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Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Israeli author attacks 'cowards'
Amos Oz
Amos Oz: Award-winning author and peace campaigner
Leading Israeli author Amos Oz has said a partitioned Israel and Palestine could be peacefully created but for the "cowardly" leaders on both sides.

Speaking at the Edinburgh book festival, Oz compared the leaders to doctors unwilling to perform crucial surgery and described the Israeli prime minister and Palestinian Authority chairman as one entity, "Mr Sharafat".

Essayist Oz said the vast majority of the population between the Mediterranean and the river Jordan would agree that the only solution was an Israel and a Palestine with a partitioned Jerusalem.

"It is a cowardly leadership - that is what is delaying the crucial solution.

"The doctors we have now are cowards, but at the end of the day there will be a state solution on both sides," Oz was reported as saying in the Herald newspaper.

'Semi-detached'

Oz, who writes only in Hebrew and was once described as a "Zionist Orwell", compared the future of Israel and the territories to neighbours rather than family.

He said they would be divided "like a semi-detached house", the Guardian reported.

"They have to become neighbours, they can't live like a happy family."

Unlike many liberals in the West who refuse to condemn Chairman Arafat, Oz said the Palestinian leadership was "lousy, politically short-sighted and fanatic" and compared the general political situation to a "clash between right and right, wrong and wrong".

He said his polemics were written from genuine anger at the Israeli Government's refusal to recognise the validity of his ideas, while praising his literary style.

"I only write journalism and essays from rage, when I want to tell the government what to do or where to go.

Referendum

"Roughly every two weeks I tell them to go to hell, though they never listen to me, which means they are bad readers and they don't understand what I mean. Sometimes I scream with rage."

Oz told his audience the road to peace should by now be apparent to everybody.

"If you took a referendum between the Mediterranean and the sea of Jordan, 80% will say there will be two neighbouring states.

"These will be two independent states, organised roughly demographically. Jerusalem will be two capitals, not necessarily divided by a barbed wire fence.

"The Jewish settlements in occupied Palestine will have to go, and there will be no massive resettlement of Palestinians inside Israel.

"There will be an Israeli embassy in Palestine in Jerusalem, and a Palestinian embassy in Israel in Jerusalem, and they will probably be only five miles apart."

Coverage of the 2002 Edinburgh Festival from BBC News Online

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