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Sunday, 31 March, 2002, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
Arab press rails at Sharon
Israeli forces attacking Arafat compound
Israeli tanks smashed into Arafat's Ramallah HQ
Newspapers in the Arab world castigate Israel for the assault on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Ramallah headquarters.

Some also accuse the United States of bias, and others find fault with Arab leaders.

In Egypt, Al-Ahram says that "Ariel Sharon, head of Israel's government of rabbis, has lost the war as he lost the peace. The Palestinians and Yasser Arafat, even under siege, have won."

Al-Gomhuria believes the assault is uniting the Arab world.

The brave Palestinian people will certainly be victorious eventually, especially if they steer clear of the Arabs and their conferences

Ahmad Ragab
"Sharon, with his crimes and arrogance, has awakened the feeling of unity among the Arabs and embodied the Israeli danger threatening all Arab countries," it states.

Writing in Al-Akhbar, Egyptian satirist Ahmad Ragab says the "valiant Palestinian people" will always have supremacy with a weapon that Israel does not possess.

"It is the martyrdom-seeking fighter. Israel cannot import him from America. There is no counter-weapon for him either."

He also takes a swipe at Arab leaders.

"The brave Palestinian people will certainly be victorious eventually, especially if they steer clear of the Arabs and their conferences."

Jordan's Al-Dustur criticises the United States.

"We have absolutely no doubt that this barbaric Israeli aggression and all these insolent attempts to get the besieged Palestinian president would not have... continued with all this malice and bloodletting had Ariel Sharon not received a green light from the Bush administration."

In Syria, the Tishrin newspaper accuses the United States of failing to rein in "the new Sharonist aggression, especially after the Arab summit launched a comprehensive peace initiative that was welcomed by the entire world".

President George W Bush
Bush pledged to continue the US peace mission
"Everyone was surprised by the unfortunate and completely biased position of the United States, which has chosen to support the butcher and the aggressor and make false accusations against the victim," Tishrin adds.

The London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi mocks the USA for its guarantee that Israel would not harm Mr Arafat - "as if the slaughter of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of Palestinians... were permissible so long as there were guarantees not to assassinate or capture their president".

Syria's Al-Thawrah describes events in the Palestinian territories as "an expression of the bankruptcy of the Israeli and US policies and their inability to terrorise the Palestinian people and the Arab nation".

The paper urges Arabs to sever all ties with Israel.

"They should suspend all forms of normalisation and take effective measures that force Israel to recalculate and rethink the consequences of continuing to be inconsiderate to the will and feelings of the Arabs."

'Stop Sharon'

The papers are united in their hostility towards Israel's prime minister.

An editorial in the Jordan Times carries the headline "Stop Sharon now!"

Sharon and his government have made a final decision to bury the peace process and consider it a thing of the past

It believes that Mr Sharon's "barbaric actions should surprise nobody, for once a terrorist, always a terrorist".

Jordan's Al-Ra'y agrees: "Sharon and his government have made a final decision to bury the peace process and consider it a thing of the past," it says.

"If it is true that what Sharon has done is Israel's response to the Arab peace initiative... this is a clear message that Sharon is not after peace."

In Saudi Arabia, the Arab News describes Mr Sharon as "a professional killer who will bring further torture, instability and insecurity to Israel and its people".

Whatever the outcome of the current crisis, the Palestinian issue will not go away, Jordan's Al-Arab al-Yawm warns.

"Whether Sharon succeeds in killing or capturing Arafat, the curtain will not be drawn on the issue of the Palestinian people," it predicts.

"Rather, it will open once again on bloodier beginnings, because the hatred, grudge and seething anger among the Palestinians and Arabs will not be quelled by Sharon's tanks or the utterances of Bush and Powell, which are far from logic, right and justice."

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:

31 Mar 02 | Middle East
Israel hit by double suicide attack
30 Mar 02 | Middle East
Bush tells Arafat to stop militants
30 Mar 02 | Middle East
Sharon's strong-arm tactic
30 Mar 02 | Middle East
Inside Arafat's compound
28 Mar 02 | Middle East
Arabs offer Israelis peace plan
28 Mar 02 | Media reports
Text: Beirut Declaration
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