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Highlights from the world's press

Compiled by Ravi Agrawal for CNN
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(CNN) -- In the wake of recent comments on Iraq by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying "It is their country ... They're going to have to govern it, they're going to have to provide security for it, and they're going to have to do it sooner rather than later," The Washington Post says his declaration is "wrong and morally contemptible, and it endangers American security around the world."

"The current crisis in Iraq is no more just an Iraqi problem than it has ever been. The U.S. military destroyed Iraq's government and all institutions able to keep civil order. It designated itself an "occupying force," thereby accepting the responsibility to restore and maintain such order. And yet U.S. Central Command never actually made establishing order and security a priority. Its commander throughout the insurgency, Gen. John Abizaid, has instead repeatedly declared that America's role is primarily to train Iraqi forces to put down their own rebellion and maintain order," says The Post.


The New York Times says that while Israeli Prime Minster Ehud Olmert's decision to bring the "pro-settler Israel Beiteinu party into his governing coalition reinforces his vulnerable parliamentary majority," it also makes it "virtually impossible for Mr. Olmert to carry out the partial West Bank withdrawal program he ran on just seven months ago."

"American and European diplomats have been arguing that the one positive result of the Lebanon war could be new momentum toward a wider Middle East peace. The idea was that a new awareness of the limits of Israeli military power and growing Arab fears of Shiite radicalism would push both sides toward the necessary compromises. That now seems less likely than ever. The chief Palestinian party, Hamas, refuses to take the most minimal steps required for diplomatic credibility -- a clear rejection of terrorism, acceptance of prior agreements and acknowledgment of Israel's legitimacy. Efforts by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to bring Hamas around have not gotten as much support as they should from Israel. With Israel Beiteinu joining Mr. Olmert's coalition, they are likely to get even less."

Israel's Haaretz says that "over the last few weeks, the Israeli government has changed dramatically, as manifested by Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman's entry into the coalition. But the dispute over the personality and outlook of the minister-to-be for strategic threats has concealed a more important and more interesting change: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has adopted the positions of Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu."

Pakistan's Dawn has decried the killing of seven Palestinians in Gaza, as a gift to "all Muslims on the occasion of Eidul Fitr."

"At a time when all well-meaning people in the world are talking about the need for inter-faith harmony and a sustained dialogue between Muslims, Christians and Jews, the Israeli war machine did not hesitate to gun down six civilians so long as it was able to assassinate one militant -- Atta al-Shimbari, a member of the Popular Resistance Committee... If America is serious about winning "Muslim hearts and minds," it must make a determined move to revive the peace process with the aim of achieving the two-state solution to which President George Bush committed himself when he unveiled the roadmap in April 2003. Without the emergence of a sovereign Palestinian state, peace in the Middle East will remain a mirage."

Half-open door

The UK's Times says while the British proposal to limit jobs available to workers from Romania and Bulgaria is a much-needed pause in the country's open-door policy, it is not clear whether it will be able to limit illegal workers.

"The Government has promised tough sanctions on black market businesses, and on-the-spot fines on illegal workers. It has also doubled the budget for enforcement. But this will still be hard to police... There is also a serious danger that the work permit system will drive people into the informal economy, opening themselves up to exploitation on sub-minimum wages and depriving the Exchequer of tax revenue."

Battle for "White" House

The Guardian in the UK says today that U.S. Republicans are deploying a "racially-charged fear" with the congressional elections two weeks away.

"Republicans continue to demonize the possible new committee chairs, and they are focusing on those Democrats who are black... Fear and sleaze. Will any of this work for the getting-desperate-by-the-day Republicans? And is more on the way? Indeed, the stakes are high. That's why Democrats ought to brace themselves for a blitz of below-the-belt ads in the dwindling days of this campaign."

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