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Europe

German Press Review: A Peace Process Is Stalled

On Monday, editorialists at Germany’s leading papers focus on proposals for a Europe-wide auto toll, the resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmour Abbas and Germany’s struggling national soccer time.

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A spanner in the peace works: Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas resigns.

German newspapers seemed resigned to the proposed toll on automobiles -- provided it is implemented properly. "The decisive factor isn’t whether such a charge should be applied," wrote the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, "but if drivers are charged an additional fee, will they be relieved in another area -- such as heavy vehicle tax or the price of fuel? The toll should not be permitted to become a convenient way to simply extract money from drivers."

In Munich, the Süddeutsche Zeitung pondered who would run for the office of German president, the highest-ranking position in government in 2006 following Johannes Rau’s announcement last week he would not seek a second term. "Wolfgang Schäuble is the best man that the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) has for the highest office of the land," the paper wrote, "and Jutta Limbach (a former justice on Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court) is the best woman that the SPD can present. Both candidates are highly presidential. Limbach’s name is the only one that can head off what appears to be a certain victory for the CDU. Limbach, who says she has never had to fight what she calls ‘gender-specific adversity’ could actually create a gender specific adversity for the opposition. The allure of becoming the first woman federal president could shatter the party discipline of the CDU and the FDP."

Berlin’s Die Welt lamented the weekend’s developments in the Middle East. "Although the Israeli prime minister has the power to make the first step on the so-called ‘Road Map’ for peace, he instead contents himself with symbolic gestures," the paper wrote. "Many settlers who he removes simply return under cover of darkness. The hope that the quiet would improve the quality of life for Palestinians cannot be realized under these conditions. Only with the help of the Americans do such hopes have any chance of becoming reality. But under the burden of Iraq, President Bush cannot give the matter proper attention." The paper is calling for international troops to fill the vacuum left by America and establish peace in the Middle East.

In Cologne, the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger took aim at the Palestinian leadership. "What should we call the resignation of the Palestinian prime minister?" the paper asked. "A premature departure of a carrier of hope or the overdue end of an illusion? Mahmoud Abbas embodies a basic approach to realpolitik that sets consequences on a trading course. And at the same time, he tries to connect his name with the weak attempt to revive a peace process from its coma."

In Hamburg, the Financial Times Deutschland wrote: "The power struggle between Arafat and Abbas has damaged both the Palestinian side and the entire peace process. Washington and Jerusalem must resign themselves to the fact that Arafat will remain the public figure most closely associated with the Palestinians. Only after a long phase without terrorist attacks and a stabile Palestinian leadership can the Road Map offer any realistic route to a Palestinian state by 2005."

Several papers turned to the lighter issue of soccer and, specifically, national team trainer Rudi Völler, who lashed out at the media over the weekend and threatened to resign. "The fact that the trainer managed to bring the national team into the World Cup final under favorable circumstances last year makes his life now so difficult," wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "The sad reality is that Germany’s national soccer team now finds itself on the same level as Iceland or Belgium. Völler knows that, but can’t say out loud." The paper went on to say that the people who pay his salary have every right to complain. "If he doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to take the heat," the paper wrote, "then he should get out of the kitchen."