- The Washington Times - Friday, December 16, 2005

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Jerusalem Post

The Rafah agreement

JERUSALEM — By signing — under intense pressure from the Quartet — the post-disengagement Rafah agreement on Nov. 15 with the Palestinian Authority, Israel committed itself not only to an international crossing on the Gaza-Egypt border, but to facilitating the movement of goods and people between the Palestinian territories.

Specifically, Jerusalem promised that by Dec. 15 it would allow bus convoys to transit Gaza and the West Bank. …

Sure enough, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is having second thoughts about the Thursday deadline — and for good reason. The daily prospect of some 1,800 Palestinians traversing between Gaza and the West Bank is worrisome in the context of the grim security situation and Israel’s sense that the PA is not living up to the spirit of Rafah.

Israel entered into the Rafah agreement with trepidation. But Washington’s arm-twisting convinced Jerusalem that cameras and computer data streams would give Israeli security personnel capability to monitor what was happening at the Gaza-Sinai crossing.

The World Bank complains that Israel’s repeated closures have made it difficult for Palestinians to do business among themselves and with the outside world. The World Bank argues that the Palestinian economy has not bounced back to its 1999 pre-intifada levels, and blames Israel. …

But the World Bank’s complaint is misdirected. Had the PA fulfilled its road map obligations and dismantled the terrorist infrastructure, the Palestinian economy and population would not be hampered by closures. Like the security fence and checkpoints, closures are self-inflicted by Palestinian violence.

La Repubblica

On the death penalty

ROME — There is no more decisive issue than the death penalty … separating Europe from the United States. Even more than the use of torture or pre-emptive war.

If an explanation, rather than a justification, can be put forward for the American tenacity, this lies within the nature of the U.S. democracy, so profoundly different from European democracies. In a direct democracy, in which the relationship between elected and electors is far more immediate than it has been in Italy until now, if the citizens are in favor of the gallows, their representatives do not have much choice. They can be, and many are in private, horrified. But very few … have sufficient courage to offer resistance.

Naturally, the key to direct democracy does not help us understand why two-thirds of Americans, and the large majority of those who claim … to be devoted Christians, continue to support the death penalty.

Observer

Montreal climate talks

LONDON — It would be foolish not to see hopeful signs in the conclusion of the Montreal climate talks last weekend. Any agreement backed by the Bush administration that is also hailed by green groups, including Friends of the Earth, clearly has something going for it. No concrete proposals were debated in Canada. Nonetheless, it is significant that the United States, India and China — some of the world’s main carbon dioxide producers — now seem prepared to talk about controlling their emissions beyond 2012, when the current Kyoto climate deals run out. If nothing else, it gives the world a platform on which to build better, more meaningful deals. We should not let our optimism run out of control, however. For a start, any reduction in carbon dioxide emissions achieved by 2012 are destined to be painfully small. Each signatory nation has agreed to reduce emissions by 5.2 per cent of its 1990 output. But given that the U.S., the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, as well as India and China, refused to sign up to Kyoto, there will be no halt in atmospheric change and little chance Earth will stop warming in that period. On the other hand, it is clear the world is hardening in attitude to carbon emissions — even in the United States. … The world — thankfully — is slowly waking up to the danger of global warming. Whether it does so in time, is a different matter.

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