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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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
Ilya Girin, USA
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Neil Lowrie, UK
Two chances - fat and none
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 ?
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.
Jenny Bradley, UK
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