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EDITIONS
 Sunday, 17 November, 2002, 16:05 GMT
Mid-East press debate Hebron
Israeli soldier in Hebron
Reinforcements have been sent to Hebron
The latest attack by Palestinian militants in the West Bank city of Hebron is widely debated in Israeli papers and the Arab media.

As parliamentary elections approach, the English-language Jerusalem Post believes the Israeli Government is caught between a rock and a hard place.

A counterterrorism expert Dr Boaz Ganor cited by the paper says that if Prime Minister Ariel Sharon does nothing following the attack, he runs the risk of "paying the price in the Likud primaries".

But a harsh reaction would "almost certainly end any hopes for a ceasefire and could earn condemnation from the US and the international community," Dr Ganor continues.

An editorial in the same paper sees another dilemma for the government.

It highlights a connection between the withdrawal of forces from the city and the Hebron attack.

Only a dramatic change in the public consciousness might stop this hopeless war of attrition

Ha'aretz

It stresses that only a new Palestinian leadership which is "genuinely intent on divorcing itself permanently and unequivocally from terrorism" can resolve the problem.

"The alternative is the next Hebron massacre," the paper concludes.

'War of attrition'

The right-leaning Israeli daily Hatzofe also lays the blame for the attack on the decision by former Defence Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer to pull out of Hebron.

According to the paper "the only reason for his decision were the Labour primaries and [his] desire to be perceived as a statesman making political moves".

The liberal independent Ha'aretz daily states that Israel must take some responsibility for the continuing cycle of violence.

Israel has not yet "had the sense to understand that its heavy-handed responses will not quash Palestinian national aspirations," the paper says.

"Only a dramatic change in the public consciousness and in the ripening of the political levels on both sides, might stop this hopeless war of attrition," it concludes.

New tactic

As the Israeli papers assess the impact of the attack, several Arabic-language papers from the Gulf region hail what they term the new tactics employed by Palestinian militants.

Hebron raid is a new stage in Palestinian resistance

Qatar's Al-Watan

They see the attack as a military operation aimed at the Israeli soldiers and settlers, rather than Israeli civilians.

"A qualitative leap forward in resistance operations," is how Qatar's Al-Sharq describes the raid.

Al-Watan, also published in Doha, hails "the new stage in Palestinian resistance" and calls on Mr Sharon to "draw a lesson" from the attack.

Saudi-Arabia's Al-Jazirah agrees, saying the Hebron operation was a reminder that the Palestinians who wish to realise peace "can also teach Israel a lesson every now and then".

Several papers dispute the international community's condemnation of the raid.

The United Arab Emirates' Al-Khaleej criticizes UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan reaction to the attack.

The paper notes that Mr Annan "rushed to condemn the operation, calling it a terrorist attack despite the fact it took place in an occupied town".

The Dubai government daily Al-Bayan is also dismayed by the "numerous voices raised in Europe to deny the Palestinians the right to resist".

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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16 Nov 02 | Middle East
10 Jan 03 | Middle East
15 Nov 02 | Middle East
16 Nov 02 | issues
30 Oct 02 | Middle East
05 Nov 02 | Middle East
06 Nov 02 | Media reports
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