of Sharon and the militant Palestinian factions graphically demonstrate how far away any peace agreement actually is.

Italy’s La Stampa commented that the true strength of the Geneva Initiative is the fact that it illustrates that a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians is possible. The philosophy of the 40-page plan is not to describe a simple process and the important steps to take, as in the Oslo Accords and the so-called Road Map for peace. With the Geneva Pact, the serious problems are addressed,
accompanied by proposed solutions.

In light of the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels and plans for a new European defence initiative the Kölner Stadt Anzeiger wrote that the defense alliance is searching for a new role for its forces, but asks where the enemy is. Since the United States began it’s war on terror, NATO has been under press to act, wrote the Cologne paper. Perhaps if September 11 had never happened, it added, the world would still be comfortable and seemingly in order for NATO. Since the Iraq war, the daily wrote, the writing has been on the wall for NATO: Come up with a concrete plan of action to handle threatening situations or risk becoming a debate club to which Washington would turn when it was in need of a so-called coalition of the willing.

Meanwhile, Washington has had reservations about Europe’s plans for a separate defence force, arguing that such a move could undermine NATO. But in the Financial Times’ view, the plan is good news for those who believe that the European Union should focus more on its military capabilities than
institutions. Europeans must convince the United States, it wrote, by enhancing military capacity. Should British Prime Minister Tony Blair, show his commitment to EU defense, it would help dispel the image that he is George W. Bush’s lackey, wrote the paper.