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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 February, 2005, 13:04 GMT
Press split over Sharm al-Sheikh summit

Newspapers in Israel and the Arab world are divided over the outcome of the summit in Sharm al-Sheikh at which the Israeli and Palestinian leaders pledged to work for peace.

Palestinian commentators are largely sceptical about the Palestinians achieving real gains from the summit, while papers in the rest of the Arab world have varied views, with a Syrian daily believing it is Washington that calls the shots.

Israeli newspapers echo their Arab counterparts, with some commentators arguing the summit could prove a breakthrough, and others remaining cynical.

The optimism of the second Sharm al-Sheikh summit is premature. It has failed to reach an agreement on Palestinian demands. The ambiguity surrounding the Israeli position is a nightmare which threatens any serious hope for peace and love.

Editorial in Palestinian Al-Quds

The Sharm al-Sheikh summit has ended without any tangible results. The summit has allowed Israel to make progress towards normalising its relations with the Arab world.

Commentator in Palestinian Al-Hayat al-Jadidah

Experience has taught us not to expect much from the Israeli government that utters one word about peace and a hundred others about war.

Commentator in Al-Hayat al-Jadidah

This summit is rather a better preparation for Sharon's [Gaza disengagement] plan than it is a preparation for launching a comprehensive peace process.

Commentator in Palestinian Al-Ayyam

Both sides will start to evaluate the intifada. Palestinians and Israelis have changed. Both sides need a strong peace.

Commentator in Palestinian Al-Ayyam

The Sharm al-Sheikh summit provides a new opportunity for implementing the roadmap and is a test of Israel's intentions.

Oman's Al-Watan

The Sharm al-Sheikh summit is a new station along the same road, the map of which is controlled by the adversary acting under the guidance of the American peace sponsor.

Editorial in United Arab Emirates' Al-Bayan

The summit is merely a link in the chain of events since Oslo that have never reached their final destination.

Commentator in Lebanon's Al-Anwar

Yesterday's four-way summit in Sharm al-Sheikh was a turning point for reactivating the Middle East peace process which has been stalled for years.

Editorial in Egypt's Al-Ahram

The Sharm al-Sheikh summit was held at an opportune time, and was an opportunity to test everyone's real intentions.

Editorial in Jordan's Al-Dustur

The moment the USA wants it to happen, a just and lasting political solution for all the disputes in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria can emerge from Sharm al-Sheikh or any other summit.

Commentator in Syria's Al-Thawrah

What we saw in Sharm al-Sheikh yesterday was not reassuring, nor were the statements being made over there. The outcome was an obvious one: A first step. But a first step to where? It is evident that the gap between the two sides is still huge.

Commentator in London-based Al-Hayat

The Palestinian people will emerge the biggest losers from the summit, just like they were in all previous summits. They will lose their intifada and their resistance, and could also find themselves facing internal sedition which could develop into a civil war.

Commentary in London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi

Regardless of everything agreed upon - either secretly or in public - at Sharm al-Sheikh yesterday, the important thing is this: the past four years have convinced both the Israelis and the Palestinians that it is necessary to change their policies and attitudes, and that they have no option but to reach a compromise.

Commentator in London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat

It is very easy to be cynical about yesterday's summit, to criticise the ceremony, to scorn it, be apathetic towards it. We have already been in Sharm and we have already returned to it for the second and third time. But it is impossible to deny that Sharon's way triumphed yesterday. It triumphed over the Americans, the Europeans, Mubarak, and the Arab world. It triumphed over Sharon himself. In the end - between the settlers' demonstrations, the protests of the [Likud] rebels and the lack of trust on the left and the right - the world has adopted his formula.

Commentary in Israel's Yediot Aharonot

The claim that all that happened at the Sharm summit was 'only words' ignores the intensity of dialogue between leaders as a factor that shapes and changes national consciousness. Words that try to touch the depth of the prejudices and to change them are truly important words.

Editorial in Yediot Aharonot

The success of the Sharm Al-Sheikh summit was that this time the security issues were linked to a relatively clear political track - the disengagement plan of the Sharon government, which one way or another will lead to the implementation of the political roadmap. The summit thus signalled good intentions and readiness for a good start, but as much as it was a good start, it remains but a start.

Editorial in Israel's Haaretz

We listened to the speeches at the Sharm al-Sheikh summit much as one would to the boy who cried wolf. Even those prone to euphoria, who were swept away by the historic handshake on the White House lawn in September 1993, could hardly, after all we have been through, feel as excited by the handshakes and declarations made on Tuesday at Sharm...

What is remarkable about Abbas' statement is that it reflects so little Palestinian change over the past 12 years. The Palestinians have not begun to give up their claim to a Palestinian right to live on both sides of the Green Line.

Editorial in Israel's Jerusalem Post

Something has changed. Mainly, Arafat's disappearance and the great weariness of both peoples of the bloodbath of the last four years. But the biggest change is that Israel's government is headed by a true man of the right, a settlers' master. If the old principle of clinging on to every sod of earth has changed so dramatically, this is a sign that many things in the region can change.

Commentator in Israel's Maariv

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.


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