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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 18:32 GMT
Ariel Sharon: How has his position affected the peace process?
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has arrived in Washington for talks with US President George W Bush, his fourth visit since coming to power a year ago.
Sharon arrives in the US at a moment when his position at home is secure, his relationship with the Bush administration is strong.
Although, the talks are being overshadowed by renewed violence in the Middle East and last year has seen an increase in killings and suicide attacks.
It is a year since Ariel Sharon won the election - what effect has it had on the peace process?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Kieran Sheehan, Germany
I think it time for the Israeli people to put pressure on the their leaders to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. Don't be fooled by your politicians that they can solved this conflict by military means. There will never be peace in Israel unless the Palestinians are giving the right to govern themselves,
The irony is how alike Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat are. Both were military leaders, both have fought for their respective peoples and both have fought each other.
This whole conflict is a grudge match between two intractable foes... It's time they both went.
Peace will only come
by political means.
This means give and
take. All else will
lead to escalating
The Palestinians certainly have not been helping themselves with their terrorist attacks against Israel. But by the same token, how can anyone defend a country like Israel which retaliates against a people by entering their territory with tanks and blasting the facilities they need to keep law and order? Arafat has been made to look like the bad guy in all this, and while I'm sure he doesn't have a perfect record, it can't be any worse than what the Israelis are doing to the people of Palestine! All they want is a homeland they can call their own, not too difficult to understand is it, especially if you're Israeli.
The Israeli policy relies on the use of power in solving problems and justifying this by using a biased media in Europe and the United States which always protects Israel.
I think they need to understand first that their presence in this area of the world needs a better diplomatic approach; this is in my opinion the way to continue the violence and stop the cycle of terrorism all over the world.
I think if the UK performed a better role to break the Israeli aggression this will in return calm down the situation in this area.
Both the countries (Israel and Palestine) have deep rooted feelings of hate and distrust for each other. There is no good will. There needs to be third party intervention, otherwise we will continue to see bloodshed, assassinations, and unrest. We need to resolve this issues now. There have been too many innocent lives lost on both sides in the last 50 years. Palestinians have just the same right to an independent and sovereign state as did the Jews in 1947.
Some postings state that what Mr Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians was an opportunity of a lifetime. Nothing is further from the truth. The Oslo accords maps show a Palestine divided into more than 200 enclaves (or city prisons) separated by illegal settlements and "security roads". Even if Mr Arafat accepted Mr Barak's offer, it would not have lasted. Maybe this is why Ariel Sharon was elected. The message is: accept the crumbs we give you or experience a new form of hell.
Some of your respondents subscribe to a double standard in the matter of the Israeli response to the Palestinian intifada and the continuing attacks on Israel. The argument that Israel controls America and by implication the world- an argument made by one of the contributors to the discussion fits in very well with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other anti-Semitic diatribes which allege Jewish control of the world. If at the moment US interests are congruent with Israel's but incongruent with the Palestinian Authority's, that is an American decision made in the pursuit of defending American interests, not a product of a Jewish conspiracy.
Sharon may not have an answer to the irreconcilable differences between Israel and the Palestinians, but the Palestinians are left with no doubt that the intifada and the war of attrition against Israel, which is detrimental to both Palestinians and Israelis, will not succeed in breaking Israel's resolve to defend its people and its own interests.
In this discussion little attention has been paid to the war crimes and abuses of human rights committed by the PLO against Israel, Jews and Israelis.
The test of American credibility will be what it does, if Israel is attacked by Iran and or Iraq.
It's easy for Europeans, Americans and others to criticize Sharon and Israel but they don't live in constant fear of terrorism as we do. As for Sharon, he is not only a war hero but he has fought for peace in the past. He was involved with getting the original Oslo accords of the ground. He was in favour of giving Egypt the Sinai in return for peace. He has also said that he is in favour of a Palestinian state but he is not going to be a walkover. If the Palestinians want to use violence then they will just have to accept the consequences of their actions when we defend ourselves.
Arafat tried talking politics with Ehud Barak - he didn't get his own way. Now he wants to talk violence with Ariel Sharon.
Let's support Sharon he is the kind of leader Israel needs right now.
If all of you want to complain about how we react to Palestinian violence then put down your TV controller and come and live here for a bit; then maybe you wont be so quick to criticize our leader.
If Sharon were the leader of the Palestine National Authority, he would be hailed as a great hero and given the Nobel Peace Prize.
Sharon does not care about Palestine.
He cares about Israel. He is not the statesman Israel needs. Like Bush he has a limited agenda and with it they do more damage than good for the masses.
Palestine need to be free and Israel and the US should back off now.
Ariel Sharon has no plan for peace. He only wants to defeat his old adversary Yasser Arafat. It is amazing to me that the world sits and watches as these two warmongers take their personal battle from one stage to the other. I think both the Palestinians and Israelis need to find new leadership and put those two old geezers out to pasture. Enough lives have been destroyed on both sides.
I would also like to know how would the American people would respond to others invading their land, building illegal settlements, destroying American houses, cutting their olive trees, imposing check points, and putting all their cities under siege. I think am stupid. I want somebody to explain to me. I guess America would find it harder and harder to maintain its admirers in the world. I am not impressed with the American civilisation any more.
Sharon has turned me from a fence-sitter to a Palestinian sympathizer. His rhetoric and actions remind me of a certain German dictator. Israel has, quite rightly, enjoyed decades of worldwide sympathy. Sharon's behaviour and lack of international empathy threaten to negate all that. I never trusted Arafat's humble smile. But I trust Sharon's even less. The peace process is now a picking up the pieces process.
How can there ever be a just peace in the Middle East with Ariel Sharon at the helm of Israel. Past and present history shows that he is responsible for ongoing oppression, repression and his antics in Lebanon suggest complicity in a brutal war crime. For one I'm sick and tired of hearing the American administration criticise Arafat for his failure to stop the violence when over 1,000 Palestinians have been killed. The tally of the dead speaks volumes for who's to blame for initiating and perpetuating the current cycle of violence. Maybe history will show that Sharon will never accept a Palestinian state under any circumstances. The only way through this mess will be for the international community to impose a Palestinian state.
Viki, Hadera, Israel
Sharon has aggressively worked against the Palestinians in their own land. His predecessors at least genuinely tried for peace and as such helped defuse tensions to a large extent. But Sharon has pursued dirty politics and extreme aggression against the Palestinians, so much so that reservists from his own Army are calling quits. It is a year since this man came to power, and see where he has brought the Middle East conflict, and to some extent, the entire world.
Undoubtedly his authoritarian military background overshadows all peace efforts. And his brutal policies against the Palestinians throw the chances of peace 'out of the window'.
Your picture at the top of this page tells the whole story: You could hardly imagine a pairing less able to bring peace in the Middle-East than Bush and Sharon.
Ariel Sharon has almost single-handedly knocked what was a fragile peace process into touch. Give him his due though...he has been effective with achieving his own agenda! And he has managed to get the ridiculously short-sighted American administration on his side! The current US position is almost unbelievable. Do Americans never learn anything from history? The downward spiral will continue. The US arms suppliers and the so-called hawks continue to smile!
Steve H, USA
People tend to forget who Yasser Arafat really is, and always has been. Also, Israel does not live comfortable in the knowledge that should her neighbours attack her, the world will stand up for Israel - as evidenced by the French and British when Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran in 1956, the threat in 1967, 1973, 1982, and not to mention her initiation into the world in 1948.
Arafat rejected the most generous proposals ever made by an Israeli Prime Minister, namely Ehud Barak, and now his past has come back to haunt him.
Mr Sharon has destroyed the peace process, blood is getting shed on both sides. By oppressing the Palestinians, he has created a new generation of suicide killers.
Tom Scott, USA
I keep reading these unfair attacks on the American people. We have no more control over our government than the Palestinians have over Israel. There have been 43 presidents in the history of my country and five times the candidate who won the popular vote did not get in the office. I use this as an example to illustrate that we are not in control. We are denied the to elect our president (directly). Suffrage is the very basis of democracy and it evades us. I hope to see the Palestinians continue their war on the unjust Israeli government imperialists from the inception. I hope one day we as a nation make Israel stand alone against its neighbours.
Whilst Ariel Sharon remains in power there can be no hope for peace. My hope is that the reservists who refused to serve in the occupied territories will start a debate that will result in a change of leader and a subsequent change of policy.
If anything, we've seen the situation in the Middle East worsen since Sharon was "elected" last year. The pattern of oppression seems to be to attack under the pretence of defending your population from a distinct minority of those already oppressed. Tighten the vice a little more and see what squeezes out of it. Bush seems to be following their lead with his nebulous "war on terrorism." Sharon won't even meet with Arafat let alone entertain the idea of leaving the occupied territories. They have lived there illegally for decades. What's going to make them leave now?
What exactly is the definition of 'peace'?
If ending violence results in the gain of 'peace', I disagree. There is never going to be true peace in the Middle East. For that to happen, both sides have to give up a part of something which they hold very close to their heart. Ariel Sharon, on the other hand, not only does he want to give nothing up, but also wants to take all he can. With him at the helm, I don't see any end to the violence in the near future; certainly not peace.
Ariel Sharon has only incited more and more hatred on both sides. His background is as a warmonger and his view of the world is the same. But I feel that there are a number of questions that need to be answered. Why doesn't Sharon allow European intervention. Why is it only the Americans? I think that there is a much more pragmatic view coming from Europe than from the US.
Sharon has done what he feels needs to be done for the security of Israel. But I would also say that Sharon has show restraint in many cases of terrorism by the Palestinians. And no matter how you slice it, if an attack intentionally targets civilians, it's terrorism- and there can be no justification for it. So I feel Sharon has given Yasser Arafat every opportunity to make peace, and it is continually derailed by the Palestinian leader.
Sharon has never been 'convicted' as a war criminal - and probably never will. In fact he is regarded as a war hero who turned around the Yom Kippur War thereby saving Israel from yet another Arab invasion. Now is his chance to do it again. As far as Lebanon is concerned, we are just beginning to see how short-sighted the withdrawal was (Given the HUGE Syrian / Iranian presence).
Sharon is a tough guy - nobody doubts this- but just look at the neighbourhood Israel is in. Not exactly friendly is it!
The world must remember that Sharon is a former general, who refused the orders of his bosses and invaded Lebanon to kill innocent civilians and to him, Palestinian people are like chickens; even if they die at the hands of his army it does not matter, peace will never be found if he remain PM of Israel.
Sharon is, of course, a politician who richly deserves criticism. However, Israelis should be flattered that higher standards are expected of their politicians then of the leaders of any other Middle Eastern country. Unless, of course, the disproportionate criticism levelled against Israeli leaders is simply hatred of Jews in another form.
Margaret R, New Zealand
Can you imagine the reaction if, after the riots in LA a few years ago, or the riots in the British Midlands last year, the governments of those countries went in with tanks and destroyed neighbourhood people's homes? That would be a real hearts and minds campaign, wouldn't it?
Sharon, convicted of being indirectly responsible for war crimes against humanity by his own country, has brought nothing but disaster to Israel and the Middle East as a whole. I don't know how Israelis thought that a man such as Sharon will bring security and peace to them.
If this man was leader of any other country
except Israel then he would be extradited as
a war criminal, however Israel influences
America to a high degree and so we see a
double standard emerge that denies USA
credibility as a just and free nation, not only
in the Middle East but around the whole world.
WE are witnessing the downward spiral.
07 Feb 02 | Middle East
Violence clouds Sharon's US visit
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