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French press review 16 November 2012

Is Israel's latest Gaza operation part of Benjamin Netanyahu's election campaign? What does Salman Rushdie think of the latest violence? Will Israel launch a ground offensive? What can France do to stop murder in Corsica? And police dogs sniff out millions in cash.


Most dailies post comments about the Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip; in the wake of "Operation Pillar of Defence", launched by the army on Wednesday, starting with the  killing of Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

“Netanyahu: pre-electoral massacre in Gaza” headlines L'Humanité. “Gaza and Israel in flames as rockets rain from one side to the other, says Libération, while “Hamas’s missiles threaten Tel-Aviv” is Le Figaro's take.

According to the Communist Party daily, Jabari’s assassination raises the spectre of a large-scale Israeli military intervention and constitutes an “odious provocation” by Israeli leaders on the eve of legislative elections.

Israeli commentators stated that the green light for Wednesday's targeted killing was given by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministerial Forum of Nine the day before, as both sides appeared to settle into an unofficial truce after a three-day flare-up.

Salman Rushdie, author of the Satanic Verses and currently in Europe to launch his newly released autobiography Joseph Anton, discusses the Middle East escalation in an exclusive interview with Libération.

He tells Libé he expects more targeted assassinations by the Israelis. Rushdie brands the air stikes an “electoral ploy” by Israeli premier Netanyahu, weakened by the reelection of President Barak Obama with whom he has a bad relationship. Rushdie also reiterates his opposition to an Israeli attack on Iran warning that any such move could be counter-productive and rally the Iranian people further around the regime of the mullahs in Teheran.

Right-wing Le Figaro fears the worst. It explains that the riposte of 200 air strikes on Gaza is the clearest signal yet that Israel is on the verge of launching a ground operation in the Palestinian territory. The conservative daily accuses Jihadists of lighting the fire.

The Catholic newspaper La Croix agrees, saying that the spiral of violence pits the Israeli military against Palestinian combatants that are supported politically by Egypt.

Le Monde examines the prospects for peace in the Middle East, which, it says, have become bleaker. According to the paper, the effort started 30 years ago is on the brink of disaster.

For Le Monde, year after year, the two camps have displayed their inability to strike a compromise by themselves, with no Palestinian at the moment ready to accept the kind of compromise offered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Le Monde accuses him of pursuing a “purely symbolic recognition” of a Palestinian state by the United Nations as his career comes to a close.

The newspaper points to a sad truth, the fact that there is not a single international mediator, ready to stake his personality and give the smallest political credit to the mediation effort.

Parliamentary elections 2012

Corsican Mafia defies the Republic” screams Le Figaro, as Interior Minister Manuel Valls and Justice Minister Crhistiane Taubira rush to the island Thursday after the head of Corsica’s Chamber of Commerce, Jacques Nacer, was gunned down in the capital Ajaccio.

“French state on the bedside of bereaved Corsica”. Libération reports that Nacer like Antoine Sollacaro, assassinated in October, were both businessmen with close associates of Alain Orsoni, president of the football Premier League side AC Ajaccio.

L’Humanité says a 10-point government has failed to curb the crime wave on the Mediterranean island where money laundering and racketeering are fuelling deadly battles between criminal gangs.

For Le Figaro the armed struggle for independence from France waged by prominent Corsicans has been no more than a pretext for juicy dealings protected by the revolver The paper places the death toll on the island at 10 times higher than in mainland France, with police documenting 39 murders since the start of 2011. With the island's population being just over 300,000, that makes the highest homicide rate in Europe.

Aujourd’hui en France/Le Parisien reports an amazing exploit by a sniffer dog: the discovery of tens of thousands of euros at the homes of three tax evaders in the Meuse region of France. The paper says police dogs have helped the financial crime squads in France trace more than two million euros hidden by drug traffickers and money-laundering networks.


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