German Press Review: Arafat′s Time is Running Out | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 19.07.2004
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German Press Review: Arafat's Time is Running Out

Newspapers on Monday looked at the weekend clashes in the Gaza Strip and reforms by Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to overhaul security forces. In domestic news, DaimlerChrysler received top billing.

The Thüringer Allegemeine in Erfurt turned its attention to a spate of violence in the Israeli occupied territories. It said Arafat's move to cut the number of competitive security agencies from eight to three was "long overdue." The paper noted the reforms were a long standing requirement of the international peace plan for the Middle East. Since Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced his plans to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, the eastern German daily, observed what it views as a power struggle within Arafat’s Fatah movement.

The Neue Presse in Hanover predicted Arafat’s political end. It wondered if it is a historical irony that Sharon’s success in breaking Arafat's political power is not through his numerous offensives but ultimately through the retreat from the Gaza Strip. What emerges from this internal power struggle within the Palestinian leadership will be important for Israel, the paper said.

The Financial Times Deustchland commented that in the past, resistance against Israeli occupation forces had held the Palestinian groups together during the Intifada. Now that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has announced plans to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, attitudes within the Palestinian Authority are changing, the Hamburg paper noted adding that many of the bitterly poor Palestinians have been harboring discontent with their government for a long time. The millions of euros donated by the European Union and other countries have only trickled down to a handful of the needy. The paper concluded that the demonstrations and protests on the weekend show that Palestinians are no longer willing to tolerate the corruption and misuse of power by Yasser Arafa't autonomous authority.

On the domestic front, the German papers commented on the offer by DaimlerChrysler management to give up some of its pay if employees make concessions in the carmaker's drive to cut $620 million in costs. The Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung downplayed the announcement and argued that the reduction of €100 or €200 from an assembly worker’s monthly wage is unequally harder compared to the suggested pay reductions of many top managers.

The Rheinische Post, however, saw management's announcement in a more positive light. The fact that DaimlerChrysler boss Jürgen Schrempp wants to give up part of his 11 million euro wage is a good message, it said. German engineering giant Siemans, it pointed out, made no such offer. The paper said the two companies had become symbols of how businesses they can free themselves from workers' collective agreements. All in all the daily cautioned that the failure to agree on hours within a working week and the breakdown in pay talks will mean further in-house fighting.

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