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Nabil Shaath, Palestinian minister
"They of course always race... to please the Jewish lobby in the United States."
 real 28k

Monday, 6 November, 2000, 20:09 GMT
Arabs apathetic over US vote
Egyptians demonstrate in Cairo
Egyptians have taken to the streets in support of the Palestinians
By Frank Gardner in Cairo

The coming US presidential elections are being viewed with weary resignation by most Arabs in the Middle East.

When it comes to the peace process, they consider that the two candidates - the Democrat Al Gore and the Republican George W Bush - are both equally biased towards Israel.

President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak
Arabs say peace negotiations favoured Israel
In the coffee shops of Cairo they are unlikely to be waiting up all night to see who wins.

All across the Arab world there is a sense of fatalism about this ballot.

Strategic ally

They believe whoever wins is not going to push any harder for Palestinian and Arab rights than President Bill Clinton did - and most Arabs consider that he has not pushed hard enough.

Eight years of painstaking diplomacy by the world's most powerful leader produced a proposed agreement at Camp David that was certainly imaginative, but in the eyes of the Arabs it was still heavily weighted in favour of Israel.

That perceived bias is not going to change.

There may be nearly half a million Arab Americans in the state of Michigan alone, but the size of their vote is dwarfed by that of the US Jewish community.

Both presidential candidates have publicly declared they will stand by Israel as a strategic ally.

Wary of getting involved

Not surprisingly, most Arabs have ceased to believe in America's claim to be an honest broker in the Middle East.

After the new president is elected he will probably be wary of getting too involved too quickly in this region.

But analysts believe that a renewed round of deadly Arab-Israeli violence could change that.

With Arabs failing to get what they want at the negotiating table, more and more of them believe that violence against Israel and possibly Washington may be the only way to bring about a fair peace deal.

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See also:

03 Nov 00 | Americas
Democrats accused of 'dirty tricks'
04 Nov 00 | Americas
US race: The foreign policy debate
01 Nov 00 | Americas
Gore and Bush gagging for votes
04 Nov 00 | Americas
Gore's home-ground defeat
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