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Monday, 22 October, 2001, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Israeli assassination: Is there still room for dialogue?
A schoolgirl and two security force members have been killed by Israeli tank fire in the West Bank hours after Israel delivered an ultimatum to Yasser Arafat to hand over the killers of the far-right cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says he blames Mr Arafat for the assassination of the slain ultra-nationalist politician. Aides to Mr Arafat have denied responsibility for the killing.

Palestinian authorities arrested at least three prominent members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which said it carried out Wednesday's assassination, but are refusing to hand anyone over.

Mr Zeevi was shot dead by gunmen in a Jerusalem hotel on Wednesday. He was the first elected Israeli official to be killed by Palestinian militants.

The killing follows frantic diplomatic efforts to keep the Middle East peace process alive from Washington and London.

Does this represent a new and serious threat to the Middle East peace process? Do you think this assassination will have wider implications for the global war on terrorism?

HAVE YOUR SAY

I hope that the mighty military coalition now taking shape to wipe out terrorism will turn its attention and the same firepower towards a just and fair solution to the Palestinian issue. Can we anticipate a full force landing in the area, after which borders will be defined, settlements will be removed from areas where the UN has declared them internationally unacceptable and disarmament of militants will be ensured? Can we see this International Coalition securing the borders of Israel for a period of time to allow the return of land kept for security reason?
AG, Japan

Peace may still be achievable. However, both sides have to be committed for this to be a realistic target. The Palestinians who have had millions removed from their land must surely want peace. Israel, on the other hand, was created through force, in which British people were also killed. It has continued to bulldoze Palestinian homes and build new settlements for its own people. When Israel receives $1.8bn a year from America in military aid, what is its motivation for peace? We continue to hear that Israel's security must not be compromised. However, Israel was created by compromising the security of millions of Palestinians, who've had to flee from their homes. But things change and time does not stand still. We are told that the stone-throwing children are not afraid to die, let's give them a reason to live, otherwise Israel may reap its own seeds of destruction.
Saima, UK

There is definitely a vicious circle of violence between Israel and the Palestinians that doesn't seem to have an end but one thing one can't blame Israel for is to be mad as hell with the Palestinian Authority for not putting a stop to shooting incidents taking place from territory under its control and known militants and militant groups taking refuge within PA territory and using its territory as a staging ground for attacks. Imagine if there was a group of who one day decided that we have to fire rockets from Florida into Cuba and the US were to just stand by and say we're doing everything we can to stop it but the attacks just carry on, within a few minutes of the first shot the full force of the US Government would be on their backs.

If the Palestinian Authority are not prepared to go to war with unlawful Militant factions within it's own territory what is Israel to do, the whole world knows that these factions are not interested in peace rather to drive Israel into the sea. These current incursions are nothing more than an attempt at accomplishing what should be the number one job of the PA namely keeping law and order within its own territory. Has anyone once read in the news during this last year of violence that there has been a group of militant terrorists firing at an innocent Israeli village and the PA sent in their police force (which happens to consist of 45,000 men) to try and stop them never mind arrest these bloodthirsty terrorists.
Ben, UK


The Israelis must try to broaden their support base by looking more to Europe than the US

Tom, UK
Yes, there is always room for dialogue. Meaningful dialogue has been virtually impossible in the past, partly because Arafat is a hopeless political leader, but also the Israelis seem incapable of electing a government that actually represents them. The Palestinians have several very able political figures. If they had listened, for example, to 10 words from Hanan Ashwari for every 1000 from Arafat, they would be in a much stronger position now. The PLO connection has to go, and a genuine political organisation must replace it. Yes, I know how difficult this is, look at N. Ireland. But it is the only way offering any hope. The Israelis must try to broaden their support base by looking more to Europe than the US. But for this to work, the moderate majority must assert their political will over the fundamentalists, permanently. Otherwise, Europe will just sit back and watch the whole thing go to hell in a basket.
Tom, UK

Peace will only come when the Israelis stop suppressing the Palestinians, and when the world recognizes the state of Palestine. All allies must accept responsibility of what is happening because of their policies in the Middle East. Recognizing one state without the other is Hypocritical on their part. Israel is to the Palestinians as the Taliban is to the Afghan People.
Ashera Rachel, Canada

What is wrong with people? Stop shooting and get talking. Israel, get out of what is not legally yours, and to the Palestinians I say accept what is left as yours, however small, and stop bloody fighting. Where, oh where is the Alien race that is going to attack us from outer space and bring mankind together?
Dan F, England

Imagine two neighbouring countries, where one is has occupied much of the other's land and systematically destabilised the country economically and politically so much so that the occupied population at large is reliant on its invaders. Now imagine that this has been going on so long with the support of other more powerful allies to the point where the occupied country is now not even recognised. Further consider the invading authority to consistently deny freedoms, to the point of even denying an identity to those people whose land is being occupied. Under such circumstances, how would you react if you were one of the oppressed?
Abid, UK


As Mr Zeevi's great niece I must remind you all that whatever Rehavam's politics, he was like you, a human being

Rebecca, UK
I am Mr Zeevi's great niece and a UK resident as are other close members of his family. I am not an extremist and at this moment do not wish to debate the politics of this situation. I think we all know that the whole situation is completely out of hand and fault lies on both sides. I must however remind you all that whatever Rehavam's politics he was like you, a human being, a father, a brother, and a husband. His family are devastated by this appalling tragedy and his wife, children and many grandchildren are now without a man that they deeply loved and respected. Please remember that although this may be world news it is also a human tragedy.
Rebecca, UK

These developments appear to be a new trend that is starting to raise its ugly head. Starting with Israel, India and Russia amongst others who have taken to labelling anyone they disapprove of as a terrorist then proceeding to eliminate that perceived threat. It is worth noting that all talk of justice seems to have fallen by the wayside. Instead of the rule of law, Israel's army and security forces are acting as policemen, judges and executioners. However, they seem to be surprised when the people who have been pushed until they have nothing left to lose start to fight back with the same methods and using the same rationale.

Israel and the rest of the world need to take heed of this tragic and valuable lesson of modern obsession with treating the symptoms and not the causes of problems. The current problems in Israel should serve as a stark reminder that the "get tough" and "beat them down" approaches do not work. Instead it encourages a cycle of tit-for-tat skirmishes that can only have one possible outcome. If peace is to ever happen in the Middle East a dialogue must continue with the understanding that on both sides there are extremists who use any means they see as necessary to undermine such attempts, of which the PFLP and the Israeli extremist who shot Mr Rabin are a part.
Ahmed Shihab, UK

There is always room for dialogue, but what we are seeing here is polarisation between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Still, the peace process is somehow being held together by their mutual dependence on US goodwill. Sharon would dearly like to label the Palestinians as terrorists and say that they sponsor and harbour terrorists. If America accepts that, then the coalition they have been building against terror will collapse. Arafat needs to distance himself from organisations that may be described as being terrorists, even though deep down he sees them as freedom fighters. My opinion is that America must not be allowed to participate in negotiations. It is biased in favour of Israel. It's also time to stop bombing Afghanistan and define what we mean by terrorists before progressing the fight against them. Remember that even Nelson Mandela was labelled a terrorist in his younger days.
Ushi Guruk, UK

I know Britain is far from perfect but the general response to Irish republican terrorism here has been to pursue the perpetrators through the justice system, police, courts, prison systems. Why does Israel consider itself above this process and how can it expect any sympathy when its response is to attack a children's school and murder a young girl?
Tomas, UK

These tit-for-tat assassinations and attacks are what will stop the peace process. It is only a matter of time. It seems like every time there is progress in the talks, something like this happens and the process takes five steps back. I don't know a lot about this conflict, but the more I learn about it, the more convinced I am that we should stay out of it. Israel is supposedly a "strategic" area for the USA, but I can't figure out why.
Emily, Pasadena, USA


Neither side can moderate themselves as human beings

Thom, USA
Yet another reason we need to leave the situation in that region alone. Neither side can moderate themselves as human beings. This is tit for tat assassination, nothing more.
Thom, USA

The problem is twofold. The Palestinians commit acts of violence and then accuse Israel of doing the same, when Israel has the audacity to defend itself. It's a classic psychological case of "projection." The Arabs also accuse other countries/media of being biased against them and favourable towards Israel - perhaps this is another case of "projection." Israel has acted with more restraint than any other country would - see USA for example. How would the world view Israel, if they followed that methodology? I am not sure if there is much room for dialogue at this precise moment. After all, the PA speaks with two mouths - one to its Western gullible audience and the other to the Arab people.
Jonathan, England

Israelis are just acting as a necessity in self-defence. They tried all reasonable peaceful means and went out of norms and bounds to please Arabs but all were in vain. What they are doing is just the necessity for their survival and interest of their people. God will surely help Israel as he did in past history.
Rokny Pio, India (Iraqi origin)

The killing of Yitzhak Rabin was clearly not nearly as bad from an Israeli Government viewpoint as he was killed by a Jewish extremist. I do not recall that the secret police hunted down all Jewish extremists as a result. It does therefore not seem to be a question of justice but a question of racism by a nation that should know better.
Paul, Greece


Israel should be forced politically, economically and by sanctions to fulfil their international obligations

Mahmood Riaz, Britain
In my opinion the Israelis had it coming to them for a long time. They think that they can do anything, they want and the world won't condemn their illegal actions, but the point of fact is that Israel is not above the law, and their crimes should be brought to justice, even in the US opposes them. The US isn't the lawmaker, the UN is and Israel should be forced politically, economically and by sanctions to fulfil their international obligations.
Mahmood Riaz, Britain

Things were rosier when Rabin and Arafat were negotiating. I got the impression that they could have even been friends. Likud strikes me as incapable of compromise, just like Hamas and Hezbollah are incapable of curtailing violence. The most conducive condition for a resolution would be a Labour government under Peres negotiating with a PLA under Arafat. Under the moderating influence of Peres, Arafat could be persuaded to influence Hamas and Hezbollah to stop the violence. Moreover, the US would be better able to persuade Peres to compromise more than Ariel Sharon will. Peres would also be more likely to withdraw Israeli forces from the more contentious areas of the West Bank. I don't feel that the combination of current players gives much scope for dialogue.
Rahul, UK / India

As a disinterested party, the more I learn about the Palestinian problem, the more I am amazed at how the present Israeli government has the support of anyone in the international community. Although there are obvious differences, the parallels with apartheid are undeniable. Palestinians earn a tenth of their Israeli neighbours - whose illegal occupation of and expansion into the Palestinian territory flies in the face of UN Security Council Resolution 242. When will Israel learn that subjugation of population breeds uprising? I haven't the energy to mourn for one more entrenched bigot such as Zeevi. I'd rather save my energies for the innocent Israelis and Palestinians caught up in this tragic farce who just want an end to the fighting.
Angus, UK

Israel has oppressed the Palestinians, humiliated them and taken away their hope. They are now fighting a desperate people with nothing to lose. The Israelis should negotiate with the Palestinians and grant them the land and independence the rest of the world can see would be a just solution. The alternative is that Israel will be embroiled in an ever-lasting war it can never win.
Mark, UK


The real chance for dialogue has faded

Julian, UK
The real chance for dialogue has faded. With the coalition assault on Afghanistan a precedent has been set (if one were needed) for the Israelis and Palestinians to undertake pre-emptive strikes against each other. We are moving from a start point of negotiation to demand followed by immediate retribution.
Julian, UK

From a very layman's point of view - it looks like this. The Palestinians consist of lots of regular people plus a few hothead factions. Arafat is at the top trying to keep a lid on things. So one faction shoots this Israeli tourism minister. Arafat then does the right thing and has these people arrested, presumably trying to keep the latest peace effort going. Yet Israel still sends the tanks in. From my (not particularly informed) point of view, I think Israel should calm down. They are not dealing with one very gelled and hierarchical country and can't expect things to be suddenly ok. Things will get better gradually. Every time they send the tanks in they just inflame the situation.

It's never worked in the past - why on earth should it work now? It's up to them, as the more controlled and better governed country, to make the first moves and hold out the olive branches. Or is this just naive?
Simon, Leeds, UK


Arafat made it clear how hypocritical he is when he released the head of the PFLP

Kety, Israel
If Arafat is loudly condemning the murder of the Israeli Cabinet Member, Rechavam Zeevi, how come he released the head of the PFLP after short investigation? He cannot claim he has no control since he did manage to arrest him but defiantly made it clear to everyone how hypocritical he is when he released him instead of making sure justice will be done.
Kety, Israel

Ophie asks, not unreasonably, why Israel should negotiate with Arafat if he has "no power". Simple answer - he doesn't have "no power", he has an estimated 30% support (which is more than any other single Palestinian leadership figure), but no overall authority. Now, as the real extremists believe in violence, not debate, they aren't prepared to negotiate with the "enemy". So you have to talk to the moderates, the people who are actually prepared to negotiate and aim for peace.

If negotiations work, the moderates will be seen to achieve something and so will gain support, the extremists will lose support, and things will start to stabilise. Same as any other terrorist struggle that's got its roots in a genuine grievance. You have to acknowledge and address the grievance before the terrorism will go away.
James, UK

It is strange to see so many people ignoring the facts. 1. Israel had killed only Palestinians that were directly involved in terror acts. If some of you define killing of kids in pizzeria as freedom fighting, you are wrong. 2. Israel only killed these terrorists after Yassar Arafat refused to arrest them. Actually he let some of them out of jail. That was something the Palestinians signed in the Oslo agreement. 3.50% of the Palestinians are Hamas and jihad supporters. They are the same as Bin laden and the Egyptian Islamic jihad. They want Israel with no Jews and you can never make peace with them. 4. For those who say Arafat cannot do anything I have 2 questions: - Why should we sign an agreement with someone who has no power? - Why does he have an army of 40,000 soldiers? He was supposed to have only 10,000 according to the Oslo agreement. 5.Israel offered Arafat 97% of the area. Even if he thought that was not enough why did he start this violence?
Ophie, Israel


There needs to be an international tribunal to prosecute war criminals on both sides

Suleiman Abu-Sharkh, UK
This regrettable assassination does not come as a surprise. It is a result of the worlds inaction against the Israeli policy of assassination of Palestinian political figures. Hopefully, the world and Israel will now take notice and stop the illegal activities of the Israeli government and its army, and bring those war criminals to account, with Sharon being at the top of the list. There needs to be an international tribunal to prosecute war criminals on both sides. Israel must withdraw back to the 1967 borders and must allow the return of the Palestinian refugees if it wants to live in peace and security.
Suleiman Abu-Sharkh, UK

The assassination of Rehavam Zeevi is not surprising to me at all. After all he was an extremist in all it's ugly glory, just like the PLFP leader who was assassinated by our government. The noise that our government is making about this is really pointless, since what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Unfortunately this will only bring about more deaths, and I have come to the point where I have lost my patience with both Israelis and Palestinians, we the ordinary home makers are the ones who will pay for this political and religious farce that is happening here, and I just hope that I will not be called to the reserves to be a pawn for both sides of this evil dance. Lest the world forget, we are all in the same boat. Religion is being used in the most perverse way to satisfy the few and their bent ways. I have given up on peace, and I think peace has given up on all of us. Those of you who spite the other will win. I hope you are all happy.
Daniel James, Israel


How can we expect the so-called uncivilised Palestinians to hold talks since they have been the target of Israeli violence for so long?

Dr Tamseel, Pakistan
If "civilised" America isn't willing to negotiate with the Taleban and wants unconditional favours, how can we expect the so-called uncivilised Palestinians to hold talks since they have been the target of Israeli violence for so long? No one raised an eyebrow when one of the Palestinian leaders was assassinated a week ago!
Dr Tamseel, Pakistan

Ariel Sharon holds Yasser Arafat responsible for the murder. Why this macho and ludicrous stance? If Israel and the Arabs ignore the atrocities caused by out of control militants and judge each other by the best of them, not the worst, then there can be meaningful dialogue leading to a settlement. Otherwise the senseless conflict will continue.
Tharg, UK

It is ironic that on the day he died, Zeevi was due to leave the government in protest of a slight loosening of Israel's grip on the occupied Palestinian territories. Rather than being ironic, it is highly possible that it was just this loosening up that allowed his killers to enter Jerusalem.
Israel Dalven, Israel

Poor Israel, they have had it bad since the past 50years, murders, killings and assassinations. How can the Palestine people do this, I mean they have had it good for the past five decades, no one has terrorised them, murdered women and children, taken away their homes, fired guns at helpless kids and women. I mean what are the Palestine people complaining about, as one of the above users has said they never had it so good. Water is even rationed in Palestine. Wake up people these people are in despair, they are treated like animals, sorry animals are treated better, what do you expect?
Shazia Khan, UK


Saying he is fully in control of everyone in his state is not sensible.

Flotsam, UK
Amir, England, Yassar Arafat has condemned the retaliation attack, he has promised to bring those responsible to justice. That is taking responsibility; what else would you do? Saying he is fully in control of everyone in his state is not sensible.
Flotsam, UK

It is an attack of the Palestinian authority on Israel. Yes, Arafat condemns it, but he lets the terrorist organizations exist in his territories. He cannot claim to be the leader and the one to cut the peace deal with on one hand, and on the other hand to take no responsibility to any activity that is done by a formal organization located in a territory that is fully controlled by him. This is hypocrisy, which is so typical to many of the Arab non-democratic leaders.
Amir, England

Chris,says "draw a line through the country - half for the Israelis and half for the Palestinians". They tried that in 1947 look where that got them.
Yosef , UK


Tony Blair is taking on the problems head on but he knows nothing about the life of the Palestinians there

Chris, U.K.
I am not an Israeli or a Palestinian. Therefore I should be neutral but I am not. Tony Blair is taking on the problems head on but he knows nothing about the life of the Palestinians there. And how absurd for their land to be dotted everywhere - draw a line through the country - half for the Israelis and half for the Palestinians. Life for the Palestinians is abysmal - do you know how much humiliation they have to go through every day just to get from A to B? And the assassination today wasn't the first: don't forget, the Israelis assassinate people: they just have the Americans behind them to allow them to call it "responding to terrorism" and it being "okay".

I despair for the people there: nobody wants to give in and I don't think anyone can say that Yasser Arafat is responsible: he has had enough of being shunted from country to country: all he wants is a homeland for his people and why not? The people who are still carrying out atrocities are a group amongst themselves: he has no say in what they do.

This is serious stuff and somebody should sit down with the 'grieved' parties and find out just what to do, just why are they feeling deprived. And to bomb the hell out of Afghanistan is not the answer either - I am in the U.K. and I would hate to be contracted with anthrax but because I am "nobody special and have no voice" then I have to take what life gives me. For pity's sake, all you politicians, do something to stop all this. Stop bombing and try to get to the root of the problem.
Chris, U.K.


What we are now seeing in Israel is the result of a half a century of abuse and neglect on the part of Israel.

Guy, Germany
Successive Israeli governments from Ben Gurion to Sharon have followed a hard line policy, in respect to an Israeli/Palestinian settlement. Golda Meir for example refused to admit that a Palestinian issue even existed, so adamant was she that the Palestinians had no claim to they're stolen ancestral homeland. What we are now seeing in Israel is the result of a half a century of abuse and neglect on the part of Israel. One can only hope that America will eventually stop funding the Israeli military machine and in so doing, force Israel to address it's own racist attitudes toward the Palestinians and the Arab world in general. Without a change in these attitudes there can never be a just peace for the Palestinian minority.

Just because I talk about racism, please don't lecture me on the holocaust or call me anti-semetic, these arguments no longer stand up. Look at Israel's past treatment of the oriental Jews by the European Jews after independence. Or the treatment received by the Ethiopian and Russian immigrants, all of whom share the same religion. Israel is fooling itself by calling itself a civilised state. One can only hope that one day in the not too distant future, Israel will start to address these issue from within and stop blaming the rest of the world for it's misfortune.
Guy, Germany


A war between Israel and Arabs may very well push us all over the brink to a global war

Ted, USA
This worries me most of all. In such a destabilized environment in which we find ourselves, a war between Israel and Arabs may very well push us all over the brink to a global war. If Israel is to consider itself an ally of the U.S., it must show restraint (which is what I wish the U.S. had done). Alliances and friendships are being tested. I hope for all of our sakes they will hold.
Ted, USA

Dialogue? What dialogue. Israel has only ever been interested in a monologue - peace on their terms. They have pursued their agenda with terrorism, war and genocide for more than 50 years, unrestrained by international law, morality or ordinary human decency. Typically, they used ten years of the peace process to destroy tens of thousands of Palestinian homes and build tens of thousands of homes for Jewish terrorists in the West Bank. For them, peace is but another form of warfare. The war on terror would have started where terror itself began - in the heart of Zionism.
Raquib S, UK

It's not a question of 'if'. It's a question of 'must'.
Gisela Szpytko, Colcester, UK

For the Palestinians, every Palestinian terrorist is a politician; and every Israeli politician is a terrorist.
Michael Pasternak, Hong Kong, China

I wonder when the world community will join together and stop the state-sponsored terrorism, which Israel demonstrates without consequence.
Bob, USA


Resistance to occupation is legal and natural

Daud Sharif, Boston, Mass, USA
Israel's wrong-headed and brutal policy of assassinating Palestinian leaders for the last 53 years is designed to "shape the enemy", i.e. kill all viable future Palestinian leaders so that Israel can continue with the real agenda of grabbing Palestinian lands, building illegal settlements etc. Occupation, assassination and daily humiliation of the Palestinians is just the side effect of the above policy. Resistance to occupation is legal and natural. It has continued for the last half century and it will continue for the next half till the Jew learns that he has to live like a good neigbour in the midst of Moslem Arabia.
Daud Sharif, Boston, Mass, USA

To Chen Jovy of Israel: The Palestinians want peace, but not what Israel wants the Palestinians to have - little land, Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, etc. Peace at any price is not the way to operate, I am sure most people reading this accept that.
Graham, UK

The Palestinians obviously do not want peace, because if they did they could have achieved it by now. The Israeli government is rather passive, when the Palestinians commit acts of terror then they have seizures, when they abstain from it for some time they regain they're former stands. But they would rather rot in poverty then make peace with Israel.
Chen Jovy, Israel


The world's Jewish community needs to recognize that the State of Israel was a short-sighted blunder made by the UN

Joe, USA
Frankly, I think the world's Jewish community needs to recognize that the State of Israel was a short-sighted blunder made by the UN. They should surrender Palestine back over to the Palestinian people with a heartfelt apology for all the havoc they have inflicted in that area of the world.
Joe, USA

"Only criminal terrorists could dream of assassinating elected members of a democratic state," so says Ariel Sharon. Mr. Sharon, what about the targeted killings, one of which just happened last week? There will be room for dialogue, if Mr Sharon stops the double standards. If it's good for the goose, its good for the gander.
Shmohsin, USA


Only terrorists would deny people their right to self-determination and dignity

Amoroso Gombe, Kenya
Only terrorists would claim to be from a democratic state and engage in the assassination of freedom fighters whose sole desire is a viable homeland in which to live in peace and prosper and expect the freedom fighters not to retaliate. Only terrorists would deny people their right to self-determination and dignity. Only terrorists would keep finding excuses to frustrate the oppressed peoples cause instead of simply giving in to reason and giving the freedom fighters their rights.
Amoroso Gombe, Kenya

This is an opportunity for the PA. Arafat must act to disarm the PFLP and Hamas. This is his moment. If he does he will be able to bring the Palestinian people statehood now. If not, then it will be perhaps the most explosive situation, in which the Palestinians once more turn their back on an opportunity to achieve statehood.
David, USA

How can we be expected to feel sympathetic when Israel has been assassinating Palestinian leaders all along?
Keith, USA

Did the BBC show the same concern by asking a similar question when so many PLO officials were killed by the Israeli government? No. Stop broadcasting, now.
Krishan Canagasabey, UK

Arafat better get with the program or else he'll wind up on the same list as Osama and Mullah Omar.
Stephen, USA

Israel has acted in a violent, militaristic manner for decades. Her citizens occupied land belonging to another people and then offered to give a fraction back in return for peace. How insulting.
Naveen Y, India/US


Israel just wants to survive

Joel, UK
Naveen: Israel has had little choice but to act in a militaristic manner since it has been invaded by its neighbours for decades. The alternative would not be to surrender some land but to die. After all, not "a fraction" of the 97 percent of territories offered at Camp David was accepted by the Palestinian Authority. Zeevi was an extremist, a hawk, and his assassination can come as no great surprise. But will it be condemned in the same manner as the assassination of people who have arranged and plotted the suicide murders of dozens of innocents? We shall see. There are a lot of double standards operating in this region and the "trendiness" of support for the terrorist cause simply because Israel is backed by the US is borne of ignorance and little else.

Why should the US not support a people whose enemies all want them dead? Surrounded by these threats, Israel is the "underdog" even with US support. As for Jerusalem - under Israeli rule Muslims can visit the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. Under Islamic rule no infidel was allowed near the place. Israel has offered just about all she can, other than her people's throats. The Palestinian people, even now in the middle of an intifada, are better off there than they were when "cared for" by their coreligionist neighbours who treated them like a lot worse and used them as a political pawn. Yes, they should be treated better than this. And if the minority amongst them stop the killing, they will be. Israel just wants to survive.
Joel, UK

To Joel, UK. So now Israel "has been invaded by its neighbours for decades"! Do we live on the same planet? For me, invaders or oppressors have no right to complain about any form of what so-called terrorism (or resistance). No wise person would support the killing of innocents or even criminals without just trials, but there is no way I will blame the Palestinians. There is no doubt that murderers should be brought to justice but no discrimination should be made whether the murderer was a hopeless frustrated Palestinian militant or a criminal prime minister.
Hesham, New Zealand


If the Arab states had only accepted the UN 1948 partition peacefully perhaps we would not be where we are now

Tracy, Ontario, Canada
I agree with Joel of the UK - Israel only wants to live in peace. Historically it has been her Arab neighbours who have ambitiously sought to annihilate her. Israel was able to turn the tables after each attack perpetrated by a coalition of Arab states and she expanded her territory as retribution. What was she supposed to do, slap their hands and say "please don't do this again"? If the Arab states had only accepted the UN 1948 partition peacefully perhaps we would not be where we are now. I also want the Palestinians to have their own state. But it cannot be at the expense of Israel. Until Arafat stops his useless rhetoric of condemnation of terrorist attacks against Israel and actually takes some meaningful action nothing is going to change and the situation will only worsen. As to what Israel must do - stop building settlements and move your people out of areas designated for the Palestinians. Shame on you.
Tracy, Ontario, Canada

The Israeli-Palestinian dispute is not really about giving back the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Students of history over the last 50 or more years should know that the real message of almost all supporting the Palestinian cause is that the Jews (not Israelis) should be driven into the sea. Is anyone surprised that Israel reacts with a degree of paranoia? There will not be true peace until both sides genuinely recognize the right of the other to exist in peace, within recognized borders (UN Resolution 242).
Stephen, USA

Dear Stephen, USA. What version of Israeli Palestinian history do you refer to? It seems to be a rather distorted one because I think you will find that UN resolution 242 calls for Israel to return all land seized in the 1967 occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.
Paul Warwick, UK


Those who condemn Israeli policy of targeting military activists ought to think of alternatives

Haggay, Israel
Unlike this assassination of a mere political figure, the Israeli policy of killing is focused on those who are involved with military actions. For instance Abu Ali Mustafa, the former head of the PFLP, was eliminated by the Israeli commanded personally. He was granted permission to come to the West Bank after the explicit commitment of the Palestinian Authority that he would be engaged only with political matters.

The PFLP took have now retaliated with this last assassination. Those who condemn Israeli policy of targeting military activists ought to think of alternatives after the Palestinians rejected the Camp David plan. Included in this plan was a Palestinian state in 97 percent of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip incorporating most of east Jerusalem. It was this rejection that sparked the current cycle of violence.

I tend not to agree with the White House spokesman who claimed that there is no comparison between the US actions in Afghanistan and the Israeli actions in the West Bank. The Israeli policy of targeting Palestinian military activists is far better than the American policy of wide bombardments in Afghanistan. Unlike the US which uses one ton bombs to pressure the Taleban, Israel tries to eliminate the people who are only personally responsible for killing its civilians. I wish that the US had the detailed intelligence to hit only Bin Laden's people. Alas they do not.
Haggay, Israel

In response to Haggay who said that the American government indiscriminately bomb innocents while the Israeli government hits on individual targets. Look who's talking. What about the bombardment of police posts surrounded by housing and innocent people? In both cases they're using F16s. And for your democratic Reev killed by targeted killing, he once described Palestinians as "lice" and repeatedly called for them to be transferred out of the Israeli-occupied territories. He is notorious for using the line, "Let the Arabs go back to Mecca."
Y. Hachmi, US.

In response to Haggay from Israel, why should Palestinians accept 97%? Would you accept 97% if you were rightfully entitled 100 %.
Seyum, UK


This will just be used as an excuse to reinvade Palestine

Anthony, UK
The main threat lies with Sharon. He has never supported peace. This will just be used as an excuse to reinvade Palestine, or carry on with it, and have a justification for more violence and hard line.
Anthony, UK

The man was a blatant proponent of ethnic cleansing, and Sharon had him in his cabinet. Those who like to refer to Israel as a fair and democratic country must obviously be totally unaware that there are such people in the Israeli government.
Jon, Basingstoke, UK

When a Palestinian is assassinated he is called a Terrorist. But when an Israeli is assassinated he is called a victim. That is hypocrisy at its best. It's about time that war criminals like Sharon are taken to court. Only then can the Israeli's and Palestinians begin to co-exist in Peace.
Ranya Hanna, Greece


The Israeli policy of 'targeted killings' is state-sponsored terrorism

Ron Hughes, UK
If this latest assassination which the PFLP claims responsibility for is terrorism, then the Israeli policy of 'targeted killings' is state-sponsored terrorism. Q.E.D.
Ron Hughes, UK

It surprises me how readily you all blame Israel. Most off you don't really understand this conflict, but find it very easy to judge us. All we want is to live in our own country, but the Arabs don't want us here. As long you see 200 million Arabs as the victims and five million Jews as the only perpetrators it will never end. Believe me, the Israelis want peace, but the Arabs see "peace" as meaning the end of Israel.
Ron, Israel

If Israel can kill Palestinian political leaders, Palestinians have every right to pay them back in kind.
Javed, Saudi Arabia

Don't make it sound like a new problem. There has always been just one problem in the Middle East and that is the Arabs' refusal to admit that Israel has the right to exist. Had the Arabs accepted the original UN resolution on partition, the Palestinians would have had an independent state with Old Jerusalem as its capital. Instead, six Arab countries joined up to wipe 600,000 Israelis off the face of the earth. Even after that, and up until 1967, Arabs controlled the land for which they now want independence. Did they give the Palestinians an independent state? The answer is no, they forced Israel again to fight for its life in 1967. That's how they've come to have "Occupied Territories" in Israel. Arabs need to acknowledge, once and for all, that Israelis have the right to exist in a viable state, with secure borders and free from all terrorist violence. Full stop.
John G, N Ireland


The recent quick withdrawal of Israeli forces was the USA's doing

Mike S, USA
I am concerned that this event might be a catalyst for Israeli rage, and disillusionment with the US response thus far to the al-Qaeda threat. Mr Sharon's comments on the matter struck me as if he was saying "you're (the US) not doing enough killing!" I do believe that the US-Israeli relationship should stay intact, but it is time for us to use the leverage that relationship provides to keep the Israelis in line. Put them on a short leash, if you will, and I believe we are beginning to do that. Notice the recent quick withdrawal of Israeli forces. That was our doing, make no mistake.
Mike S, USA

The targeted killing of Rehavam Zeevi may help the peace process in the long run. How can a man who advocates the expulsion of Palestinians from the occupied territories have anything useful to contribute to a peaceful settlement? Israel is no ally of mine, even though I live in the West. They should be forced into a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians.
Paul Warwick, UK


Sharon is simply reaping what he has sown

Ron Hughes, UK
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is simply reaping what he has sown, from his policy of 'targeted killings'. Why should this assassination of a prominent Israeli be given so much airtime and media space? When the Israelis assassinated Palestinians recently it was hardly given a mention in the press. Double standards!
Ron Hughes, UK

A new threat? Not really, just more of the same. I find it laughable that Bush and his stooge Blair think that banging a few heads together can end over 2000 years of hatred.
JS, UK

JS, UK: 2000 years hatred of who exactly? These hatreds are not ancient, that's the point. These are new political movements that have arisen as a reaction to events of the 20th Century. They have to be recognised as such. It's defeatist nonsense to say these are age-old differences that can never be resolved. Of course they can - just address them seriously.
Alex, UK


There can be no peace until there is an end to double standards

Tony Palmer, London, England
The Israelis have been assassinating Palestinian leaders for years and still expect the Palestinians to talk peace and now they have got a taste of their own medicine they are complaining. There can be no peace until there is an end to these double standards.
Tony Palmer, London, England

This was a revenge attack for a revenge attack in an ongoing cycle of revenge attacks. Perhaps these so-called religious people could explain why God doesn't seem to want peace, as he's on both sides, isn't he?
Steve, UK

What else can be said? Haven't they said everything that can be said? The truth is that neither side truly want peace. War will come because neither side see any way of achieving their aims without it. In fact they are hungry for it. What does this tell us about religion and God? There is no God in this situation. Only people who use religion to further their political cause and to assuage their guilt when they commit acts that sicken others. The world is on the downward spiral to war which will only end with millions dead and a new order that will outlaw all religions, please God.
Dave, Wales, UK

What I find especially worrying is that Sharon is holding Arafat responsible. Is he looking for an excuse to assassinate Arafat? Israel will certainly lose power in the region in the short-term if Arafat successfully brokers a peace and gets UN and in particular US approval for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Richard N, UK

If the Israelis are truly against terrorism then they should take stock and look at their right wing policies that are costing so many lives.
Darrell Choudhury, England


It is unfortunate that Palestinian leaders are touring the world condemning terrorism

Gloria Archer, Ireland
I think it's very important to understand that Israel doesn't assassinate Palestinian politicians. It assassinates leaders and members of various terror groups and let's face it there are quite a lot there to choose from. At the moment the US and Britain is trying to do the same thing in Afghanistan and I truly hope that they succeed. Israel has been in a catch 22 situation for years, and no doubt has been mistreating the Palestinians for a while, but recently the Israelis have been described as devils and heartless killers. But no one seems to remember all the terror attacks on Israeli citizens, not to mention the devastating wars they had to fight against neighbouring countries. Today's event is very unfortunate, and what's even more unfortunate is that Palestinian leaders are touring the world condemning terrorism. Nobody seems to notice how ironic it this.
Gloria Archer, Ireland

There is still plenty of room for dialogue. Whether there is room for perceived loss of pride is another matter. Israel is a victim more of its own sense of fear and inability or unwillingness to pay the price for a lasting peace, namely a viable Palestinian state. I fear that the intransigence goes deeper than Ariel Sharon. A substantial majority of the Israeli population has yet to make their voices heard over those who still cling to the Zionist principles of Israel's past. Israel exists and is accepted. Now it must adapt as many other countries have done. There is no long-term security and peace behind an iron wall and denying the right of others to exist.
Barry B, UK

The violence of Mr Zeevi's death corresponded to the violence of his own language in referring to the Palestinians as "lice" and a "cancer". It mirrored the violence of the assassination of Mr Mustafa by the Israeli army. To suggest that this represents a new phase in the conflict is laughable: the Israelis have assassinated three members of Hamas since last week's "peace" initiatives were laid out by the US. And yet somehow when the victim is Israeli, the headlines are bigger. The Israelis claim that the terrorists are all on the Palestinian side. Unfortunately their own policy of assassination makes them look like terrorists as well. If they want to oppose terrorism, they should use judicial means. Murder begets murder.
MR, Scotland


As long as Israel continues to commit atrocities in occupied land its security and those of its officials will inevitably be at risk

Rakib Karim, UK
Why is this referred to as an assassination yet when the Israelis murder senior Palestinian officials, they are called targeted killings? As long as Israel continues its propaganda with biased terminology, and continues to commit atrocities in occupied land - denying people of their basic human rights to work, travel and pray - then its security and those of its officials will inevitably be at risk. Sharon did the right thing by pulling out of Hebron, and if he continues to honour long- standing commitments that his government has made, then this will pave the way for peace talks.
Rakib Karim, UK

Of course there is always room for dialogue. That is if each side can drop their pride and stop the senseless cycle of violence. At the end of the day, this extreme right wing politician is just another victim in this bloody conflict. If Israel had not killed, and stopped assassinating the so-called militant leaders (militant to Israel, freedom fighters to others) then this man would not be dead now. Israel must realise that she will reap what she sows and that the world now has greater concerns than the security of Israel. This will not affect the peace process or the war on terrorism because Israel is going to be forced into a peace that she will not like but one that should have been forced upon her over 30 years ago. Only then will there be peace in the Middle East and less hatred towards the USA.
Mark, London, UK

If you show restraint, they show you their colours. How can we bracket Israel as being rightist? It would certainly have a devastating impact on the peace process. The west should never abandon its natural allies like Israel and India to pursue its exclusive goals. It should help them quell this kind of terrorism as well. In the wake of the neo alliance between the USA and Pakistan, I am afraid the west is cold-shouldering its erstwhile allies, who are sentimentally close to them.
Amit Parmar, UK

Once again, Israel is the victim of terror and yet the world tries to justify the murder of Minister Zeevi, and even blame Israel for it. Imagine if an American cabinet secretary was murdered as a result of the USA's actions in Afghanistan - there would be international condemnation and immediate reprisals. The Palestinians have to be made to understand that terror and murder will never succeed and Chairman Arafat must be pressured to rein in these terrorists. Peace in the Middle East is vital to world peace overall. Today's murder only serves to demonstrate how much Israel has to endure for the sake of peace.
Eliot, UK

I do not find this in the least bit surprising. It is not just America and the UK that should look at the way Arab nations view them, but Israel, for it is possibly more hated than the US. There are plenty of explanations for this. However everyone seems to be biased by their nation's own national interests.
JC, UK

Israel will no doubt be tempted to step up its military activity even more. However surely by now it must start to realise that by doing so it is just encouraging further such assassinations and terrorist attacks.
Jonathan Bowyer, UK

There is no blame on Palestinians here. If Israel kills Palestinians in the name of right for reasons of self-defence, then the same right has to be extended to Palestinians themselves. Neither Israel nor America are serious about resolving the Palestinian issue. Tony Blair's efforts are only a temporary display of public relations to calm down Muslims angry over the issue of Afghanistan.
Fazal Nizamani, Pakistan

Rehavam Zeevi had no respect for innocent Palestinians. The Haganah, Irgun and Stern gang were as much terrorist organisations in their day as are Hamas and the PFLP today. Through their actions, Israel as we know it today was created. Who can blame the Palestinians for learning from history. Murder is murder and terrorism is terrorism. Whether Jewish or Muslim, Christian or Hindu, Left or Right.
Andy W, UK


This makes progress even more important

Andrew Levens, UK
Israelis assassinated a Palestinian leader only last week. Zeevi was an Israeli extremist, no longer effectively in government as he had just resigned. So this is just part of the regrettable pattern on both sides and should not affect the peace process at all. In fact it makes progress even more important.
Andrew Levens, UK

There will always be those who will ignore the majority's call for peace. Whether it be terrorists or governments that carry out these actions, they must not be allowed to halt the quest for peace and the process of compromise that must be accepted in order for peace to exist. We cannot look for excuses to stop something that we find very difficult.
Chris C, UK

The gentleman who was killed represented a serious threat to the peace process. His unfortunate and tragic death is all the more reason to continue the dialogue. The current policy of assassinating political adversaries is not going to take the process anywhere, but into total anarchy.
Mitch, UK

This is not a new threat. The Israeli government has been assassinating Palestinian leaders recently, so I see no reason why they should be shocked when it happens to their side. I find it strange that the various leaders in the Balkans are hauled up for war crimes, but not one Israeli leader. It is about time the UN moved in to force Israel to create a Palestinian state. This would have the effect of making the UN look more pro-Arab and thus would help elsewhere in the Middle East.
CB, UK


The assassination of political figures is nothing new in the Middle East

Peter, Netherlands
This is not a new threat. The assassination of political figures is nothing new in the Middle East. For example, Saddam Hussain's political career started with an assassination in 1958. Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt, was assassinated by political opponents. Then of course, there was also the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist. Rehavam Zeevi was a Minister of Tourism, a sector of the economy that is already defunct in Israel. His death, while regrettable, is therefore of little immediate consequence to the international situation. Radical Israeli right-wingers, of course, will feel justified and a few moderates will be drawn towards more extreme views. Apart from that, little will change.
Peter, Netherlands

The Israeli government started these political assassinations in the first place. Now it has tasted the bitterness of its own medicine. The Palestinians have been victimized and humiliated in their homeland. What do you expect oppressed people to do? The Israeli government should now realise that political assassinations can lethally backfire as has happened today in Mr Zeevi's case. Reason should prevail instead of tit-for-tat violence.
Kein Mills, Helsinki, Finland

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See also:

17 Oct 01 | Middle East
Israeli tourism minister shot dead
17 Oct 01 | Middle East
Obituary: Rehavam Zeevi


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