Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Friday, 23 November, 2001, 12:42 GMT
What hope for Middle East peace?
Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air:


Some political leaders are saying that until the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is solved, there can be no real end to what they call the war against global terrorism.

The US, concerned that regional instability could jeopardise its anti-Taleban coalition, has put pressure on both sides to stop the violence of recent weeks.

But the killing goes on both sides, despite the partial withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Palestinian towns and cities that they reoccupied after the murder of an Israeli Cabinet Minister by Palestinian gunmen last month.

Is peace in the Middle East crucial to the coalition's war on terror? Can the bloodshed be stopped? Do you think leaders in the Middle East are making genuine progress toward peace in the region?

We took your calls on this subject in Talking Point ON AIR, the BBC World Service and News Online phone-in programme which was presented by Robin Lustig. Our guest in the studio was Ghada Karmi, Vice chair of the Council for the Advancement of Arab British Understanding.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

  • Your comments since the programme
  • Your comments during the programme
  • Your comments before the programme

    Your comments since the programme

    I'm beginning to think we are not a very courageous people if we can't look more honestly at our direct accountablility in the Middle East conflicts.

    Marion, USA
    I am astonished to find so many open discussions on the Israeli issue all in one place. In the US news we are never exposed to such open and un-spun discussions. There are too many fears of being branded anti-Semitic from Jews in this country - anti-Semitism here seems to be defined as anything less than full support of Israel. I'm beginning to think we are not a very courageous people if we can't look more honestly at our direct accountablility in the Middle East conflicts. I am heartened to see the EU take more direct action in the region since we seem to lack the moral strength.

    Patriotism used to mean courage to defend truths, now it seems to mean a blind acceptance to whatever the President directs. I have to applaud Arrafat for not accepting the peace terms offered to him at Camp David....he would have betrayed his people if he had accepted the Oslo division of land - what an absolute affront to the Palestinian people that map conveys! I also have a great admiration for the American Jews' contributions to our country's identity....I see a people who have been so deeply traumatized that no one can expect them to shake off their nightmares any time soon, and yet they have risen to greatness in many professions and civic efforts in this country. It is strange to me that Israel's hardliners are defining the Jewish identity in the Middle East, when it is the Jewish vote that keeps our political hardliners in check.
    Marion , West Palm Beach, FL, USA

    Israel is prepared for a diplomatic solution.

    Simon G, London
    Israel is prepared for a diplomatic solution. Opinion polls show the majority favour the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of the process. However, the Palestinians walked away from the negotiating table at Camp David and embarked on a campaign of terror and violence. The Arab world and Palestinians have shown no willingness to accept any kind of Jewish state in the Middle East since 1948. Until they do, there will never be peace in the region.
    Simon G, London

    If people are talking they are not killing. If neither side is happy then compromise is working. There is always hope of non-violent solutions as long as both parties are talking.
    Scott Myatt, New Braunfels, Texas, USA

    Peace will only come when both sides recognise the justice of the other side's claims. Israelis view themselves as the original inhabitants. From a Jewish point of view, they are returning to their own country. That is precisely the point of view of the Palestinians as well. Both have to recognise each other's rights to all the land, and then sit down to figure out the next steps.
    Gabriel Motzkin, Jerusalem, Israel

    Human common sense and decency unites people across borders

    Dr Daoud Hilal, Abu Dhabi, UAE
    As an Arab and Lebanese who is naturally pro-Palestinian, I am very impressed how many European views have expressed sympathy for the Palestinian cause. I thank the BBC for showing this fact. It has only proved to me that human common sense and decency unites people across borders.
    Dr Daoud Hilal, Abu Dhabi, UAE

    It is the Palestinians' turn in the peace process to make their move. Their move should be to put an end to terrorism. After all, what's the whole idea of a peace process about? It's about ending the violence. So far, the Palestinian Authority hasn't done anything in that direction. On the contrary - the official media of the PA has programming filled with hatred and incitement of violence against Israelis. Until this is stopped there will be no peace.
    Mitch Haskel, Burlington, Vermont, USA

    Thank you for an excellent programme, a crucial issue, covered in depth
    Phil Toms, Auckland, New Zealand

    Israel would not be in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, if, in 1967, the surrounding Arab countries had not massed their troops on Israel's borders, called for Jews to be driven into the sea and forced the United Nations peacekeepers to leave. Only when these countries genuinely accept that the Jews are entitled to one tiny country where they can have self-determination and protection, should Israel give back the West Bank and Gaza strip, including all settlements. The old city of Jerusalem should become an international city and then there will some hope for peace.
    Jane Peirce, Toronto, Canada

    Our government needs to stand for justice for both the Palestinian people and the Israelis

    Stephen Bertram, san francisco
    The problem in Afghanistan is linked to the Middle East conflict if for the only reason that it lends some credibility to the causes of the people involved. However, the September 11 attack in the United States can be linked to the past associations of our government, i.e. Iran in the early 1950's, Lebanon in the 1980's. The US is disliked for these past actions. This also feeds into the present conflict in the Middle East as we are associated strongly with Israel and its policies. Our government needs to stand for justice for both the Palestinian people and the Israelis.
    stephen Bertram, san francisco

    Nobody has yet mentioned a simple fact: the groups of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and pflp, who regularly take responsibility for the terror attacks on Israeli buses, restaurants etc, are OPPOSED to any settlement with Israel. They have been so since the beginning of the peace process in 1993, and have remained so even during periods of Israeli concessions. The inevitable conclusion is that no Israeli concession is ever going to convince them. They are terrorists because they are terrorists. Whether or not they are linked to Bin Laden is a different matter, which I hope the BBC will investigate and inform us.
    anat, israel

    Unless and until the US gets back the confidence of the Arabs ,there will be no peace in the ME. Only the US can take actions, which will gain the confidence of all parties. Until that day there will be attacks on both Israelis and the US interest in the World. The problem is neither Osama nor Afghanistan but the partnership of US and Israel.
    Arif Sayed, Dubai,UAE

    The peace process should be handled by an unbiased more internationally thinking body

    Rob Harding, Spain
    US & Israel are one, the peace process should be handled by an unbiased more internationally thinking body (Europe for example). We should not allow obvious wrongs in the world to fester for so long. I don't see that righting a wrong should be seen as giving in to terrorism.
    Rob Harding, Spain

    The root problem in the Middle East is the determination of the US and UK to maintain their domination over, and exploitation of, the peoples and natural resources of the region. Sponsorship of Israel is one component of this, as is also the corrupt relationship between the so-called western democracies and the Arab elites.
    John Smith, Sheffield England

    Your comments during the programme

    There needs to be a just solution for the Palestinians immediately, however this will not dissipate the energy garnered by extremist and terrorist groups. Israeli and American injustice becomes a convenient ideological hook on which to hang their disaffection. Were this hook to be removed, these people would doubtless find another cause to engage their energies, not least a sense of unfinished business in the form of evening up of the account with Israel.
    Toby Kubitz, Erfurt, Germany

    There will be no peace in the Middle East as long as USA and the West in general are supporting Israel unconditionally

    Ahmed, Sydney
    There is no concrete proof to connect Bin Laden to the attack against USA, however there will be no peace in the Middle East as long as USA and the West in general are supporting Israel unconditionally.
    ahmed, Sydney

    We in the West could do well to consider and reflect on just what it is that incenses some Muslims and Islamic nations. Not that we should compromise beliefs or ideologies, but at least to appreciate the differences. Our Western Liberal tradition - based on the sovereignty of the individual - freedom to do pursue our self-interest in difference to others, but not to any moral code is what appears to conflict with Islamic sensibilities and casts us in the West as the 'infidel'.
    Jerry Johnson

    If the US continues its policy of supporting Israel, and not resolving the Palestinian problem, then there can never be peace

    Mohammed Abdel, Brussels Belgium

    If the US continues its policy of supporting Israel, and not resolving the Palestinian problem, then there can never be peace in the middle east and more bin laden's will come.
    Mohammed Abdel, Brussels Belgium

    The attack on 11th of September was directed at America not the World community. One of the main reason for this is a perceived one-sided American foreign policy favouring the Israelis. Until this changes there will be no peace in the Middle East.
    Arif Sayed, Dubai,UAE

    A big part of the Middle East problem is the massive ignorance among the American people about the plight of Palestinians over the past half-century. I am a non-Jewish American, but I perceive now is that Muslims in general and Palestinians in particular have been massively inept at selling their point of view to the American public. Americans are disposed to justice, but the Palestinian case has never been made to them-- compellingly, systematically, persistently. The BBC's own Jeremy Bowen made the point last August that Muslims need a good public relations agency!
    Richard NEFF

    We are seeing an increase in the popularity of the extreme viewpoint

    Nada Al-Awar Beirut, Lebanon
    Anyone who argues the point that there is no connection between America's war on terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is either ignorant of the reality of the situation in the Middle East or deliberately trying to distort the truth. Those of us in this region - Arabs and Israelis alike - who are interested in a true peace, i.e. one that will ensure the creation of a completely independent Palestinian state and an end of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, are extremely worried right now because what we are seeing is an increase in the popularity of the extreme viewpoint - whether it be of Ariel Sharon and his right-wing government or the kinds of extremist groups that have spread terror in countries like Algeria and Afghanistan.

    If the western world does not wake up to the fact that the only way there can ever be an end to one of the main justifications for terrorism is the recognition of the right of Palestinians to self-determination like any other people in this world, then the consequences will be dire for all of us, Arabs, Israelis and western democracies alike.
    Nada Al-Awar Beirut, Lebanon

    Of course there is a tie-up between the Isreali-Palestinian affairs and the present crisis. Whoever is right or wrong is another point. We'll never know for sure if we don't, not just talk but listen, to one another. Whatever happened to "Better jaw jaw than war war"? It's fine to say we're fighting terrorism but what else is the deployment of cluster bombs but to create ongoing terror in the area where they are dropped? So whose hands are totally clean then?
    Teresa Baldwinson

    There'll be no resolution to Afghanistan etc., until Israel observes the UN resolutions on land in Palestine. This means the key move is for the US to break their link with Israel.
    Adam Thomson, Brussels, Belgium

    I sympathise whole-heartedly with Israel. India too has had its 'bitter experience' with Islamic extremists. They exist because of their belief in 'holy war'. Well,someone should tell them that this 'holy war' is not so holy after all because it breeds terrorism
    Anonymous, India

    Only when the Jew or the Arab respects the other, treats him or her with courtesy and tolerance, can understanding happen

    Manisha, India/Birmingham
    It will only be resolved with respect and tolerance and courtesy. Jews has no respect for Arabs, calling them foul names and visa versa. One side does not see the other as entitled to the same rights and respect. Only when the Jew or the Arab respects the other, treats him or her with courtesy and tolerance, can understanding happen...however this can be a bit hard with Islamic 'holy war' - no desire to understand the non muslim...
    Manisha, India/Birmingham

    While peace in the Middle East may not eliminate the kind of atrocities the world has witnessed in Israel, Palestine, and, since 9/11, in the US, it will go a very long way to reduce them. Much as I condemn the actions of Mr. Bin Laden's al-Qaida network, his argument that the people of the US will have no peace unless the Palestinians do, is painfully true. A Middle East peace treaty will not only lessen support for the Bin Laden's of this world, but will also substantially reduce the risk of something on the scale of 9/11 ever happening again.
    Marinus Stephan Ohio, USA

    Your comments before we went ON AIR

    Nothing will ever be settled until both sides admit they are going to have to coexist

    Tom, Tennessee, USA
    The central issue is that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians seem willing to deal with reality. Deep down, the Palestinians seem to think they can magically make Israel disappear, and everything will be back to where it was pre-1948. For its part, Israel seems to think it can make the Palestinians disappear and re-establish the borders of the old Hasmonean (or even Davidic)kingdom. Nothing will ever be settled until both sides admit they are going to have to coexist.
    Tom, Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA

    In response to Rachel, USA: The reason why most people feel it is the responsibility of the US to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is because the US is the biggest supporter of Israel. And therefore has the most influence over them. Military grants alone, over the last 15 years, has been over $40 billion. And these are the very weapons and military units, used by the Israeli forces, to kill Arabs on a daily basis. So this explains the anti-american feelings held by many Arabs in this region.
    Matt Rose, UK

    Even if the Palestinians get some kind of 'homeland', I don't believe the fundementalist groups like Hamas and Hizbollah will be able to let sleeping dogs lie. As with the Taleban, they are tunnel-visioned, full of hatred and incapable of compromise. So, I don't think peace in the Middle East, however much we all want it, is going to happen.
    Simon, East Grinstead, UK

    "Some political leaders are saying that until the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is solved, there can be no real end to what they call the war against global terrorism." is the headline. Hell---o? It seems to me as if the whole world is saying this, but lack of balanced reporting means that it is a side issue to most people. It has conveniently been swept aside until now, but if world peace is important (sounds like a daft question), then this issue needs to be addressed.
    Christopher Laird, Tokyo, Japan

    You can keep this talking point open for several years, but the fundamental question will ever remain unanswered. Should the two sides be seriously interested in solving this draconian problem once for all, they have to first sink their differences and return to the negotiating table. Any amount of mediation by a third country including the US will not do any good unless the peoples of the two states start believing in restoring trust, peace and non-violence. Diplomacy bears fruits when the violence ends.
    Mahesh Chandra Somani, Oulu, Finland

    You can lead a horse to water, folks, but you can't make it drink

    Brett, Denver, Colorado, USA
    Again the world falls in line, with the strongest words from the Saudis: What will the U.S. do to stop the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? I ask: When will the Israelis and Palestinians end their own conflict. You can lead a horse to water, folks, but you can't make it drink.
    Brett, Denver, Colorado, USA

    President Bush has said: "these are hard times, we have to make tough decisions..." Why does he not make some tough decisions and do more than talk about a Palestinian state?
    D K Green, Scherervill, USA

    Can anyone tell me why the Palestinians should stop fighting and negotiate when Mr. Sharon has already declared they will not get an offer as good as the one they have already rejected? And also, why they should have accepted this "great" offer that left their new country split into four separate sections with its airports, borders, and even all drinkable water left under Israeli control? What country would agree to live under these conditions?
    Joel, Enfield, Ct. USA

    How can Israel claim it wants peace while simultaneously occupying most of the West Bank and part of Gaza, expanding Jewish settlements and Jewish-only roads, destroying Palestinian houses and uprooting Palestinians from their homes? Actions speak louder than words!
    S. Madanat, Berkeley, USA

    It needs to stop on its own account

    David, Houston USA
    The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians needs to be solved if for no other reason then it has been going on for too long. Whether it will stop the Bin Laden's of this world or not is not the point. It needs to stop on its own account
    David, Houston USA

    Can anyone give an simple statistics: How many Israelis and how many Palestinians have been killed since 1948?
    Habib, Dallas, US

    I feel as though the US has acted like a school marm, over the past 3 or 4 decades, constantly separating two boys (Israel & Palestine) destined to fight till one is clearly yelling uncle. "Have at it boys", we are not looking.
    Theresa, Chicago, US

    There can only be peace in the Middle East when the people of the Middle East decide they truly want it. I feel that because several generations have grown up in war that they know nothing else but war. Peace is a foreign concept to them! You must alter the mind-set of the new generations before peace can be a reality, and this won't happen overnight. If, however, the citizens of the middle east want to enjoy an industrialized and "peaceful" society rather than remain 2nd class citizens in the third world they had better consider viable options to achieve peace on there own rather than waiting for the U.S. to solve there problems for them.
    William, Columbus, Ohio USA

    What do they want from us?

    Rachel, USA
    I admit I know very little about the Middle East conflict. But the things I really wish someone could explain to me are: Why do so many consider it the responsibility of the US alone to solve the Israeli-PA problem? Why doesn't the UN step in and just settle it? And why do anti-American Arabs loathe the US merely for existing and simultaneously loathe the US for not fixing their governments and handing out cash? Schizophrenia seems rampant in these populations. What do they want from us???
    Rachel, USA

    Israelis do not want to fight. They have fought long enough. The State of Israel fights for its very existence. Essentially, the Israelis know that they need peace. However, they cannot allow Arafat to engineer a "peace" that will ultimately lead to the eradication of the state of Israel. For example, the "right of return" is something that would lead toward the end of the Jewish state. One can ask for peace, but not for a compromise that will bring an end to the only Jewish state in the entire world.
    Demian, USA

    Until Jerusalem becomes an international city with the sites of all monotheistic religions protected there are few chances for lasting peace in the region
    Navaid Syed, London, UK

    What if the agendas of al Qaeda and others are far broader?

    Alex Cutelli, Gloucester UK
    There is a widely held assumption that grievances among Arabs and Muslims re: the Palestine question, sanctions on Iraq etc. lie at the heart of international terrorism, and that by rectifying these issues 'Islamic' terrorism will cease. What if the agendas of al Qaeda and others are far broader? E.g. the destruction of global capitalism, and the enforcement of pan-Islamism worldwide (see al Muhajiroun's website). Like the far left terror groups of the 70's and 80's, the agenda of al Qaeda may be one of a broad political/religious philosophy rather than specific issues. If so, then settlement of the Palestine question may be irrelevant. After all, those detained for the US terror attacks were middle class Egyptians and Saudis and not disenfranchised Palestinians or Afghanis.
    Alex Cutelli, Gloucester UK

    The bloodshed will stop only when the two parties fighting one another are tired of dying.
    Richard Hicks, Amarillo, Texas USA

    Diplomacy is the way to peace. In other words, when one party hears arguments they don't like, they should negotiate further instead of throwing all the toys out of their pram. Some people here agree with Arafat's demands that not only should a Palestinian state be created but that refugees (three million!) should return to Israel. Not to Palestine but to Israel!! Amazing. So, because Israel said 'no thanks', the Palestinians chose to replace negotiations with murder. When the killing stops, the negotiations will begin again. I hope. In Northern Ireland we had a devolved Government after the IRA declared a ceasefire, not before.
    David Wiseman, Oxford, UK

    If Bush continued to make the progress in the peace process that Clinton started he could have probably saved a few thousand deaths.
    Ratna Sengupta, MD, USA

    Neither side wants this to end. There is too much money involved. If peace came about, the money at some point would dry up and then the leaders of both side would have to lead, and not play the blame game.
    Lee, Dallas, Texas, USA

    Of course the bloodshed can be stopped. Just let those countries responsible for "spoiling" Israel and "blessing" its atrocities against the Palestinians, to stick to international law, Geneva's conventions, and the 1967 borders. Israel, the USA, and the UK must know that under no condition are our brethren Palestinians going to become another conquered group like the native Americans or aborigines, in Australia. We are very, very different.
    M Yahya, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

    Israel did not simply walk in and take over the land they now occupy

    Nell Black, Seaford, East Sussex, UK
    In all the comments I have read about the Middle East crisis, why is it never mentioned that Israel did not simply walk in and take over the land they now occupy, as many people seem to want to believe. They bought it, for millions of dollars, which the feuding leading families of the Palestinians promptly pocketed and left their own people in the situation they now find themselves.
    Nell Black, Seaford, East Sussex, UK

    Nell Black says the Palestinians sold ownership of their land so they could go and live in refugee camps. With this level of understanding of the conflict is there any wonder that there is no peace in the Middle East? Does it take someone to set up a Jewish homeland in Seaford, East Sussex for people like Nell to realize that a great injustice has been done to the Palestinians?
    Paul Warwick, London, UK

    I do think people and leaders in the Middle East want peace, but they are not ready to accept the sacrifices required for peace. Sharon will continue the incursions in the West Bank every time there is a terrorist attack in Israel while Arafat will not reign in the militants who carry out attacks in Israel. Arafat doesn't have the required support or political will to arrest Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants, whereas Israel's incursions and blockades only instigate more attacks. I think a new generation of leaders from both the Palestinian and the Israeli side is needed, a generation prepared to make historic sacrifices for long-term peace. This, however, will not happen overnight.
    Bogdan Bernevig, Los Angeles, CA

    There are some ill-informed comments here that need to be set straight. Firstly, Nell Black, UK states that the Israelis originally bought the disputed lands from the Palestinians. This is not quite true nor is it the whole story. The British were forced to abandon their mandate, after uncontrollable violence broke out between the indigenous Palestinians and the newly immigrated Jews. This was followed by the forced expulsion of thousands of Palestinians, whose status as refugees and whose right of return is still a point of contention in the peace talks.

    Secondly, Bogdan Bernevig states that the Israeli offer rejected by Arafat was the best ever. Well, it may be fair that Israel is not giving back any land to the Palestinians from Israel proper (land that originally belonged to the Palestinians anyway), but Israel has been splitting hairs about settlers in the West Bank. It should only be fair that the Palestinians should be entitled to 100 percent of the land they are left with, that is all of Gaza and the West Bank. In light of the peace talks it is apparent that Israel's bargaining principle seems to be "what is mine is mine, and what is yours is mine". Modern Israel has been around for 50 years, and no doubt that Israelis who have been born and raised are entitled to it, but it seems ridiculous to deny and belittle the fact that Palestinians also have a right to live, without Israeli interference and presence, in the West Bank and Gaza.
    MM Zaman, UK/US

    Those who legitimise Palestinian violence, comparing it to France's so- called brave resistance against Nazi occupation are misled. There is no comparison, first and foremost, because Israel is offering peace talks. So Arafat has two legitimate options: to fight, and ignore Israel's calls for negotiations, or to negotiate. If he chooses to fight, then Israel should simply destroy him and the PA. Otherwise, he should negotiate appropriate and feasible concessions for the Palestinians. As it is, he's obviously chosen an illegitimate path - pretending to negotiate while allowing other factions as well as his own to commit inhumane acts of violence against Israeli citizens. I think his aims are obvious. So long as he's in Power, and not spending money to develop the economy in his future Palestinian state, he gets to keep it all for himself and live in comfort. It is in his interests to prolong a war with Israel and keep refugees exactly where they are.
    Simon, Boston, USA

    Surely one would prefer an unjust peace to the continuing deaths and hostilities

    Arif Sayed, Dubai, UAE
    It's one step forward and two steps backward. It will work only with extreme pressure being applied by western countries on all parties involved in this ongoing conflict. Surely one would prefer an unjust peace to the continuing deaths and hostilities.
    Arif Sayed, Dubai, UAE

    It's not easy to comment on Middle Eastern peace process, but one would say that if the acts of terrorism are not stopped, than there will be no peace whatsoever. Both sides should reconsider their leadership and step up and arrest those responsible for the violence. The war on terrorism is nothing to do with Israel and the Palestinians. I believe that if Mr Arafat is unable to control the dissident groups in his own state then he should consult the United Nations to take action and resign immediately.
    J Mac Acuek Bor, Sudan

    You people seem to ignore the fact that the Palestinians were given a chance for peace by the then Prime Minister Ehud Barak during the Camp David meeting. Unfortunately the offer, the most generous ever made by an Israeli Prime Minister, was rejected by Mr Arafat. It is he who has to make the effort this time.
    Maurice, Jakarta, Indonesia

    There are families on both sides; good families who just want to live and work in peace

    Lubna, Chicago, USA
    There are families on both sides; good families who just want to live and work in peace. We should criticize the extremists on both sides; let all live there and share our ideas. I would like to see peace there and the stopping of bloodshed.
    Lubna, Chicago, USA

    I don't think that the actions of Palestinians should be classified as the violence. Then the French were also violent when Nazi Germans occupied them? Or where Kuwaities violent when Iraq occupied them? The Palestinians are fighting to liberate their land from occupation and any nation has the right to do so. Instead of supporting this nation we are calling them as terrorists or violent nation?
    Karol Fernandes, Barcelona, Spain

    To Karol from Spain. To compare Israel to the Nazi's is the most ridiculous and deeply offensive comment I have ever heard. Tell me do you consider the ETA group as freedom fighters resisting Spanish occupation? The jews were tortured and butchered in the most brutal ways known to man by the Nazi's, to make a comparison is dispicable. Lets keep this argument on a suitable level and not exagerate and offend people.
    Nigel, London

    Reading all posted comments leads to one thing everyone should understand. Israel does not understand that Palestinians do have the right to defend themselves by all means. I believe the solutions is for Israel to get out of the West Bank, to stop expanding the settlements and dismantle all of it, to stop invading homes, killing innocents and claiming self defence. All this might help. Palestinians should stop believing that Sharon and his government will ever be looking for peace. People like Sharon are created for the sake of destruction they will not ever negotiate for peace.
    Robby, USA

    There are peaceful alternatives to the current handling of the middle east crisis. If the US and Europe abandon their policy of vaguenes and declare that any territory gained now will have to be returned anyway and will never be included in a final settlement ,there will be less urgency to create facts on the ground. If both sides realise that whatever they do , the framework of the peace process, based on international law and UN resolutions, will not change, the situation will descalate.
    Carim Clasmann, London, UK

    Ghandi defeated the British Empire by passive resistance. I would like to know why, when this method had been shown to work, others do not follow. Perhaps some of the stupid human race prefers resolution of conflict by violent means?
    Steve, Swanage, Dorset

    The Palestenians have a right to struggle against occupation

    Manju, India
    When the west wanted to mobilise support against Iraq, it spoke of the need for a Palestinian state, and set up the Madrid conference, which led to Oslo, which then led to nothing because their intentions were clear - to get Arafat to sign away the basic rights of the Palestinians, and present them with a moth-eaten state under permenant Israeli control. Now that the west wants to topple the Taliban, we hear the same voices again, and this sudden burning desire to see a Palestenian state may just be another hoax. Only unity and firmness in the muslim world can force the west to see reason. The Palestenians have a right to struggle against occupation, and use every means at their disposal to do so. If Israel uses violence to enforce occupation and calls it self-defence, I do not see how the west can call Palestenian violence 'terrorism'.
    Manju , Bangalore, India

    These problems arose, from creating countries/borders artificially. This is prevalent in most war-torn regions. Nigeria, Kuwait, The Balkins, Israel/Palestine. These problems will exist as long as those artificial borders exist.
    Abdel Nour, Calgary, Canada

    Jerusalem could be internationalised, and the whole of the other occupied territories be given to the Palestinians

    Paul, UK
    Bloodshed can be stopped if both sides are able to turn the clock back to the Camp David and Taba talks, when we were on the "verge of peace". Jerusalem could be internationalised, and the whole of the other occupied territories be given to the Palestinians to form a state. However, there should not be a widespread return of refugees. Firstly, would Palestinians allow the thousands of Jews back to Hebron after fleeing there in 1948? The whole point of Israel is that it is a Jewish state. Not to be racist or to commit ethnic cleansing, but because history has shown that without a state a people is always subject to persecution. The same goes for the Palestinians of course. A generous compensation programme could be set up, as in Bosnia. Remember too that very many Palestinians were encouraged to leave in 1948 by neighbouring Arab regimes who told them they'd soon go back when they defeated the Jews and gave them all their land too.
    Paul, London, UK

    Despite the fact that this subject has been discussed directly or indirectly many times I will really have to respond to the notion that the Israeli entity is the only democracy in the region. Two points to make here. Democracy is not when you assassinate people without trials, it's not when you bulldoze civilian houses, it's not when you treat ethnic minorities inhumanely, it's not when you trash UN resolutions, and it's not when you elect a war criminal for a prime minister.

    The second point is that you really don't want other Arabic and muslim countries to be "as democratic" at this particular time because the "democratically" elected leaders will be patriots that speak on behalf of the masses and will seek revenge for the hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians that were either killed, humiliated, or exiled. As much as I personally deplore violence against innocent civilians, I won't/can't blame them. It's amazing how the misjudgement of electing somebody like Sharon has actually radicalised many of the moderate Arabs and Muslims - and now there is a need for a miracle to make the Arabic and Muslim masses get over what has been happening in Palestine for the past year or so of this uprising that was elicited by Sharon's provocative visit to the Noble Sanctuary.
    Hesham, New Zealand

    How can Hesham, New Zealand, on the one hand berate Israelis for democtraically electing Sharon to power, whilst on the other hand complain that the West won't let Arab states be democracies because they'll elect extremists to power. Is Hesham for or against democracy? I also thought it rich for Abdel Nour to say that drawing artificial boundaries creates friction and war - this needn't always be the case, Abdel - after all, you live in Calgary, not far from the perfectly horizontal Canadian border. Are you sure that isn't artificial??
    PG, UK

    If the US were to expressly state that we will take all necessary steps to implement the UN resolutions, the Security Council would guarantee it.

    Akram Malik, Australia
    Yes! It is possible to stop the bloodshed, and bring peace by taking all necessary steps to implement the UN resolutions. If the US were to expressly state that we will take all necessary steps to implement the UN resolutions, the Security Council would guarantee it. President Bush has not gone that far. He only stated that the people of Palistine must have a state. Sharron agrees, that they can have what they already have. According to a report published in the Guardian, he wants one million more Jews to come and live in Israel, presumably in occupied lands and in houses build on occupied land. The US now has a unique opportunity to catagorically state that the Security Council will see that all resolutions be implemented. There will be no need for Hamas or other groups to kill. But we all know, this is not going to happen and if it does not happen there will be no peace either, either in Israel or Occupied Territories and beyond
    Akram Malik, Gympie Australia

    The Bloodshed will stop when the Arab World and the Palistinians recognize Israels right to exist. Anyone who thinks 'let them fight it out' obviously has learnt nothing from history and Sep.11th. Israel is the only democracy in an other wise undemocratic hostile breeding ground of hate for the West and its ideals. Israel is a part of this this but in no way the reason. Israel is fighting for its survival and we in the West are starting to fight the same battle. Anyone who has been to this magnifcent country will see a place that is peaceful, democratic and open, waiting for the chance to live in peace.
    Caroline, Austria/UK

    You can't purposefully breed fanatics and then expect them to stop and revert to outstanding law-abiding citizens just like that. This goes for both sides. Breed tolerance and co-existence for the next generation and the result will be different.
    Victor D, Amsterdam, Netherlands

    It appears to me as if both sides do not want peace

    Stephen, Liverpool, UK
    It appears to me as if both sides do not want peace. Fair enough, US foreign policy has been unfair for years but we have to also bear in mind that the US has been trying for quite a while to resolve this problem. This is clearly the case or why would the leaders of both sides have been in Washington so many times in recent years? It appears as if the problem is caused by unwillingness to let this situation die and get on with their own lives. For peace to truly break out in that part of the world both sides have to let bygones be bygones, grow up and be adults about the whole thing.
    Stephen, Liverpool, UK

    If 20 families of Palestine AND Israel are prepared to live next door to each other perhaps they will learn that civilised behaviour is the only way to peace.
    Bob Ebdon, Dales Creek, Australia

    When human ignorance mixes with the culture of selfishness, the saddest tragedy on earth can be created
    A E M, London, UK

    If lasting peace is to come about, then it has to be based on the rule of law and justice. This applies to both sides. The terrorist suicide bombings and such like must cease, but Israel must also obey international law and let the refugees return. Jewish people have suffered endless historical injustices, some of the darkest marks on the history of mankind. This does not however excuse treating another people badly. The Palestinians have as much right to live in their homes as anybody else, all refugees should be allowed to return to their rightful homes.
    Ralph Ferrett, Plymouth, England

    Every feeling of revenge should be forgotten

    Peter, Helsinki, Finland
    The violence has to be stopped, but this requires immediate end to all bloodshed. Every feeling of revenge should be forgotten, the situation set to zero. Both sides should be made to understand that land cannot be given in a matter of hours, but a path is to be taken which eventually leads to the Palestinian state. If the Palestinian fanatics don't agree with this, their goal cannot logically be that of gaining peace and own land, and the Palestinian authority should do its best to apprehend all these fanatics. Israel has many times shown to be able to at least start taking steps towards the conclusion. And it should be noted that freedom fighters do not kill innocent civilians.
    Peter, Helsinki, Finland

    Peace is possible only when people see the honour in resolving their differences in a non-violent manner and are committed to waging that war. If they believe there is more honour in their hatred for their fellow human beings or in killing each other, then there will be no peace.
    Robert Allen, USA

    There can be no peace until the three million Palestinians who have been exiled are allowed to re-possess the homes and land they rightfully own. The Israeli government or their US sponsors should give compensation to the often unwitting current occupants. The Czech Republic has recently provided a precedent to this with repossession of real estate which was confiscated by the state in the late 1940s. So Israel's argument that this is attempting to dig up ancient history is a sterile one. The settlements in the occupied territories are another matter. These are colonists pure and simple. The Palestinians should be given the right to bulldoze them in the same way that their own homes have been destroyed.
    Charles Moore, Scotland

    The US, UK, and Israel are always ready for peace.

    Lev Nakhshunov, USA
    In my opinion, this is an invalid question. The only leaders that are ever going to be ready for peace are the leaders who stand behind freedom and democracy. The US, UK, and Israel are always ready for peace. Arafat unfortunately has, is, and always will be a terrorist. There is no doubt in my mind that the Palestinian leadership's goal is not peace and the well being of its people, but pure terrorism. The goal of the current Palestinian leadership is to bring death and destruction to Israel. Perhaps these goals should change, because Israel is not going to pack up and leave the territory, and that is the only thing that the terrorists who call themselves the Palestinian authority want.
    Lev Nakhshunov, USA

    How can you compare US, UK and Israel in one breath? US and UK soldiers do not kill teenage boys on a day to day basis.

    Hyder, USA
    To Lev Nakhshunov: How can you compare US, UK and Israel in one breath? US and UK soldiers do not kill young kids and teenage boys on their borders on a day to day basis. They do not carry out assasinations in the name of protecting their civilians. I cannot comment on Arafat's goals, but the carnage is being carried out by Israel today. And then you call Palestinians terrorists. Compare the statistics of how many Palestinians killed by Israelis against vice versa. Then tell us who are the terrorists. Israel ready for peace ? Please give me a break.A nation searching for peace does not illegally occupy the neighbors territory and kill their young children after taunting them with foul language.
    Hyder, USA

    To Hyder,
    The Israeli soldiers have 2 options. They can sit still and be ripped to pieces by 600 marauding palestinians (it has happened) or they can shoot back at people shooting at them. The fact that your news programmes only show the Palestinian children whose parents choose to discracefully use them as some sort of "Human shield" is just propaganda to make Israel look bad. When I was 8 years old my parents wouldn't let me cross a main road on my own, let alone go and take active part in a riot! The soldiers here are all conscripted, they don't choose to go and be shot at, they would rather be anywhere else. Israel's actions may seem extreme on the news, but you have to fight fire with fire and when the Palestinians stop firing, so will Israel.
    Simon, Hod Hasharon, Israel

    To Lev, USA: Israelis as well as Americans and the whole world should understand and face this clear reality - Israel is occupying Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territories according to international laws and security council resolutions. So, how can you regard the victimiser as the victim and the victim as the terrorist? Israel will never get other people lands and rights and the peace of Israelis at the same time. Occupation is occupation.
    AG, Canada

    To AG, should I remind you that most of that territory was occupied as a result of Syrian Lebanese and Palestinian attacks? We have no wish to conquer anyone, but if that someone decides to attack us instead of having peace, he will meet resistance and a retaliation.
    Daniel, Israel

    To Daniel: Israel came and took Palestinian land and killed indiscriminately. Everyone has the right to resist a ruthless occupation force and this is universally accepted.
    AR, Malaysia

    To AR - I could say that they started the terrorism first and then came the occupation, but I won't.. since this can go on forever.. and how do you know there were indiscriminate killings? I am an Israeli soldier and I can tell you that if such thing will happen the shooter will go rot in jail. Also, I fail to see how shooting 16 and 14 year-old kids can be considered freedom fighting?
    Daniel, Israel

    To Daniel, Israel: Israel is the country with the most territorial ambitions in the region. Israel has attacked and bombed at least 5 countries in the past 20 years (Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Palestine...etc.) Moreover, Israel is the only nation in the region that possesses nuclear weapons. Add to that Israel is probably the only country in the world whose parliament shows the map of the country more than twice its size.
    Hosam, Boston, USA

    The only catalyst for peace is justice.
    Ibrahim, London, UK

    Cindylu Webber, Seattle
    "Aggression on both sides has made it clear that peace is not the priority"
    Richard Oliver
    "Israel does not seem to really want peace"
    Gelad Gross, Israel
    "Peace can only be achieved if there is real understanding"
    Celia Kennard, UK
    "Peace should not be at the expense of Israel's existence"
    Karim, UK
    "The West should change its foreign policy"
    Radulsh Singh, Brussels
    "Fundamentalists are hijacking the conflict for their own purposes"

    Links to more Talking Point stories