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Europe

European Press Review: Israel's Vulnerability

European editorials on Friday focused on the exchange of Middle East prisoners near Cologne and highlighted the fact that 10 Israelis were killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber in Jerusalem on the same day.

The exchange can’t soften the hard core of the conflict, thought the Austrian tabloid Kurier, noting hatred, mistrust and mutual lack of basic respect on sides.

If one were cynical about the numbers of prisoners and corpses exchanged, observed Der Standard, also Austrian, one could read them to mean that human lives are valued differently.

El Mundo in Madrid thought Israel is holding back with retaliation for the bus bombing because it wants the next swap to include the missing fighter pilot, Ron Arad.

La Repubblica in Italy believed Israel’s vulnerability now dominates Europeans’ perception of the Middle East. The view is that Israel could defeat any force approaching its borders, that it can torch the Palestinians’ towns and villages, but that no one can stop the martyr terrorists.

The French daily L'Humanité said unless Israel stops building the separation wall and tears it down, the Sharon government will make it a 700-kilometer concrete grave for all hope for peace. “One can only feel devastated by this additional humiliation of civilians, who want no more than to live and work on their territory in a free and independent state” the paper wrote.

In Rome, Il Messaggero commented that it’s hard to imagine that the suicide attackers and those behind them are not aware that that’s ever more unlikely this way, and it’s just as hard to imagine that most Israelis could be convinced that the wall will bring peace and quiet.

Switzerland’s Tages-Anzeiger spoke of an ice age in the Middle East: The USA is so busy with itself and electioneering that President Bush has not a word to say about his peace roadmap.