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Tuesday, 28 August, 2001, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Mid-East press condemns Mustafa killing
Palestinians hold photos of Mustafa during a demonstration
Israeli papers fear the assassination will unite the Palestinians
Israeli newspapers have joined Arab dailies in criticising Israel's assassination of Palestinian leader Abu Ali Mustafa, with both sides agreeing that the conflict has been taken to new heights.

"They are pushing the region toward an all-out explosion through the serious escalation being practised by Israel, which targets the Palestinian leadership," Jerusalem's mainstream Arab daily Al-Quds said.


Israel could not have committed this crime until after the president of the United States had given it the green light

Al-Arab al-Alamiyah
In Israel's Haaretz daily, Zeev Schiff wrote that the "assassination will be seen as an Israeli escalation" and that it meant Israel had "broadened its military confrontation with the Palestinians".

"This is a thunderous announcement that the assassinations will not exempt anyone, not even President Arafat," the London-based Libyan daily Al-Arab al-Alamiyah warned in its editorial.

US 'henchman'

While Hebrew papers questioned the wisdom of Israel's action, Arab commentators blamed US President George Bush for giving Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a "green light".

"Israel could not have committed this crime until after the president of the United States had given it the green light publicly," Al-Arab al-Alamiyah said, echoing the Palestinian Authority's (PA) official news agency.


The assassinations have merely increased Palestinian retaliations and strengthened their unity

Danny Rubenstein in Haaretz
"These remarks have encouraged Israel, and perhaps given the green light to Sharon," Wafa's political editor wrote, referring to President Bush's comment last week that Arafat could "do a better job" of stopping the violence.

"The White House has turned from sponsor of the peace process into a henchman that mangles a victim's corpse under conditions of frightening and shameful silence by most of the world's countries, especially our Arab world," said the PA-controlled Al-Hayah al-Jadidah.

Sharon blamed

In an analysis entitled "A sign of Sharon's failure", Haaretz's Danny Rubenstein levelled his sights squarely at the Israeli prime minister and his government.


It was fair to eliminate him, but one can wonder whether it was smart

Yediot Ahronot
"Mustafa was a political leader of the first order of the Palestinian national movement. The assassination of a figure of his stature shows more than anything the confusion reigning in the top Israeli echelons with regard to ways of stopping the bloodshed," he said.

"All the methods tried by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon have so far failed. The assassinations have merely increased Palestinian retaliations and strengthened their unity."

Yediot Aharonot, Israel's largest circulation Hebrew-language newspaper, said it was fair to kill Abu Ali Mustafa, but wondered whether it was sensible.


Having killed the idea of a [political] solution, Israel has now killed any possibility for it

Al-Sharq al-Awsat
"Abu Ali Mustafa was definitely not a saint. He had always been opposed to the peace process and over the past few weeks had been setting up terrorist cells," it said.

"It was fair to eliminate him, but one can wonder whether it was smart," the centrist daily concluded.

Oslo RIP

Newspapers across the Arab world saw the assassination as the end of the peace process.

Jordanian daily Al-Ray said Israel had fired the mercy bullet at the Oslo agreement, while a Saudi-owned London daily declared that even hopes for Palestinians and Israelis to live as neighbours were now dead.

"Having killed the idea of a [political] solution, Israel has now killed any possibility for it. Tomorrow it will kill the idea of co-existence," Al-Sharq al-Awsat said.

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:

28 Aug 01 | Middle East
Thousands attend Mustafa funeral
28 Aug 01 | Middle East
Palestinian shock turns to outrage
27 Aug 01 | Middle East
Israel kills key Palestinian leader
28 Aug 01 | Middle East
Israeli tanks enter Palestinian areas
01 Aug 01 | Middle East
Israel's 'assassination policy'
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