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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Review of the Arab press

AMMAN, Jordan, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Arab press roundup for Dec. 12:

Arab newspapers condemned Tuesday the killing of three Palestinian school children in Gaza by unidentified gunmen amid political tension between rival Fatah and Hamas factions. The Palestinian al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, linked to Fatah, said in a commentary the Israelis and the rest of the world will now say the Palestinians are killing each other, even each others' children. It criticized the Hamas interior minister, saying the Hamas-held authorities managed within two hours to capture the gunmen who fired at his convoy recently, but the killers of the children, "or the anonymous militias," will remain loose in the streets. "Where will these militias be that killed the children of long-time struggler Bahaa Baalousha (a top Fatah security officer), who was being hunted by the occupation authorities for many years?" the daily asked. It indicated these militias were well-known, yet remain anonymous, and wondered when the interior minister will be questioned. It asked when Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will cut short his visit from abroad to confront the security deterioration at home. Addressing Haniyeh, it asked: "When will you move? The blood being shed in the streets is the blood of your own children and life, blood of your future and history. When will we see you in the streets protesting?"

The London-based al-Quds al-Arabi said the gunmen who killed Baalousha's three children and their driver show the rising level of security deterioration in the Palestinian territories, particularly in Gaza. The independent Palestinian-owned daily described Monday's attack as a "cowardly act and reveals the absence of minimum Arab and Islamic principles among those killers." It stressed it is not enough for Hamas to condemn the attack, but should work seriously to capture the killers and bring them to justice, adding the group should also distance itself from the attackers and other similar ones. The paper added the fact that thousands of people took part in the children's funerals represents a true "Palestinian popular referendum that rejects such crimes and opposes the security deterioration." It said the Hamas government is largely to blame for the worsening conditions, warning the Israeli-occupied territories are quickly sinking towards bloody confrontations. "An eruption of a civil war will be a disaster for the Palestinian people," it said, "and if such an eruption takes place, God forbid, then the two main movements (Fatah and Hamas) will be to blame for the results."

Qatar's al-Rayah said in its editorial the killing of three innocent children with a barrage of more than 60 bullets in an assassination attempt against their father should not pass without action since it is a dangerous precedent that would imminently affect the entire Palestinian cause. The pro-government daily said the deteriorating political and security conditions require all sides to exercise self-restraint and for each faction to prevent its armed groups from pulling everyone into a civil war. It urged Fatah and Hamas leaders to reconsider their positions and resume their negotiations to form a new government and find another option that would avert an internal struggle. If the Palestinians don't pay attention to the new realities, it warned, the killing of the children and the recent assassination attempt against the Hamas interior minister are merely a beginning of internal violence that could spiral out of control.

Lebanon's al-Liwaa remarked the majority of the Lebanese are no longer betting on an agreement between the political rivals to get the country out of the crisis escalating in the streets. The daily, owned by a Sunni family, said it has now become clear the current street protests by the opposition are only a reflection of an extended regional crisis in terms of inter-Arab differences over Iran's agenda. It argued in its editorial this is not the first time Lebanon bears the consequences of inter-Arab differences, insisting the Lebanese crisis can be resolved within hours if there is agreement between Saudi Arabia and Syria, for example. "It is high time to admit that Lebanon, in terms of government and all the constitutional institutions, cannot resolve" the crisis alone, it said, adding the continued Arab tensions require Lebanese leaders to exercise maximum wisdom and to work towards resolving their differences internally. It called on Lebanese politicians to start by stopping all forms of mobilization in the street and in the media, as well as to stop rhetoric that feeds sectarian divisions. The paper said the leaders must also stop involving the military institution into their political differences.

Jordanian newspapers spread their front pages with photos and news of several Parliament members who beat up some photojournalists after taking pictures of legislators involved in a fist-fight in the House Monday. They all condemned the attack on the press photographers and vowed to boycott the House sessions until the legislators and Parliament Speaker Abdul Hadi Majali, who confiscated some cameras and films, formally apologize to the journalists and local media in general. The independent al-Ghad daily published a cartoon regarding the issue and drew a parallel with recent student violence at the state Yarmouk University in northern Jordan in which scores of students were hurt. Yarmouk University has the largest school of journalism in the kingdom. The cartoon, titled "Violence at the university and violence in Parliament," shows young men throwing rocks at each other, punching and kicking each other, while a Jordanian man looking at the scene from his window speaks on the phone. He is saying: "Student violence at Yarmouk University? No, no, not at all. This is not true. This is a special training course for the journalism and media students on how to cover Parliament news."
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