European Press Review: Wall Or Fence? | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 25.02.2004
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European Press Review: Wall Or Fence?

European papers on Tuesday looked at the hearing at International Court of Justice in The Hague on the legality of Israel’s West Bank security barrier.

The wall must go, wrote the Tages-Anzeiger from Zurich. The same words were chanted in Europe about the Berlin Wall in the late 1980s. The paper thought it is clear that Israel’s security barrier, which is being built around the West Bank, will only alienate both sides. It will reinforce a mental barrier in people's minds. The nicest thing about a wall, said the daily, is the moment when it comes down.

The word wall is mostly used by Palestinians, noted The Independent in London: Israelis use the word ‘fence’, which isn’t an accident, but a political statement. The paper was critical of Israel's boycott of the hearing at the International Court of Justice. The barrier cuts deep into Palestinian land and cannot be regarded simply as a matter of internal security, however great the anger justifiably felt by Israelis. The paper said that if Israel wants to avoid condemnation by the World Court then it must stop building the barrier.

La Stampa in Rome thought the battle in the Court of Justice in the Hague is a great opportunity for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to return to the international stage. Forget that Hamas guerrillas are preparing to take over the Gaza strip, the daily wrote. Forget that Arafat himself is accused of being the mastermind behind the terror that is covering Israel in blood. It is clear, the daily thought, that Arafat will use the hearing to put the plight of his people back into the limelight in order to persuade the United Nations to get involved.

Several papers in Paris turned their attention to the crisis in Haiti. Libération doubted whether anything can be done to halt the spiral of violence, plundering and executions. The paper believed that Jean Bertrand Aristide's unstable regime should be removed and found it difficult to understand why the United States, which wields the most influence in Haiti, is opposed to international intervention. The paper concluded that only international troops equipped with a UN mandate can prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Haiti. The international community would not only be justified in intervening; it has a moral obligation to do so.

Le Figaro said the crisis in Haiti is pricking the conscience of the international community. Can it - or should it - intervene to help the people drive out a dictator they elected, the daily asked. Either the West gives circumspect assistance to the Haitian opposition or it leaves the country in the hands of lawless rebels. The choice is between the opposition and disaster, according to the paper.