European Press Review: An Air of Desperation | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 20.08.2004
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European Press Review: An Air of Desperation

European papers commented on the next EU Commission and also analyzed the internal problems Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is facing over his proposed Gaza withdrawal plan.

The Swiss daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung demanded Ariel Sharon keep up with his plans for a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, “If the polls are right in showing a clear majority of Israeli voters supporting this plan, then Sharon should also be able to form a solid majority within the Israeli parliament.” The only risk he’s facing now is the decomposition of his party, the paper stated. “Given the political situation in Israel which right now seems especially confusing, this would not do any harm," it argued.

The Independent from London agreed. The daily printed a cartoon depicting how Sharon and his Likud party are increasingly drifting apart. “Elections are the only solution to Israel’s deadlock," the paper wrote. Even though Sharon says he is still intent on going on with unilateral disengagement from Gaza the paper saw “an air of increasing desperation about his maneuvering.” It also pointed out that while most Israelis favor a Gaza pull-out, they have lost faith that their prime minister has the key to solving the country’s problems. And that’s a fate Sharon shares with Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat, the paper added, before concluding, “The sooner these two old and discredited warhorses leave the field the better.”

The Spanish daily ABC from Madrid, however, saw reason for cautious optimism. “Since the start of the second intifada in September 2000, this is one of the very few moments in which Sharon is standing up for the implementation of one of the aspects of the Road Map," the paper wrote. At the same time it warned the Israeli leader that the international community will not accept a dismantlement of settlements in exchange for confiscating Palestinian territory inside the defense wall.

Other European papers took a look at the EU’s incoming executive commission. The Financial Times from London states that while, “president designate Jose Manuel Barroso has already earned much favorable comment for his calm competence and good presentation skills, he did not have much influence on the names (the national governments submitted for the posts)." Therefore, the paper argued, the real challenge for him is yet to come. That is: “turning 25 profoundly political leaders into a coherent team."

The daily De Standaard of Belgium wrote that 25 commissioners are just too many. Even though Barroso has shown “a lot of creativity in dividing up tasks, the responsibilities within the new commission remain "very fragmented." The paper predicted that “sooner or later the 25 commissioners will get in one another’s way.”

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