Le Matin, Lausanne, Jan. 22: Unhurried but methodical, Ariel Sharon is continuing with the slow strangulation of the Palestinian Authority and its head, Yasser Arafat.
Arafat, who has been a "prisoner" in Ramallah since Dec. 3 and who now has the Tsahal tanks beneath his windows, could do nothing except complain about the latest tightening of the screws by the Israeli prime minister: the reoccupation of the town of Tulkarem.
For the moment Sharon is perfectly in line with the majority of public opinion and he seems determined to succeed today where he failed 20 years ago in Lebanon -- by putting the Palestinian leader and his plans for an independent state out of the running.
Carte blanche: What's tragic is that nobody is worrying about this. Especially not the Americans, without whom -- whether we like it or not -- no hope of peace is conceivable in the region. It must be said that, after originally leading people to believe that it would adopt a more balanced attitude toward the Middle East following the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration seems to have given Israel carte blanche.
That choice was reinforced by ex-President Clinton who, on a private visit to Jerusalem, thought fit to hammer the point home by accusing the head of the Palestinian Authority -- whom he will not meet -- of having "missed a golden opportunity" by rejecting the Camp David Accords.
For Arafat, more isolated and powerless than ever, the words of his "friend" Clinton must have been very bitter.
Ha'aretz, Tel Aviv, Jan. 23: The deadlock in the peace process and the absence of an Israeli, American or Palestinian initiative, will continue to nourish the violent dialogue of Palestinian terrorist attacks and Israeli assassinations. The declaration, attributed yesterday to Hamas, about a general war against Israel is the latest testimony to the nature of the escalation which can be expected.
Maximum restraint: In such a situation, in which political wisdom is absent, one can only demand and hope that Israel will impose maximum restraint on its forces. They should prevent terrorist attacks, but not punish. This war is against terrorism, not against the Palestinian Authority.
The Independent, London, Jan. 22: More than any other designer since Chanel, YSL represented Paris as the style leader, with couture that set the way women looked and wanted to look.
By putting a woman in a man's tuxedo, he changed fashion forever, in a style that has never dated. But haute couture has moved on to different fields.
Saint Laurent's parting shots against an industry taken over by the "marketers" bears some of the nostalgia that older practitioners of all sorts of crafts feel. But it has an element of truth, too. Milan's challenge to Paris failed because it was all too easily taken over by the big entrepreneurs keen to use clothes as the background to a more lucrative trade in accessories.
Creative minds: New York never quite managed because the market controlled the ideas from the first. Paris rules because it is the city that takes fashion seriously, that thinks it is worth getting artists to design fabrics, creative minds to coddle the female form, and great craftsmen to cut to fit.
Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo, Jan. 23: A two-day international conference on the reconstruction assistance for Afghanistan wrapped up Tuesday in Tokyo after the announcement of a report by the four parties that cochaired the conference -- Japan, the United States, Saudi Arabia and the European Union.
The report called for the creation of an "implementation group," to comprise international organizations such as the World Bank and donor countries, to compile and coordinate the basic policies of the reconstruction process.
Reconstruction programs: A central premise of the aid program should be that the Afghan people themselves take the initiative in reconstructing their country. It will be meaningless if financial assistance is not utilized effectively and transparently.

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