European Press Review: U.N. Vote Against Israel | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 21.05.2004
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European Press Review: U.N. Vote Against Israel

Today’s European editorials focused on the passage by the United Nations Security Council of a resolution condemning Israel’s actions in Rafah.

Switzerland’s Berner Zeitung pointed out that this was the first time in the last two years that the United States did not use its veto to block a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel. Fourteen out of 15 member countries supported the motion, which the paper commented delivers a powerful and moral message. The daily wrote that Washington’s abstention is symbolic – big brother sent Israel a warning, but it could have made more of an impact by saying yes to the resolution instead of abstaining.

The resolution will just be ignored by Israel anyway wrote Der Standard in Vienna, adding that Israel's disregard in turn will reinforce opinion in the Arab world and the rest of the global community that international rules do not apply to Israel. The paper commented that if America’s abstention was an attempt at improving its image in Arab states, it was a very limited maneuver.

Israel’s military actions in Rafah are short sighted and senseless, just like the irrational knee-jerk reactions by the government, wrote Copenhagen’s Politiken. They are senseless because the problem is based on Israel’s occupation of the Gaza strip, and only political and diplomatic means can solve that. Israel is probably the only country in the world where a large number of intellectuals and opinion makers are starting to doubt their country’s ability to continue to exist. Only peace can alleviate that fear, the paper wrote. But there isn’t a chance for peace as long as the country’s prime minister is named Ariel Sharon and the Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat.

Germany’s Stuttgarter Nachrichten wrote that there is a great desire to see Israel pull out of Gaza and remove the settlements, but added that those who want to live in peace have to actually make peace, but neither side is offering anything.

Britain’s The Independent asked: how much further can the Middle East spin away from peace? There should be no mystery about why Israel is acting as ruthlessly as it is in Gaza, the paper wrote. Sharon wants to make sure that when he follows through with his plans to pull out of Gaza, there will not be anyone or anything left that could possibly pose a threat to Israel’s security. But the paper adds that this lack of mystery does not make what Israel is doing any more acceptable.