Israeli Press Blames Sharon, but Mainly Arafat, for Violence
The Israeli press on Monday blamed right-wing leader Ariel Sharon for igniting days of bloody riots in the Palestinian territories, but blasted Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for "orchestrating" the ensuing violence.
"Anger and embarrassment in Israel: Arafat orchestrated the riots, but it isn't clear if he controls what happens on the ground," read the front page of Maariv, which described the violence that has killed more than 30 as "a near war in the territories."
Israeli newspapers, publishing for the first time since Friday because of the Jewish new year, generally blamed opposition leader Sharon for setting off the protests by his visit Thursday to Jerusalem's mosque compound sacred also to Jews as the site of their last temple.
"If it was all foreseeable, and (Prime Minister) Ehud Barak knew Arafat was looking for a pretext to light the fire, then why was Ariel Sharon allowed to visit the Temple Mount?" Maariv asked.
"Authorizing this visit was like permitting a pyromaniac to enter an explosives factory with matches. It was an enormous provocation," Maariv added in an editorial.
The best-selling Yediot Aharonot also denounced Arafat, writing in an opinion piece that he "wants violence."
Arafat "has been searching for several months to win back his popularity on the international scene. Sharon gave him the pretext he was looking for, which he has thoroughly exploited," Yediot said.
Newspapers also focused on the wide scope of the violence, with Maariv noting that the Israeli army "for the first time used combat helicopters and anti-tank missiles against the Palestinians."
Yediot Aharonot concentrated on the violence's spread from the territories into Israel, running the headline "Violence Wins Israel's Arabs" and a picture of a helmeted soldier aiming his rifle at Arab demonstrators in Jaffa, part of Tel Aviv – JERUSALEM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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