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Monday, 26 November, 2001, 12:47 GMT
Mideast papers view US envoys' visit
Will they talk?
The current escalation makes chances of success slim
As US envoys William Burns and Anthony Zinni arrive in the region in the latest US effort to jump-start the Middle East peace process, Arab and Israeli newspapers look at their chances of success.

The Jordan Times was the most optimistic, describing the mission as a "serious American effort to crystallise a peace agreement based on the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel".

Let us look at the half-full glass rather than the empty half

Jordan Times
"Let us look at the half-full glass rather than the empty half, since it seems clear that Washington has understood and accepted the prerequisites for peace in the Middle East," it said.

Saudi Arabia's Arab News urged the US to undertake "more serious" efforts to reach peace.

"What the Palestinians need is a little less American engagement with the ceasefire and a lot more work on ending the occupation.

"The young fighters on the streets are not going to trade their revolt for a ceasefire with Sharon and the nebulous hope that if that happens, other things can start to happen," it said.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
Will talk be enough?
Syria's Tishrin newspaper argued that the mediators should focus their attention on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

"They should work to curb his aggressiveness, stop his schemes, and warn him that he will be called to account by the Security Council and international organisations if he fails to respect international law," it said.

The Palestinian press also accused Mr Sharon of trying to thwart the peace moves.

"The US envoys will find out that the region is tense and far from being ready to be receptive to the US efforts because Israel spared no effort in inflaming passions and escalating the tension that had abated to reach near zero level in the past few days," Jerusalem's Al-Quds contended.

Al-Hayah al-Jadidah in Ramallah urged the US negotiators not to fall into Mr Sharon's "trap" but was pessimistic about the outcome.

"It was said after the attacks on New York and Washington that the Americans might awaken from their long slumber, regain their consciousness, and acknowledge their own sins and errors.

"Not so, they still labour under the burden of the Zionist lobby's nightmare and are still trying to use honeyed words to ensure that the occupation is left undisturbed," it concluded.

'Grave doubts'

The Israeli press was equally pessimistic. Ma'ariv in Tel Aviv said the current escalation in violence was likely to make Israeli officials unreceptive.

Israeli premier Ariel Sharon
Will he talks this time?
"In private, Israeli officials have voiced grave doubts concerning the prospects of the US envoy's mission," it said. "The US general, they say, is arriving amid major escalation, and the danger is that an even worse conflagration will develop.

Bene Beraq Yated Ne'eman said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat would probably sabotage the agreement.

"Jerusalem officials are lowering expectations ahead of the Zinni visit, recalling that prior to Zinni, there was the Tenet ceasefire paper, and then an agreement achieved by Peres, both of which were foiled by Arafat," it said.

"They conclude that there is no reason Arafat should behave differently this time around."

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:

26 Nov 01 | Middle East
Gaza blast ahead of US mission
21 Nov 01 | Middle East
US builds new Mid-East peace initiative
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