BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Persian Pashto Turkish French
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Middle East  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Israeli views on Sharon
Beach, suburb of Tel Aviv
The people of Tel Aviv have a lot to worry about
By Peter Biles in Tel Aviv

It is three months since the February elections in Israel that brought right-wing Likud leader Ariel Sharon to power.

He formed a new government of national unity, but there is no sign of an end to the violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Sharon came to power pledging peace and security
Both sides say they want a ceasefire, but any resumption of negotiations still seems a long way off.

Tel Aviv is both Israel's commercial centre and a place for relaxation and enjoyment. In some respects, it is a world away from the politics of Jerusalem.

But here, like everywhere in Israel, people remain on their guard. They might like to forget the conflict with the Palestinians, but it is rarely out of their thoughts.

The trendy cafes of Sheinken Street are a meeting place for young Israelis. Many here voted for Ehud Barak in the election. They feared Ariel Sharon's reputation as a hardliner.

But three months on, the distinction between left and right in Israel is blurred.

"We've seen there's only one person who decides what happens," said one man, Iyar Semel. "That's Yasser Arafat. That's the voice of the Palestinians right now.

"If they want war, I and most of the population feel it's their choice much more than ours."

Bloodshed continues

But breaking the cycle of violence is the hardest task right now. And the mood among Israelis who want to see a return to the peace talks is one of uncertainty and some despair.

Man shopping in Tel Aviv
Many Israelis have seen little change under Sharon
"We hoped when Sharon was elected, there would be change, but it seems nothing happened," said Orly Nuri, who has a fruit juice stall. "The situation now is tough.

"We can't see an end to it."

Israel's national unity government, forged as a result of the conflict, has brought together politicians once poles apart. Ariel Sharon claims the atmosphere is good.

Analysts say that is because the government is not doing much while the violence continues and the peace talks are suspended.

"Unity governments never did anything in Israel's history. The big moves - and especially the big moves towards peace - have always been made by governments led by Likud or Labour, never together," said Israeli journalist Ofer Shelach.

"I don't expect this government will be any different,"

For now, in Tel Aviv's busy streets, there is always the threat of bombs. Israelis are resigned to a situation that is bad. They just hope it will not get worse.


Key stories

Profiles

FACTFILE

TALKING POINT

AUDIO VIDEO
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes