- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 9, 2002

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell got a taste of what America's allies think about the Middle East when Morocco allowed half a million people to protest U.S. policies the day before he landed yesterday.
But Mr. Powell was already aware of the groundswell of opposition to what is seen as U.S. support for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The secretary's long road to Jerusalem takes him to both Arab and European capitals, reflecting the Bush administration's concern about how the Middle East conflict is affecting friendly governments.
In Europe, home of most of America's NATO allies, thousands yesterday continued to march daily against Israel and America.
"We are all aware of the fact there is a perceived rift between us and them [Europeans] on the Middle East," said a State Department official yesterday, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The United States, Europe and centrist Arab states agree on the fundamentals of a Middle East settlement: creation of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip along with security for Israel and increasingly open relations with the Arab world.
However arguments over the details of this settlement primarily the status of holy sites in Jerusalem, Israeli settlements and Palestinian refugees in Arab lands undermined the 1993 Olso peace process and left the region in the worst violence in two decades.
Arab and European publics and elites have been sympathetic to the Palestinians, whom they see as impoverished and weak victims facing a powerful Israeli army.
"Europeans see the Palestinians as underdogs versus Israel as the superdog," said Ivo Daalder, former White House adviser to President Clinton and currently with the Brookings Institution.
"There may also be a different strain of anti-Semitism in Europe that is stronger, especially at the elite level, than it is here," Mr. Daalder said.
While Americans recently polled 5 to 1 in favor of Israel which Americans see as a victim of the same kind of terrorism America faced September 11 European and Arab allies of the United States tend to view the Palestinians as victims.
The president of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, said Saturday that Europe should play a larger role in the Middle East peace talks, and he insisted that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat remain the "interlocutor in the middle of this crisis."
Mr. Prodi also defended an EU donation of about $50 million to the Palestinian Authority a few days ago, saying it was a contribution to solve some of the immediate needs of the Palestinians.
However Israel refused to let EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana meet with Mr. Arafat last week, a sign of Israeli displeasure with what is seen as a longtime European tilt toward the Palestinians.
Mr. Powell has sought to deal with those rifts by traveling this week to meet leaders of America's closest Arab allies Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan before landing in Israel Friday.
Before leaving Washington, he specifically rejected the European and Arab argument that suicide bombings were the result of an Israeli occupation of Arab lands.
"We don't accept it violence of this kind is not justified, no matter how aggrieved a people may feel, no matter how humiliated they may feel, no matter how much they yearn for a political solution, no matter how much they want to have their own state," Mr. Powell told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.
Mr. Powell acknowledged that "It's going to be a difficult trip.
"I am not going to come back at the end of this trip with a peace treaty in hand, and I'm not even sure I'll have a cease-fire in hand. But that will be my goal, to try to help both sides out of this tragic situation in which they find themselves," he said.

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