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Thursday, 18 April, 2002, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
Mid-East press raps Powell
US Secretary of State Colin Powell addresses press conference in Jerusalem
Gen Powell put a brave face on his Middle East tour
Newspapers in Israel and the Arab world have criticised US Secretary of State Colin Powell's ill-fated peace mission, with angry disappointment felt from both sides of the Middle East conflict.

In Israel, the right-of-centre Jerusalem Post said that Gen Powell had "every right to feel glum" at the end of his 10-day mission, during which it believed he had only increased the prestige of Yasser Arafat through his high-profile visits to the Palestinian leader.

The left-of-centre Ha'aretz , however, said that the trip had "ended in a tie" for the two sides.


The tour was too little, too late and mainly too feeble

Israel's Ma'ariv

Israeli newspapers seem to be in agreement that expectations of the Powell visit were always set too high.

The tour was "too little, too late and mainly too feeble", a commentary in the independent Ma'ariv said.

"Even before he arrived in our region, it was clear that the chances of the US secretary of state leaving with a significant achievement were very slim," the right-wing Hatzofe said in its editorial.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell meets Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah
Gen Powell visited the besieged Yasser Arafat

But concerns were also raised over the aftermath of Powell's "mission impossible".

An editorial in Ha'aretz said that the "diplomatic vacuum" left by Powell would only lead to more violence in the region.

And the Ma'ariv commentary observed that "the only permanent thing in our region is the fact that if you make no progress forward, you necessarily slide back".

'Complicity'

Newspapers in the Arab world were highly critical of the US secretary of state's Middle East mission.

The Saudi paper Al-Watan criticized Gen Powell's failure to force Israel to pull out of the Palestinian territories.

"He acted more like a Jewish rabbi, or the head of a Zionist organisation, than an American diplomat", an editorial in the paper said.


Is the United States impotent or an accomplice? In either case, the answer is appalling

Lebanon's Al-Anwar

Many papers blamed US links with Israel for the failed mission.

The Saudi centrist paper Ukaz said it had "succeeded" in providing a cover for the ongoing Israeli campaign in the West Bank.

"The aim of his mission was to help Sharon to rebel against the Security Council resolutions which call for the withdrawal from the Palestinian territories," the paper said.

This idea was reiterated in Jordan's Al-Dustur. The mission failed as a result of blind US support for Israel, its editorial said.

Despite Washington's call for an immediate Israeli withdrawal from the areas that it had reoccupied, Gen Powell failed to exert genuine pressure on the Israeli government, the paper said.

Ariel Sharon (left) meeting Colin Powell
Powell is accused of backing Israel
Lebanon's As-Safir blamed US complicity with Israel.

"No sensible person can believe that the chief diplomat of the greatest power in the world did not succeed in pressuring its principal protege," the paper said.

Also in Lebanon, Al-Anwar asked: "Is the United States impotent or an accomplice? In either case, the answer is appalling."

Syria's Al-Thawrah was likewise in two minds.

"The reason why Powell's mission failed... is first and foremost the result of the US administration lacking any clear vision owing to its alignment towards Israel," it 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:

20 Sep 01 | Americas
Powell: 'Senior statesman'
18 Apr 02 | Middle East
Powell visit leaves Arafat in dilemma
17 Apr 02 | Middle East
Powell's fruitless mission
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