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Monday, 1 April, 2002, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Israeli papers demand clearer goals
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
The papers are calling on Sharon to present his strategy
Israel's daily newspapers have called on the government to make very clear the final goal of the war it has declared on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

If the goal is to bring Arafat to his knees begging for a ceasefire, then why were 20,000 reservists called up?

"The public has a duty to ask the questions that the ministers aren't asking - both to understand and to place clear boundaries on the prime minister, the defence minister and the army's chief of staff," says the editorial of the central-right daily tabloid Maariv.

"If the goal is to bring Arafat to his knees begging for a ceasefire, then why were 20,000 reservists called up? Regular army units should suffice.

"If the goal is to conquer large areas and remain in them, it has to be declared clearly - at least to the cabinet ministers - as they might reconsider their vote," the paper continues.

The largest circulating Israeli daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, usually quite central, takes a tough stance on the Palestinian leader.

'Israel's dilemma'

It says it is inconceivable that Mr Arafat now enjoys the protection of European and Arabic states and is "more fireproof than any of the Palestinians".

"Indeed, the Israeli policy makers face a real dilemma - despite the promises they made to the Americans - whether to free us from the oppressive presence... or to let Abu Amar [another name for Mr Arafat] to continue to bully all those who surround him...

Strategic concept [is the] fundamental requirement missing in Israel's stance

"Because of him, and only because of him there are in Israel so many bereaved parents, orphans and innumerable people who've lost their arms and legs, disabled in body and soul," says the editorial, written by Menachem Michaelson.

On Sunday, the editorial of the liberal daily Haaretz questioned the value of Israel's military operation - however necessary.

"Circumstances transformed the [army's] operation into a necessity despite the risk of condemnation: faced with Palestinian terrorism, Israel feels it must bring to bear its military power in order to minimise the violent element that Arafat has incorporated in his manoeuvring over the ceasefire.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
Yedioth Ahronoth says policy makers face a real dilemma over Arafat
"Nonetheless, one cannot ignore the limited value inherent in a military operation: it will not end the confrontation and will not destroy terrorism."

"Furthermore, the use of military force, however linked with a specific point in time, cannot stand on its own; it must be part of a strategic concept. This fundamental requirement is missing in Israel's stance," Haaretz writes.

In Monday's editorial, the paper calls for Arab diplomatic intervention to bring an end to the cycle of violence.

Nostalgia 'amusing'

The right-wing English-language daily, the Jerusalem Post, urges Jews in the diaspora to speak out for Israel and its government.

Peace is a beautiful dream indeed, but with the Palestinians as a neighbour it unfortunately remains, for our generation, just a dream

Professor Efraim Bar, Jerusalem Post
And in a separate editorial, Professor Efraim Bar of Bar-Illan University says peace with the Palestinians is an impossible dream.

"The nostalgic longing of the peaceniks for 'the trust between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat' is quite amusing, taking into consideration that the suspicious Rabin did not trust even his Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres.

"The belief that Arafat could place his trust in anyone is similarly bizarre, taking into consideration Arab political culture," Mr Bar writes.

"Israelis are right in their anticipation of a long, violent struggle. Peace is a beautiful dream indeed, but with the Palestinians as a neighbour it unfortunately remains, for our generation, just a dream," Mr Bar writes.

See also:

01 Apr 02 | Middle East
Palestinian gunmen kill 'collaborators'
01 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
Israel 'dragging Mid-East into war'
31 Mar 02 | Media reports
Arab press rails at Sharon
30 Mar 02 | Middle East
Sharon's strong-arm tactic
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