Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

 You are in:  Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 2 April, 2002, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Can the Middle East peace process survive?
Heavy gun battles have been raging between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank towns of Bethlehem and Ramallah.

The Israeli army has also reoccupied the West Bank towns of Qalqilya and Tulkarm.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says his army's actions are aimed at eliminating once and for all what he calls a terrorist infrastructure.

As the battles rage, US President George W Bush has urged Israel to keep open a pathway to peace.

But can there be any hope of peace amid such violence? What can be done to stop the cycle of attacks and retaliation?

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

Your comments:

Take the decision-making from these two incompetent leaders

Forester Mauler, South Africa
It is time to separate the two children and create a zone similar to the North Korea and South Korea border with UN troops in the middle. It is obvious both sides do not want peace and the world is feeling the effect of this with rising petrol prices. Take the decision-making from these two incompetent leaders and let the world negotiate peace.
Forester Mauler, South Africa

I don't think that either side is looking for peace or else it would have been achieved by now.
Aly, Canada

The problems in the Middle East will never be sorted because the people there don't want things to change. If they want to kill each other, as they have over the last 40 years and longer, the West has no chance of sorting it out.
Rob, England

Somebody is going to have to sit down with somebody else to sort this out

David Minnie, South Africa
Somebody is going to have to sit down with somebody else to sort this out. It may be this year, it may be next, or the next decade, or even the next millennium, but it will be sorted out by two people committed to peace who are prepared to put aside their own political aspirations. Men such as Mandela and De Klerk.... why not today?
David Minnie, South Africa

Ariel Sharon has consistently opposed the establishment of a viable Palestinian state and withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. He has reaffirmed this in his outright rejection of the Saudi plan. He has built 36 settlements since his appointment and, until the stepping up of the suicide bombings, his approval rating was over 60%. To what, then, can the Palestinians aspire while he remains in power? Their only hope is to unseat him and, judging by the decline in his support, this horrific strategy is working.
Richard, Canada

Bush, Tony Blair, Sharon must go, not Arafat. They are the Axis of evil. Americans want a war in Iraq. Middle east countries don't agree to this. For getting support for the war in the Middle East Bush and Sharon are playing dangerous political games in Palestinian areas.
John Joseph, USA

I am only a kid. But I wonder why does the USA support Israel so adamantly? Also the USA shouldn't be the mediator for peace, because they are obviously allied with Israel, and because of that they can't have an objective view. In my opinion the EU should be the one to try to brokerage a peace deal. The USA has had more than three chances and they failed each time.
Shahryar, USA

It is obvious that Israelis do not want the peace by occupying Palestinian territory ,terrorizing and killing innocent people every single day. So it is in the human nature to defend themselves by sueside missions.
Adnan Salman, USA

If we let the Palestinian terrorists win, then we will be sending out a message to everyone in the world that a good way to achieve your goals is to kill innocent people

James Goldman, UK
If we let the Palestinian terrorists win, then we will be sending out a message to everyone in the world that a good way to achieve your goals is to kill innocent people. The Palestinian terrorists do not want piece. Their web-sites testify to the fact that they want to end the 1948 "occupation" and not just the 1967 occupation. I wish I could think of an alternative to Sharon's military initiative - but I can't. It seems to me that the Israelis are left only with the miserable option of having to root out terrorism itself.
James Goldman, UK

It is the blind American support of Israel that has had sustained the conflict in the Middle East. USA are not impartial in this conflict. The Israeli government is using the American weaponry. USA should realise that its weapons can not kill the sense of independence of Palestinians.
Issa Ahmed, Switzerland

As long as the Israelis don't value the Palestinian people's life, they shall never live in peace.
Abbas, US

The difference between a bomb attack and a suicide attack is desperation. And the remedy for desperation is not repression, but hope. Unless Mr. Sharon understands that, and allows Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side, in two states, like the rest of the civilized world does, we are bound to see more and more of these suicide attacks. If he does not want enemies, he should let the Palestinians have no reasons to be enemies, instead of using the genocide option.
Denise, Chile

The issue is not the Palestinian state. They may declare their state tomorrow - we have no problems with it

Vladimir Beker, Israel
It is amazing. When USA protects itself by attacking Afghanistan, it is OK even if thousands of innocent people are killed. When UK protected itself in 1944, thousands of innocents Germans were killed - it is understood: the country is responsible to protect its inhabitants. But if Israeli people are killed - Israel must withdraw. Do you think that before 1967 there was less violence in region? Less terror against Israel? Come on! The issue is not the Palestinian state. They may declare their state tomorrow - we have no problems with it. But as long as suicide (and not suicide) bombers will go from their towns - our tanks will come back. The real way for Palestinian people not to see these tanks - is to stop terror. You want to name it war against the war - do it. During World War II did the British people have a war against the German nation or not? I think that started to think about this question only after the war was ended. We don't see ourselves as superior nation. Everyone who had read the Bible knows that 'chosen' nation means 'chosen to serve God', not 'chosen as better than others'. But sorry, people, we will not commit suicides or leave this land just to help you to feel better. It is easy to say that Sharon disturbs the peace. But remember, he won the elections as a result of intifada, not vice versa.
Vladimir Beker, Israel

Isn't it interesting that the Arab world hates the USA for supporting Israel but the Arab world expects, no demands, the USA to show respect, not hatred, to provide humanitarian and military aid to most of the Arab world even though they, the Arab world, support, directly and indirectly, Palestine and blindly hate the USA! In my opinion America and any other right thinking human being simply cannot understand the Arab world in general, nor the "engine" that drives its blind hatred and contempt for the non-Arab world.

It is funny that Sharon can accuse Arafat of being a terrorist, but correct me if I am wrong but who is accused of war crimes and supposed to be tried in Belgium?

Israel has tried to pull out before and Muslim extremists only use that as an opportunity to kill more Israeli

Matt, USA
The constant bigotry against the Jews is unreasonable. Israel has tried to pull out before and Muslim extremists only use that as an opportunity to kill more Israeli. When a Muslim kills a Jew it is the will of Allah, but when a Jew kills a Muslim it is murder - why is that?. Islam must realize and understand the west's viewpoint if it wants to be taken seriously.
Matt, USA

Can anyone tell me the difference between what the Prime Minister Sharon is doing to Palestine and What the Former Yugoslavian Leader was doing to Kosovo?
Benito, South Africa

The state of Israel was artificially planted into the Arab lands where almost no Jews had lived for the previous 1500 years. It originated and exists due to the larger political interests of the world powers in the area and to the backing of various Jewish lobbies in the US and Europe. This may change in the next 20, 50 or 100 years and if by then the people of Israel don't make peace with their Arab neighbours the country of Israel will cease to exist.
Richard, Greece

The official line is that Arafat must be isolated in order to break the chain of command that links him to the terrorists and to destroy terrorist infrastructure in his compound. If that has worked, then how come there have been two more suicide bombings since his isolation began? It is quite obvious to a casual onlooker that this is not working. It is quite likely that it will only fan the flames of hatred amongst the Palestinians. So what next, Mr Sharon?
Layheon Tan, Hong Kong

Truth is bitter, but the situation in Middle East is very terrible; very terrible in such a way that by mere asking Israeli to move from his illegal acquired land of Palestinian or Yaser Arafat to arrest his terrorist could solved, that is never a solution to the problem. The diplomatic way used by USA to conquer terrorists i.e. Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan¿ why can't it be used again to stop Sharon from his Strong-arm attack on the innocent Palestinian and Suicide bombers on the innocent Israeli? Don't we have a US or UN peacekeeping force? If really we want peace process to survive in the Middle East it is up to them to do it.
Uskab, Nigeria

What peace process?

Newman, Netherlands
What peace process? The peace process has always been a process of denial, a way to prevent the legitimate struggle of Arabs against Israeli occupation. It has been an entirely dishonourable pretence at international negotiation. It appears that the USA and Israel actually want war in the Middle East. Maybe they are trying to provoke a retaliatory response from Iraq or other Arab nations in order to offer an excuse for further bombing of Arab cities. There will never be peace until Israel is forced to withdraw to the 1967 borders and offers some restitution for the three million Palestinian refugees. It is clear from this site and many other forums that support for Israel has dwindled to nothing in Europe. How long will it be before our governments reflect the will of the people and act against the terrorist state of Israel?
Newman, Netherlands

Many people on this thread have not listened to a word that the Israeli spokespeople have said. The Palestinian people have never been targeted. There are no daily killings of Palestinian women and children that the media fail to cover - the PA has killed more of their own through extra-judicial "collaborator" killings than the IDF has. It makes me sad that the people from Arab states on this thread call the actions by Hamas, IJ and Al-Aqsa (whose charters reflect their deep-seated hatred for Israel and advocate its destruction including "driving the Jews into the sea") defence. Unfortunately, resolution of this conflict will only occur when the Arab states call these groups which kill innocent Israelis terrorists (not freedom fighters) and stop funding them.
Richard, UK

Leaders of peace process: Since Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat cannot agree and cannot get along with each other both are not allowing their people to live in peace and harmony. Their citizens are living an abnormal life. They should not allow their citizen to live in misery. Both of them should step down. Let the younger generation leaders continue with the peace process.
Matthew Levi Lim, Singapore

What Israel needs desperately are some real friends other than Americans

Bob, USA
What Israel needs desperately are some real friends other than Americans. If the Jewish people can wait two millennia to return to their homeland they should definitely show more patience with their nation building. Give back what belongs to Palestinians, become friends with your neighbours and try to lead a peaceful happy life. Let peace be upon you.
Bob, USA

While the lives of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians are lost and ruined, Sharon and his cabinet believe that they can obtain peace through total military oppression. His term as prime minister has been an almost predictable spiral into the disaster it is today and even now, amazingly, after so many ill-conceived military ventures Sharon believes that a little more military pressure will do the trick. I have no doubt that his premiership will in time be regarded by Israelis as one of the proud nation's biggest mistakes. The Pope, The United Nations and every sane and impartial onlooker to this catastrophe believes this madness has to stop but, incredibly, Mr. Sharon and his right wing zealots continue to believe that they can obtain peace by military means.
Mark, UK

Israel is doing exactly what it must do. It is attempting to dismantle the infrastructure of a horrible regime which supports terrorist activities aimed at women and children. Arafat chose terror instead of negotiations and now he is paying the price for that decision.
Gary, Japan

OBJECTIVE: Stop the starting point of the cycle of violence. METHOD: Arab peacekeepers to search and detain all forms of explosives used by suicide bombers AGREEMENT: All leaders of the Palestine leaders agree to it. The announcement is to be made to all Palestinians. WHO SHOULD DO IT? The experienced Egyptian and Jordanian peacekeepers are the best people to do it as they are both accepted in terms of diplomatic relations by Israel and Palestine.
Matthew Levi Lim, Singapore

America and Britain are supporting an Israel that is in breach of 1967 UN resolutions, is brutally occupying Palestine and killing Arabs, and is refusing Arab refugees back to their homes in what is now Israel

Bilal Patel, London, UK
The western media has a lot to answer for. It confuses and completely misrepresents what is going on the Occupied Palestine when it talks about a 'peace process' all the time. There never was such a thing, and if there was, the Israeli made pretty sure that it didn't last. There is only justice and the rule of law. And right now, America and Britain are supporting an Israel that is in breach of 1967 UN resolutions, is brutally occupying Palestine and killing Arabs, and is refusing Arab refugees back to their homes in what is now Israel. This is what people like George Bush and Tony Blair think is acceptable, and even support. Do they need a greater reason for people to hate them? The Arabs are left with no choice now because we refuse to allow them the justice they deserve. Long may the Intifada last - it has my 101% backing.
Bilal Patel, London, UK

What peace process? As the Jewish people celebrated Passover the terrorists, and make no mistake, the targeted maiming and killing of innocent civilians is terrorism, do their worst! I see complete hypocrisy on the part of the west, who pursue any terrorism on their soil to the far corners of the world and yet acquiesce to the constant terrorist activities being conducted against Israel, what is going on? It seems that whenever Israel goes to defend its citizens by rooting out these nests of vipers, the wrath of the free world falls upon her. The Arab summit requires that Israel withdraws to the pre-1967 borders. Why should they? In those pre-1967 days, they had no more peace from their Arab 'neighbours' than they do now. The targeted killing of innocent civilians and the indoctrination of children into suicide bombers should be stopped, For God's sake!
Wes, UK

"50 Muslim Countries condemn Israeli actions" according to the BBC, and yet only 10 of the 22 invited parties manage to show for the peace conference! There will be no peace in the Middle East until the Muslim countries accept Israel's right to exist.
Steve R, Merseyside

When Bush was elected there was a plan for Clinton to stay on as Middle East advisor, why didn't this happen?

Simon Rockman, UK
The galling thing is that Clinton came so close. He got Israel to move to a withdrawal from 97% and power sharing. It would only have taken a slight shift in the Arab position to have peace years ago. When Bush was elected there was a plan for Clinton to stay on as Middle East advisor, why didn't this happen?
Simon Rockman, UK

Sharon is responsible not just for the killing of Palestinians but for the continued killing of his own people.
Isa, Palestine

Even if Arafat supposedly could control suicide bombers, there's hardly a way for him to do it now, trapped in his offices. Bush's statements concerning Arafat, that he could do more about terrorism etc. are clearly drivel. And what happens if and when Israel gets rid of Arafat? Will the ensuing power vacuum control suicide bombers more efficiently? Israel needs to rethink its policy.
dt, Greece

To Mohamed, Lebanon, I call people who murder civilians for political ends "terrorists" and I call soldiers sitting in armoured tanks who kill stone-throwing children "murderers". Evil deeds require tough words not blinded eyes and mealy mouths.
Susan, UK

Don't you see it's just human nature to defend what is yours?

Mohamed, Lebanon
How can you call people who defend themselves terrorists? Don't you see it's just human nature to defend what is yours? The Israeli make an issue of every Israeli who dies. What happens when 3 times that number of Palestinian people die, aren't they "innocent civilians"?
Mohamed, Lebanon

No, as long as Israel's troops remain in the West Bank and Gaza it will get worse, and worse for Israel. It seems as if no-one understands what is really going on. Only deaths of Jews seem to be reported, not of Arabs. World peace!
Riyad Deeb, USA

When Milosevic oppressed the Kosovars by sending Tanks into towns and villages and rounded up all the men of fighting age with the excuse of "anti-terrorist operations" the West spent millions under the guise of humanitarianism bombing Yugoslavia to blazes. Now the US governmant gives Sharon an encouraging pat on the back and Blair's silence is deafening. The double standards of the Western governments are absolutely pathetic. If the West really wanted to they could stop the violence today.

The only reason why the Middle East conflict is getting more and more serious by day is the blind support of Israel by the USA.
Dr.Ali, United Arab Emirates

This is not the end of history

Yaz, Jordan
Rising a bit to above all the involving but numbing details, I understand that history is continuous; this is not the end of history. It is futile to discuss all these details of killing and counter killing while we know that it is the destiny of whole nations that is at stake. Regardless of who owns the right to live in Palestine/Israel and who started the war, what will happen is what logic, history and geography dictates. Israel cannot continue to live this paranoia-ridden life for ever, it has to understand that Jews are not a superior race, and that the world is not divided into Jews and Gentiles, or in this case Arabs or Muslims. Israel has to accept that it is part of a bigger region that contains other nations with needs that they have to attend to. Israel has to accept being integrated in its context, this is what has to happen and it will happen, eventually. All these daily killings and sufferings, as saddening as they are, have only one meaning that a leader has not yet been born in Israel who understands history's determinism and rejects the Israeli superiority complex. Arabs have waited for over 50 years for that leader to come, they mistakenly thought he did. But then again, they can still wait more; yes, hundreds, thousands and maybe millions will die until that happens, but there is no other choice but to wait for history to take its course and dictate its laws on the maddened masses.
Yaz, Jordan

I would gladly send my sons and daughters out to their deaths as that is the only 'weapon' I have. The double standards adopted by the Americans only make the Israeli more hated. In many of your comments before, it was mentioned that the poor Palestinian people have nothing to lose - only their lives and that is worthless. Why don't the American people start to criticize the USA policy of unrelenting support for Israel? I can only assume that the reporting is one-sided as usual as it is noticeably becoming over here. So much air time for Shimon Peres but nothing for the Palestine negotiators who talk so much sense. My heart is with these people, I wish we could go in support and march somewhere. Is there anyone out there who could arrange it?
Madelaine, UK

First of all, let's just get this out of the way: The suicide bombings are horrible, I don't support extremists, but I also do not support collective punishment of any people, anywhere. As a citizen of the United States, I think everyone deserves self-determination, and if you were to try to take mine away, I would fight to get that right back. Also, what weapon you use to kill has no bearing on the moral or immoral nature of killing another human. Killing other humans is wrong. A tank, or a suicide bomber, is the same in the end if the targets are non-military in nature. In allot of the posts I have read, writers have stated that the Palestinians are "enemies of democracy and the west". I just need to understand what this means exactly. The average person in the United States does not have any idea about the history of the region, or the fact they arm one side so well with their tax dollars. I want to know when Palestinians have attacked the United States? And how you can be an enemy of Democracy and the west when you don't even have a proper army, or country for that matter, is beyond me as well. The people of the United States must understand that the people in the camps, villages, and cities of the occupied territories know who supplies the cash and weapons to whom. Also, demanding that one man, trapped in a compound for months, control 2.5 million people is laughable at best.
DM, United States

To Mark from the UK: the peace process was over when Sharon went to the Al-Alqsa mosque with hundreds of troops armoured with machine guns and Israelis voted for him because of that. Alqsa mosque is the third most important religious place for Muslims. People from other religions are allowed to visit it after taking permission. This visit to all Arabs and Muslims all over the world is like Ben Laden taking Al-Qaeda to a visit to Vatican for Christians and he knew that before he went there. Mark be reasonable.
NG, Egypt

The peace process was over as soon as the Palestinians launched their 'intifada' in September 2000

Mark, UK
The peace process was over as soon as the Palestinians launched their 'intifada' in September 2000. They have violated every ceasefire with acts of violence and murder, with the encouragement of Arafat who then seeks the world's intervention when Israel rightfully retaliates against them. Israel is doing what any other state would do, when under constant attack from terrorists. In fact, they are probably doing a lot less than any other country in that region would do in similar circumstances. So when Arafat is prepared to behave like the statesman which he makes himself out to be and makes a proper effort to stop his people from committing these acts of murder, and when the Palestinians can prove that they are worthy of having a state of their own and of being proper members of the international community, then maybe the peace process will have some chance. The ball is in their court.
Mark, UK

Do you really think getting rid of Arafat (a patient man in his own right) will solve everything? What about Sharon whose past speaks for itself? I don't think peace is anywhere near with that man driving. The only thing he has going is his ego, he doesn't care about his country. He has proven it to the world time and time again. Are people blind or do they just have blinders on? We only chose to see what we want to see.
Lori, Oman

What kind of peace can be expected of a country that dominates another in the way the Israelis do the Palestinians? Only the USA can broker this so-called peace but, alas, the leader has other fish to fry and is plainly not interested. Soon too the US will feel the breeze of this total lack of commitment. Ashamed of being a Jew? I would think the same applies to being a US citizen too. But of course Saddam is the villain they want to kill while watching the disintegration in the Middle East. A classic case of fiddling while Rome burns!
Alan, Poland

The so-called US Peace Initiative is dead in the water. The US is not a disinterested party because of its one-sided support for Israel. How many US Presidents have become bogged down by the 'Middle East Crisis?' If the US & the west continue to deny the Palestinian people their rightful place on the map, with their own state, within secure borders then the easily-labelled 'terrorism' will continue. It is a supreme folly to think that Ariel Sharon is interested in any peace initiative. He wants the lot - all of the West Bank at whatever cost (to the Palestinian people) and we are allowing him to get it. He will systematically pick off West Bank towns one by one, occupy them and declare them 'closed military areas' so that we in the 'civilised' west will not see what is going on.
David Membery, UK

We would rather die than live by Israel's democratic rules

Nader, Egypt
Some people have weird theories about why do Arabs hate Israel. They claim that Arab governments are not democratic and that they spread anti-Semitism to cover their dictatorships. Also they say that Israel is the only democratic government in the Middle East. If that's what they call democracy, hell no we don't want it. We would rather die than live by their democratic rules. Before the latest cycle of violence pregnant women were left on roadblocks for hours. One delivered a baby on a road block and others died. After the Arabs united their message to Israel by offering the latest peace deal, the only people to blame are Sharon and the Israelis who mostly approve his barbaric methods and voted for him after all. No one with some sense of honesty can blame Palestinians in resisting the occupation and humiliation. We all support them emotionally and if Israelis don't get back to their mind, we will have to use other ways to support them.
Nader, Egypt

Peace & Love!
John, Canada

What I find deeply disturbing is the apparent enthusiasm shown by the current Israeli government for such military action after the incredibly reluctance for peaceful overtures. Israeli citizens must remove this war like before they alienate the entire Arab world by appearing to support such people. As a previous correspondent said, it is, sadly, up to the Israelis to take the lead and work toward the peace that the majority deeply desire.
David Weston, UK

Sharon is a criminal, and it is him who should be isolated, not Mr. Arafat
Mohammed, UAE

It is Israel's unlawful occupation of the Palestinian Territories which is at the root of the current discord

Michael, United Kingdom
Instead of 'Bush pleas to Arafat' how about `Bush pleas to Sharon`? It is Israel's unlawful occupation of the Palestinian Territories which is at the root of the current discord. Indeed it is the source of global hatred towards Israel. However the current onslaught into Palestine clearly has full backing from the US behind the scenes - United Nations resolutions though fully backed stands for nothing beyond words. The US needs an excuse to enter the military fray and will do so once Palestine's neighbours have been goaded by the Israelis to support Palestine. The real terrorists in this are in the Knesset and the White House. The US needs reason to engage in war and the protection of Israel gives them that reason. Meanwhile ordinary citizens must suffer the frustration of being utterly helpless as their leaders carry out the game plan.
Michael, United Kingdom

Daily we read and hear of the violence in the Middle East. But rarely does any correspondent talk of the settlements and the necessity for troops to guard them. I have spent much time in the Middle East and am well aware of the passion of the Arabs and their capacity to hate. If I know , how come the Jews don't know? And last, why does Mr. Bush always back the Israelis, even when they are blatantly wrong? It's called campaign funds.
Ribbons, United States

No matter what we (the Jews/Israelis) do or say in defence of israel, we will always be condemned. Basically it is a matter of "us" or "them"; and in the eyes of the world it is always the Palestinians who are the underdog and the ones who have been treated unfairly. I have yet to hear the Europeans condone the murdering of innocent Israelis, but the minute something happens to a Palestinian then the Europeans/left wingers are all in an uproar! What about our (Jews/Israelies) right to survival? To bring our children up in a peaceful surrounding? For all those who are ready to point a finger at Israel, where were you all during the second world was when we were being led like lambs to the slaughter? Why aren't you screaming at the murder of 122 innocent people? For all you left wingers, remember 2 things:
Leora, Israel

Arafat had 8 years to deal with the terror, and received plenty in return

Ami Yisrael Hay, Israel
The title and headline of your discussion group are misleading and tendentious. Israel has tried every means to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians: we withdrew from all of the Palestinian cities, agreed to the return of Arafat and his buddies from Tunis, provided him with weapons (yes, that really happened!), provided him with funding and aided him in receiving foreign aid, offered him recognition of his state and a 97% withdrawal to the 1967 borders (with compensation from Israeli lands for the other 3%)... and in return we received terror, terror and terror. The question you should therefore be asking is: have Arafat's strong-arm tactics worked? As an Israeli citizen, I declare that they cannot be allowed to work. Arafat had 8 years to deal with the terror, and received plenty in return. In spite of all pressures (Israeli, American, Egyptian), he refused to do the job. No Israel has to do his dirty work.
Ami Yisrael Hay, Israel

Methods that Israel is using to address the problem have not changed since the beginning of the conflict. It is clear to everybody but Jews that use of force does not yield peace and that there is no military solution to this problem. Continuing use of methods that have been unsuccessful for so many years is irrational.

Can anybody draw the line between terrorists and freedom fighter?
Frank, USA

The daily killings and executions of dozens of innocent Palestinians go unreported by the western media who choose to focus only on reprisal suicide bombings. The people of Ramallah are without electricity and water; the latter being a basic human right. The fanatical zealots who run Israel and the US are laughing and sticking two fingers up at any attempt at a ceasefire. The people of the Muslim world will not sit by and watch this happen for much longer. The Muslim world should cut all diplomatic ties and trade with the west until they come to their senses. Ethnic cleansing and gross human rights violations should not be permitted in our name. All the people of whatever religion, colour or creed should demonstrate in the streets to show their abhorrence of this modern day holocaust.
M Tasab, UK

Palestinians and Israelis are dying in unfortunate numbers. Israeli people are afraid to step outside

Palash, USA
I think Sharon's recent tactics has ended the peace process. Sharon and the Israeli government fear that returning the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians will jeopardize the security of Israel. However, current situation is not any better. Palestinians and Israelis are dying in unfortunate numbers. Israeli people are afraid to step outside. Instead of launching offensives, Sharon and the Israeli Government should consider how to stop the bloodshed. Not create more.
Palash, USA

To Heba, Egypt, and his nice story: The 1967 loss of Arab land was a result of Arab aggression against Israel. The lesson - Don't try to kill anybody so you will not risk losing anything. Can't do the time, don't do the crime, Heba. Few quotes for your reference: President Al-Atassi of Syria stated on May 22nd, 1966: 'We want total war with no limits, a war that will destroy the Zionist base.' On May 25th, 1967, Cairo Radio announced: 'The Arab people is firmly resolved to wipe Israel off the map and to restore the honor of the Arabs of Palestine.' On May 28th, 1967, Egyptian President, Nasser, stated: 'We will not accept any possibility of co-existence with Israel.' Based on the UN rejection of Draft Resolution A/L 519 from July 4th, 1967, and the adoption of UN resolution 242, Israel is not required to withdraw from all the land it occupied. Those are the facts of the case, Heba.
Michael, Hong Kong

Nice story: Sharon Said: Peace, Peace, Peace. Arabs said: No land, land, land. Then Arabs say: OK Peace.
Heba, Egypt

The animal named 'Middle East peace process' exists only in mass-media. The biggest mistake of Israel was signing Oslo-agreement. I admit that Palestinian state is probably the only solution in long-term, but creation of terrorist authority only make this target more hardly reachable. Israel is responsible to destroy it. Only then there will be chance for real peace negotiation.
Vladimir Beker, Israel

Sharon's strong- arm method is very dangerous and has made the Israelis more uncomfortable. The people of Israel will never live in peace for the next 50 years due to the strong-arm method of Sharon. This has been clearly shown when a 16 year old can kill herself, the hatred is so deeply rooted. Soon shall we see a 10 year boy or even a 6 year girl doing the same.
Dr.Khamis, Sweden

The Israelis and Palestinians have shown to be unable to make peace. Only an outside force can force peace in the middleast, like in the Balkans.
Paulo , Portugal

Let be honest for once, if we call the Palestinians terrorists, what can we call what are the Israelis are doing. For sure the Israelis are not Angels on this earth, so I plead with both parties to think how they can build a future for their children instead of using barbaric force buy the Israelis and deadly retaliations from the Palestinians.
Lara Black, UK

The killing of innocent people can never be condoned, but when one looks at the figures over three times more Palestinians than Israelis have died since the intifada began. The Palestinians are a people without hope. They have no jobs, many of them live like a rootless people in other countries, waiting some day to return. The basic national right of self-determination has passed them by. The west has ignored their plight for so long that, now, making a 16-year-old girl blow herself up in a public place seems to make sense to them.

Of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but had it taken earlier steps to resolve it's "illegal occupation" (the words of Kofi Annan) of the Palestinian territories then it may not have found itself in such an appalling situation. Oscar, The Netherlands

Sadly it's basically only Israel who has a choice.

Rafael Humpert, Germany
Doesn't Israel realize that their tactics just don't work? What "infrastructure of terror" is there to be destroyed? None! So what is the sense of incursions into Palestinian territory? No sense! Can't Israel, claiming to be a civilized nation, find a more effective answer to the terror? It's hard to ask anything from the Palestinians, because the they have no central authority, no army, no infrastructure, no work, no wealth, no land. Sadly it's basically only Israel who has a choice.
Rafael Humpert, Germany

There can be no excuse for the killing of innocent civilians - not religion, not politics, nothing. The terrorists that carry out these daily massacres are so close to Al-Qaeda they're indistinguishable. They are not just the enemies of Israel, they are enemies of democracy and the West and need to be treated as such.

I have lived in Israel 14 years and never have I felt so much shame in being an Israeli and a Jew. Why cant our leaders understand that we can not expect to continue humiliating an entire people and expect them not to resist. It is human nature to resist, my Jewish forefathers resisted. How can the work sit idly by while we continue to occupy a land that is not ours, kill and maim a population on a daily basis and expect no retaliation?
Arie, Canada

Once a faction has murdered your loved ones, your hatred of that faction lasts your whole life. It is simple human behaviour- it is wired into us as a species. Israelis and Palestinians have both committed horrible atrocities against each other, both have had to suffer the aftermath of these atrocities and now both sides have a taste for blood and vengeance that I fear will never leave them. The only hope would be from a government that can use its head even while the populations are too clouded by the emotions involved. Unfortunately, with people like Sharon Arafat and Bush, I am afraid reason will never be reached. I feel like somebody riding in a car with a really bad driver - at a certain point you just have to let go and ignore the road to avoid going crazy with fear...
Jordan, USA

Sharon and Arafat have failed to lead their people to peace.

Shawn, USA
Palestinians and Israelis need to start caring about the future of their enemy's children as much as they care about the future of their own children. The cycle of violence that has escalated since Sharon has come to power will lead to more bloodshed and mutual hatred which will take years if not decades to resolve. Sharon and Arafat have failed to lead their people to peace. Sharon is a brutal military man who has been accused of crimes against humanity and is incapable of achieving a peaceful resolution to this conflict. There is no excuse for Palestinians who randomly commit acts of terror against innocent Israelis. On the other hand, Israel's military response against the innocent Palestinians is a form of state supported terrorism which will lead to more violence.
Shawn, USA

"Peace initiatives" and "talks" have come and gone in the past 10 years or so. This one will have the same fate unless concrete steps are taken to get at the root of the problem. Just like economic and military sanctions are used against Iraq when it occupies Kuwait, the same tactics need to be applied to Israel to force it to remain within its legal borders. The West and more specifically the US has consistently turned a blind eye while Israel continues its policies of expansion. The Palestinians have nothing to lose, they will continue with their struggle until their current living conditions have changed.
Gigi, USA

Now there is escalation of war, suicide bombers and tank warfare. Each side can find good reason to blame the other, so what! The real question for each side is, what can we do to start on the path to peace - not what can the other side do, not blame for past or even present - there is enough blame. No one is right - yet all will have to live together. Are there leaders among the Palestinians who will stand up and say no to terrorism and suicide bombers, no to martyrs? Are there leaders among the Israelis who will stand up and say no to continued war and attacks on Palestinians, who will say there is a way, THIS is the way we can work together for peace? There have been many past missed opportunities - can we create a new opportunity? The world needs to hear from them, but most of all, there own people need to hear from them and see real actions from them.
Gen, USA

The Palestinians will continue using violence because, let's face it, what do they have to lose? Their land? Their country? Their homes? Their wealth? They have none of that! Even their lives are so miserable that they prefer to die in battle in order, according to their beliefs, to go to Paradise. The Israelis on the other hand have so much to lose. They must realize that they must become an integral part of the Arab world, just like the Christians in Lebanon.
Patricia, Lebanon

The offhand way in which Sharon dismissed the Arab worlds initiative for peace is amazing.

Don Digler, USA
I hate to repeat what most people in this board have already said but the truth of the matter is neither side is ready for peace. The offhand way in which Sharon dismissed the Arab worlds initiative for peace is amazing. This is only chance to get the two sides talking to each other. How can Gen. Zinni expect to achieve anything when the two sides don¿t even want to talk? Both sides blame each other of terrorism and rightfully so. Just because Israel uses sophisticated killing machine doesn't mean it's not terrorism. It hurts me to realize that I paid for it (US tax dollars). It¿s sad to see how the Western media puts more value emphasis on Israeli civilian casualties than Palestinian. With this attitude we will get nothing more than increased terrorism worldwide. I'm usually not a pessimist but where it comes to the Middle East I think there will be a lot more bloodshed and power change before anything close to peace is achieved in this region.
Don Digler, USA

"Peace in the Middle East", nothing but a catchy slogan in reality. I do not doubt that most Palestinians would make peace with Israel, if they were granted their own state. But the fanatics and terrorist groups will never let that happen. Until the Israeli's have either pulled stakes and left, or have all been killed, these terrorist groups will never cease. So in other words, get used to another 1,000 years of bloodshed. Sad but true.
Scott, USA

The time has come for Arafat to go. If anyone thought that Arafat was not in control, the Passover Massacre should change their mind. It was carried out by a suicide bomber who had been on Israel's wanted list, a list given to the PA. The PA did with this suicide bomber what they have done with dozens of others - they arrested him when political pressure necessitated it, and then released him ten days later when that pressure died down. Yasser Arafat bears full responsibility for the Passover Massacre and other massacres against Israeli civilians and must be removed from power once and for all.
Michael Brenner, New York, USA

Obviously the warring parties are not capable of achieving peace. Where are the UN troops? Once the two sides have been separated a just peace can be established based on all relevant UN resolutions and the various Geneva conventions which do not allow the annexation of territory through war. That is to say Israel should be forced to its pre 1967 borders.
Javad, USA

Its high time for the population to take over this initiative from the politicians. All peace loving people of Palestine and Israel should descend on Ramallah and march hand in hand peacefully in front of the tanks and armoured vehicles and nudge them back to where they belong in their barracks. Let them state once and for all a stop to all this deadly brinkmanship. Politicians have tried and failed, military has tried and failed. People power must succeed. We have seen it so many times in modern history. Enough is enough.
Rudy, Hungary

People who are willing to die for their cause cannot be subdued with threats of death and destruction

Brad, USA
Arafat's authority has been undermined to the point he can no longer control the several factions that exist within his organization. Does it not strike anyone in Israel or the US that these Palestinians will NOT give up. People who are willing to die for their cause cannot be subdued with threats of death and destruction. The sooner a Palestinian State is established the sooner the killings will end. Guns and tanks won't work. Mr. Bush, are you listening?
Brad, USA

Peace with terrorists? Get real! How many people said that the world should make peace with Osama Bin Laden? Israel has fought terrorism long before the so called "war on terrorism". It is Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Brigades, Force 17, PFLP, and all the other terrorist groups that claim responsibility for these terrorist acts against innocent Israeli civilians that should also claim responsibility for the retaliation from Israel. When is Israel allowed to fight back without being accused of starting or increasing the violence?
Tsuri, Israel

No nation has ever benefited from protracted warfare.
Sun Tzu, China

I think it's time to conclude, ruefully, that the Palestinians have had their chance. No one denies their right to self-determination, including their right to select their own leader. But if they choose to exercise this second right in a way that thwarts the first - by picking a thoroughly unprincipled leader to represent them - this is hardly Israel's fault. This is a hard lesson in political responsibility which the Palestinians must learn before they can achieve their legitimate aims. For now they have shown that they must simply be managed in a way that minimizes loss of life.
Seth, US

Rather than asking whether Sharon's strong arm tactics can work, why not ask whether Arafat has any ability or inclination to impose a ceasefire on the Palestinians? If the answer to this question is yes, then surely everything that has been said about Arafat's part in the suicide bombings by Israel is correct. If the answer is no, then Arafat is just speaking empty words for diplomatic convenience.
Jason, UK

Sharon's strong arm tactics may work in the short term, but how long is that? 6 months, a year, maybe even five years, but the underlying problem is only being made worse. There is little evidence that increasing strong arm tactics have actually produced more security for Israel over the period of Sharon being in office, the reverse seems to be the case. Sharon must indirectly shoulder much of the responsibility for the current situation. As a military man one would have thought that he would have realised the limits of a military approach. Unfortunately Sharon is a an unable Politician, with no positive policies. His focus on blaming Arafat leads Israel nowhere. It is time for the US to exert much more financial pressure on Israel. It is not just a case of a country having the right to self defence, Israel is part of the problem and as yet shows no real sign that it is really ready to be part of a positive solution. The US must decide what it wants in the region, there is long term danger for Israel that the US may begin to see Israel as harmful to its own interests and begin to decommit itself.
barry b, UK

How can the people keep supporting their leaders who are so lacking in wisdom?

Miki, Israel
I have lived in Israel for over twenty years. Over the years I have been a witness to terrible crimes committed by both Israel and Palestinians. We in Israel must recognize that we have committed wrongs, like settling on land that is not ours. The Palestinians repeat this mantra over and over but the government prefers not to listen. The suicide bombs are a crime against life and the Palestinians will pay a price for these evil acts. Israel will also pay for all the injustice done over the years of occupation. How can the peoples keep supporting their leaders who are so lacking in wisdom? When will civilized countries impose a collective, just will on this region that has affected the whole world? Because if left undone, nature will ensure the world that will eventually pay for turning a blind eye to this grave situation that is anti-life.
Miki , Israel

Those who talk about Israel being unwilling to accept peace proposal must be out of their minds. What peace are you talking about when insane "martyrs" kill tens of innocent civilians every single day? And the Hamas ringleader made it very clear that they will continue suicide bombings even if the truce is officially declared. The Western world must be waiting for another September 11, then for another one, until realizes that there are no good or bad terrorists - they are all the same and must be eliminated. All of them!
Maria, Canada

The Peace Process finally ended when 22 Jews were massacred at a Passover celebration. Ariel Sharon did not carry out this massacre, while Yasser Arafat gave allowed its perpetrators a free plan to carry out this murderous acts. It's time we in Europe face up to the fact that Sharon is not the aggressor, and that Arafat is no hero, but rather a thug who has brought disaster upon his own people.
Sean Fergessun, Germany

How can there be peace when there is insufficient will and only hatred on both sides of the divide. The endless tit for tat killings are not the answer, and is only making matters worse. The UN must step in now and take control of the situation, before all out war breaks out. The whole world knows that the US has too much of a Jewish influence in congress to find a resolution to this matter, so why is the UN dithering?
Baz, England

The Israeli leadership... do not realise that peace requires concessions on both sides

Sean, UK
Israel¿s policy has now come to a crossroads. They have tried many different military approaches to face the threat of suicide bombers, and as was predictable force was met with force and nothing was solved. The logical continuation of the military campaign is to assassinate Arafat, it seems this is Sharon¿s aim, and nothing else has worked. Unfortunately the Israeli leadership has suffered some sort of cognitive closure and do not realise that peace requires concessions on both sides. The road being taken now only leads to full blown conflict which may take in other states in the region.
Sean, UK

Israel stopped retaliating for many days recently and the Palestinians continued to massacre innocent Israeli citizens. Sharon has no choice but to come down hard on them.
Michael Stubbs, UK

Let us remember what the root cause of the entire conflict is. It is the Israeli occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land. Everything else, the whole cycle of resistance, violence and retribution flows from it. The way to cut the cycle is to address the root and that is what the Beirut declaration does. An Israeli acceptance of it, even in words alone would have lifted the mood of despair. Instead, they have responded with massive military force. I think Sharon's agenda is clear to those who can see - he seeks a greater Israel.
A Dawar, UK

There were chances for the West to put an end to the unjust occupation of Palestine. Our blind support for Israel has allowed them to get away with crime after crime against the Palestinian people. War is now unstoppable and unfortunately, it will continue until one party wins and the other surrenders. From what I have seen so far, neither side is likely to surrender soon, as there is too much at stake for both is a question of the very existence of two peoples. There will be much more carnage before this ends and it probably won't end in any of our lifetimes.
Sharj, UK

The only way peace will ever happen is for both sides to stop seeing each other as the enemy

Aboodi Shaby, UK
There is no peace process here - only an ongoing process of war. Repeated attempts to resolve the situation unfailingly unravel more quickly than they were assembled. It is highly unlikely that Israel and Palestinians will stop attacking each other unless there is aggressive physical intervention from a more powerful third party. Hardly a desirable state of affairs, and not a road that anyone has the political right to venture down - unless global security is seen to be threatened by the conduct of Israel and/or Palestine.
Chris B, England

It's the end for this peace initiative. Arafat is either unable or unwilling to stop terrorists. Either way he shouldn't lead the PA. It takes two sides for a peace process but so far Israel gave up land while the Palestinian just increased their terrorism. Sharon is trying to put pressure on Arafat the only way he can - by using military force. It won't do the job alone but if leaders from other countries will pressure Arafat as well the combination will force him to start taking action against terrorists instead of sending them to massacre civilians.
GAl, Israel

Well, I think it has been proven that there is no military solution to the problem but unfortunately Sharon does not know better than violence. As for the US peace plan, I believe that if the objective of the US is to implement justice and give rights to the people who have either lost their homes and their land or lived in captivity for 50 years then the answer is yes. But if the US is just another party that puts more pressure on the weaker partner in the so called peace deal to satisfy the Israeli lobby in the US, then YES it might work for few years and then it has to erupt again. Don't you think it's about time for a serious and honest move from the US?
M. Youssef, Australia

Israel has pulled the rug from Mr Arafat and placed him in an impossible position. PM Sharon's action, while probably appealing to the majority of his public, is most unwise. He feel's that he is emulating Bush's war against terrorism, but his action are only adding fuel to the fire. Five thousand years of strife have not resulted in peace or stability in the Middle East, except during the Ottoman Empire. There are no innocents only guilty parties on all sides, including the big powers. Expect escalating terrorism in the reign and, woefully, on a world scale, as a result of these ill-considered actions.
Paul Papadopoulos, Greece

The time for empty words is over. The Passover Massacre was a turning point. Arafat decided a year and a half ago to abandon the path of peace and to launch a terror war against unarmed non-combatants. It's time for him to take responsibility for this actions. The people of Israel are sick of his murderous ways.
Eini Mitabbed, Israel

The only way peace will ever happen is for both sides to stop seeing each other as the "enemy", and as fellow human beings who are have needs and concerns. Branding Arafat (or Sharon, for that matter) the enemy will only escalate the violence.

It all depends on whether you are committed enough to peace on-goingly, and prepared to honour that commitment despite all provocations. Unfortunately, the Israeli side seem particularly unwilling to do that. How many more people have to die before Israel can say "we will talk about your peace proposal"?
Aboodi Shaby, UK

There will be no peace in the Middle East until both sides are provided with leaders who are prepared to make tough concessions and sacrifices

Hussein, Australia
Two old warriors, Sharon and Arafat. Enemies who have drawn their peoples into a protracted conflicy, war would be a better word. Now is the time for both to leave, wipe the slate clean with new leaders. Two desperate old men yearning for the days of their youths, of past glories but only succeeding to destroy the present and future for the peoples.
Dave, Hong Kong

There will be no peace in the Middle East until both sides are provided with leaders who are prepared to make tough concessions and sacrifices and recognize the validity of the other's case. By doing this, they will be placing the interests of their people first. It is clear that the present generation of leaders have no vision for a peaceful future and think that they can intimidate each other into submission. This strategy has only caused more pain, suffering and distress for their respective peoples
Hussein, Australia

Sharon knows as much about the meaning of peace as Mugabe about the meaning of democracy

Joe Ryan, France
What peace process? The peace process died when Mr Sharon visited the Temple Mount 18 months ago. It is clear he relishes every bombing as each time his coalition gets more right wing and approves further escalations. Mr Sharon was never a man for peace but for invasion and war. Arafat knows that his people have never been so united and believes that whilst Mr Sharon is in Government his peoples suffering will get ever wider international coverage. A classic case of things getting out of hand.

The "peace process" was over as soon as Ariel Sharon came to power. Sharon aron knows as much about the meaning of peace as Mugabe about the meaning of democracy.
Joe Ryan, France

There will never be peace due to hatred being built in both Israeli and Palestinians hearts. Peace will never be achieved no matter how hard they try.
Al, Canada

See also:

29 Mar 02 | Middle East
Israel attacks Arafat compound
28 Mar 02 | Middle East
Arafat row overshadows summit successes
28 Mar 02 | Middle East
Eyewitness: Netanya bombing
28 Mar 02 | Middle East
Bush condemns 'callous' killing
22 Mar 02 | Middle East
Terror attacks harden Israeli opinion
27 Mar 02 | Middle East
Palestinians' feeling of dread
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Talking Point stories