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Wednesday, 24 October, 2001, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Analysis: Little hope for Mid-East peace
Child takes part in Islamic Jihad show honouring suicide bombers in Gaza City
War is being drilled into a new generation
Nick Childs

The latest violence deals another blow to hopes of reviving Middle East peace diplomacy.

It will also fuel concerns in Washington about the support of Arab and Muslim states for the US military campaign in Afghanistan.

The problem is that there is no common ground between the parties... and outside pressure has been unable to bridge the gap

There have been undiplomatically blunt calls from Washington, from President George W Bush downwards, for an early Israeli pullout from Palestinian-controlled territories.

In public at least, Israeli ministers have been equally blunt in rejecting such calls.

Israel insists the onus is on the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, to curb Palestinian violence.

And Mr Bush did, indeed, couple his call to Israel with renewed pressure on Mr Arafat.

Poles apart

Privately, there have been hints in Israel that the army could pull back, perhaps by the weekend.

There is concern among American and Israeli officials about the strains being placed on their bilateral relationship by the violence and the US campaign against terror.

Israeli patrol in Beit Rima, where Palestinian fighters were shot dead on Tuesday night
Israel says it has no choice but to occupy Palestinian towns

But there is also uncertainty about how to keep a lid on tensions, even if the present bloodshed can be brought under control.

Parallels are being drawn with the Northern Ireland peace process, and the lesson that there needs to be a political framework to curb the violence.

But In the Middle East there already is a political framework - the Tenet ceasefire proposals and the Mitchell proposals for confidence-building and political dialogue.

The problem is that there is no common ground between the parties, despite tentative contacts, on how to return to the path of peace, and outside pressure has been unable to bridge the gap.

The BBC's Mike Williams
"This land is a place where history is invoked remorsely and is used as a weapon in the conflict"
See also:

23 Oct 01 | Middle East
Israel defies call to pull back
18 Oct 01 | Middle East
In pictures: Israel mourns minister
17 Oct 01 | Middle East
Questions over Israel security failure
17 Oct 01 | Middle East
Echoes of Lebanon for Israel
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