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Wednesday, 24 May, 2000, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Mideast press crows over Israel 'defeat'
Cartoon from Al-Hayat
London-based Palestinian paper Al-Hayat's take on the pull-out
The media in Israel's neighbouring states and the wider Middle East has interpreted the withdrawal from Lebanon as a clear defeat for the Israelis, while warning of unfinished business.

In Iran, Hezbollah's chief backer, the Iran News said a myth of Israeli invincibility had been "totally shattered''.



A resounding defeat which we owe to Syrian-Lebanese steadfastness... and heroic national resistance

Syrian radio

There was little sympathy for the South Lebanese Army (SLA), Israel's "mercenary" militia recruited in Lebanon. They would "carry the shame of their treachery to their graves'' even if they were forgiven by other Lebanese.

Syria was taking part of the credit for Israel's "resounding defeat", with state radio ascribing it to the "magnificent integration between Syria and Lebanon".

Israel was the "sole loser" and would continue to lose while it wasted opportunities to make peace with Syria and Lebanon, the radio said.

Tel Aviv's fear of peace

The Al-Ba'th newspaper in Syria homed in on Israel's warning it would strike back if menaced from Lebanon.

Israel's "false military superiority" had been exposed and any attack would "not meet a better fate".



The first military withdrawal in Israel's history that it is making under pressure of resistance

Jordanian newspaper Al-Dustur

An editorial in another Syrian newspaper, B>Al-Thawrah suggested Israel was only capable of war and helpless before peace:

"Israel fears peace... They do not have the courage to wage a battle in support of such a decision or option. They are imbeciles and the graduates of a school that has a long experience in the art of... killing the peace process slowly".

An unprecedented retreat

Jordan's semi-official Al-Dustur newspaper said the end of the "odious occupation" was a "day of glory" for all Arabs as it marked Israel's first unconditional retreat:

"This is the first military withdrawal in Israel's history that it is making under pressure of resistance, without imposing any of the conditions that it used to impose on the neighbouring Arab countries."

The lesson for the Arab nations was that their "spirit of resistance" was stronger than "the greatest war machine in the region".



Israel's security and peace cannot be achieved through military force

Jordanian newspaper Al-Dustur

For Israel, the lesson was to achieve peace through "good will" and stop trying to make Arabs "kneel down by force".

The main Palestinian daily Al-Quds looked beyond the general euphoria of the Arab world to the new situation between Israel and its neighbours.

With "the hands of time set back 22 years", Israel ignored at its peril the "organic link between... Hezbollah, Syria and Iran".

If Israel did not now return the Golan Heights to Syria and meet the Palestinians' "legitimate demands" the situation in the Middle East could only "change for the worse".

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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See also:

23 May 00 | Middle East
What next in Lebanon?
23 May 00 | Middle East
Q & A: Leaving Lebanon
24 May 00 | Media reports
Israeli press: Pullout recalls Saigon
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