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Monday, 25 March, 2002, 21:00 GMT
Middle East: What hope for peace?
The Israeli army says it has withdrawn fully from the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip - areas it moved into earlier this month.

The move coincides with a visit to Israel by the US Vice President, Dick Cheney.

The Palestinians have said a complete pull-out would clear the way for a ceasefire, but that some Israeli troops have remained in the north of the Gaza Strip.

The occupation of the territories was Israel's biggest military offensive in more than 20 years.

Is the Israeli withdrawal a positive move? What hope is there now for peace?

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

Your comments:

After reading several of these message boards, "Talking Point", I have seen the same thing over and over. People take sides, and show their ignorance. There are many seemingly uneducated people that post comments on this board. The problem with this is that you need to know the whole story, including the history behind what is going on. Also the American public is NOT misinformed about the situations going on in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, people just see what they want to see. It's the same everywhere.

Europeans constantly moan about the Israeli government's abuse of power without recognizing that the Palestinians are leaving them no choice

Franklin, Maryland, USA
I believe Europe's support for the Palestinians reflects centuries of intense anti-Semitism. Europeans constantly moan about the Israeli government's abuse of power without recognizing that the Palestinians are leaving them no choice. I find the Palestinians' methods of protest abhorrent and inexcusable. With every pointless suicide bombing, my sympathy for the Palestinians erodes. Terrorism clearly does not work, nor do the heavy-handed Israeli responses. However, I don't think Israel's actions are outrageous seeing that they are surrounded by enemies who want to see Israel's destruction. US support for Israel is a huge point of criticism, but without US support, Israel would have been "pushed into the sea" decades ago. Practically every member of the UN voted in favour of the creation of Israel, and the US is simply defending Israel's right to exist. Basically, I do not think Europe would be any more balanced as a broker for peace than the US.
Franklin, Maryland, USA

And what prevents Arafat from taking control of his militants now? He wanted Israel to withdraw - Israel withdrew. They will not stop. Nothing will stop this people.
Dushe, US

Israel wants to expand their settlements on land they say they have a right to according to their ancient laws. Do you think Palestinians will be happy after getting a little bit of land to call home? Hardliners on both sides have gripes that go back centuries. It will never be settled until both sides say enough is enough of the bloodshed.
Russ, USA

Just withdrawing the forces from the occupied areas is not enough to lay the foundation for peace talks

Farhan, USA
Just withdrawing the forces from the occupied areas is not enough to lay the foundation for peace talks. Palestine is a Muslim State, so the full liberty including open borders with the neighbour Muslim countries, freedom to practice Islam and visit their holy places without any fear, building their societies destructed by the Israel and evolve trade relationship should be granted.
Farhan, USA

The US government is extremely generous to Israel. They can part with an iota of that generosity, to show that they truly want peace in Middle East and that they have no remorse towards the people of Palestine.
Khalid Rahim, Canada

Why doesn't the US and Israel realize that these suicide bombings will continue until Israel really withdraws its tanks from Palestinian territories. They may say they have, but footage and first hand accounts have proven that they still are there. How would you feel if someone came into your backyard and refused to leave because they feel you are a threat to him or her?

If the IRA used suicide bombers in London, how would we react?
Martyn, England

How can you argue that you are defending yourself by acting like your enemy?

Andrew, USA
Israel cannot say it is defending itself by going into Palestinian land and destroying it. How can you argue that you are defending yourself by acting like your enemy? In fact it looks bad when they show your military attacking people who have only rocks to throw at you and to add to this, an Israeli soldier is armed to the wire with all American equipment while the other side has no arms. My solution is this: create and draw out borders for a Palestinian State and then either arm both sides with military or demilitarise both sides.
Andrew, USA

Unfortunately there is currently no prospect of peace. The Israeli public wants peace; Sharon has stated that he supports a Palestinian state. However, on the other side Arafat is continuing with a policy of terror against Israeli civilians. Most of the recent suicide bombers are members of his own Fatah faction. He only condemns such acts when pressurised by the Americans or the EU. Israel simply has no reciprocal partner for peace.
Simon G, UK

General Zinni's mission must not be allowed to fail if there is to be any hope for the peoples of the Middle East. It seems that the American government is the only party that both sides trust, and the European governments should support this American initiative.
Mashtin Bakir, Egypt

Comments change depending on which side is attacking at a certain moment instead of making a further analysis

Andres, Italia
It is remarkable the way that comments change depending on which side is attacking at a certain moment instead of making a further analysis. Now there is a clear moment to sit down and to make peace agreement. But not... another bomb just blow in Jerusalem. After that another raid will come from Israel and again, by many, Israel will remain as the bad one.
Andres, Italia

I don't think there can be peace unless the Israeli Army is taught the rules of engagement. As a US military man, we are always taught this concept. They are trigger-happy. How do you expect people to behave when the Army have no passion or respect for human life? I feel sorry for the Palestinians with the way they have to live. I feel sorry for some Israelis who want to live in peace. I also feel sorry for the ones who despise peace. Both sides need to get rid of their leadership and start over.
Bill, Semper Fi, USA

An Israeli withdrawal will absolutely be the first step towards a cease-fire. The attacks on towns and refugee camps only makes the Palestinians more determined to fight back, and since they cannot fight the Israelis conventionally, militant groups use suicide attacks against defenceless civilians. For each new dead Palestinian in Ramallah, Tulkarm, or Jenin, or wherever, many more Palestinian youths are ready to take their place. If the circle of violence were broken from the Israeli side, it would undermine the militant groups legitimacy to use suicide attacks as a weapon.
Oskar Jakobsson, Sweden

To Maria Amstad: If the Israelis didn't arrest terrorists continually then the number of attacks would increase tenfold. It's no surprise that for every one attack we hear about on the news Israelis stop up to 30 others a week. Yesterdays bombing was conducted by a man who was arrested by the PA (an ex-"policeman" for the PA - Muhammed Hashaika) for an attempted bombing in Raanna shopping centre 2 months earlier. He was supposed to be in jail and if the PA had fulfilled their obligations and sidelined their revolving door policy then the 3 people that died and the other 87 injured would be okay now. What else can the Israelis do? If you haven't noticed Palestinian terrorists don't respond to ceasefires and state run PA backed newspaper and TV stations encourage martyrdom during ceasefire periods.
Richard, UK

Why can't Israelis refrain from arresting people in Palestine during he "cease fire" periods which are so important for the peace process?
Maria Amstad, Switzerland

I am not sure if both parties are truly interested in any permanent peace deal. Both Israel and Palestinian Authorities use this conflict as a political weapon to win the hearts of the ordinary people in order to remain in power. It is indeed regrettable that this conflict has become the epicentre of the entire Middle East politics. I believe that the ordinary Palestinians and Israelis have long been praying for peace. Unfortunately, their leaders remain insensitive to the genuine clamour and struggle for peace by the usually innocent victims of this age-long crisis.
Salihu Bakari, Nigeria

Mr "E D Phelan, UK" You are saying Israel is doing their best and withdrawing. My friend look at the map. They are withdrawing their tanks from the streets back to the checkpoints, a routine strategy for refuelling and rearming! Their troops are everywhere in and around West bank and Gaza, A real "withdrawal" would be from the lands they occupied since 1948, not from the villages they sweep every now and then with their tanks as if there are no humans living in them.
t.elattar, Egypt

By mounting withdrawals Israel proves that she is doing her utmost to bring about a ceasefire

E D Phelan, UK
By mounting withdrawals Israel proves that she is doing her utmost to bring about a ceasefire. However, while she is making an effort to bring about peace, Palestinian suicide bombers continue to make incursions into Israel, killing innocent civilians, Jewish and Arab alike. Israel has no option but to defend her citizens by means of military force.
E D Phelan, UK

To DM USA. An interesting idea. Of course, to be fair it would have to work both ways. Within ten years the Palestinians would probably regain most of Israel.
Mick B, UK

Here is my modest proposal in regard to land for peace. First, let Israel return to the borders that the Palestinians demand. Second, for every unarmed Israeli killed by Palestinian terrorists after the settlement, the Palestinian state gives up ten acres of its area. For each unarmed Israeli injured enough to require hospital treatment, one acre.

TH, if you take a look at UN webpage and download the resolution passed concerning this question, you will see that USA has indeed been active. Together with the Israelis and some small islands nations, they have tried to block almost every attempt to reach a conclusion. What you prefer is obviously that USA ought to be neutral in the matter, but then you should let others take actions that might interfere with your views.
Marten Bjorkman, Sweden

Why is all the pressure put on Arafat and the Palestinians to cease and renounce violence? Hours after the breakdown of the cease-fire talk, Israel raids Palestinian territory to arrests a dozen of those who Israel think threaten their security. Can the Palestinians raid Israel to arrest those who threaten their security? Unless fairness and justice prevails, there will always be objectors and resistance. And fairness and justice cannot be left to Israel, let alone to Sharon.
SS Lee, UK

The world usually counts the number of deaths and supports the weaker side

Itzik Y., Boston, USA
Everyone who followed the negotiations between Barak and Arafat knows that the Palestinians could have their own state. What happens now is a well-designed strategy of the PA for bargaining, and it is working. The Arabs and most of the Muslims blindly encourage them for their own reasons. Most of the rest of the world usually counts the number of deaths and supports the weaker side. Palestinians that explicitly oppose this strategy are usually arrested or killed together with the hope for a better future.
Itzik Y., Boston, USA

Let Cheney or Powell ride a bus without their secret service protection and see if they continue to criticize their policy!
Aaron, USA

There is no hope now for peace as long as there is no independent Palestinian state. Palestinians have been preparing these suicide actions for months as a reaction against Israeli attacks. This will not stop until there is a real peace agreement between these two nations. But reaching this agreement had become so complicated that the aim of those terrorist attacks is now quite unclear. Each attack is responded to by an other one and each time a lot of people die. What for?
Nathan and Baatar, Belgium

The West Bank and Gaza are bleak and useless desert. Israel already has its own bleak and useless desert. If Israel knew that it could withdraw to its 1948 borders, (which are much harder to defend due to their ridiculous shape), and KNOW it would be safe from attacks by its Arab neighbours, then it would do so. At the moment, Israel is safer with 3 million discontented Palestinians in its borders than it would be if it withdrew.
Adam, UK, currently Israel

Yes, if it is a real withdrawal. But then Israel is still occupying Palestinian land and even building settlements on land which does not belong to them and the UN has said it must stop. Israel ignores the UN just as the US does. When will the US hold the scales of justice and wear a blind fold (as their statue of justice does)? How can the US expect Arafat to control all his people? Does the American President control all the racist hatred leading to murder in many cases in America? It would be childish to believe that could be accomplished. Terror will always exist as long as injustices exist, they go hand in hand.
Marina Karacosta, Greece

Once again, we have seen this morning, as on numerous other occasions in the last 18 months, that as soon as the Israeli army withdraws its troops from Palestinian areas, another bomb attack occurs on the Israelis. This demonstrates the need for Israel to take its own steps to guarantee its security as Arafat is unable, or more likely, unwilling to do so.
Nick, UK

I hope the Arab States won't be foolish enough to support the action against Iraq just because Bush Administration decided to worry about the situation in Israel and put forward a peace initiative just as they did before the action in Afghanistan. Once the action was over, Americans decided Israel had the right to defend itself at all costs.
Dylan Mcartney, England

Mr. Arafat says he is control of his people, yet if he really wants to be recognized he must stop the killing. If the PLO was to do this to any state such as France or England they would get the snot beat out of them, but a lot of people say Israel should not hold the PLO accountable for their people's actions. I do think that Israel does sometimes react too hard, but if the PLO ends the killings that Israel would go back to the peace table. Remember Israel made an offer at Camp David and the PLO had no response other than to start killing to try to improve its bargaining position. This has helped no one, there can never be peace without talking not killing.
Niven, USA

Dialogue has to be encouraged, the proposal of the Saudis, the sanest proposal so far, has to be studied and implemented in a form not too severely modified

Peter W. Pearce, USA
Too many politicians are saying that Arafat must first stop the Palestinians committing acts of terror! How could he have achieved this while the full might of the Israeli military was at his throat? He was virtually placed under house arrest, now Cheney, a man whom I admire, is saying that he must first end the violence, before he will meet with the man. The Palestinians have had their land taken from them, they have been killed in large numbers by a superior force, and many have only the thought of revenge. Arafat does not have full control of all the Palestinians. Dialogue has to be encouraged, the proposal of the Saudis, the sanest proposal so far, has to be studied and implemented in a form not too severely modified. Then and only then will there be some chance of peace.
Peter W. Pearce, USA

I am amazed to how misinformed the American public are. For how can a country that is founded on freedom and equal rights, a country that embraces the principle of "give me liberty or give me death", a country that insists on having law as a supreme power, blindly back up Israel? Israel goes on immigrating hundreds of thousands of Jewish people to Palestine from al over the world and gives them housing and jobs (just because the are Jewish), and on the other hand, destroys the Palestinian houses, and abuses them on a daily basis.
Joel, USA/Syria

We have seen Israel "pull out" before only to re-enter at the slightest provocation. In order for any forward movement on finding an agreement to take place, both sides must have an interest. At this point, I do not believe Sharon has such an interest - only an interest in keeping the United States off his back and staying in power. The most that can be achieved at this point, I believe, is a cessation of most of the violence. The extreme on both sides, whether Hamas or the Israeli settlers, will not stop because it is not in their interest.
Julia, USA

I am sick and tired of hearing Israel's restrained retaliations equated to the terrorism that provoked it. America's war on terror is described in the media as heroism, despite the 1000+ civilian deaths that have been caused by it. In comparison, Israel's actions have produced a mere fraction of that death toll, yet Israel is lambasted for "threatening civilians" and itself carrying out "terrorism." Enough with the double standards. Israel has the right and responsibility of defending its civilians using force, in accordance with international law.
Aviv, USA

Why hate somebody because that is what you were told to?

S. Donnelly, USA
Who cares if your grandfather's grandfather killed your grandfather? That was their fight. Why make it yours. Why hate somebody because that is what you were told to? How can you hate somebody you have never met or seen? How can you kill somebody you have never met or seen? What is going on here? Does anybody really know what they are fighting for? How come both sides give you a different history of the evolution of the Middle East? Does anyone know the true history? Probably not...for nobody has been alive that long.
S. Donnelly, USA

Numbers don't lie: 1300+ Palestinians killed, 300+ Israelis killed. Who are really the "terrorists" here? And I find it strange that every time a Palestinian is killed by an Israeli, the Palestinian is a "suspected militant"? So I guess those hundreds of mothers killed, were planning to strap explosives to the diapers of the hundreds of children killed, and teach them to walk into Israeli territory.
Maurizio, USA

The USA and UK the "great powers) should impose an interim solution on Israel and Palestine - basically put enormous pressure on both sides to accept Barak's last proposal in addition to a few mosques in Jerusalem run by a neutral/completely disarmed group. It's not a perfect answer, but it's better than all this fighting.

Israel must withdraw from the Palestinian lands and take all the settlers with them if they really mean to work for peace, Palestinian state is a viable one; there is no other choice for the Israelis. They should accept the fact that 2 states and 2 peoples live next to each other with respect and harmony.
Isa Qustandi, USA

How can anyone say that a peoples who was dispossessed of their land 2000 years ago has any claim at all to a land now occupied?

Hashem Said, United States
I find it humorous how so many people can distort the truth and create a fiction which is easy enough for the average person to believe. How can anyone say that a peoples who was dispossessed of their land 2000 years ago has any claim at all to a land now occupied? Who cares whether or not there was a Jewish state before? Suddenly, because the Bible and the Torah say the Jews can live there, it makes it law? My friends around the world, in this conflict religion is irrelevant. The topic here is politics. Also, if you really want to trace ancestry, Palestinians have by far a stronger claim to the land. A common misperception is that Palestinians are descendents of the Philistines, which is bogus. Palestinians were the original Canaanites. Anyone worth their cookies can look this up and find out this simple truth. A Jewish state has never lasted more than 70 years at a time (for a total of around 400). The Canaanites have been living there for much longer. So, now using the ancestry argument, who really has the rights?
Hashem Said, United States

The key issue here is Justice. This single key ingredient Cheney (and others)have failed to address for peace to prevail in the Middle East. Does the American establishment not realise the link between 11 Sept attacks and the humiliation, unfairness and double standards that the Palestinian people have encountered over the last fifty years ?
A Ismail, UK

Another proof how the western Europeans have seeded hate and misery to all lands they once held as colonies.
Bekim, Kosova

Giving into terrorism is exactly what the international community did when it agreed to create the state of Israel

Matt, UK
Israel's first prime minister David Ben-Gurion has been quoted as saying in a letter to his son: "We shall drive them out and take their place." Slobodan Milosevic could not have put it more succinctly. You cannot by force create a state for a religious group in a land where they only started as a minority of the population in any other way. I believe that there should be a single state, perhaps with a federal structure, and proper compensation for those displaced by Israel's ethnic cleansing of the late 40s. As for the question of how we should deal with terrorists, terrorism is never justified. Giving into terrorism is exactly what the international community did when it agreed to create the state of Israel. It is easy for us to say that these terrorist methods are never justified. But our country hasn't been destroyed. In America, the native Americans have a historic claim to much of the land there, and were dispossessed much more recently than the Jews. Imagine if they came back with tanks and machine guns, and forced you to leave all your homes and live in refugee camps.
Matt, UK

Palestinians do not need another 50 years of peace initiatives and American envoys. There should be something tangible on the ground as soon as possible. The Israelis will never accept a Palestinian state. All of what's going on now is only an anaesthetic injection, for Palestinians and Arabs to calm down the bloodshed until it is needed, in order for the American administration, to get the Arab world's support for an attack on Iraq. Then we will witness the killing of Palestinians by Sharon or the next Israeli PM. I am sure that Israelis will never give Palestinians anything.
Loay, UK

On the contrary to the current diplomatic effort, the United States should immediately suspend contact with both sides until they each prove to us and the rest of the world that they can behave like human beings.
Jerry, NYC, USA

Do you believe Palestinians would come and blow themselves up if they had tanks, rockets and F16's?
Peyman, Iran

The only solution is to merge the Israelis and Palestinians into one secular state

Shawn, USA
The only solution is to merge the Israelis and Palestinians into one secular state. The reestablishment of Israel was never a good idea. Ask how the UK would feel if millions of Americans started pouring in, based on the fact that their forefathers were British? And this would only be a couple of hundred, rather than 2000 years after the fact. I would guess that the resultant displacement of the British people would cause much the same situation as in the Middle East today. It is time that the Jews of Israel learn from their own difficult history, and learn to live side by side with their neighbours. Racism and separatism is the same whether you call it Apartheid, Nazism or Zionism, and it has no place in our increasingly dangerous world. As an American I am honour bound to defend our ally, as a human I am morally bound to not defend their excesses. The area is simply too small to hold two states with such large populations. And the violence MUST end before it engulfs us all.
Shawn, USA

I believe that Shawn from the USA made a point he did not intend to. With regards to his example of Americans attempting to move into Britain because their forefathers were British - this is exactly what the Palestinians are trying to do to Israel by demanding the right to return and live in the heart of Israel proper.
Jonathan Robin, UK

Several months ago, I wrote in about a similar topic on Peace in the Middle East. I was one of very few Americans who spoke out against Israel at that time - now look at the postings. The reason a US Envoy is being sent, I feel, is because the American public is appalled - more of us are now educating ourselves on something that we have chosen to ignore in the past. We are putting pressure on our government, who sends our tax dollars and weapons in support of Israel - to resolve the situation, to stop supporting the horrific tactics of the Israeli's. Unfortunately, I don't think there is an easy solution to this. As a Native American, I ponder the basis for the fight of "it was our land first" and find that to be a total joke. My ancestors occupied this country long before anyone else set foot on the continent - do you honestly think anyone would sit by and allow Native Americans to take back what was once theirs? Or the argument based on religion - oh please - slaughtering people based on nothing more than the belief in a conceptual being such as "God" or on an Esops Fable of "religion" - those arguments certainly can't support the foundation of peace. To hold any of this above the value of a human life is just something I have a hard time comprehending. Maybe it's my grassroot belief that everyone, everywhere is entitled to "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" that is holding me back in my understanding.
Cindy Lu Webber, USA

The open double standards and absolutely cynical American manipulation of the whole situation is glaringly obvious. America wants to start a war with Iraq because it says Iraq hasn't obeyed UN resolutions (which it has). At the same time, America ignores the 67 UN resolutions that have been passed against Israel (and that America tried to block) which call for a complete withdrawal from occupied territories and return of Palestinian refugees to their homes that are now in Israel. The world must enforce these UN resolutions against Israel by whaever means. Until this is done, all this talk of 'green lines', 'peace process', 'peace plans' and other meaningless, vacuous statements made up by the media are just that - meaningless gestures. Wake up people. The Palestinians no longer fear their Israeli occupiers and are prepared to sacrifice their lives for a just cause because they have nothing left and because the world has ignored them for 54 long years. Call them what you want - terrorists, extremists, fundamentalists - whatever. It makes no difference until they get the justice they deserve.
Bilal Patel, London, UK

There is no way that a lop-sided peace can be forced on the Palestinians

Lubna, USA
There is no way that a lop-sided peace can be forced on the Palestinians. Sharon has to take a good look at what he has become and decide whether this blood bath is to continue or whether he really want peace. Instead of looking for different strategies, it is time to diagnose the causes of the disease and provide a rational cure that will last indefinitely. This cure must be equitable and fair to all parties concerned.
Lubna, USA

I have to say this and you probably won't post it, but I am shocked how blatant the anti-semitism is in the UK. Remarks like the Jews are a bunch of snobs 'remind me very much of Hitler's speeches prior to 1939. There are two sides to every conflict and each side has grievances. Accusing the Israelis of behaving like Nazis is naive and ignorant. I could write a book on what the Palestinians have done to the Israelis. Somebody on this board is correct when they said " The Europeans hated the Jews for thousands of years when they didn't have a homeland and couldn't fight back. Now they have a homeland and can fight back they are hated even more. What double standards. I am so glad I moved to America from the UK, where they love to hate Jews and Americans. What sad people.
Sue Johnson, USA

Sadly, as long as the relationship between the Palestinians and Israel is controlled on both sides by extremist, there is little hope for peace. Those with influence in the region should, however, continue to put pressure on those extremists to pull back from their positions, and open the door for dialogue. No war was ever won on the battlefield. It is always won after the guns are quiet, and the hearts and minds of people are allowed to heal.
Linda Carruth, USA

Both sides are not ready for peace. Until both sides can value each other's lives equally there will be no peace.
Anonymous, Cameroon

Hanan Ashwari is the way forward for the Palestinian cause, an intelligent, sensitive and compassionate Christian woman. It's about time to show the Arab leaders how useless they are.
Ahmed, UK

Pretty funny how the "West" chooses who should abide by UN resolutions and who shouldn't. Talk about double standards. Someone needs to put a leash on Sharon.
FJ, Nigeria

The creation of a Palestinian state could easily destabilize, in the long term, any chances for lasting peace between Israel and its hostile neighbours

Robert Morpheal, Canada
The creation of a Palestinian state could easily destabilize, in the long term, any chances for lasting peace between Israel and its hostile neighbours. A Palestinian state will increase the potential for influx of weapons of war and hostile foreign nationals into Palestinian controlled territory, for a future Armageddon type conflict with Israel. It is already a mixture of Iranian, Syrian, Libyan, Lebanese, Iraqi, Jordanian, and other influences and has a long tradition of conflict with Israelis that goes back to deep hatreds and prejudices that began thousands of years ago. The creation of a Palestinian state in response to terrorist attacks upon Israel does nothing to assure long-term peace in the Middle East.
Robert Morpheal, Canada

The hatred of people of different nationality, colour or religion is known to all of us as racism. The hatred of Jews has its own special word, Anti-Semitism. In the 1940s the Germans tried to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth. Are we seeing a picture here? Ask why and try to be a bit more compassionate and a little less self-indulgent and perhaps the rest of the world will look upon you with a little more goodwill.
Andrew J, London UK

Israel is facing a very determined foe. At the same time so are the Palestinians. Assuming no side is prepared to break under force then only a negotiated settlement is going to resolve this dispute. Both sides will have to make concessions.
Martin, UK

It's a tragedy that so many people are dying in the Palestinian areas and Israel. But I was surprised last night, watching Question Time, to see and hear one lady in the audience being given free rein to voice her anti-Israeli views. Perhaps someone should have reminded her that recent history has not taught us much. It was only 50 years ago that British forces were doing to the Israelis, what the Israelis are doing now to the Palestinians. Yesterday's terrorists are tomorrow's politicians? It's a complex arena and it's not going to be solved overnight, but moderation on both sides will be necessary. And more informed and balanced debate will help.
Freddie Dawkins, Belgium

In the latest of it's outrages Israel has killed more that fifty people, wounded hundreds, destroyed countless homes and cars, detained thousands of innocent men. Now they're withdrawing. Concession? Do me a favour!
Raquib, UK

The rise of HAMAS, whose charter includes articles that reject any negotiated solution, and other organizations like it, will continue with their armed struggle

Andy, UK living in US
Leaving aside the displays of ignorance regarding the history of the formation of Israel and the subsequent Middle East wars, which I have encountered many times, I have to say that there will probably be no peace. When the PLO (or rather Arafat as head of Fatah) dropped (or perhaps "shelved" is a better word...) its phased plan, there were many other groups that did not go along with this. The rise of the Islamic Resistance Movement (known as HAMAS), whose charter includes articles that reject any negotiated solution, and other organizations like it, will continue with their armed struggle. Article 7 of the HAMAS founding charter concludes with the words of a well-known Hadith: "The day will come when Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them, to the degree that the Jew will hide behind rocks and trees which will call out to the Muslim and tell him "Servant of Allah, a Jew is hiding behind me. Come and kill him".
Andy, UK living in US

Please please read this so you don't continue to be misinformed by IamJoseph, Australia about the origins of the Jewish homeland. This is so ridiculous, do us Britons trace our ancestry (very difficult beyond the 16 century) and say well our real ancestors came from mid-Europe 2000 years ago, therefore I think I am going to claim back my plot of what is now Germany - I think not! Only the Jews can use history from 2000 years ago to plead for land that is no longer theirs. Jews as a race lived worldwide and in 1912, the British in the infinite wisdom offered the Jews a homeland in Uganda which was rejected. Eventually they settled on Palestine. The problem however was that this land was inhabited by 700,000 Arabs and about 50,000 Jews (only 10% of the population). Strange how a minority group in this country can not only take over someone else's home but also then oppress those same people whom they evicted in 1948. Have the Jews learnt nothing after their heinous treatment by the Nazis - the Palestinians are paying for Europe's treatment of your race. You mention ancient Palestine as covering areas including Jordan. To be perfectly honest this view is shared by many hard-line right wing Jewish extremists in Israel - if they could they would extend their occupation across Jordan and into Iraq. Thanks heavens you will never get the chance. This occupation the world will not stand for, albeit they have ignored the Palestinians plight for so long. The Jews now will have to accept an Arab Palestine, resurrected after 50 years of occupation and oppression from the Israelis. It would be very foolhardy for Israel or any Jew to promote the view that their homeland should extend further than it currently does. Be satisfied, you took another's home, dignity and future and yet you want more.
Nadia, UK

Palestinians are hated because they ask for their state to be recognised by Israel

Darren Badrock, England
There is something fundamentally rotten about the Israeli mentality nowadays. You would think after the events of World War two, where the Jewish population in Germany were systematically exterminated because of their faith, the Israelis would be the last people on earth to do that to someone else. Look at what's going on though. A Palestinian throws a stone, Israel responds with a tank. Palestinians are hated because they ask for their state to be recognised by Israel. The sheer lack of tolerance for another culture is astounding. Is this what my grandfather fought for in World War 2? This is ethic cleansing justified as a "response against terror"
Darren Badrock, England

To IamJoseph: A quick history lesson from the Bible (old testament). The Israeli came out of Egypt and like a plague of locus devoured and destroyed everything in sight, land, people and cattle. If you ever read any ancient history you will soon understand that there is no such thing as pure-blooded. There are no pure-blooded Jews as there are no pure-blooded Italians, English or people of any other nation. In our history we have invaded and been invaded by many nations (wherever you come from), but especially in Israel and Palestine. At the moment, to the rest of the world, the Jews are a bunch of stuck up snobs who are killing people who are of the same blood as them simply because they have a different imaginary friend from you. Grow UP!
John C, UK

There will never be peace in Israel whilst Sharon leads Israel. I think he is a fascist. The Palestinian's don't deserve the treatment they are getting from Israel - they deserve a place to live.

The West has a moral obligation to implement UN resolutions

Henry Diab, Sweden
There can never be peace in Israel/Palestine as long the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine continues. It is high time that the West grasps this simple fact and put pressure, indeed, force Israel out of the occupied territories in accordance with UN resolutions and in particular security council resolution 242. Out of Palestine together with the illegal settlement. Both countries, Israel and Palestine should live in peace and security. The West has a moral obligation to implement UN resolutions. There is no more space for this type of Israeli colonial arrogance. Herny, Sweden
Henry Diab, Sweden

Someone here said ARAFAT=NO PEACE. Sorry to disagree but historically ARAFAT embarked on peace with a former Israeli PM Rabbin until Rabbin was assassinated by an alleged ultra orthodox right wing Israeli. This was probably the start of the downward slide. What we have to ask is if this was a lone act or sanctioned by other right wing elements.
Marie, Australia

Sharon is not the answer, look at his track record! At the end of the day the two peoples will have to sit down and talk peace. Britain and America have responsibilities here from a historical and power brokerage point of view. The Palestinians must be given a state, how that is achieved and what time scale is a question yet to be answered. My heart goes out to both factions, be brave and fight the war for peace.
John Williams, Wales

Until the Palestinians are offered something concrete in exchange for a reduction in their resistance, any peace initiative will remain so much hot air

Shaun, France
Offir Kline says, "The Israeli army is doing everything possible to help innocent civilians". Ask the 160 children between the ages of 12 and 16 in Israeli prisons. Ask the camps that have been deprived of water by deliberate bulldozing of pipes, where their homes are systematically destroyed by the tactic of "in one side out the other". The aim of the Tsahal is to destroy the Palestinian infrastructure, that is everything that communally belongs to civilians. Until the Palestinians are offered something concrete in exchange for a reduction in their resistance, any peace initiative will remain so much hot air. Israel has to GIVE something in exchange for peace. Why is it so hard?
Shaun, France

Livesey, USA - I don't think you understand that these Western do-gooders actually are the ones that send Israel the weapons that they use! If you watch the news any weapons seen being used by the Army is sent from the US. All the "aid" money is being sent from the US. Most of the equipment and manpower comes from US contribution. Before prodding something you don't understand try looking for the historical facts first.
Mo, UK

Is the present US flip just another cynical exercise to appease neighbouring Arab states on the virtues for ridding the world of Saddam Hussein. After gaining Arab favour they'll undoubtedly drop the Palestinian cause as a dead brick and back Israel to the hilt, so let's see what happens. This is about US interest and this has never been equated with taking the moral highground. End the illegal occupation now. Israel has broken more UN resolutions than anybody else. Luckily I'm not Palestinian and have not had to endure the last 35 years of a brutal and harsh occupation. However maybe Arafat is passed his use by date, move over and lead Mr Barghouti.
Bob, Caruk

Mr Offir Kline talk of treating the Palestinians well is rubbish; Israel present leader is responsible for massacring over 3000 women and children in their refugee camps, for which he earned the nickname as Butcher of the Middle East.
Shafan Monsoor, Sri Lanka

They were bombing us before we talked with them, they were bombing us when we were trying to make peace with them and now they are still bombing us!

Stephen, UK
Look at it from Israeli point of view. They were bombing us before we talked with them, they were bombing us when we were trying to make peace with them and now they are still bombing us! Israel has tried tactic of restraint over the years and I guess the pressure to solve the situation just got too much and it decided to try and stop the bombings once and for all (Not sure if it'll work though!). Give Israel a break, I mean, if you were in Israel you would not be calling for restraint, believe me!
Stephen, UK

To David, Canada: You are not the same as you were 50 years ago. Then you were the oppressed now you are the oppressors. And please, it insults my intelligence to listen to "professional victimologists" playing the same tune again and again. A country with such a powerful military, powerful lobbies, having practically the US government in their back pocket doesn't sound like a victim to me. I feel sorry for the poor Palestinians because they are up against something formidable. On a final note I think ordinary, peace loving Israelis are suffering too as a result of the war mongering appetite of their PM who personally, I think, should stand side by side with Slobodan Milosevic.
TN, UK/Greece

Why does the BBC never put distances on the Israeli maps? Perhaps people would appreciate the real size of the country and look at the security concerns in a different light
Jason, Israel

For KEVIN THOMAS, USA: yes, but the annexation of southern states by the USA in the 19th century will change back within the next 20-50 years. Just see how Mexicans are taking them back slowly, but surely. They also reproduce faster than you. Do the maths and start learning Spanish.
Gustavo, Canada

How does the limited fighting and use of superior force be likened to Nazis who were hell-bent on the elimination of Jews to the minor war going on now?

In 1947, the area that was slotted as a Jewish homeland was a fraction of what Israel occupies now. It was 3 separate enclaves. The Palestinians and entire Arab world did not accept even this paltry homeland and attacked. Lost. Attacked again in 1967, lost again big time and then attacked again in 1973 and almost won. The Palestinians were to be given a homeland in what was then called TransJordan, but they were annoying and got kicked out of there. Finally, after all of this, they claim poor us and look at what Israel is doing to us. Puh-lease. The Palestinians in Syria were shut into a city and bombed viciously. The poverty rate and corruption in most, if not all the Arab countries is amazing. The question I keep coming back to is, "Why, on the eve of peace, does the visit of Sharon to the West Wall, spark simultaneous riots in four difference parts of the then-soon-to-be Palestinian state? Also, I should not bother to, but can't leave along, so I must ask the following: How does the limited fighting and use of superior force be likened to Nazis who were hell-bent on the elimination of Jews to the minor war going on now? If Israel was to be like the Nazis, this would have been over many years ago and the political flak would have subsided. My solution is to calculate the acreage of the proposed Palestinian homeland, set aside a contiguous area of land for them and move the Palestinians there. Then build a border wall and let them integrate into the Arab world that wants nothing to do with them. When they chill out and recognize Israel's right to exist then perhaps start trading with them.

At the end of the day all the talk from the Palestinian side about ceasefires is meaningless unless they take on Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the likes

Gilad, Israel
At the end of the day all the talk from the Palestinian side about ceasefires is meaningless unless they take on Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the likes. And Arafat has not done this even when he had complete freedom without the presence of Israeli soldiers in his cities. One should not forget that Hamas and the like have continued to call for the destruction of Israel and have continued, during all phases of negotiations (even at the height of the optimistic stage with Rabin), to carry out terrorist attacks. Arafat decided not to take these boys on, and he must take the responsibility for this. If this has been his game plan then he should be exposed and sidelined by the international community.
Gilad, Israel

When ovens start burning Palestinians by the thousands every day, then people can compare Israel to the Nazis. Until then, you're all deluded beyond reason.
Nathaniel Harari, USA

What Rubbish! Offir Kline considers that the UN is irrelevant, but this is the organization that created Israel in the first place.
Zaid Alsagoff, Singapore

To Moe, Palestine: you claim that Sharon tries to kill as many Palestinians as he can. How come that in this "full scale war" only handful of people got killed and most of them were armed...
Ami Arber, USA

I understand that European countries are still can't live with the idea that Jews have their own country and I see that it hurts UK that their own former colony is now independent State. But please be realistic - God sees everything and know everyone who tells a lie. Why do you write "died" when an Israeli was killed? You choose different words for the Palestinian deaths! For those like Craig, UK>, Santiago Ochoa, Venezuela, Malik, USA: Maybe David K, USA, is right, maybe you want Jews to be as they were, in same conditions for thousands of years - bit the Jew, kick him, don't worry, he will not fight back. Jew is not allowed to fight back. Maybe... And second of all, how come all "innocent and unarmed civilians" are fighting so successfully and also somehow always have Kalachnikovs on them? Pure babies... They don't have any ammunition. Believe me, open your eyes - they have and almost everyone of them.
Dushe, USA

A simple solution to the Middle East turmoil: cut back on the defence budgets of the larger Arab states

C.M. Gantner-Caplan, Liechtenstein
A simple solution to the Middle East turmoil: cut back on the defence budgets of the larger Arab states. Use the money to create a proper infrastructure in the Palestinian areas. Re-build the areas around the camps and re-settle the refugee residents. Create new investment opportunities for the camp residents, jobs with a future, schools for the children, educate the youngsters with trades that can be useful. Then and only then will the Palestinians have a society with what they want and with a stable system of growth, the killing will retreat and the birth of a future will deny the terror groups of a reason to fight. When the Palestinians have a good standard of living and a reason to exist with a future, they themselves will turn against the terror and create a worthy lifestyle, which is not based on jealousy. East Germany failed, because those same Germans on one side of the border had a good life and the other side had virtually nothing. Television showed the Easterners what the Westerner had and that was the start of the breakdown of the Communist regime. Help the Palestinians to have the same as the Israelis and use the Arab billions currently buying weapons to start the process. The west did and will defend the Gulf states, they don't need all that weaponry and its costs?
C.M. Gantner-Caplan, Liechtenstein

To Craig: the surrounding states of Israel are Arab states, and does this make you feel threatened? They are also mostly Moslem. They are the teachers of Islam all over the world. And they are getting stronger and stronger because of provocative evil words like yours.
Jay Parrini, USA

Stop referring to these countries as "Arab states"! Are the US, UK or France "White states"? Is Zimbabwe a "Negro state"? It just shows the ignorance, arrogance and brainless racism that informs people in 'the West', that you feel okay bunching such culturally diverse countries, with different forms of dress, music, art and (yes) religion together under the term 'Arab'. Indonesia (I believe) is the largest Islamic state on Earth. How many 'Arabs' live there? What about Pakistan? Grow up!
Craig, UK

Unfortunately I think the only way a hawk like Sharon understands is for Nato to do the same thing they did in Serbia. One must not forget that it was his action on Temple Mount which sparked this second Intifada.
Santiago Ochoa, Venezuela

Mr. IamJoseph, from Australia said "Palestine was and should be today the Jewish homeland" But it seams that he really neglected the rights of the Jews who turned Christian, and the Jews who turned Moslem and the Christians who turned Moslem through the years, If you go through history, you will see that mankind went through all phases of disbelieving, believing, migrating willingly and un willingly, so you cannot just claim any land to belong to a certain religion, the land belongs to the people who have been living on it for thousands of years, whatever there religion is.
T.el-attar, Egypt

All outside the Muslim states know that Palestine was and should be today the Jewish homeland

IamJoseph, Australia
The Greatest Lie In Recorded History? No, its not that the Earth was flat - this was more a naive falsehood and has since been corrected some 500 years ago. The Greatest Lie in all recorded History is none other than the denial of Palestine as the Jewish ancestral homeland. And believe-it-or-not, Palestine "includes" Israel. Today's Israel is a small part of the Jewish homeland called Palestine. So how did it get to be the other way around, you ask, how come Israel is part of today's Palestine and not the other way around? Firstly, the situation prevailing today is a historical and evidential falsehood. Check any history book, except one from a Muslim state - where a very different version of history exists - 'The Jewish temple and the Holocaust was a Zionist plot', etc? All outside the Muslim states know that Palestine was and should be today the Jewish homeland. Dig and see, there is not a square metre of ground in Palestine which does not evidence this. The land called Palestine is the original Jewish homeland, and not what is claimed today, namely a small part of this land (it was never the sovereign state of any peoples but the Jews) as is posited today by the UN and the world at large. A study of the recent history of the UN, Great Britain and the Arabs will clarify how the Jewish homeland was sold out - divided into three states, Jordan, Israel and now Palestine. Now its a different sell-out again. Will the world beat its chest with the success of its sell-out? We did it again?
IamJoseph, Australia

I am appalled by Offir Kline's comments. Yes I have been under attack of terrorists for 6 years while living in Algeria. Yes I have lost family members to Muslim fundamentalists. Still, I say to you: "You are the one who has no idea." How would you like someone (England) to come over a land that has rightfully been yours for thousand of years and occupy it? Then because of some promise made by a politician, they bring some other people (non-Palestinian native Jews) to your land and tell you: "Hey, the better half of your land, the one with all the good soil, is theirs. Deal with it." Of course you fight back! You lose, they take more land, you fight again and lose; more land is gone. Then you've got nothing left. You live like a rat, not because your culture is inferior, but because that's how constant oppression and injustice leaves you. The kingdom of Israel only existed thousand of years ago for less than a century; if it actually ever did exist. So what gives you the right to claim this land as yours?
Malik, USA

I am truly astonished at the pictures of the "would-be suicide bomber". If you look at the picture next to the last, you can see the man is naked and has no explosive belt strapped to his waist. Then in the last one, the belt appears. I don't know what to think. I spent five years in Jerusalem as a diplomat. My wife was hurt in a terrorist attack. I have great respect for Israel and their people, but things like this must be investigated.
Santiago Ochoa, Venezuela

I guess this nation will one day look into the West Bank and realise the Holocaust they have created in their own backyard

Chee Choong, Malaysia
Let's recognise one immutable fact: Israel is an illegal occupying force. Every time I think I've seen enough of Israel's brutal ways, I see worse acts to follow. It must be much more horrendous in reality as what I've seen came from very pro-Israeli reporting courtesy of the Western media. Remarkable how desensitisation to such horrors still has not taken place. Targeted elimination of children whose only 'weapons' are stones, air raids on civilian populations, summary executions and even attacks on foreign journalists - How can any nation be so unfeeling in this age? Why are such savagery and humiliation continuing to be levelled on a people already stripped of so much of their dignity? Israel has a mighty army only to compensate for its grave lack of empathy and humanity. I guess this nation will one day look into the West Bank and realise the Holocaust they have created in their own backyard. Unless of course this folly is reversed in time and that is only through genuine gestures of peace. Right now every of its action suggests the intention NOT to want peace.
Chee Choong, Malaysia

Offir Kline of Israel, like Mr Sharon, is unfortunately the kind of persons who will ensure that this tragedy continues. They claim Israel has the right to exist. That's Ok. But they also claim (and demonstrate by their actions) that Palestine does NOT have a right to exist - do they not remember that Hitler once claimed that the Jews had no right to exist?
Alistair F, UK

Sharon doesn't want peace and Arafat can't control the terrorists. There's been too much history on both sides, and both sides have legitimate issues that the other refuses to recognize. Even if moderates accept a peace plan there are extremists on both sides who would rather continue the violence rather than compromise. Without radical changes in leadership on both sides, the only effective solution is to nuke the entire area into so much glass, leaving nothing to fight over and nobody to fight over it.
Kyle, USA

I must reply to Maggie from USA. Your opening sentence displays your ignorance of the situation. Israel became a state almost 54 years ago, not 60. What kind of self-defence is it to blow up an eatery where there are young children armed with nothing more than "deadly" pizza? Or when young Palestinian kids throw stones and an Israeli 9 month old baby in the back of a car gets killed as a result?
Steven, Israel

The illegitimate state of Israel was created by the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian People

Maggie, USA
Over 60 years ago, the illegitimate state of Israel was created by the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian People and by forcing the rest of them into refugees camps for generation to come while the majority of leaders in the Western World applauded, and supported the right of this illegitimate state to exit in Arab land - not European Land of course. Such injustice can only bring violence in the form of state sponsored terrorism as it is the only way for this illegitimate state to continue to exist on stolen lands. The Palestinian people will have to fight by any means necessary to get a viable state where they can live in dignity free from Nazism/Zionism, racism, economic exploitation, apartheid and above all the right of return of the Palestinian Refugee. This is called self-defence not 'terrorism' as they would like us to believe. They are not 'gunmen' or 'suicide bombers' but freedom fighters. Oppressed people did it why should it be any different for them. There can be no peace without justice.
Maggie, USA

I often think that Israel would be far better off if it had simply annexed the occupied territories in about 1975. Something on the order of what the USA did with California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas.
Kevin Thomas, USA

Peace initiative is nothing but a sexy topic for a bunch of corrupt American politicians and the White House to avoid dealing with the ugly situation that they have imposed on the weak and poor nation of Palestine. U.S. should stop support of Israeli government. Instead US must pay to rebuild hospitals, schools and the Palestinian infrastructure. After all, good old U.S. of A pocketed plenty of cash selling weapons of mass destruction to Israel.
Roshan, USA

As an Israeli, I cannot take criticism of Israel by Europeans seriously. The reality is that the Europeans have been busy persecuting, butchering and expelling the Jews for 2000 years- from the deicide accusation to the Inquisition to the Crusades to the Hep Hep riots to Dreyfus to pogroms to the Shoa. Every European nation is guilty. Of course, now that the Jews have a country of our own, many Europeans are still against us. Surprise, surprise!
Moshe, Israel

See also:

12 Mar 02 | Middle East
Israel occupies key West Bank city
11 Mar 02 | Middle East
Gulf states back Saudi peace plan
10 Mar 02 | Middle East
Saudis detail Mid-East peace vision
06 Mar 02 | Middle East
Israel troops storm into Gaza
06 Mar 02 | Middle East
Bush pledges Mid-East peace moves
05 Mar 02 | Middle East
Head to head: Mid-East violence surges
27 Feb 02 | Middle East
What is in the Saudi peace initiative?
20 Feb 02 | Middle East
Q&A: Middle East conflict

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