- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Jordan Times

On Palestinian politics:

After a week of near silence during a worsening internal situation, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has finally taken some decisive action.

Unfortunately, his call to hold early elections is exactly the wrong way to go. It is likely to exacerbate, rather than ease, tensions and constitutes a major gamble on his behalf.

Indeed, it could not come at a worse time.

… Yasser Arafat repeatedly delayed presidential and parliamentary elections. The last parliament sat for 10 years, six more than the four-year term intended but it was a sore issue with many Palestinians. Mr. Arafat could get away with it, partly because of his status and partly because Hamas, the biggest opposition group, then showed little interest in contesting such elections.

These conditions no longer exist. Mr. Abbas does not have anywhere near the popular legitimacy that Mr. Arafat had, while Hamas not only contested elections when they were held after Mr. Arafat’s death, but won them hands down.

Thus, with at best dubious legal grounds and a public deeply divided, Mr. Abbas has not only left himself open to accusations of attempting a coup against his own government, accusations Hamas has already leveled at him, but has very possibly opened the door to civil war.

Asahi Shimbun

On U.S.-China dialogue:

TOKYO — A two-day “strategic economic dialogue” was held between the United States and China last week. It was the first such session ever held to exchange views on the two countries’ respective economic management and systems.

… Underlying this move is the idea that while trade problems do exist, the relationship between China and the United States could be stabilized through greater mutual economic dependence, and that this could also improve their security relations.

… Japan should not remain a mere onlooker while China and the United States strengthen their ties. Tokyo must come up with its own strategy and propose Cabinet-level sessions for economic dialogue with Washington and Beijing.

Guardian

On the trial in Libya:

LONDON — Libya’s criminal justice system does not normally attract much attention abroad, but the case of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor sentenced to death for allegedly infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus is an extraordinary and troubling one. International condemnation … was entirely justified after a travesty of a trial, which ignored both the expert scientific opinion that discredited the charges, and credible claims that the defendants confessed after being tortured.

… The story is of course foremost a tragedy for the more than 50 Libyan children who have already died of AIDS and the 370 other families who still face terrible uncertainty. But it is unfortunate that a group representing the victims claims the nurses infected the children at the bidding of foreign intelligence agencies. Libya’s unfree press, persecution of dissidents and troubled relations with the West may go some way to explaining such a bizarre accusation. But this episode is all the more regrettable because those relations are changing fast.

In recent years Libya has been coming in from the cold. It ended its support for terrorism. … In 2003, it surrendered the weapons of mass destruction it still had. Since then Western leaders, including [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair and [French President] Jacques Chirac, have beaten a path to Col. [Moammar] Gadhafi’s tent door. The United States is grateful for his help in fighting the “war on terror.”

… Bulgaria’s position has been strengthened by the coincidence that it is about to join the EU and can expect solidarity from fellow member states over this sordid affair. Condemnation of the trial should be a signal to Tripoli to drop the death sentences, discuss offers of financial assistance for the families — and prove that the new Libya fully respects the rule of law.

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