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Wednesday, 26 June, 2002, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Arab press downbeat on Bush
US President George W Bush
President Bush is seen to back Israel

President George W Bush's speech produced little enthusiasm in the Arab press on Wednesday.

Reaction ranged from the cautious in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority to the hostile elsewhere.

The most positive comment came from the pro-government Jordanian newspaper Al-Ra'i.

"Bush's ideas converge with the Jordanian view for the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict," it said.

The Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds said Palestinians ought not to dismiss the speech as "the US role in the peace process is paramount, if not the only role acceptable to both the Palestinians and the Israelis".

The Egyptian and Saudi press highlighted the positive aspects of the speech, but warned that Yasser Arafat was not the obstacle to peace.

The main dissenting voice was the nationalist Saudi newspaper Al-Jazirah, which said the US approach to Mr Arafat would "free Israeli tyrannical hands to do whatever they wish in Palestinian towns".

Hostility

Syria's Al-Thawra said the speech was a "victory for Sharon" that imposed "draconian conditions for the establishment of a Palestinian state".

Iraq's Babil said the "deceitful speech" ignored the UN-backed rights of the Palestinian people and snubbed the Arab peace plan.


Bush is part Jefferson, past Genghis Khan, part Sharon.

Al-Anwar, Lebanon

Lebanon's moderate, centrist Al-Anwar said the speech revealed Bush's duality of approach, characterising him as "part Jefferson, part Gengis Khan and part Sharon."

Reaction from the Gulf was uncompromising.

Qatar's Al-Watan said the speech set impossible conditions that the majority of Palestinians would not accept.

Al-Bayan in the United Arab Emirates said Mr Bush had "simply echoed Israeli aggressive policies".

In the London Arabic press, Al-Quds Al-Arabi said the speech was a "recipe for the shedding of Palestinian blood" and could destabilise the whole Middle East.

The pro-Libyan Al-Arab al-Alamiyah agreed, saying the speech was "blind where Palestinian and Arab rights are concerned".

It accused Mr Bush of going against "all logic and law" by calling for a change in the Palestinian leadership.

Sharon 'victory'

All Israeli newspapers led on President's Bush's speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Tuesday.

Anyone with a pair of eyes can see that Israel is rolling towards war.

Yoel Marcus in Ha'aretz

They saw his call for an end to the Arafat era and a total halt to terror attacks as signs that US policy was lining up behind Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Most Israeli commentators saw the speech as a victory for US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice-President Dick Cheney and a vindication of Ariel Sharon's courting of the Bush White House.

Yoel Marcus, writing in the left-wing Ha'aretz, was more pessimistic, saying "Yasser won't go".

"Anyone with a pair of eyes can see that Israel is rolling towards war," he said.

But the centre-right Jerusalem Post welcomed the speech for making Palestinian statehood "conditional, not axiomatic".

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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