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European Press Review: No Peace in The Middle East, Roadmap or Not

European editorialists lament the problems in Israel and the Palestinian territories, noting the proposed international peace plan could have the shortest lifespan in more than 50 years.


London’s Financial Times comments on the situation in Israel, saying Israelis cannot have both peace and Palestinian land. On the other hand, unless Palestinians see a road to freedom, it will be impossible for Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to deal with the violence. And that is not just because Mr. Sharon has destroyed most Palestinian institutions, or because Israel has proved incapable of destroying Hamas and Islamic Jihad. It is, says the London paper, because Mr. Abbas will have no legitimacy until he can show his people that Israel is reversing the occupation of their land.

The Rome daily Corriere Della Sera laments that Abbas wasn’t even given a short grace period for his government to take its first steps. The extremists’ anger and the suicide bombings – which are becoming a cruel daily practice –are destroying his role and image, the paper concludes.

Germany's Die Tagespost says the road map for peace between Israelis and Palestinians is doomed if its initiators, first and foremost President Bush, cannot win back the initiative. In that case, the paper writes, the peace plan would become the plan with the shortest lifespan since 1948.

President Bush says he wants to promote democracy in the Middle East, writes The Guardian of London, but in Iran his bluster and interference have compromised the already weak reformists in their ongoing battles with hard-line mullahs. And yet, the paper believes, there is hope: dialogue. The two countries have interests in common, the paper writes. A platform for bilateral talks has already been established under UN auspices in Geneva. Both sides, the paper concludes, should make better use of it.

Switzerland's Berner Zeitung notes that, with the slide of the dollar, German industry now will have an even harder time getting back on track. Mercedes, BMWs and Porsches will find fewer buyers in the United States. While the economic repercussions of the Iraq War seem to be limited, the paper says, the weak dollar amounts to a new burden. And there is hardly anything that can be done about it.

France’s Les Echos agrees the situation is bleak in the 12 countries using the Euro currency. The paper notes snidely that Eurozone members bickered constantly when their currency was weak. Now they wish it would be less strong than it is.

And finally, Germany’s Kieler Nachrichten takes a look at the Social Democrats’ infighting over Chancellor Schröder’s proposed reforms, asking if this is the great consensus that Schröder promised. The five dissenting votes and two abstentions among SPD party leaders are a sign of a deep rift in the party. And the chancellor is threatening—yet again—to resign. How great must his distrust toward the party be, the paper wonders, and how little the trust in his own powers of persuasion?