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Europe

European Press Review: Israel Resists American Pressure

European newspaper editorials on Tuesday commented on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to the United States.

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Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon meets with U.S. President George W. Bush

Several European newspapers tried to put Israeli President Ariel Sharon’s visit to the United States into perspective – especially in light of Israel’s decision to erect a 300-kilometer-long wall between Israelis and Palestinians.

In Italy, Rome’s La Republicana declared the visit a victory for Sharon. "Israel remains hard, and resists all American pressure," the paper said. "It will go ahead with the construction of the wall in West Jordan, which is growing ever higher." The paper continued by saying that despite his welcomed arrival in Washington, the Israeli premier fell short of the U.S. president’s expectations, and interpreted it as a victory for Sharon and at the same time a hard blow for the Palestinians, who see the wall as an impediment to the free market-oriented development as well as for the freedom of movement."

In Austria, Vienna’s Der Standard pointed out how important economic ties can be to peace. The paper stated that economics – and not politics – have lead to diplomatic conciliation between Israel and Austria in the decade since the departure of controversial Austrian President Kurt Waldheim. "Back then, everyone was talking about the improved chances for economic relations, and now we see that Austria has become one of the most important EU countries for Israel in terms of trade," the paper noted. "So it is no wonder that the rapprochement is being led less by diplomats and more by businesspeople."

The left-leaning French daily Liberation pondered the lessons to be learned from forest fires ravaging the Cote d’Azur. "The spark that really started the fires in the Mediterranean forest and makes it ever more dangerous is unrestricted urbanization," the paper wrote.