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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 08:44 GMT 09:44 UK
Middle East: Will diplomatic efforts work?
Israeli forces have pulled out of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah, ending a siege of about six hours.
Two Palestinians were killed and buildings were damaged during the operation, which appears to be in retaliation for a suicide bomb attack on Wednesday.
The latest bombing came after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon approved the construction of a fence along part of the so-called Green Line dividing Israel from the West Bank.
Mr Sharon has delayed by one day his visit to Washington to hold more talks on the Middle East situation with President George Bush.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is also on a visit to the US and is in talks with Mr Bush at Camp David.
Mr Mubarak is trying to press the US to recognise a Palestinian state on the basis of the pre-1967 borders.
Can diplomatic efforts help to resolve the Middle East crisis? What should be done?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The trading of injustices has to end for any peace to occur. Israel and Palestine are locked in a vicious cycle of violence that is kept alive by the "eye for an eye" mentality. Palestine sends a suicide bomber into Israel, Israel attacks Palestine, Palestine sends a suicide bomber into Israel... and on it goes. It has to stop. Someone has to cease retaliating if there is to be an opening for peace talks to be productive. That said, Israel has a right to defend themselves against factions that have asserted that they will never be satisfied until Israel is destroyed as a nation. That is, against terrorists.
Diplomacy will only work if both sides are honest and committed to peace. If the Israelis want to freeze the Palestinian terror and keep building new settlements, and the Palestinians want IDF to step down its military operations while they can build their terror network, then diplomacy will fail.
Robert Morpheal, Canada
It is very simple. Israel needs to withdraw from Palestine, in other words the WHOLE of the West Bank and Gaza including the illegal settlements and there will be no more violence. All the Palestinians are doing is trying to defend the little land they are left with. Suicide bombings are horrible and I am totally against such killings just as much as I am against the Israeli army's killings committed in the West Bank.
And in response to Richard: How can a leader stop or arrest anyone when he cannot move and his police forces have been imprisoned by the Israeli army. There will be no peace until Israelis adopt a leader who is committed to peace and realises that this problem cannot be solved by employing force.
The Palestinian Authority is unable to reform itself and shed the terrorist political culture it has nurtured over years - Arafat is no Nelson Mandela, unfortunately. What the Palestinian need is an outside power to help them - a Saudi protectorate, which will help give them some protection from the Israelis, and help them stabilize the situation, with Arab legitimacy behind it. Neither the UN nor the EU can do this. Some Saudi financial assistance should help with the protectorate as well. Kosovo and Bosnia are good examples of how an internationally-legitimated protectorate can help stabilize the situation, even if a solution is not in sight.
Diplomatic efforts can only work once the Palestinians realise that the way to peace is through talking not violence. On each occasion that Sharon or members of his government try to talk with the US and others, another terror attack on Israelis occurs. Therefore, Israel is left with no choice but to retaliate. The ball is in Arafat's court.
Answer is nothing. Israel can put an end to the violence by simply declaring a Palestinian state and let the Palestinians live alone under their own rule. It's so simple yet the Israelis make it look so hard.
Why does President Arafat fail to see the harm the suicide bombings are doing to their cause. The Palestinian people have a lot of sympathy around the world for their plight, but not one western country will openly support them whilst they conduct terror acts such as these. There can be no withdrawals, no talks of a Palestine state until this madness ends.
I am a British citizen residing in Israel, and I believe that many of the problems here are created by an over-interfering and inflammatory reporting in the press that does nothing more than fire up both sides. When will you all stop pointing fingers and saying "Its all their fault." and instead have the courage to seek some real solutions. All of us living here are too emotionally involved to calmly talk and reach a solution and sadly the international community is too busy taking sides to look for any real alternative solutions.
Let's get this straight? The Israelis send Palestinians to refugee camps demolish their homes of and build settlements instead, bring in immigrants from Russia and Argentina, and place them in the settlements. That's the strategy - the strategy of occupation.
Palestinians must realize that homicide bombers do nothing to benefit the Palestinian people. They accomplish nothing but prolong the occupation and killing, which could have ended two years ago. Palestinians need a leader like Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandela. Their leader must be militant and firm, but NOT a genocidal, psychotic terrorist and his cronies. Unfortunately, no such leader is on the horizon...
That "Mohammad" guy from Palestine is obviously an Israeli in sheep's clothing. The Palestinian people are all united in their stance against Israeli apartheid and opression and believe that for any peace to take place there needs to be a full Israeli withdrawal based on UN resolution 242.
It should be no tolerance for terrorism. Palestinians should be pressed to be friends until they develop some kind of government structure. Any declaration of the state prior to this is a danger not only to Israel, but to the world
How would we feel if we had suicide bombers here in England, I ask myself? Would we stand back and let it happen without doing something? No of course not! I think that Arafat is just a 'puppet' He can't have any clout as far as stopping these maniacs is concerned. Israel must be able to live without fear! I see out and out war between the two countries before much longer. Don't the Palestinians realise that it is no good sending suicide bombers, for the world will go against their cause!
Azat , Working on it..
When will the West see the light? They want to destroy our way of life and we sit back and play politics for cheaper gas! We need to stop buying oil from Saudi Arabia and stand up for who we are! Israel is on the front line of this war and we need to look at our past and understand what we are fighting for. We need collective resistance in order to preserve our heritage and our way of life. The Arabs would have us lie down and die before their political jihad and we need to start seeing what the reality is. Destroy your enemy lest you be destroyed! I am not fooled by them, and in the current state of things, might is right!
Kenneth Jessett, USA
If you think that Arab terrorism against Israel started after 1967 war you are mistaken. It has been around for ALL of Israel's existence. Giving up West Bank and Gaza to Palestinians in the present situation will never appease Hamas, Islamic Jihad or Arafat (as we saw from his actions after Camp David).
Diplomacy will not work. It has failed all along because it is not really diplomacy! Israel wants the West Bank and later the Gaza strip for itself - that's why they didn't build the high security border fence - if they put up the fence they leave their illegal settlements out in the cold and fence themselves in. The U.S.A. is paralysed by pressure from its Jewish community and fear of the threat of oil price increases from OPEC. This problem will just rumble on for another 20 years or until something truly horrible happens. Israel could of course, sort it out by giving proper respect to the Palestinian people and their rights to a statehood.
It is depressing to see that many of the contributors here seem to have swallowed the US/Israeli propaganda that Arafat is somehow to blame for the suicide bombings. Israel have for the last 54 years treated Palestinians as second and third class citizens; with arrogance and disdain.
Another myth being trotted out again here is the one in which Arafat rejected a fantastically generous offer of a Palestinian state. One glance at the map proposed at Camp David, shows why this would never have been an acceptable solution.
The PLO was not the first group of people to be forced into acts of terrorism and sadly they will not be the last. Force a people against the wall and they will kick and scratch, bully a people and they will also kick and scratch. Give a people room to move and show those people some respect, and you may get rewarded with a smile. Then may be the bombings would stop and then hopefully a long-term peace settlement could be worked out.
Multiple Arab countries joined together and attacked Israel in 1967. Israel didn't attack them. The Arabs lost and lost the territories now in dispute. Now the losers are complaining that they can't have their land back. Until the Palestinians actually grow up and stop blaming Israel for everything there will never be peace. I don't care what Israel did or didn't do now or 40 years ago - there is no excuse for suicide bombings.
Joseph E. Saad, Canada, one day Palestine
No chance. Not while so much of the world is so bound by the shackles of religion. People will not be able to live in peace while there are political extremists who are able to whip up support from those they have brainwashed with talk of gods and promises of eternal glory.
Religion is one of the few things that can take two neighbours and turn them into mortal enemies for absolutely no material reason whatsoever. It happens in the middle east, and it happens right here in the UK - just take a good look at the Northern Ireland tragedy.
It seems to be becoming accepted wisdom that Israel can guarantee its security by withdrawing behind its 1967 borders.
This seems to ignore two pertinent facts. Firstly that Israel was attacked simultaneously by almost the entire Arab world on all its borders when it tried to secure itself behind its pre-1967 borders.
Secondly, the pre-1967 borders were merely the ceasefire lines from previous failed Arab attempts to destroy the Jewish state. Certainly they have never been designated as formal borders.
I lived in Israel for 12 years, and still have close family and friends over there. Many Israelis now believe that the tactic of suicide bombing is aimed at making life intolerable for the Israeli population. This will result in an inevitable movement of the Jewish population away from Israel, leaving the country for the Arabs. This may sound far-fetched, but if you can imagine living with the knowledge that every time you leave the house you may be blown to pieces, you can begin to see how this kind of paranoia may be justified. These attacks are nothing new - Israelis have lived with them for decades, just as the Palestinians have lived with oppression and the confiscation of their land. There is no right and wrong here, only the global realities of ignorance, intolerance and violence.
Robert Morpheal, Canada
Living in Israel and in the wake of the recent suicide bomb that saw the death of 15 Israeli soldiers I am obviously saddened, but if the truth be said I can't really blame the Palestinians for their actions - especially after what the Israeli army has done to them in the last few months. I'm not that suicide bombs are okay, all I'm saying is at least this time they targeted military soldiers rather than civilians. As for a solution: Israel should pull out of the west bank and Gaza, and two countries should be established side by side. Also Arafat needs to step down or fair elections should take place because, quite frankly, I think its time he left!
Israel and the Palestinians both have to give something up for a lasting peace. For Israel it is the withdrawal of troops and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State and the Palestinians need to give assurances that Israel will have security for its borders. This needs to come from the Palestinian people not Arafat as he obviously doesn't have any sway with ordinary Palestinians and should be overlooked.
As America has recently and bravely demonstrated terrorists only halt their attacks when under fire, and the Americans deserve the worldwide support they have for their actions. We should also unequivocally support all countries whose civilians are subject to such indiscriminate terrorist activities - including Israel and India.
A number of posts state that Barak offered "reasonable terms" to the Palestinians. This is an utter fallacy. The terms offered by Barak where wholly unacceptable, a pathetic imitation of a state cobbled together of tiny cantons of worthless land. The illegal settlements on the "choice" parts of the occupied territories were to remain. Israel can guarantee its security by withdrawing to its pre 1967 borders and dismantling the settlements. When this occurs a democratic Palestinian state would be in a viable position to deal with the anti-Israeli elements it would contain. Until the oppression ends the Palestinians have no interest in peace and why should they?
New direction needs to be found and initiated by third parties in the international arena. It really doesn't matter who condemns the participants, it appears to have become a life and death struggle that neither side is willing to reconsider. One side will win, but at what cost? It is truly tragic to hear postulated that the solution to the Palestinian conflict is the establishment of walled ghettos. Likewise, the threat to drive Israel into the sea is not one that will provide the foundation for a solution. Surely, there are those in the international arena who can offer more just proposals that address the aspirations of the Palestinians and reassure the concerns of the Israeli people. Security for a nation depends not only on the might of its weapons, but also on the wisdom of its leaders. Likewise, security for the world depends not on the dominance of any one nation, as on the rational and considered interactions of all nations. Like it or not, we are all in this together.
Israelis and Palestinians will eventually have two states side-by- side. Until mass killings of innocent Israelis end and real leaders appear, Israel can improve its security through unilateral separation.
They need to determine which settlements to keep or hand back.
Most settlements have already been highlighted in various peace proposals. Give unimportant ones up and reposition troops and resources behind a continuous fence. Palestinians will then rarely see Israelis or Israeli troops. The international community (instead of exercising its jaws) can set up work projects to reduce Palestinian unemployment from 60% to 10%.
How can any body expect that these Palestinians with more than 60% unemployment and no hope for the future react differently. The only solution is the end of occupation. The only solution is the end of the humiliation of Palestinians. Give the Palestinians hope, then, not only will there be peace in but there also wouldn't be any support anywhere for suicide bombings. The only thing that exists now is hopelessness for the Palestinians and instability and insecurity in the region.
Likud's policies in the past have been unreasonable and unrealistic; the Palestinian people have a right to a homeland, and it is reasonable to have Jordan play a role in this endeavour, given their history with the Palestinians. However, Ehud Barak offered Arafat one of the best and most conciliatory deals ever made, and Arafat foolishly spurned it. This, combined with actions by terrorist (not militant) groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad, who categorically call for Israel's destruction, shows the Palestinian leadership's intransigence. It is inevitable that Israel has run out of other cheeks to turn.
Only through peace can security be truly achieved. Fortress Israel can only filter some of the attacks on it, but some devastating blows will inevitably be sustained. Withdrawal from the Palestinian occupied territories, ending the daily humiliation of millions of Palestinians and ensuring their chance at financial prosperity are the only guarantees of peace and the only conditions for security to all.
Both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority should seek a strong mediator, other than the US, that is acceptable to both sides and say: "We are locked in a cycle of violence that we can't stop. Please help us resolve this." If the world leaves Israel and the Palestinians to sort things out themselves nothing will happen, other than more death.
The wave of Arab homicide bombing will only be stopped by massive military force. Arafat and his gang have no interest in peace; homicide bombers are a weapon that unfortunately is effective, so long as the Western world calls for Israel to show restraint.
Let's no longer allow innocents to be butchered by Palestinian monsters.
If the Palestinian Authority is committed to peace and if they truly condemn these suicide atrocities - then why are they not arresting the leaders of those groups which are openly claiming responsibility i.e. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, Al-Aqsa, Tanzim etc?
Why are they leaving it to Israel to do? I am sure that no Israeli soldier wants to be involved in these incursions and retaliations.
Israel can guarantee its security by doing something it has never done before: Adhere to international law, fully implement United Nations resolutions, and respect the basic human rights of the Palestinian people. In other words, dismantle all illegal settlements, fully withdraw to the pre-1967 boundaries and allow the peaceful creation of a democratic Palestinian state. As long as Israel's
subjugation of the Palestinian people continues, it will not live in peace.
I do not accept the belief that suicide bombers act out of love of country or god. Every major religion clearly recognises murder and suicide as the gravest of sins. Everyone, even Palestinians, acknowledges that these bombings hurt their cause and will not succeed in gaining a state. Why do they do it then? Money. The families of 'martyrs' are provided with $US25,000, education and medicare after they successfully complete their mission. In an economy destroyed by a brutal conflict this is the only form of income they can count on. If you want to see Palestinians abandon suicide/homicide bombings, the Arab and global community must start seriously investing in Palestinian communities. In this way we can undermine the ability of militant groups to exploit the economic desperation of the Palestinians.
Israel restrained itself for the first time after the last suicide bombings. It was time for the Palestinian bombers to show that they can also exercise restraint, they clearly failed. I can foresee a lot of people saying that the attacks will only cease when Israel withdraws from the occupied territories. Israel will not withdraw before the attacks stop and with good reason. If they withdrew I suspect that bombings would only intensify. Let's remember that the ultimate aim of the suicide bombers is liberation of "Palestine" ie the entire state of Israel.
There is absolutely no excuse for this type of action. The system and pattern are unique in the history of mankind's eternal quest for inhumanity. Every day it is more crucial that Muslim clerics and Arab leaders denounce suicide bombings for what they really are, and forbid the spreading of the disgusting cult of murder and martyrdom.
Israel must withdraw from the occupied territories in accord with UN resolutions. This may not pacify all the militant groups, but it will satisfy many ordinary Palestinians, and increase the pressure on the militants to lay down their arms. Suicide bombers are a sign of desperation, but also of resolve. The suicide bombers come from refugee camps - where are they refugees from? Towns destroyed by the Israeli occupation.
Suicide bombing will become the norm if they ever achieve political goals. It is not hardship that creates suicide bombers but willingness to die for a cause, and that will exists the world over. When killing civilians becomes legitimate because "there is no other option" mass terror killing will become commonplace, our democracies will by necessity lose all semblance to the open and free world of today.
The Northern Ireland conflict was not resolved by the UK demolishing the whole of Belfast and arresting everyone in case they were a terrorist. It was solved through peaceful negotiation. If the UK had acted in the same way as Israel we would still have no peace in Northern Ireland. It's time that Sharon and Arafat listened to our experiences and learned from them.
John Bookbinder, UK
The chilling picture of a bus ablaze after the latest suicide bombing sent a shiver down my spine. Any parent must think "there but for the grace of God goes my child." Terrorism will always remain the ultimate weapon of those who feel that they have no other recourse but such acts are barbaric, inhumane and cruel. Somehow, in the 21st century, we must find an alternative way for the oppressed to have their say. It is not enough for the bully boys to cry "freedom and democracy". The minorities must also be able to have their say without inflicting such terrible devastation on human lives.
I think Israel should do whatever it has to do to protect its citizens from these cowardly attacks against her civilians - and the rest of the world, including the Arab states, should respect her legitimate duty to protect her 6.7 million citizens.
Arafat was held as a de-facto prisoner by the Israeli army for many months, his security forces were systematically attacked and destroyed. How on earth is he supposed to restrain the fanatics who carry out these atrocities? In the meantime Sharon encourages the growth of settlements in the occupied territories and then wonders why the Palestinians resort to such attacks.
I was most impressed by the restraint on the part of the Israelis at the recent suicide murderers. However, with today's murders it has now gone too far and I expect and support whatever action is necessary to root out likely murderers. If innocent Palestinians are used as human shields or are unfortunate victims of Israeli actions, then it is completely the responsibility of Arafat. Time is up.
Unless the Israelis withdraw from Palestine, these outrages will continue and intensify. It really is that simple.
In response to Bob, US.
Your logic is completely flawed. The groups concerned (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, Al-Aqsa, Tanzim) don't care whether Israel withdraws from the territories or not. Their charters clearly call for the destruction of Israel. There will be no peace until the Palestinians adopt a leader who is committed to stopping terrorist initiatives against Israel and not encouraging them.
04 Jun 02 | Middle East
27 May 02 | Middle East
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