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Tuesday, 6 February, 2001, 14:08 GMT
Israel - can the election bring peace?
Voters in Israel go the polls on February 6. Attempts by Prime Minister Ehud Barak to strike a peace deal before the election have failed.

A deal between Mr Barak and the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was seen as the last hope of securing victory for him over the right wing leader of Likud, Ariel Sharon.

Can the election bring peace to the Middle East? Can either candidate make a lasting difference?

Have your say

Judging by what Mr Sharon has done in the past he is no different to indicted Serbian war criminals, is he? Shouldn't the election of a war criminal as the prime minister of a democratic country ring the alarm bells around the world. Still, I very much hope there is lasting peace for innocent Israeli and Palestinians. Should Jewish people have the right to claim their land and assets, which were looted by the Nazis?? I think they should.
Masood Soorie, UK

The fact is that, to Palestinians, this is a desperate conflict for survival, for shelter and for a home

Amr Nimer, UAE
Some are trying to make the Arab-Israeli conflict seem like a religious one, putting Arab Moslems and Christians at one side and Jews at the other. The fact is that, to Palestinians, this is a desperate conflict for survival, for shelter and for a home. Peace will never come to the Middle East until the Israeli government and public realise that the millions of refugees Israel created by kicking them out of their homes are humans too, in need of security and shelter, capable of hatred as well as love. How Israel plans to deal with the refugee problem is a mystery.
Amr Nimer, UAE

It is not within the power of an Israeli Prime Minister to 'make peace': it requires the Palestinian Authority to abandon its macabre fantasy of destroying Israel and finally to accept its obligation under UN Security Council Resolution 242 to abandon hostilities against Israel. Urging Israel to make territorial compromises is redundant advice when every Israeli government since 1967 has pursued that course, treating the occupied territories as judicially separate from Israel and as bargaining counters in negotiations. The Barak government has even proposed withdrawing from 95 per cent of the West Bank, offered the Golan Heights to Syria and agreed to the creation of a Palestinian state. Yet the Arabs have responded with lynch mobs and inflammatory rhetoric.
Oliver Kamm, UK

Israelis will vote for Sharon because they have seen that conciliation and compromise from Barak has been met by violence and terror by Arafat. One senses that Arafat would prefer a Sharon victory because it would give him another opportunity to wriggle out of making peace. The wider Middle East, unlike Britain, is a place where compromise is seen as weakness and violence as strength - this is Israel's dilemma - it has tried to make peace and it has been rebuffed and met by violence. Sharon will also try and make peace, indeed he has a track record in government of involvement in peace treaties signed by previous Likud governments. Sharon is being demonised by the UK media as a war monger and a man who strikes fear in to the Palestinians but people seem quick to forget that Israel has bitten its collective tongue and tried to negotiate for nearly a decade with the arch terrorist Arafat who has taken and taken from Israel but has not given one iota back.
Patrick Smith, UK

The truth is Arafat can never make peace for neither he nor his people want it

David N, England
The truth is the Palestinians are being offered 95% of the west bank and some land in Israel to make up for the other 5%. The truth is Arafat can never make peace for neither he nor his people want it.
David N, England

If you can eradicate fear , hatred , lack of education , greed and bitterness then maybe then Israelis and Palestinians will be able to live side by side in harmony. These changes cannot be made overnight and the same questions will probably be asked a few centuries from now
Chris, Israel

I do not know who should control the West Bank, but I believe that if Ariel Sharon is elected Prime Minister then violence in the Middle East will reach a point not seen in years.
Stephen Hayes, Kansas City, USA

The likely election of Ariel Sharon, a war criminal and unashamed racist, is a depressing reflection of the Israeli electorate's true intentions concerning Middle East peace.
Sharif Nashashibi, UK

There will never be peace in the Middle East until one side loses. Losing in the Middle East means being wiped off the face of the Earth so obviously both sides are doing their best to make sure it is the other side. Wouldn't you?
Mike Starr, UK

If Two States in One Land option is not possible with Israeli settlements strategically situated over the every vital road, water source and above every Palestinian town. Why do not they try Two Nation One Land option? As the case in Canada, the English and the French fought for years but now they are living in a reasonable harmony. One may ask what should be the name of this country? Does not matter the name. Egypt is named Misser in Arabic, Israel can also be called Palestine in Arabic
Nida Mustafa, Canada

I don't believe either candidate will bring peace. Two old arrogant generals with innocent blood on their hands, with no humanity. Both make empty "peace" promises where peace means "pre-emptive strikes" and Israel-centred imposed solutions. Until Israel is led by civilians, Palestinians are considered equals, and their rights and needs addressed, there will be no peace.
Bahija Réghaï, Canada

Is it really in the best interests of the USA to be such a fanatical ally of Israel these days?

Neil Maybanks, Australia
Is it really in the best interests of the USA to be such a fanatical ally of Israel these days? Surely the most important thing for the USA in the Middle East is maintaining a stable price for oil. I think that the USA may soon have to make a choice between the two - oil or Israel. They must realize that they can't have everything. Neil Maybanks, Australia

Until such time that Israel has a gifted leader who can foresee that its only, I repeat, only hope in long term survival in the heart of the Arab world is to gain acceptance by the Palestinians. Therefore, it follows that more narrow-minded the leader it elects the bleaker is its future. Talks about "concessions" to the Palestinians is utter nonsense. You cannot make a "concession" by returning something to its rightful owner.
Sami Joseph, UK

There have been problems in Isreal since time began (see the Bible), and I don't suspect we are going to see any difference this time. This last 10 years we've seen Labour, Likud, then Likud, then Labour, and now Likud again. I really do think we should keep out of it to be honest. It's a problem we've never been able to control anyway.
Mr Harry Wentworth, Torquay, Devonshire, England

I would like to respond to Rob Hocker's statement quoting Golda Meir about Arabs loving their own children more than they hate the Jews. Golda Meir was also fond of stating that Palestine didn't exist, and that Palestinians didn't exist. This is a view that Ariel Sharon shares. But since Palestinians do exist, its quite apparent that Sharon, and his supporters like Rob Hocker, will never achieve peace by denying the truth.
Matthew Black, London,UK

What is peace? Is it the absence of war, the absence of strife, the absence of fighting? Or rather is peace living together in a spirit of co-operation, acceptance, consideration and harmony, friendship and even love? If the violence and fighting ends, is peace really solved when two peoples live in a land, quietly seething with hatred and despising each other? Peace begins in the heart. It is hardly possible to "love our neighbours as ourselves" when our hearts are filled with hatred for one another. It is unreasonable to expect politicians to sign a peace agreement that would change our hearts towards one another.
Lana Eagle, Canada

Until Israel accepts the right of the Palestinians to self-determination in their own land there would and should not be peace in the occupied territories

SB, UK
Until Israel accepts the right of the Palestinians to self-determination in their own land there would and should not be peace in the occupied territories. There must come a time when the same rule applies to everyone. UN resolutions must be carried out irrespective of race, creed or religion. Resolution 242 is 4 decades old and yet never implemented. That shows the West's bias against the Palestinians.
SB, UK

The upcoming vote is not a vote of Barak vs. Sharon. It is a vote of Arafat vs. Sharon. The people of Israel adore Barak, but do despise his peace partner for not even agreeing to any concessions brought up by Israel. Barak is the mask behind Arafat.
Jon K, Canada

I think it is pointless to put so much effort and hope in the current on and off peace process, when one really looks at what is being offered to the Arabs, for instance only 22% of the original homeland is being offered! I mean with such humiliation who would want to sign a deal? If one is to go by the Jewish scriptures one should remember a famous quote "one should treat another like one would wanted to be treated". This way both parties can come to a sensible outcome!
Majid, England

Don't forget that among Palestinian Moslems who fight for their land, there are a lot of Palestinian Christians

Yayan, Singapore
Don't forget that among Palestinian Moslems who fight for their land, there are a lot of Palestinian Christians. So it is not a religion "war". It is a fight to get back their land. So, How can Sharon can bring a piece when he himself never recognises Palestinians as human (remember Sabra & Sathilla Massacre)
Yayan, Singapore

The Israeli public have seen how the Palestinians have responded to Barak's repeated and increasing concessions with increasing demands and increasing violence. It's no surprise that they're voting for Sharon. The Palestinians have only themselves to blame for making Sharon electable.
Robin Stamler, England

I despair of Israel. Such hope when it was founded now? Where is the humanity that should spring for a people so wronged? There again maybe they are doing just what you and I would if we lived there!
Paul B, UK

As Golda Meir has said, "There will be peace when the Arabs love their children more than they hate the Jews"

Rob Hocker, USA
As the current violence in Israel demonstrates, both Oslo and the incredible concessions made by Barak cannot placate a people dedicated to the destruction of Israel. For years, the PA Charter has called for Israel's destruction, and after many promises to remove the clause, it yet remains. How can Israel be expected to talk "peace" with a people whose charter states that their "peace partner" has no right to exist? Sharon can't change that, but he can bring stability by insisting that no talks will take place until the violence ends, the charter is amended, and the PA stops teaching (and using) children to kill Israelis. As Golda Meir has said, "There will be peace when the Arabs love their children more than they hate the Jews".
Rob Hocker, USA

The naiviety of western politicians amazes me; there will never be peace in the Middle East --- because the presence of Israel in the "Muslim Holy Land" is considered an outrage by Arabic Leaders. An illustration, the difference tone between what Arafat says when speaking in English, and when speaking in Arabic. More extremist elements of the Muslim world will not rest until Israel is annihilated. Sadly, peace will not come in our lifetime.
Adrian Jenkins, UK

For everyone's sake, let's hope Barak wins. People are attracted by Sharon's tougher line, but of course if it hadn't been for his provocation in September, then we wouldn't be in this mess. A victory for Sharon would please the intransigent extremists on both sides, by stagnating the peace process Netanyahu-style. Very many Israelis and Diaspora Jews are appalled at the prospect of this man getting in, especially when both sides said only last week that they have never been closer to an agreement.
Paul, UK

Weather it's Palestine, Khasmir, Checynea, Iraq, Sudan,Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo Muslim life is cheap in the eyes of the west, and until this crusader mentality ends all this talk of peace is worthless.
Nabil Ben-Brahim, Canada

Sadly, with an Israeli prime minister of virtually any political hue, a confrontational situation on the ground which pits stone-throwing youths against tanks, bullets and bulldozers, and a 'broker' so obviously biased towards one of the parties, the prospects for peace remain bleak. I should like to see the Europeans playing a more prominent role in the process, though I fear the Israelis would not be too happy with that. What a shame it is that the US seems incapable of applying the same high-minded principles to Israeli acts as it has done towards those of Iraq and Serbia, for instance.
Mark Prescott, UK/Luxembourg

Peace means making confessions and making confessions means accepting the other party's basic rights. As long as Israel does not grant Palestinians with their basic right to go back home there cannot be peace. And Israelis should realize that war is worse for them than for Palestinians as the refugees have nothing to lose.
Peyman Dadgar, Iran

History has shown that Palestinians and Jews can live together in peace

Michael Ebbe, Germany
History has shown that Palestinians and Jews can live together in peace. So I believe that Israelis should give in and allow the refugees to go back. As long as the Palestinians are not given their basic rights as humans there can't be peace and the Intifada will continue. And the Israelis will sooner or later learn that bullets are not the right answer to stones.
Michael Ebbe, Germany

Barak has shown that he is unwilling to accept the conditions the Palestinians require for the creation of a viable Palestinian state. He has continued to build settlements on occuppied territory, and exercises a policy of ethnic and religious descrimination within Israel. In South Africa this was called Apartheid. Such conditions do not pave the way for peace. Sadly, Ariel Sharon is even more unreasonable. Perhaps if Shimon Peres is able to stand, there will be some possibilty of peace in the region.
Jacob Weldstein, UK

The danger of Arab-Israeli war actually increased since Oslo, and the major cause is Arabs' perception of a weak Israel: A country that persists in making more concessions, no matter how little it gets in return. This they see as a sign of desperation and they respond with aggression. That should come as no surprise; as the Russian proverb puts it, "if you want to attract wolves, act like a lamb." Sharon will change Israel's stance, and this will actually enhance regional stability.
Ilya G, USA

Sooner or later Israel and Palestine will make peace. I might be just 15 years old but that doesn't mean I don't know what is going on in Israel. I'm also a Christian, and the Bible speaks of one who will bring a peace agreement between Israel and her enemies.
Andrew Graef, USA

It makes no difference if either Sharon or Barak come to power

Sean D'Souza, USA
Peace is not a one handshake process, you need two hands for a handshake, with the present mentality and the values that are taught to youngsters on either side of the border it makes no difference if either Sharon or Barak come to power. We are kidding ourselves into believing that some sort of Peace will exist in the troubled region.
Sean D'Souza, US

Sharon, Barak it doesn't matter who leads in Israel. What does matter is the U.S. You see for all Clinton's peace efforts in that region, he never put any real pressure on the Israeli's because of the massive pro-Israeli lobby's in the U.S. Bush can bring peace tommorow to that region if he simply got his adminstration to come up with a peace plan which fair and acceptable to both sides.
Raza, U.S

After over 3000 years of conflict between Arabs and Israelis we expect one election to change the whole process? Is that really logical, or is peace too much to expect from two men who lead two different nations and two different peoples?
N. Quesenberry, USA

Although Barak has not done the best job, Sharon will do far worse

Faisal Zeid, USA
Barak is by far the better of the two - if Israel wants an escalation in violence then Sharon is the man - the Palestinians are not keen on Barak, but they absolutely despise Sharon, and with good cause. Although Barak has not done the best job, Sharon will do far worse!!!
Faisal Zeid, USA

Regardless who will be the devil in a dove clothes in Isreal, peace will never exist as long as the Palestinians keep begging for small islands in their own land and their own country.
Falah Hadad, Iraq

Sharon is a war criminal personally responsible for the deaths of over 75,000 in Lebanon, including the Sabra and Shatila massacres. Asking him to bring peace to the region is like asking Hitler to bring peace to Europe.
Bilal Patel, London, UK

History shows that so called hawks have done more for peace than the doves

Ilya Girin, USA
Mr Sharon's approach will disillusion the Arab leaders of their hopes to get rid of the "Zionist entity". He will force them to think about the long lasting peace. History shows that so called "hawks" have done more for peace than the "doves": let's remember the late Menachim Begin who signed peace with Egypt, President Reagan who forced the USSR to end the "cold war" . I am sure Mr. Sharon is the best choice for the peace process in the Middle East.
Ilya Girin, USA

To us, Sharon and Barak seem so different, but to the Palestinians, an Israeli bullet is an Israeli bullet, tear gas is tear gas

Ashley Souther, USA
It seems to us in the West that Arafat has passed up a relatively good deal (considering his weak position) and has held out for a much less compromising 'partner' in Sharon. This puzzles us, but we have to realize that, although Barak's 'peace deal' seems reasonable to us, it meant something very different to Palestinians. To us, Sharon and Barak seem so different, but to the Palestinians, an Israeli bullet is an Israeli bullet, tear gas is tear gas.
Ashley Souther, USA

Being the only Jewish state against 50 Islamic nations, Israel needs all the World's help and sympathy. Western governments and the people living there should wholeheartedly support Israel's efforts at peace making. Madan Mehta
Madan Mehta, United States

I think the election is somewhat of a foregone conclusion

Zafar, England
The real irony of this democratic election is that it will result in an increase in tensions between Israel and the Palestinians as well as its surrounding neighbours. It will also create huge tensions/ problems for the leaders of nations such as Egypt and Jordan who have signed 'peace' deals. I think the election is somewhat of a foregone conclusion, the real interest will be how the administration of G.W. Bush (note my keyboard still has the 'W' key) will respond. Unlike the previous democratic administration, this administration has serious and personal vested interests in the oil producing countries who are referred often as the 'other' friends of the US.
Zafar, England

The Israeli and Palestinians are brothers by blood yet they have been fighting for thousand of years. It's about time to change to a new chapter. The chapter of peace and trust.
Julio, Dubai, UAE

Ever hopeful though I am for a route to peace to be found in the Middle East, I think that the idea of the election bringing that is naively optimistic. Indeed, how can peace be achieved at all in a situation where there is so marked a polarity of opinion? The most tragic feature of the strife is that it is so evocative of the painfully similar situations that can be observed in history.
Catherine, Britain

A change of leader in Israel certainly brings fresh hope for peace. Any new leader may be willing to compromise on any number of issues. That's assuming Barak loses.
Peter Bolton, UK in USA

There will probably never be peace as long as both Israel and Palestine want control of all of East Jerusalem

Bev Heipp, United States
There will probably never be peace as long as both Israel and Palestine want control of all of East Jerusalem. I believe the Temple Mount should be governed by an International group. Whoever controls it must respect both the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Bev Heipp, United States

Neither of them are exactly 'doves'. I suspect that the 'New Intifada' will continue, and whoever is in power will use unacceptable force to quell it. The Palestinians do not trust either of them, and I for one cannot blame them.
Mark B, UK

Barak and Sharon are different sides of the same coin

Neil Lowrie, UK
Barak and Sharon are different sides of the same coin. Neither has the courage nor the will to recognise the wrongs that the Israelis have perpetrated against the Palestinians. Until that is done, there will never be real peace in the region.
Neil Lowrie, UK

Two chances - fat and none
Alan Rowell, UK

You imply that what is really needed here is for Israel to compromise. But don't forget how small Israel is, and how they had to fight for their very survival not that long ago. Peace is always a good thing, but at what price ?
Richard L., UK

There will never be a peace in the Middle East as long as the United Nations Security Council resolutions against Isreal are not implimented. Israel is in defiance of more than 69 United Nations Security Council resolutions and it has been protected from 30 more by US vetoes. The solution to the Middle East crisis is in the hand of Isreal and its most powerful lobby in the US. I hope the current US Administration will reialize that Isreal is becoming a liability and distance it self from it until the UN resolutions are implimented.
Ghassan Tafla, USA

If Yasser Arafat cannot accept Mr Barak terms, he will never find a common ground with Mr Sharon

Jenny Bradley, UK
How can the impending elections bring peace to the Israli nation, when it it is obvious to all concerned that Ariel Sharon and the Likud party will take a much firmer line when it comes to striking a peace deal. If Yasser Arafat cannot accept Mr Barak terms, he will never find a common ground with Mr Sharon.
Jenny Bradley, UK

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29 Jan 01 | Middle East
02 Jan 01 | Middle East
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