Media outlets from around the Middle East extensively reported on the swearing-in of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his new government. Some leading Arab networks broadcast live segments of the speeches made by Mr. Netanyahu and outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
While Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told various media he would “cooperate with any government that is committed to final-status arrangement negotiations for the two peoples,” other neighbors were less than accommodating.
Syria and Iran, Israel’s two biggest threats in the Islamic world, issued few words except to lambaste what they called the swearing-in of “a new racist Zionist enemy government” in “occupied Palestine.”
Hamas sources said the inauguration of the Netanyahu government was of no concern to them, saying, “This is one criminal replacing another criminal.”
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The Palestinian leadership spent time recently preparing its response to the new Israeli government, through consultations with its allies in the Arab world.
Senior Palestinian Authority sources told the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom Mr. Abbas had met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia during the Arab League’s recent Doha summit to update them regarding the Palestinian Authority’s position on cooperation with the Netanyahu government.
The Palestinian sources also said Mr. Netanyahu’s statements were “vague with regard to the continuation of the peace process, and this is worrying.”
During news reports on the swearing-in of Mr. Netanyahu’s government, Egyptian media gave extensive commentary on statements made two days ago by Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
According to Mr. Gheit’s statements, his government believes “the composition of the new [Israeli] government does not project optimism regarding the continuation of the peace process.”
The Egyptian media also quoted last night senior sources in the Egyptian Foreign Ministry who said “the Egyptian government will find it difficult to work properly with the Israeli Foreign Ministry headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.”
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org