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German Press Review: Brave Actions

German papers on Tuesday considered the latest developments in Israel – the refusal of soldiers to take part in missions in the Palestinian territories and the latest failures in the peace process.

Just three months ago Israeli Air Force pilots disobeyed orders to carry out targeted attacks on Palestinians. Now 13 Israeli elite soldiers have refused to serve in the West Bank and Gaza Strip because they feel Israeli settlements violate Palestinian’s human rights.

The Express in Cologne pointed out the soldiers reasons serve as a reminder to the international community of Israel’s consistent disregard for U.N. resolutions, especially the ones condemning the settlements. The editors wrote that they admired the men’s decision. They went on to note, however, that their courage will most definitely cost them their jobs.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung stated that neither Israelis nor Palestinians can win their "asymmetrical" war. Still, the paper’s editors wrote that it’s "remarkable" that 13 of Israel’s elite force are refusing to take part in what they describe as "oppressive missions." The paper wrote that it hoped their actions might prompt more like-minded soldiers in the future. Sadly, the paper wrote, such doubts in the Palestinian military would be considered "betrayal." The leader of the militant group Hamas trusts Israeli leader Ariel Sharon as much as he trusts them, which is why the situation won’t change.

Hope for peace in the Middle East has been buried and brought to life a thousand times before. But hope is always the last to die, wrote the Berliner Kurier newspaper. Pessimists don’t give Palestinians and Israelis a chance to live as peaceful neighbors. But there are always people who swim against the tide. This time it’s 13 Israeli elite soldiers who refuse to work in the Palestinian territories.

Occupation destroys the structure and the self image of any army in a free country. That’s why Berlin’s Die Welt newspaper wrote that the appeal made by the Israeli soldiers was an act of despair against actions contrary to the principles of a democratic state. If it’s true that the army mirrors its society, then the same conflict of the conscience might also be deeply embodied in the Israel public, the newspaper offered. However, the paper wrote, Israelis are split over how to deal with their Palestinian neighbors and the Jewish settlements.

Other papers continued to comment on the decision by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to abandon the country’s nuclear weapon ambitions and allow for snap U.N. inspections.

The Freie Presse in Chemnitz thinks Libya’s surprise decision to break with terrorism could be because of secret negotiations, which simply show that such success is possible in the long run without using force. Why shouldn’t diplomacy work over bombs and rockets asked the paper? One thing is sure, there is one less "rouge state" in the world for the Americans. However, Washington’s list is still long with countries like Iran, North Korea and Syria at the top. The paper wrote that it believed the Tripoli example could work for them as well.

Libya’s Gadhafi worked for a long time to take his country out of the international community’s bad books remarks the Stuttgarter Zeitung. His decision to abandon plans to make weapons of mass destruction was the last logical step.