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Friday, 20 July, 2001, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
Is the Middle East ceasefire over?

The ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians is looking increasingly ragged.

Israel is now massing troops near to Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank, after some of the worst violence in the region in recent months, including a suicide bombing and mortar attacks by Palestinians and Israeli helicopter strikes.

The ceasefire was brokered a few weeks ago by CIA chief George Tenet, to allow a breathing space to try to get the political process back on track.

Both sides accuse each other of breaking the terms of the ceasefire and pushing the region to the brink of all-out confrontation.

Is the ceasefire over? What can be done now to defuse the tension?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The ceasefire will not achieve anything

P. Rossi, Botswana
"Palestinians continue to violate the ceasefire." What hypocrisy! The ceasefire will not achieve anything. It was never intended to achieve anything except to bring about a temporary lull in the fighting. How can it work when one side continues to enlarge illegal settlements and destroy people's houses? We can't fool ourselves by pretending that the major issue here is something else other than the occupied land. Give the land back. Thereafter you might have a justifiable reason for labelling others terrorists if they don't reciprocate.
P. Rossi, Botswana

What ceasefire? Israel has been facing 15-20 bloody terrorist attacks per day. You can't have a ceasefire when one side wants peace while the other (Arafat) wants war!
Bobby Smithson, Australia

There never was a ceasefire

John, South Africa
There never was a ceasefire. Ever since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 there have been 85 suicide bomb attacks in Israel. About 20 of them took place since last September. If this is what the Palestinians have to offer, Israel is better off without any agreements with a people who don't intend to keep them anyway.
John, South Africa

Many of the attempts to portray Israel and the ceasefire as the victims of Palestinian intransigence are based on a misunderstanding of the Palestinian position. For thirteen years, the Palestinian leadership has explicitly accepted a two-state solution (though really Arafat has been proposing it since 1973). The Palestinian parliament, the PNC, accepted Security Council Resolution in November 1988 by 253 votes to 46. By contrast, no major Israeli party has ever accepted anything other than a continuation of the illegal occupation by violent means. Attempts to portray some sort of equality of blame are fundamentally misguided.
Glen, UK

To quote from the BBC's very own website, "Arabs all over the Middle East have said it, time and time again: as long as Israel occupies Arab land there will never be lasting peace." The Arabs view the entire Middle East as being their land, and as long as Israel exists, it will be on their land. Surely the only way to restore peace would be to magically move Israel to another part of the world, which the Arabs do not feel is their land.
Adam, UK

I think it's more appropriate to call this a War process rather than a Peace process.
Nabil, Tunisia

How can there be peace when the occupation still continues?

Antonio, USA
How can there be peace when the occupation still continues? When Palestinians try to liberate their country the west call it act of terrorism. If Israel returns their land back there will be no reason for Palestinians to fight. Remember that according to the UN, Israel must return the Palestinian land. There is never in history that the occupation force leave because of negotiation (peace treaty), so struggle is the only means to gain your property back. That is simply the fact of life, no miracle will happen today.
Antonio, USA

Make everybody leave. Give it back to the camels, make it a tourist preserve park. Can anyone really think of anything better? Sirs, I think this mail may seem to make light of the situation. Not the case. It is my way of expressing the futility and exhausting nature of this problem.
H. Troy, US

There can only be peace when both sides realise the value of life

Suhail Maqsood, USA
We are witnessing the birth of a nation - these people want their homeland. If Israel really wants peace, it needs to swallow that bitter pill - implement all recognised UN resolutions and go back to the negotiation table. There can only be peace when both sides realise the value of life; a Palestinian life is worth no more or no less than that of an Israeli.
Suhail Maqsood, USA

There is no mystery about what can be done to reduce tension. The Palestinian Authority must abandon its war against Israel and accept UN Security Council Resolution 242.
Oliver Kamm, UK

There was no cease-fire. Both sides knew it well. The Palestinians never took a step forward to implement the cease-fire and the Israelis couldn't take a risk of letting down their guard.
Jacob, Kuwait

Saying there even was a cease-fire is like saying the hurricane is over when the winds drop from 150 to 140 miles an hour. There never will be a cease-fire until one or the other sides get what they want: total subjugation of the Palestinians, or total destruction of Israel. Get used to it. This "fight" will continue for many more years.
Derek Kelly, USA

A major reason why there may be no resolution to the Mid-East conflict is America's continuing support for Israel

Emmanuel, Nigeria
A major reason why there may be no resolution to the Mid-East conflict is America's continuing support for Israel even when it is very obvious that the Jewish nation seems bent on emasculating, possibly eliminating the Palestinians. When America wants peace in that region, all she has to do is to apply some strong arm tactics as was the case recently when American aid to Yugoslavia was tied to the extradition of Milosevic to the International Court at the Hague to face genocide trials.
Emmanuel, Nigeria

To achieve peace you have to deal with reasonable and sane people. Day after day Arafat proves he is not one of them. The sooner he and his circle are removed from power the sooner real peace begins.
Mark, USA

I would like to share this memory of my visit to Israel in 1991. At that point the only real accords that Israel had was with Egypt - after the Camp David agreement. With this in mind I asked an Israeli border guard how relations were in practice with Egypt at a point near Eilat. What he said has haunted me ever since. "We are not at war, and we are not at peace with Egypt". I think that speaks volumes about the attitude in Israel, and perhaps about the attitude of the peoples of the other states bordering Israel.
Kath, London

Why does Yasser Arafat need a ceasefire if terrorism is his preferred method of negotiation? The PA nurtures the culture of violence through its schools and media. Ceasefire has been nothing more than a PR campaign.
Ilya Lisansky, USA

What cease-fire???
Steve Whelan, UK

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