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FRANCE



Published: Mon, May 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Le Monde, Paris, May 1: Protesting is a form of political engagement. In a democracy, it is no less legitimate than participating in an election, signing a petition or being a member of a political party. Since the first-round of the election all these means have been used against Jean-Marie Le Pen, particularly by the young, who forcefully condemn racism and xenophobia, loudly proclaiming their attachment to human rights, defending these values of the Republic.

There isn't any reason to pit the street and the election booth against each other, like some leaders of the right have done. Jean-Pierre Raffarin said he was worried by "the scope of the protests" the risk of provocation and the "boomerang effect" that could benefit Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Principles in danger

Those who have mobilized themselves in the defense of democracy are only saying that some of the great principles of the country are in danger. They are heard to proclaim loudly and strongly that which unites the community against what is dividing it. In the streets and in the voting booths.

JORDAN

Jordan Times, Amman, April 29: Shockingly unable to grasp the extent of the damage Ariel Sharon is inflicting on the cause of peace in the Middle East, the United States is doing nothing significant to stop the Israeli prime minister from dragging the region deeper into conflict. Washington is failing to see that Sharon will abort any effort aimed at reinvigorating the political process because that will doom his government and defeat his strategic goal of destroying Oslo as an agreement and as a principle.

Sharon is driving a whole people to despair. In Palestine, in Israel and beyond, the extremist agenda is gaining ground. The impact of this on the processes of democratization, modernization and subscription to a global ethic of accepting and respecting the other is enormous.

President Bush and his advisers belittle the significance of these factors and do not seem to take into consideration when they formulate their policy, or rather do formulate a policy, on the Middle East.

Tiger by the tail

Sharon, with the U.S. behind him, is holding a tiger by the tail. Once he lets it loose, and soon he will have to, Arabs, Israelis and Americans will have to face this explosive Middle East reality. The encounter will be much more difficult and costly than Bush is willing to comprehend.

ISRAEL

Ha'aretz, Tel Aviv, May 1: While the government is conducting a difficult campaign to guarantee that the IDF's (Israeli Defense Forces) good name will not be besmirched by a U.N. investigation of the events at the Jenin refugee camp, it turns out that some IDF soldiers brought shame on themselves, and the army, through acts of vandalism and, in some cases, looting during Operation Defensive Shield. By doing so, they cast a shadow over the many soldiers who made an effort to behave properly and with humanitarian sensitivity during the campaign.

Reports about destruction of property by soldiers, which allegedly took place outside the course of the fighting itself, have unfortunately now been confirmed by the army. There were more than a few occasions in which private property owned by Palestinian families was vandalized indiscriminately, and without any visible purpose other than vandalism for its own sake.

Criminal behavior

There is no justification for relaxing military discipline, even during combat, nor is there any room for turning a blind eye to criminal behavior. Nor does the bitter emotional atmosphere in the country, a result of the chain of suicide bombings preceding the operation, justify or excuse any of those phenomena.

Thus, the awkward question must be asked: Where were the commanders, both senior and junior, when these intolerable acts were committed?

But to buttress the official explanation, and, even more importantly, to reinforce proper norms of purity of arms in the IDF, a much more vigorous and wide-scale investigation is required. Trials must be conducted and heavy sentences imposed to deter those who vandalized and looted, and by doing so, trod under foot both the good name of the army and the honor of the state.

ITALY

La Repubblica, Rome: The 20th century has witnessed unprecedented situations of mass killings, deportations, and ethnic cleansing. However, the institution of the U.N. war crimes tribunal brings a concrete hope that these barbaric acts can be consistently diminished in the future.

Public opinion, the media, humanitarian organizations, and justice workers must push reluctant countries to accept the tribunal in order to make it truly international. Furthermore, the court must transform itself ... into a functioning tribunal capable of performing legitimate investigations, indictments, verdicts, and sentences.

Human rights violations

Even when the tribunal functions effectively, it will not be able to address all human rights violations and it is illusionary to think that one consolidated judicial authority will be able to respond to the numerous demands of justice throughout the world. For this reason, the court must work hard to integrate itself into national justice systems. Belgium, which adopted a law in 1999 that placed international war crimes under domestic jurisdiction, must not be the exception, but the example.




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