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Last Updated: Friday, 6 February, 2004, 14:45 GMT
Press scorn Gaza pullout plan

Many newspapers in the Middle East have expressed their disapproval of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plans to evacuate Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli press was sceptical about the proposals although one paper conceded that the prime minister was doing what he had said he would.

Many Arab papers criticised the move saying it was a political manoeuvre timed to coincide with Mr Sharon's forthcoming visit to Washington and one which would ultimately be harmful to the Middle East peace process.

It's enough to glance at the 'Gaza evacuation package' that Sharon has thrown our way to suspect that, like all its predecessors, it merely contains animal fodder.

Doron Rosenblum in Israel's Ha'aretz

To achieve stability, it would be necessary to allow many Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip to cross into Israel and to try to ensure that Palestinian rule there is in the hands of pragmatists. Otherwise, Sharon's evacuation plan will increase the possibility of an international force in the Gaza Strip.

Ze'ev Schiff in Israel's Ha'aretz

The unilateral plan Minister Ehud Olmert is about to present today in Washington does not represent the position of the State of Israel. It is therefore important to make this clear so that in the White House and the State Department they know this in advance.

Israel's Hatzofe

Those who heard Sharon understood: the father of settlements in the territories has crossed the point of no return... Sharon indeed means what he said ambiguously last year.

Israel's Yedi'ot Aharonot

Sharon is wagering that he can neutralise the Israeli left through his disengagement plan... He is also duped into thinking that he is invigorating Bush whose popularity has been deteriorating. He thinks that a pullout from Gaza would give credibility to the US-Israeli project.

Adli Sadiq in Palestinian Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah

The Israelis are now facing their decisive hour more than at any time in the past. They will decide to either walk down the road of peace... or go down the road of fighting and bloody conflict that never led and will never lead to anything but endless disasters, destruction and killing.

Palestinian Al-Quds

Just before his visit to Washington, Sharon is trying to give the impression of being the one eager for peace in the region and the one willing to grant concessions to the Palestinians.

Oman's Al-Watan

Sharon's plan to evacuate settlers from the Gaza Strip has blessings from outside but is a complete hell domestically... The solution is a basic commitment to the implementation of agreements and plans agreed upon in sincerity and honesty.

Egypt's Al-Akhbar

If Sharon is sincere in his intention to dismantle most of the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, the idea deserves more than a moment's thought... However, most of his decisions represent Sharon's attempts to divert attention away from problems currently facing his government over corruption and a bribery scandal.

Saudi Arabia's Al-Watan

Sharon's evil schemes will be more dangerous for the Palestinians' future. With this plan Sharon has given the coup de grace to the international peace plan, the so-called road map. What he needs now is to issue a death certificate for the road map!

UAE's Al-Bayan

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.

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