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Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Israeli press splits over US stance
An Israeli tank in the West Bank town of Ramallah
Israel's tanks have jangled nerves with its main ally
New tensions between Israel and the US arose this week as Israeli troops moved into Palestinian areas of the West Bank and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared that there was no US pressure on Israel.

They decided to vent all their rage at Israel

Hatzofe newspaper

The Jerusalem Post said that Washington's demand for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces was "as unprecedented as it was undiplomatic" and the incident brought sharp reaction in the Israeli press as a whole.

Hatzofe, the mouthpiece of the right-wing National Religious Party, saw the US as a bully, lashing out at Israel amid frustrations over its war on terrorism.

"Three weeks of war in Afghanistan but there are no results in sight," its editorial said.

"In the middle of all this, Sharon comes out with an annoying statement... [and] they decided to vent all their rage at Israel."

Sympathy for America

The independent, centrist Yediot Aharonot said the Americans had first tried to "whisper in the ear" of Sharon, but after the incursions they had "despaired of the personal approach".

"In America, you first take people to the side and explain things to them quietly," it wrote.

"If they fail to understand, you humiliate them loudly and publicly."

They have suffered 6,000 fatalities. They have Anthrax... Sharon is the last thing they need right now

Yediot Aharonot daily

After 6,000 or so fatalities, anthrax, a suffering economy and the Taleban, Sharon is "the last thing they need right now", the paper said.

The centrist tabloid Maariv also criticized Mr Sharon for not getting the message.

"The United States wants Israel to keep aside, be quiet and not stand in the way of the US effort," its editorial said.

"This would seem to be a simple wish, and the only person who apparently is having trouble getting it is Prime Minister Ariel Sharon."

Double standards

But the English-language Jerusalem Post saw justification in the hard line of Mr Sharon, a former defence minister.

"Arafat... harbours terrorists, just as the Taleban does," it said.

"This simple, incontrovertible truth might be a matter of political inconvenience for the Bush administration at this time, but for Israel it is a matter of life and death."

"For the US to expect Israel to stop defending itself just to appease the Arab and Islamic members of the anti-terror coalition is simply to expect too much," the right-of-centre paper concluded.

Can anyone imagine how the world would react had an Israeli tank hit a Palestinian hospital?

Bene Beraq Yated Ne'eman

The ultra-Orthodox Bene Beraq Yated Ne'eman saw a double standard in the US stance.

"Can anyone imagine how the world would react had an Israeli tank hit a Palestinian hospital?" it asked, referring to Taleban reports that the US strikes had destroyed a hospital.

But Yediot Aharonot felt that Israel should temporarily put its worries aside.

"The single supreme consideration of the Israeli foreign and defence ministries should be how to minimize any potential damage to the American war effort," the paper declared.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

25 Oct 01 | Middle East
Israel discusses West Bank pull-out
25 Oct 01 | Middle East
Arabs see advantage in terror war
24 Oct 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Little hope for Mid-East peace
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