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Europe

German Press Review: Washington's Middle East Game

German editorialists on Thursday took a look at the United State's role in the Middle East and criticized its unwillingness to wield more influence over Israel's position on Arafat.

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Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's future is on shaky ground.

The left-leaning Neues Deutschland from Berlin wondered what game Washington is playing. America is at war worldwide, and when it comes down to the Middle East, the super power does not want Arafat as a leading politician. Washington doesn’t care whether Arafat dies a martyr or if he stays alive, the paper surmised. The U.S. would accept the death of Arafat, it wrote, because it is determined to enforce a puppet government in the Palestinian territories. And because America has so many enemies, the paper concluded, it wouldn’t care if one of those were to die -- one like Arafat.

The U.S. wields considerable power over Israel, the Nürnberger Zeitung noted. Its ability to convince Sharon to stop building the security wall dividing Israel from the West Bank is proof of this. A similar influence over Israel’s reaction towards Arafat would also be desirable, the paper added.

The Ostthüringer Zeitung was concerned about the Arab states one-sided attitude towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The news that Jordan, which has always pleaded for a reduction of tensions with Israel, has released frozen Hamas-money, is worrisome. It shows just how serious the situation has become, the paper commented. Not only the deadly confrontation between Israeli and Palestinian hardliners jeopardizes a peaceful solution in the Middle East conflict, the paper said, the attitude of the Arab neighbors isn’t helpful either. Without their cooperation, violence will continue.

On another issue, German papers on Thursday commented on the delayed implementation of the German road toll. The Stuttgarter Zeitung described the prestige project as turning more and more into a joke. German Minister for Transport Manfred Stolpe and the firms involved in creating the on-board computers are responsible for the chaos. The technical difficulties are only one problem, the paper stated. Much worse is the fact that all the problems have been kept out of the light for too long. The Stuttgart paper observed that the responsible people have been so "ignorant and arrogant all along" that by now they’ve lost all public sympathy.

The Heilbronner Stimme was of the opinion that the once heavy-weight industrial Germany is on the way to disgrace itself worldwide. The firms involved in the road toll can’t even manage to develop a modern satellite system, they deliver useless machines and they never meet deadlines, the southern German paper lamented. It warned, even though Stolpe promised that tax payers won’t be the ones to pay for all the mistakes, they will definitely be the ones to foot the bill.