German Press Review: Violence Flares in Middle East | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 13.08.2003
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German Press Review: Violence Flares in Middle East

German editorialists on Wednesday differed on which side was to blame for breaking the recent cease fire between Israelis and the Palestinians.


Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (left) and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fail at peace.

Violence returned to the Middle East on Tuesday after two Palestinian suicide bombers killed two Israelis and injured several others in separate attacks. On Wednesday Israel responded by sending its army into the refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus to destroy the family homes of the bombers.

The suicide attacks in Israel show just how weak Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas really is, commented the Süddeutsche Zeitung. "He can't even keep a three-month cease fire under control," the Munich-based paper wrote. "Yassir Arafat still is the real boss of the Palestinians – including the terror groups. Abbas’s strategy not to come too close to the terror organizations is getting him nowhere, the paper observed, and questioned the whole point of a temporary cease fire. "It only gives the terror groups time to reorganize their commando structures which have been destroyed by Israel," the paper opined.

The Thüringer Allgemeine Zeitung said the latest violence was to be expected and was retaliation by Hamas for the four Palestinians killed by Israel. "It’s all too easy for Israel to blame the Palestinian leadership but it would do best to re-examine its own strategy." The paper concluded that if violence escalates again, it would have disastrous consequences for the whole region.

The Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung said it was up to Prime Minister Scharon whether Israel starts a new cycle of violence or if it gives Abbas a chance to gain authority over the extremists. "If Abbas is supposed to be the partner in a peace process than Israel has to give him the necessary resources to strengthen his power," the paper argued.

"It’s surprising the cease fire lasted as long as it did," commented the Rhein Zeitung. "Terror always seems to be an option for Palestinian militants. But Israel’s attitude didn’t help to relax the tensions. Scharon failed to exercise restraint, he just continued with his military operations in the West Bank and Gaza – as if there never had been a road map for peace," the paper wrote.

The Mittelbayerische Zeitung wrote that the Palestinians have two new heroes. It wondered how desperate a people has to become when their youth identifies, not with stars from sports and entertainment, but with suicide bombers. "A few martyrs with inexpensive home made bombs are showing Israel the limitations of its hi-tech military machinery. That fills the Palestinians with pride," the paper observed.

Although Abbas is justified in complaining that he cannot make good on the road map to peace as long as Israel controls the West Bank, wrote the Nürnberger Zeitung, he could at least make a start.