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Last Updated: Friday, 27 February, 2004, 21:38 GMT
Viewpoint: Resolving Mid-East conflict
By Louise Ellman
Labour MP

Injured man on stretcher
Louise Ellman: Suicide bombings are not the answer
Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Tonge was sacked from Charles Kennedy's front bench after saying she might consider becoming a suicide bomber if forced to live like the Palestinians.

Here, Labour's Louise Ellman gives her response.

The only way to resolve the tragic Israeli/Palestinian conflict is to return to the negotiating table to create a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital.

Israel, the Jewish homeland, must have security. The Palestinians must have an unchallenged viable state.

Yasser Arafat's tragic rejection of then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's offer that came close to meeting these objectives only three-and-a-half years ago has led to violence and suffering for thousands of Israelis and Palestinians.

How do we move out of this morass of death and bitterness?

The Roadmap to peace has stalled. Progressive Israelis and Palestinians have produced the Geneva Protocols, a sound basis for peace.

I would challenge anyone to spend a few days here and see the contrasts between modern Israel and its affluent citizens and the third world of Palestine
Jenny Tonge MP

Both the Palestinian and Israeli leadership must grasp this opportunity to break the current deadlock.

It is tragic that Arafat has prevented successive Palestinian prime ministers from taking the peace process forward.

Ariel Sharon's welcome plan to leave Gaza unilaterally should be matched by Palestinian goodwill. This could take the form of implementing promises already made in the Roadmap and dismantling the infrastructure of terror.

It is time for honesty.

To see Palestinian suicide bombers, who deliberately set out to kill the maximum number of Israeli civilians - Jews, Muslims or Christians - as the product of desperation is either naive in the extreme or wilful partisanship.

Israel's rejection

Terrorism is planned. Arms are smuggled in, training is organised, and schoolchildren are indoctrinated with hatred at schools. Palestinian television glorifies death over life.

This killing is presented as religious martyrdom. It goes hand in hand with rejection of Israel's existence.

That is why the first victims of suicide attacks - bus passengers in Afula - died on 6 April 1994, when the Oslo peace process was making good progress.

It was the suicide bombers who deliberately destroyed the Peres and Barak governments, paving the way for Sharon.

First suicide attack: Hamas kills eight people in Afula in April 1994
120 Israelis died in attacks between 1994 and September 2000
440 Israelis killed and 3,000 injured in attacks since September 2000 (updated 26 December 2003)

Recent suicide attacks deliberately murdered peace activists in the Moment Cafe in Jerusalem, folk singers in Mike's Bar on Tel-Aviv beach, and Arabs in Haifa.

These are no brave heroes. Suicide bombers are the enemies of peace.

What is the way forward?

The Palestinians must unambiguously accept the legitimacy of Israel; renounce terrorism and preaching anti-Semitic hatred, including Holocaust denial.

The Israelis must explicitly recognise - as most already do - the legitimacy of a Palestinian state based on territories taken in the defensive war of 1967. Jerusalem must be shared.

Major economic investment is needed to open up economic opportunities.

Rejectionist states like Iran and Syria must stop supporting terrorism.

No-one has a monopoly on suffering. Too many people on both sides have died.

Israelis and Palestinians may never agree on their history. For the sake of both their futures, they must find a way to agree a path to peace.

What do you think of the views expressed here? Send us your comments using the form below.

Your comments

It's good to hear an intelligent balanced view for once, instead of ill-informed politically based sound bites. At last someone realises Sharon and Arafat are the problem, not the solution.
Fred, England

Ever heard of a one-sided story or narration? Ms Ellman's response is an example. She puts all the blame on the Palestinian side. She rightly points out the grave "negative" actions supported by the PA with nary a mention of that of the Israeli government. This is part of the reason why there is still no solution to the crisis. Until the rest of the world that are in a position to aid the peace process realise that both sides are equally GUILTY and condemn both for their actions, there will be no resolution, as both parties can look for supporters to justify their actions.
Jonathan A, USA

What's wrong with putting an international force in the conflicting zone and make both parties negotiate on the table? Yes, both parties are equally guilty for killing innocent people. Let's be fair with everybody here.
Sam, UK

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