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Last Updated: Monday, 7 March, 2005, 18:38 GMT
What have the London talks achieved?
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas shakes hands with British Prime Minister Tony Blair
The Palestinian leadership and the international community say they have agreed "practical steps" to create a viable Palestinian state.

The agreement, which was reached at a one-day conference in London, covers governance, security as well as economic and social development.

The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinians were committed to the peace process and were doing everything they could to preserve a truce with Israel.

Britain's prime minister, Tony Blair described the agreement as being not only for the sake of the Palestinians but also the wider world.

Israel did not attend the talks but was said to be closely watching the outcome.

Has the meeting lived up to the UK's hopes of renewing the peace process known as the roadmap? What have the talks achieved? Should Israel have attended?

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

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Even if peace is achieved it will be exclusively on Israel's terms
Victor McAndrew, Taunton
There can be no peace unless Israel allows peace. It holds all the ace cards. Palestine is powerless. Even if peace is achieved it will be exclusively on Israel's terms, and will be at the expense of most of the land of Palestine being taken by force by Israel. There is no guarantee that even if Palestine becomes a viable state it will be little more than a few isolated areas, and that the occupation will continue.
Victor McAndrew, Taunton

This is simply another attempt to buy the Palestinians by many countries giving away tax payers money. It will not work - it will simply be another drain on the tax payers.
T J Newman, Bournemouth UK

I suppose diplomatic attempts are very useful, but the main problems which are still staying on Middle-East agenda should be solved near the negotiation table. I think Palestinians and Israelis don't have to sign ceasefires; they need durable peace (though it's not as simple as I think).
Youri, Kyiv, Ukraine

Sharon should begin to play his part categorically
Gabriel Kige Machotta, Norway

I congratulate the president of the Palestinians for taking this step and the world community that gathered to stand side by side with the Palestinian leader. The US Secretary of State should take a clear message to President Bush on how important this issue is to the world superpower. Sharon should begin to play his part categorically.
Gabriel Kige Machotta, (Tanzanian), Hammerfest, Norway

I'm fed up of British people's destructive obsession with damning politicians whether they do or do not. The real issue here is that a small, but significant, step towards peace has been taken. The issue of timing has to do with Arafat's death and the Palestinian election, not the forthcoming British one.
Mike Jones, Cardiff, Wales

Good News. The world is looking for peace and economic development. I shall be happier if the Palestinians and the Israelis start intermarrying as that will be the basis for everlasting peace.
Kizito, Gulu, Uganda.

It shows commitment from other countries
Andy Brown, Manchester, UK
Although the conference hosted by Tony Blair has a political spin it shouldn't detract from the fact that the Palestinian leadership have had a platform to express their plans for reform and building their own state to the world media. Although Israel was not represented - in some ways helpful at this early stage - it shows commitment from other countries in assisting Palestinians to get a fair deal.
Andy Brown, Manchester, UK

Maybe I'm becoming cynical in my old age, but aren't "practical steps" and the "frank discussions" (Bush and Europe) just politico-speak for "achieved nothing except for consuming some good meals" and "we still disagree on everything, calling each other a few choice names in the meantime"?
Gareth, Bermuda

All this is, is another shameless tacky PR stunt put together by Downing Street for the upcoming election. A peace process without any Israelis present? What next? This is just an attempt by Blair to counter the negative Iraq effect!
Vajid Ali, Birmingham

Here we go again, another Blair photo shoot. He is fast turning this election into Miss World!! Any peace process can only move forward if ALL parties involved meet for meaningful discussions. Israel has to be a part of any conference.
C Preece, Tamworth, UK

The Palestinians future is here. Eventually they will be forced to follow the line laid down by Israel, without compensation for stolen land and water. Without compensation for homes, businesses and freedom lost. And the western governments will pat each other on the back while saying, "What a splendid job we have done."
Mike, Israel

This will result in the leadership having the greatest recognition it has ever had
Danny Cohen, London

As an Israeli living in London, I am so happy to see your leader taking the lead role in integrating the new Palestinian leadership into the world stage. This will result in the leadership having the greatest recognition it has ever had, and that in turn will both entice and facilitate them to act responsibly in dismantling the terror infrastructure that has disrupted their way of life for so long.

I know what you are thinking: That Israel's checkpoints, curfews, and occupation are the disruption. However, with no terror, Israel will have no need to occupy. I truly hope Mr Blair will assist the PA to restore law and order.
Danny Cohen, London, UK

The Palestinians can use all the support and encouragement we can give them. If it ends up being nothing more than cheering them on that will still be a good thing.
Steve Mac, Boston, MA, USA

At least this meeting will give President Abbas the opportunity to express his view to other state leaders. However, with Israel failing to send a representative, a very clear message is made. Israel will nominally give up some land in Gaza and grab as much land as possible on the West Bank.

The USA will make a nominal protest, praise Israel's democratic system of government, and then wonder why the Arabs hate and distrust Americans and everything to do with America. Israel must exist but only within its UN designated 1948 borders. Those borders must be formally recognised and guaranteed by all Middle East countries.
John Andrews, London England

What is so difficult in ending an occupation?
Kuda Nkomo, Oxford, UK

Nothing! It is obviously difficult for people who do not understand liberation movements to help. Remember one Mandela was once seen as a terrorist? What is so difficult in ending an occupation? Instead of this continued prevarication of asking the oppressed to jump through fancy hoops of democracy. For God's sake give the poor folk their human rights and their land back!
Kuda Nkomo, Oxford, UK

I have read some of the comments posted so far, and they all seem to be misunderstanding its objective. It is to help the Palestinians govern themselves and provide them with the resources to do. These resources are financial and in resources.
Ali, UK

Photo opportunity, electioneering and ego massage for Blair. Wine, food and accommodation paid for by you and me.
Dr Yousef Abdulla, Orpington, UK

This summit could be a huge step forward
James Edelman, London

I think that this is an important opportunity for the PA to rid itself of the corruption and other problems that were commonplace under Arafat. It probably is a good idea that the Israelis are not represented, so the summit stays on the topic rather than getting bogged down in politics and forcing sides to make concessions. For there to be a viable Palestinian state, there has to be a corruption free government, which respects human rights. This summit could be a huge step forward in this matter.
James Edelman, London, England

With the latest car bomb outrage in Israel why are the leaders of the 23 nations even thinking about giving any support to the Palestinians? This organisation has been involved in terrorist activity for years and have shown no true intent to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the claims that they make. Remember that Israel was the land of the Jews back in pre-Roman empire times.
J Burdall, Matlock, England

Britain needs to play a better role in the Middle East process, instead of following American foreign policy in the region. Britain needs to play a more active role especially with the Palestinians, to help build a good country with a stable future. I think it is the British who could achieve that not America. America has helped Israel to become a developed nation and stable, potentially the Palestinian territories could do the same with the help of Britain.
Kashif Hussain, Bradford

What a mess Britain has caused
Esmie, Canada

The talks will achieve zero. As long as the Israelis hold on to Palestinian land the talks will fail. The Israelis announce their withdrawal from Gaza but they are still building settlements in the West Bank, which will only pour oil in the fire. The suicide bombings will not stop either. What a mess Britain has caused.
Esmie, Canada

To Esmie, Canada: I beg your pardon but I fail to see why you are blaming Britain for any mess as you put it. At least Britain is trying to help, more than can be said for your country who just seem to sit on the fence on every issue and criticise others who do try. I hope that these and other talks can show both sides that it is to their advantage for peace to come at last to their part of the world.
Michael Mciver, Hastings, UK

I think the UK should stop getting involved in these affairs and get on with running our own country. Blair says the outcome affects the UK - only because we continue to interfere.
Les, Morpeth, England

Maybe this is the first step in a process that will give the Middle East the same hope as Northern Ireland now has. We all know from that situation that talking can go a long way towards persuading the men of violence to hold off and let peaceful persuasion have a chance.
David Hazel, Fareham, UK

Diplomacy is for the weak and military action for the strong. Israel is a very powerful country, under pressure from the failed US policy in Iraq, they have agreed to talk to Abbas. All peace talks are to do with window dressing for the western policy towards the Arabs - they do not pass as logical or convincing to anyone with some knowledge of international law and resolutions passed to solve the Palestinian problem.
Ahmad Hmoud, Jordan

Whatever positive was to come out of this conference will always be looked at with doubt by Israel since its not attending. Until the crucial question of Jerusalem is tackled, there will be many more conferences like this. Let's not fool ourselves. Will the issue of Jerusalem even be mentioned in the conference?
Riaz, Wembley

The nations concerned are showing favouritism
Karen Smith, London, UK

Backing the Palestinians financially, morally and politically will ruin the peace process. By doing this, the nations concerned are showing favouritism. Tony is showing his true colours by barging in again. In a delicate part of the world, choosing sides will only aggravate, not calm down tension in the area.
Karen Smith, London, UK

Talk is cheap and talk is pretty much all we ever hear about. Nobody should even be thinking about roadmaps let alone entering into discussions over the region until all militant factions have first been removed. To do otherwise is nothing more than negotiation with the reinvented face of terrorism.
Patrick V Staton, Guildford, UK

What can be achieved? I don't think very much, as Israel is not attending. After all it's them occupying Palestinian land, not the other way round.
Silvio Kalich, London

Let us hope that President Abbas now understands that talking is the only way
David Phillips, Manchester

The conference in London is a good idea. The Palestinian Authority under Arafat was corrupt - both financially, and in their mindset that violence was the preferred method of negotiation. Let us hope that President Abbas now understands that talking is the only way - the Israelis have never surrendered to the threat of terror, be it a hijacked airliner or an intifada.
David Phillips, Manchester, UK

To David Philips, Manchester: Good point. Palestine is not going to use violence now. It's a pity that Israel didn't stop building on Palestinian land when the intifada wasn't happening. When the Palestinians didn't use violence, the government of Israel ignored them. Let us hope that things do improve, and that Israel doesn't give the power of veto to any group who can set a bomb off.
Mike, London, UK

Interesting the order that President Abbas placed his needs. The EEC supported Arafat financially for years and this money was either squandered or used to fund the intifada. I hope the world can trust Abbas.
Jackie Willis, Manchester, UK

I find it ironic that 23 nations feel more concerned about and involved in the roadmap for peace than the main players in the Middle East process. How could we yearn for a revival of the peace process with one of the parties to the conflict watching out, alongside the observers?

Instead of sending out contradictory signals and looking for support from third parties, which can only nurture animosity, the Israelis and Palestinians should commit to meet and negotiate on a steady basis. They are best fit to know what the challenges ahead of them are, and the rest of the international community should give equal and impartial support to both of them.
Tarek Cheniti, Tunisia

It can give the PR-hungry Blair the opportunity to pass himself off as an international statesman just before an election. Sadly the Israeli's have declined to attend which demonstrates that they consider international opinion to be irrelevant.
Trevor, Cambs, UK

The London talks are just another photo opportunity for Blair and US Secretary Rice. In reality, they will achieve nothing, unless the Israeli government agrees with any proposals. Sadly, while Israel is both bankrolled and excused any action by the US, genuine progress will be very hard.
Richard, Brighton, UK

Friday's attack is evidence that before any further discussions can take place on the roadmap, the Palestinians need to dismantle the terrorist structures. The recent elections in the PA provide the golden opportunity for reform of the PA and steps to disband the terrorist organisations and the conference should focus on this.

Once done, discussions with Israel can take place on the roadmap and eventually final status talks. Whilst suicide attacks continue, Israel cannot offer any measures to ease their control of the West Bank.
Nick, London, UK

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