- The Washington Times - Friday, May 28, 2004

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Jordan Times

Israeli incursion into Rafah

AMMAN — As the world sat and watched last week, Israel entered Rafah ostensibly to root out armed Palestinians and destroy smuggling tunnels.

In the process, 43 people were killed, among them … a 3-year-old girl, who died of a bullet wound to the neck. Add to the killing of children and the unarmed, the destruction of dozens of homes.

Let there be no doubt about it: Israel did not enter Rafah to protect itself, it entered Rafah to exact revenge for the killing of 13 of its soldiers two weeks ago.

It entered Rafah to collectively punish Gazans for daring to stand up, in one way or another, to the Israeli occupation. It entered Rafah to tell the world that they can criticize until their faces turn as blue as the U.N. flag — Israel can and will do what it wants to Palestinians. And what did the world do? A U.N. Security Council resolution was passed that, for once, the United States did not veto. Europeans complained. Arabs remonstrated. Even Israelis protested.

The response from Israel? The Israeli army denied there was a humanitarian disaster in Rafah and said the number of houses demolished were inflated by “Palestinian propaganda.” Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, meanwhile, said while troops are being redeployed, “Operation Rainbow” would continue for a couple of days. In other words, Israel simply responded to international criticism by ignoring it.

It is time the European Union and the United Nations, as well as the Arab world, started pushing seriously and with determination for sanctions to be imposed on Israel.

While the United States will resist, as Washington resisted when sanctions were imposed on South Africa, the sanctions eventually worked there. They may eventually work against Israel.

El Pais

Soldiers with immunity

MADRID — The scandal over torture and mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison that is shocking the world makes immoral the Bush administration’s request for an extension of international legal immunity for its soldiers in Iraq. This position is not new. The Security Council already granted this benefit in 2002 and 2003. But the context has changed and the American request has become a challenge to the very raison d’etre of the newly created International Criminal Court: To put an end to impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity, offenses which include the events that took place behind the walls of that shameful prison.

Daily Telegraph

U.S. attack on the Shi’ites

LONDON — Yesterday’s American attack on the militia of the Shi’ite extremist Muqtada al-Sadr comes not a moment too soon. But what is its purpose?

The fear must be that this is a tactical escalation of force along a broad line of strategic retreat: biff him a bit before the next round of negotiation and accommodation begins. Obviously, Sheik al-Sadr has not won in strictly military terms, but that was never his game.

Rather, his aim was to create a political aesthetic for the gratification of certain portions of the Muslim world. He has defied the coalition and got away with it for a considerable period of time, at least in the sense of avoiding total annihilation (after the fashion of Yasser Arafat’s escape from Israel’s clutches in 1982 Lebanon). …

Iraq’s Shi’ite majority, especially, was disempowered under the largely Sunni Ba’athists. Since Saddam Hussein was overthrown, they have been told by the Western powers that there must be a dramatic slowdown in de-Ba’athification for the sake of “national reconciliation,” “affirmative action” for their Sunni oppressors; and now, their political fate is to be molded by the United Nations’ special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, a Sunni Arab nationalist of the old school who had few problems with Saddam.

Inevitably, even the least sectarian of the Iraqi Shi’ites are asking: Is the political playing field to be tilted against them once more for the sake of the West’s overarching relationship with their Sunni Arab neighbors?

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