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Monday, 21 May, 2001, 21:33 GMT 22:33 UK
Analysis: Little hope of change
Israeli border policeman
Both sides remain firmly entrenched
By Jeremy Cooke in Jerusalem

Although both sides have publicly endorsed the Mitchell commission's report, it is highly unlikely that they will act upon its central demand for an immediate and unconditional end to hostilities.

Clearly the report puts pressure on Yasser Arafat to end Palestinian strikes against the Israelis and to crack down on Islamic groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

This Israeli Government cannot be partners for peace

Ghassan Khatib, Palestinian analyst
But after months of bloodshed, the Palestinian leader knows his people are in radical mood, and that there is widespread popular support for continuing the uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

There is also deep distrust, and Palestinian analyst Ghassan Khatib says the report cannot change the fundamental problems on the ground.

"I look at the political reality in Israel, and I look at the nature of this Israeli Government and I become really pessimistic," he says.

He adds: "This Israeli Government, its composition, the mentality of the main people in it, cannot be partners for peace."

Settlement key

The Palestinians insist that the commission's recommendation for a freeze in all building activity in the Jewish settlements is key to the successful implementation of the report.

George Mitchell
Mitchell warned violence could get worse
But the Israelis are still adamant that existing Jewish settlements built on occupied land must be allowed to expand.

They also say it is wrong to link the settlements with the ongoing violence.

"Settlements have been built and expanded during all the last years. It's never been used as an excuse for violence," says Israeli Justice Minister Meir Shitrit.

"I don't think that anybody should accept anything in excuse for violence," he adds.

Amid the diplomacy, the violence goes on.

There have been gun battles in the West Bank, and in the Gaza Strip, Israeli tanks have once again crossed into Palestinian territory.

See also:

21 May 01 | Middle East
Mitchell report: Main points
21 May 01 | Middle East
Viewpoint: Death of a stonethrower
21 May 01 | Middle East
EU tries to ease Mid East tensions
20 May 01 | Middle East
Arabs seek to isolate Israel
19 May 01 | Middle East
Pressure grows for Mid-East ceasefire
18 May 01 | Middle East
Sharon's tactics
19 May 01 | Middle East
In pictures: Day of mass funerals
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