Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:
ZURICH — A rocket attack could lead to the collapse of the latest peace initiative in the Middle East even before the first steps have been taken. … The Israeli assassination attempt against Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi will not be without consequences. That is clear after 32 months of the intifada.
It is also not the first time that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has played this game. Last year around Christmas, a cease-fire with extremist Palestinian resistance organizations held for three weeks. Then the Israeli army murdered Fatah leader Raed Karmi, and the spiral of violence and revenge began again. By now the Israelis have intentionally liquidated more than 150 activists. These executions were … the main reason why all attempts by the Palestinian government to achieve an armistice have failed.
At the summit in Aqaba [Jordan], Sharon gave his agreement to the road map. … With [Tuesdays] attack, he intentionally broke this commitment. The rockets aimed at Rantisi have above all hit Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. His chances of agreeing on a cease-fire with Hamas are probably finished, and Sharon has his justification not to have to take any more steps toward peace.
Poland’s EU referendum
OSLO — More than three-quarters of the Poles who voted in the weekend’s referendum on European Union membership supported the government’s proposal to accept the membership agreement. That was a historic decision, and we can sense its dimensions if we look back 15 years, or 200 years for that matter.
Both in the 1980s and in the 1790s, the Polish people and their leaders made clear that Poland’s place was in Western Europe. Both times, such an orientation was not acceptable to the rulers in Moscow.
The referendum’s result secures the place Poland rightfully has in the European family. It is part of the nation’s tragedy that decade after decade it was so exposed to attack from neighbors who had subjected themselves to power-hungry tyrants. Therefore, the Poles for centuries were not able to benefit from their historical anchor point. …
The referendum is significant for the Poles, and no less important for Europe. With its 40 million people … a democratic Poland contributes more new members than the other nine candidate countries put together.
TOKYO — The U.S. government has decided to send a small team of observers to monitor the [Middle East] truce. But such a team is not enough, either in its capabilities or the credibility of its neutrality. An international team should be considered that would include representatives of the European Union and Russia.
Last year, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed sending a team of U.N. officials as observers, but Israel objected, claiming the [United Nations] is against Israel.
This time, however, the painstaking efforts being put forth in peacemaking must not be left solely in the hands of the parties directly involved. Previous cease-fires have failed time after time because the parties in conflict distrusted each other so deeply. If Israel refuses to comply, the United States must apply pressure.
We hope the Arab nations will support the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas in his peacemaking efforts. Of course, they should also maintain a close watch on extremists in their respective countries and open their own dialogue with Israel.
The road to peace
BUENOS AIRES — On a path fraught with great difficulties and much controversy, the Mideast peace process is slowly but surely advancing, gaining new momentum that is breaking down the walls of distrust. … The Middle East wants peace. Israel needs peace, and so do the Palestinians. … The world over wants to contribute to building peace. As such, the road map laid out by the United States, the European Union and Russia is not just a mere call to find a minimal accord between the sides. This initiative, this international diplomacy, must reopen the road [toward a lasting peace] opened a quarter-century ago between [Israels] Menahem Begin and [Egypts] Anwar Sadat.