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European Press Review: Sowing Palestinian Anger

The violent demonstrations in the Gaza Strip and the power struggle within Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority were the top stories across Europe on Monday.

The British Daily Telegraph acknowledged that it is has for a long time favored the two-state solution, allowing Israelis and Palestinians to live behind safe borders. "However, it is becoming quite clear that such a solution is impossible as long as Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat continues to exert his dire influence," the London paper wrote. It noted that since 1948 the tragedy of the Palestinians has been the failure of their leaders to negotiate on a realistic basis. "Perhaps, the Palestinians could learn from a history lesson," the paper hoped.

The Austrian paper Der Standard described the Gaza Strip as slipping into "anarchy." It said the situation resembled a "power struggle riding on a wave of anger over mismanagement."

The Spanish El Pais regarded the past few days as ushering in the beginnings of the fight for Arafat’s political death. It wrote that this could be very short and is something which the negotiating peace partners such as Israel, the United States and Europe are secretly hoping for.

The French paper Le Croix commented that Arafat is about to discourage a whole generation of impatient Palestinians because of his handing out of important administration posts to old friends. "A true head of state," it said, "would have prepared a generation for change. But with Yasser Arafat it looks as if it will all go backwards. How can one persuade Arafat that he cannot continue in his leadership," the paper pondered.

The Swiss Tages-Anzeiger pointedly noted that the Palestinians hungered and suffered under the Israelis while their own political leaders drove around in air-conditioned sedans and decorated their bathrooms with Italian marble funded by international aid money. The Genf-based paper observed that under the leadership of Yassir Arafat corruption and nepotism have become synonyms for authority. "Today Arafat is harvesting the fruits of the Palestinians' anger," it concluded.