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Last Updated: Friday, 24 October, 2003, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
Children of Oslo live in fear

By the BBC's Robin Lustig in Jerusalem

Shortly after Simon Griver told his 10-year-old daughter, Sivan, that a man from BBC radio was coming to visit them, he found her playing a game of make-believe with her eight-year-old brother, David.

Unidentified Palestinian mother and child wait at Israeli checkpoint, West Bank
Parents say their own childhoods were easier

Sivan was pretending to be a radio newsreader.

"Here is the news," she said.

"We have just heard that there has been another suicide bomb in Jerusalem and David has been killed."

Then she turned to her brother and asked: "David, what is it like to be dead?"

The Grivers are Israelis who live just outside Jerusalem and they know all about suicide bombs.

Their next-door neighbour, a close family friend, was killed by one while he was in a Jerusalem cafe.

Taghreed Kishek has a 10-year-old daughter too.

I still want to hope, but I can't
Palestinian Taghreed Kishek
Her name is Merna and she lives with her mother and younger sister in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

They too live in fear - not of suicide bombs - but of Israeli tanks and guns.

Last year the Israeli army staged a major incursion into Ramallah, which is where the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has his headquarters.

The memory of those terrifying nights of bombs and missiles has never left them.

When I met Taghreed and her daughters at her parents' home in Ramallah, she told me:

"One night, my daughter became so cold and pale from fright that I really thought she was going to die.

"Even now she tells me she cannot concentrate at school because she is always worrying about whether I will come home safely."

Collapse of Oslo

Merna and Sivan are the children of Oslo.

Then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (left) shakes hands on the Oslo agreement with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as then US President Bill Clinton looks on in 1993
Ten years on and the Oslo agreement is in tatters
They were born around the time the Oslo peace agreement was signed in September 1993 on the White House lawn in Washington DC.

The then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was there, as was Mr Arafat and then-US President Bill Clinton.

Together they solemnly pledged an end to bloodshed and violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

But it was not to be.

In the decade that followed, the violence has seemed never-ending.

Within months of the signing ceremony, a Jewish settler shot dead 29 Muslim worshippers in a mosque in the ancient West Bank city of Hebron.

A little over a month later came the first post-Oslo Palestinian suicide bomb.

And in November 1995, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish fanatic.

End of hope

Taghreed Kishek says Oslo has brought her nothing but dashed hopes.

Palestinian man stands under huge Palestinian flag
Palestinians have the beginnings of what may one day be a viable state
She remembers her life as a child in Ramallah, when it was under Israeli occupation, as being far happier than her daughters'.

"I still want to hope," she told me. "But I can't."

Simon Griver and his wife, Judith, say they do still hope for better days but they know that they may have a long wait.

And when Simon tells me the story of Sivan's chilling game of make-believe with her brother, he sighs.

"That's life in Israel in the year 2003," he says.

So why didn't Oslo bring peace to Israelis and Palestinians?

Settlement issue

On both sides, extremists were determined to wreck the deal.

Palestinian officials criticised the Israelis for continuing to build new settlements and expand existing ones on territory they seized during the Six-Day War of 1967.

"They can have peace or settlements, but not both," the Palestinians' chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told me.

Israelis say they thought Yasser Arafat had decided to give up violence, but that his failure to rein in the Islamist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad has proved them wrong.

And the man who is called the architect of Oslo, the former Israeli justice minister Yossi Beilin, says they all made a mistake a decade ago - they failed to put anything in the Declaration of Principles about halting the building of settlements.

So, 10 years on, Oslo lies in tatters.

The Palestinians have the beginnings of what may, one day, be an independent state of their own.

But Oslo did not bring them, or the Israelis, an end to the violence.

On both sides, they wonder what will.


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