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Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin
"Now we have withdrawn from Lebanon it might be easier to make peace with Syria"
 real 28k

Marwen, London, UK
"Why don't you go the extra mile and return the Golan Heights"
 real 28k

Peter Cookson, Muscat, Oman
"Israel was holding back the economic development of Southern Lebanon"
 real 28k

Zuhair Taher, Lebanon
"The Lebanese and Hezbollah have neither forgiven nor forgotten"
 real 28k

Louis Zetler, Hoshaya, Northern Israel
"Where's the peace?"
 real 28k

Ghassan Tafla, Toledo, USA
"I suffered from the atrocities committed by the Israelis"
 real 28k

Trevor Johns, London, UK
"Will not the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon create more violence against Israel"
 real 28k

Bernard Mills, Suffolk, UK
"The hostages have got to be released if you are going to have peace"
 real 28k

Malcolm Green, Israel
"We have lost the propaganda war"
 real 28k

Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK
Israel's withdrawal - is the tragedy over?

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak says the tragedy of Israel's presence in Lebanon is over. But is he right?

The Israeli Justice minister, Yossi Beilin, took your questions on this issue in our live phone-in programme, Talking Point On Air, on BBC World Service radio and online.

Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air

  • Read and hear a reflection of your comments during the programme
  • Read what you said before we went ON AIR
  • Read what you have said since the programme


    Your comments since the programme:

    Israel has shown its sincerity in seeking peace by withdrawing from its security positions in Lebanon. Perhaps, now Syria can withdraw from the remainder of the country to allow Lebanon to be a truly free country after so many decades of turmoil.
    Franz Kuo, Panama



    Don't you think that after an honest peace agreement Israel will be the best to benefit from it?

    Syed Akram Husain, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
    Don't you think that after an honest peace agreement Israel will be the best to benefit from it, as it had superiority technologically? It will do more business then any other country does in Middle East. I believe in peace, and I see a future where we can bridge all the differences with an honest peace.
    Syed Akram Husain, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

    If Israel is serious to support the peace in the Middle East, I think Israel not only must go out from Lebanon but also from Palestine and Israel has to stop attacking Palestinians.
    Qury, Indonesia

    Having just read this page for the first time. Jack Dagilaitis mentioned the 1923 international border. This must be an absurdity to Israel as it was not formed until 1948, after the war of Independence (when all Israel's neighbours attacked simultaneously). Israel's borders were accepted by the UN as the 1949 armistice line. Please could Mr Dagilaitis define the 1923 international borders. As to the issue in his comments about the Shebaa farms, these farms are clearly shown in UN maps as part of Syrian territory in the Golan Heights. As Israel has not yet handed back the Golan Heights there is no reason why Israel should return them. The only reason Hezbollah is arguing over the Shebaa farms is that's it raison d'etre (i.e. Israel's occupation of Southern Lebanon) no longer exists.
    Dan W, London UK



    Over and over I see references to the 'aggressive and expansion minded state of Israel'. Although this makes for good hyperbole it is awful rhetoric.

    Zachary, Little Rock, USA
    Over and over I see references to the 'aggressive and expansion minded state of Israel'. Although this makes for good hyperbole it is awful rhetoric. The facts simply do not bear out these assertions. Please take a look at the history of Arab aggression against Israel, both at the state level and through guerrilla actions. Need I remind the Arab apologists of the many Israeli civilians maimed and killed by terrorist actions; all in the name of Jihad against the Jewish infidel? Need I remind them of the Yom Kippur War and the coalition that sought to eliminate the state of Israel?
    What the state of Israel has done in Lebanon was necessity, as was the case in Gaza, the West Bank, even in the Sinai long ago. When the Arab and Moslem world begins to soften its stance to the destruction of Israel peace will be attainable (Israel has shown its willingness to acquiesce for peace in the negotiations over the Sinai Gaza Strip and West Bank). Until then, the senseless bloodshed will continue.
    Zachary, Little Rock, USA

    Imagine for a moment that Israel and the Arabs invest all the money that they spent on war on developing industry, providing education and building their economies. This would have solved most of the problems. There will never be peace until the Palestinians achieve justice. At the same time, full democratic reform is needed in all the Arab countries. The Arab dictators have used Israel as a pretext to oppress the Arab people for too long. Arabs should have a constitutional right to live anywhere they wish in any Arab country.
    Hamdi Awad, Dallas, Texas



    As long as Syria and Iran continue to support Hezbollah the peace that everyone longs for will not be found

    David, Sweden
    Little is said of the humanitarian activities of the Hezbollah. That they have such support of the Lebanese people is not surprising when they build schools and hospitals and take care of the elderly. It is therefore not surprising that they are neither able nor willing to declare a cease-fire with Israel. To do so would mean a drying up of funds from Syria and Iran, which in turn would lead to the downgrading of the humanitarian work and a loss in support of the Lebanese people. As long as Syria and Iran continue to support Hezbollah the peace that everyone longs for will not be found.
    David Z, Malmö, Sweden

    Finally we see Israel pull out in a humiliating manner and yet claim victory over the Lebanese "freedom fighters". The worrying fact about his horrific occupation is that the Israeli government has not yet apologised for the massacre of innocent civilians (shabra, Shatila, Qana), the destruction of civilian infrastructure. How do they expect peace with the people of Lebanon when they continuously flout UN resolutions, which for some reason are never enforced in comparison with, for instance, Iraq.
    M.Davies, UK

    .Israel's history is the history of expansionism and aggression against its Arab neighbours. Unless the Palestine problem is not solved honourably, peace in Middle East can never be achieved. For everlasting peace the final settlement of the Palestine problem must be acceptable to all Palestinians.
    Masood Kashmiri, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan

    Israel's involvement in Lebanon is a similar tragedy to the US involvement in Vietnam. The difference arises, however, in that the US was not a hostile force of occupation. As a result, Vietnam was a tragedy for both sides, whereas Lebanon is a tragedy for the Lebanese. Has anyone ever called the invasion of Poland Hitler's tragedy?
    Ahmed, Cairo, Egypt



    The best proof that violence is effective in the Middle East is the creation and expansion of the State of Israel itself

    John, UK
    The best proof that violence- use of force- is effective in the Middle East is the creation and expansion of the State of Israel itself. If Israel really wanted Peace, they would have apologised for every civilian they killed, marked every mine they planted, and returned every prisoner and hostage they keep.
    John, UK

    It is interesting to hear Israel constantly referred to as the Middle East's only democracy. As a democratic nation, Israel frequently holds and tortures prisoners without trial for many years at a time. Israel holds Lebanese prisoners without trial as a bargaining chip. Israel confiscates the land of farmers on racial grounds i.e., they are Palestinian. Israel destroys the family home of Palestinians involved in attacks against it. Israel seriously discriminates against its Arab minority. Israel expels Palestinians to Lebanon. Israel still occupies the lands of Syria, The West Bank and Gaza, and the Shebaa farms of Lebanon. Is this the model of democracy that the rest of the region should aspire to?
    Robert, Melbourne Australia

    I congratulate the Israeli government for having taken a courageous step like this in the interest of durable PEACE. I hope all men of good will everywhere in general and the Middle East in particular will do all they can to give this area to get a chance to live in PEACE and concentrate on economic development.
    Solomon Abraham Asmara Eritrea

    Israel and the Jews would love a peace with Lebanon. It had the security zone for it's own safety which it would rather never existed, if there were peace. It cost us lives of soldiers, we only did it for the protection of Israel. It is terrorists Israel is against, not Arabs. We just want a country of our own.
    Adam K, Auckland NZ

    While Israel complains of Arab terrorism, they seem to forget that Israel is the creation of Jewish terrorists, who carved out Greater Judea and Samaria from the UN mandated territory under British control, by violent and terrorist means.
    mohansingh, india

    The total Israel pullout from Southern Lebanon should not be considered as a sign of weakness as opposed to creation of favourable atmosphere for more dialogue over issues of concern for both Israel and her Arab neighbours. The bottom line MUST be the continuation for peace process rather than war mongering.
    Landreku, Ottawa, Canada



    History was made last week. The Prime Minister deserves our praise

    Joe Gilad, Israel
    History was made last week, in Israel, perhaps in the world. A politician, the Israeli Prime Minister made a promise to the electors. He kept his promise. He deserves our praise. Let us hope, others will react positively to his statesmanship, and peace will return to the Northern border.
    Joe Gilad, Netanya, Israel

    In the beginning there was a point to be made, but can anyone remember what it was? After so long, I doubt it. Whatever the point was, was it really worth it? it seems to me that we have two fleas fighting over who owns the dog they live on.
    Simon Humphries, UK



    Israel is the Jewish spiritual and ancestral homeland. It needs to exist for Jews, not only in Israel, but all over the world

    Adam K, Auckland New Zealand
    The Israelis withdrew suddenly more than a month ahead of their announced schedule. This was not an extra dose of so called "good will" but a cold-blooded attempt to create chaos and sectarian violent retribution in the resulting power vacuum left behind. They had hoped to use the ensuing media coverage in their favour. They failed miserably thanks to Hizballah's good will and self-control not to mention the swift reaction of the UN troops.
    Hussein, Damascus

    Israel is the Jewish spiritual and ancestral homeland. It needs to exist for Jews, not only in Israel, but all over the world. I dream of peace, but Israel cannot exist without any land which the Arab countries continue to claim as their own.
    Adam K, Auckland, New Zealand

    I would bet that the average person anywhere in the world outside of the Middle East doesn't really care. I would also suggest that the average person harbours a degree of sympathy for the Palestinians who are the modern equivalent to the Jews. Where is their homeland? The short answer - occupied. I am getting rather tired of the need for apologies and restitution that seems to be a world-wide fashion. It is a fact of civilisation that the weaker nations are invaded, absorbed and changed by stronger nations. I can't quite see the modern Italians apologising for the Roman invasions.
    Jack, Phuket, Thailand

    To those who accuse Arabs of anti-Semitism, that claim couldn't be more false. If it was the Russians, the Americans or any other nation/race that had occupied Palestine, the Arabs would have fought them just the same. No self respecting country, Arab or otherwise can accept Israel's actions in the Middle East. H.B. Canada
    Hosam B., Canada



    History was made last week in Israel

    Joe Gilad, Netanya, Israel
    A politician, the Israeli Prime Minister made a promise to the electors. He kept his promise. He deserves our praise. Let us hope, others will react positively to his statesmanship, and peace will return to the Northern border.
    Joe Gilad, Netanya, Israel

    Your speaker said that the president of Syria "hadn't yet paid" for the Golan heights. What does he mean? How much do they want for it to be handed back? Does Israel also expect us to pay for the rest of the Lebanese citizens that have been kidnapped from our soil?
    Kate, Lebanon

    The total Israel pullout from Southern Lebanon should not be considered as a sign of weakness as opposed to creation of favourable atmosphere for more dialogue over issues of concern for both Israel and her Arab neighbours. The bottom line MUST be the continuation for peace process rather than warmongering leading to Peace and tranquillity.
    Iandreku, Ottawa, Canada


    Your comments during the programme:

    The only way that the Israeli tragedy will end is with peace. The Lebanese have paid the price of peace for the past 22 years of pain and humiliation. People have been taught for years to hate Israel. Israel is just about to start paying that price, one that it pushed higher and higher with every year of its occupation. Ultimately it seems unlikely that Israel can pay that price. Only with the return of all land will peace be secured.
    Zuhair Taher, Beirut, Lebanon

    Israel did not surrender to Hezbollah. We did not fight with our full force because we did not want to hurt citizens.
    Yossi Beilin comments

    I ask myself whether I should prepare for war.
    Allen Minitzer, Tel Aviv, Israel

    For years children in Arab countries have been brainwashed with anti-Semitic literature.
    David Siegel, Israel

    My family suffered from the Israelis. 22 years ago Israel was fighting the PLO not Hezbollah. Hezbollah was formed after the occupation to get Israel out of Lebanon. Why has Lebanon been a dumping ground for Palestinian deportees?
    Ghassan Tafla, Toledo, USA

    The Arafat leadership has quietly dropped the return of Palestinian refugees from Lebanon. Will they now take up an armed struggle against Israel having seen Hezbollah claim victory?
    Ben Young, Brighton, UK

    Israel is a theocracy which was given to the Jews 5,000 years ago. Peace can't be achieved because Israel is for the Israelis but the Muslims want Jerusalem.
    Des Currie, Durban, South Africa

    I don't deal with history. Israel was established after the Holocaust and we want to live here in peace side by side with our neighbours.
    Yossi Beilin comments

    Why is the claim that Israel is the best democracy in the Arab world always used as an excuse for the injustices against its neighbours? Hezbollah's raison d'ętre was provided by Israel.
    Mr Marwan, London, UK

    Is there a plan to provide resources to rebuild housing and infrastructure in South Lebanon?
    Syrena Ablett, Perth, Australia

    The government in Lebanon is not yet ready to make peace with us. I only wish we had withdrawn from Lebanon 15 years earlier.
    Yossi Beilin comments

    Return to the top of the page


    Your comments before we went ON AIR:



    The constant and biased portrayal of Israel as an aggressor and warmonger is both idiotic and laughable.

    jjp, New Jersey, USA
    The bottom line is that the Arab world still has not one democracy among them, and continues to foster hatred of Israel in order to distract their downtrodden populace away from focusing their discontent on their dictators who continue to keep the Arab world agitated to serve their own power.
    jjp, New Jersey, USA

    Although your listeners believe that Israel has satisfied the terms of UN Resolutions 425 and 426 by redeploying its forces from most of southern Lebanon, tension here in Lebanon remains high so long as three major concerns are not addressed. First, Israeli withdrawal from a 25-kilometersquare area of the Shebaa Farms claimed by Lebanon; second the freeing of 19 Lebanese detainees still held in Israel; and lastly, the restoration of the 1923 international border.
    Jack Dagilaitis, Director, American Language Center, Beirut

    What this withdrawal has proven once again is that the oppressor, aggressor and invader always loses in the end, no matter how strong they are because there is nothing as powerful as the will of a people fighting for their freedom.
    Habtoor, UAE

    Israel can never compare the death toll of Arabs killed by Israelis. For one Israeli, ten Arabs are killed. Can you estimate than how many Arabs were killed in 22 years of occupation. The evidence is clearly shown on TV when they say almost everyday ten Arabs were killed in occupied Palestine by Israeli soldiers. How can the international community ever expect Arabs to get along with Israel.
    Hassan, Australia

    Leaving Lebanon is going to be a non-event because the original creation of Israel by the UN was a mistake and Israel will continue to reap the wild wind for as long as it does not give equal status and rights to the original occupants of Palestine. There can be no hope for peace as long as peoples are defined by their religions and tribal affiliations.
    Owen Fauvel, Penticton, Canada



    I've seen Israeli reconnaissance planes fly over this city on a weekly basis breaking the sound barrier and scaring us all to death.

    Clare Richardson, Beirut, Lebanon
    The feeling of utter jubilation and freedom that the Lebanese have felt this week will never be forgotten. In the year that I've lived here, Israeli reconnaissance planes fly over this city on a weekly basis breaking the sound barrier and scaring us all to death. On three occasions they have bombed local power stations leaving us without electricity for months on end. I am not an enemy of the Israeli state but for all my adult life I have read and seen images of Israeli aggression against the Palestinians and Lebanese. Until the enormous injustice of the statelessness of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians is seriously addressed by the Government of Israel, then I cannot see peace reigning over this region.
    Clare Richardson, Beirut, Lebanon

    I live in the Galilee and I hear just about every Israeli aeroplane and helicopter that flies to and from the north. I have one son in the Israeli army and another who will start his military training in a few months time. The problem has never been with our Christian Lebanese neighbours, but only started when Moslem terrorist groups began using it as a convenient springboard for attacks against Israeli citizens because they found that they could no longer their old routes of intrusion with ease. No, the withdrawal will regretfully never lead to peace. On the contrary, it is tantamount to a declaration of the next war between the Jews and its Arab neighbours.
    Louis Zetler, Hoshaya, Israel

    May I ask Aryeh Levy and Iain Watt in whose land do they live now? Did they bring it with them from Russia or Argentina? My father was forced out at gunpoint in 1948. To let Jews live in his house. If he was a Jew he wouldn't have lost his land. Therefore no peace with occupation, and no Israel without occupation.
    Suesan Nicolas, Jordan



    Now families are re-united, people can sleep safely in their beds, there are no jets or sounds of gunfire, crops can be planted, buildings re-built

    David, Tyre, South Lebanon
    Regardless of why it happened so quickly, the fact remains that now families are re-united, people can sleep safely in their beds, there are no jets or sounds of gunfire, crops can be planted, buildings re-built. Let enjoy this time and thank our God for it.
    David, Tyre, South Lebanon

    Finally Israel has left. Is that all? What about the tortures and killing and the infamous Khiyam Jail they used for this? Amnesty has nothing to say? Human life should carry the same price tag irrespective of religion or race.
    K. Mohamed, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

    I find it shocking that anyone can characterise the Lebanese struggle for liberation of occupied South Lebanon to be a "murderous activity" like Mr Levy below. Does anyone really think it was shear anti-Israeli intolerance that made the Lebanese people support Hizbollah? Why can't people understand that the Lebanese were angry because they had to endure occupation of their land, the killing of tens of thousands of civilians, the torture of hundreds of men and women at Khiam Prison, massacres at Shatilla, Sabra, and Qana, and countless other injustices? Only when Israel takes responsibility for its inhumane and barbarous actions in Lebanon will peace be possible.
    Carl, Detroit, USA

    As a former soldier in the South Lebanon region, I am delighted at the return of that land to Lebanese sovereignty. We want nothing more than peace with all our neighbours and, together with Arab co-operation and participation, Israel can help build the infrastructure of new economy for the entire Middle East. May the stubborn and illogical policies of bureaucrats on all sides cease to cloud the resolve of the next generation to achieve not only peaceful coexistence but mutual prosperity. Three cheers for all those who act out of strength to practice restraint.
    Eytan BC, New York

    I am proud of Israel's action in this area - they have acted to take back the moral high ground. It is now up to Syria and Lebanon to act in the same way. All those criticising Israel should instead be asking why Lebanese citizens (the SLA) are now fleeing into Israel to escape the clutches of their compatriots and fellow Arabs. Only when Syria and Lebanon are true democracies should they expect to be treated in the same way as Israel by other democratic states.
    Mark Mitchell, Chicago, USA



    For there to be peace, there must be admittance of guilt, and request for forgiveness

    Dina, New York
    For there to be peace, there must be admittance of guilt, and request for forgiveness. Are Israel and the SLA ready to submit to a Truth Commission such as the one going on in South Africa, or as is El Salvador and Guatemala? Is Israel ready to admit guilt and pay war reparations as Germany did after World War II? That may be the only hope for a real peace in the future. I shudder to think of the alternative.
    Dina, New York

    It has always been said that the only action Israel's Arab neighbours know is force. Israel pull out of Lebanon as a unilateral gesture of their desire for peace and the Arabs see this as a weakness. It's a shame Israel's Arab neighbours lack the moral maturity to acknowledge this.
    Ben, England



    As long as the settlements in Northern Israel are threatened, Israel will not be prepared to enter into a lasting peace with Lebanon

    Aryeh Levy, Jerusalem, Israel
    Stability will return to the region when the Lebanese people finally discard their terrorist elements from their country. As long as the settlements in Northern Israel are threatened, Israel will not be prepared to enter into a lasting peace with Lebanon. With Syria and Iran financing anti-Israel groups in Lebanon, and the Lebanese people co-operating with their murderous activities, more violence is a certainty.
    Aryeh Levy, Jerusalem, Israel

    How on earth can Iain Watt claim that Israel only targets legitimate terrorist targets? Too many innocent people have been killed and tortured for anyone to believe this anymore. Having lived in Israel and worked alongside both Jews and Arabs, it is clear that the problem will never be solved while Israelis are this arrogant.
    Tim Readman, Leicester, UK

    The Holocaust was a tragedy. But Israel implements another Holocaust of its own. Its prisons are full of Arab men that will never be publicly tried. Until those prisoners are released, the animosity towards Israel will only get worse.
    Ayoub K, USA



    Hezbollah should show restraint and work within their communities to build a better future for their children

    Valerie, Palm Harbour, USA
    The Syrians and Lebanese are claiming to have defeated Israel. The truth is the Arab world has been trying, and failing to do this since 1948. The reason Israel pulled out of Southern Lebanon is that 900+ Israeli lives is a price not worth paying. Syria, Lebanon and the Hezbollah terrorists would be wise not to provoke Israel. Despite this tactical withdrawal, Israel will continue to be the military superpower in the region.
    Ed Cook, England

    The Israeli occupation of South Lebanon has helped the world to realise how undemocratic and unjust the United Nations is. The UN was able to kick Iran out of Kuwait but has done little to end Israeli occupation of Lebanese territories.
    Jose Mazumbu, Windsor, Canada

    After 22 years of occupation maybe fewer guns and rockets will be fired along the borders of these two countries. Hezbollah should show restraint and work within their communities to build a better future for their children.
    Valerie, Palm Harbour, USA



    This isn't a conflict between Islam, Judaism and Christianity, but rather a conflict between a state and a displaced population

    Benjamin, Canada
    Syrian occupation of Lebanon is in no way more legitimate than Iraq's occupation of Kuwait nine years ago. The only difference is that the Syrians have got a puppet government in Beirut. The international community and the UN should now put pressure on Syria to end its occupation of Lebanon so that Lebanese people can make peace with the Israelis and bring calm to both countries.
    Ilya, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

    It is in the best interests of the West, with America taking the lead, to stop demonising Islamic countries and to deal with them like human beings. Aside from the simple morality - militarily and for our own safety, it is much more beneficial to get along with these countries.
    Marc Samuelsson, Seattle, USA

    Having spent some time in a Kibbutz several hundred yards from the Lebanese border a few years ago, I would like to point out to the Israeli born population that all the wars with its neighbours have been about territory not religion.
    Chris Hollett, Bridgend, UK



    Contrary to what some of its neighbours may think, if Israel feels secure and confident it will hand back territories much more easily

    Yoav, New York, USA
    When will the world stop characterising the Middle East conflicts as religious in nature? This isn't a conflict between Islam, Judaism and Christianity, but rather a conflict between a state and a displaced population.
    Benjamin, Canada

    Contrary to what some of its neighbours may think, if Israel feels secure and confident it will hand back territories much more easily. The feeling of threats only makes Israel suspicious, careful and slow to make such moves.
    Yoav, New York, USA



    The Middle East states should coexist together. Protracted wars have no winners only the loss of lives and property.

    Karna Bahadur Thapa, Kathmandu, Nepal
    The Syrian backed Hezbollah lack both the loving desire and alacrity to live in peace with their neighbour. Peace will come to those who eventually realise violence is a useless, wasteful way to resolve conflict. Only through intelligent discussion and empathy can a mutually agreeable solution be achieved.
    Seth M, Great Neck, USA

    The Middle East states should coexist together. Protracted wars have no winners only the loss of lives and property.
    Karna Bahadur Thapa, Kathmandu, Nepal

    There will be no lasting peace in the Middle East until Israel signs comprehensive peace treaties with Syria and the Palestinians. Such treaties would require Israel to fully withdraw from the Golan Heights and agree to the partition of Jerusalem. Its Arab neighbours, particularly their most radical elements such as Hezbollah, would have to give up the policy of revenge. Whether Israel and the Arab nations are ready for these bold moves remains to be seen.
    Alam, USA



    It is not over, and it will not be over until everybody in this region feels that Israel can respect UN decisions and keep its word

    A. Samir, Cairo, Egypt
    It is not over, and it will not be over until everybody in this region feels that Israel can respect UN decisions and keep its word. Israel left South Lebanon, why not Golan as well? The case will remain as it is until real changes happen in Israel.
    A. Samir, Cairo, Egypt

    There is a similarity between the Israeli occupation of Lebanon and the American occupation of Vietnam. The United States thought that it could contain Communism by not only occupying Vietnam, but also fighting in it. Similarly, Israel wanted to contain the guerrilla insurrections that occurred in Israel. Frequently there were scud missiles, bombs and guerrilla tactics that were staged against Israel. These guerrilla tactics will continue as long as there are those who are anti-Israel. Even Arafat himself has never renounced the "death of Israel" in his charter. Therefore, at best we can hope for less destruction.
    Barbara Sommer, New York, USA

    Who is to gain from chaos and instability in Lebanon? Who will take advantage of the situation economically? Chaos in the south will serve to deter investors from placing their assets in Beirut. Lebanon is the only country in the region which can compete with Israel in a key industry: banking. The way Israel vies for domination over Lebanon is not militarily but economically. That's how this war is being fought. What matters is not ideology or religion, but the bottom line. They've shown it in the past and this new episode, despite its symbolism, is just another economic manoeuvre.
    Johanna, Beirut, Lebanon



    The Israeli occupation has ended but the Syrian one still remains

    Khoury, USA
    As a Lebanese, I think this situation is far from being over. In my opinion, things will only get worse. The Israeli occupation has ended but the Syrian one still remains. If you ask ANY Lebanese, which foreign occupation is a bigger threat to our country, they would definitely say Syria's. We want them out. They are instigating all our troubles with Israel and the Lebanese government only speaks what Syria wants because of fear.
    Khoury, USA

    In the end we have two extremist armies, armed and ready for war. Jews will kill Muslims, Muslims will kill Christians and the area will descend into barbaric brutal war. The hate felt on all sides knows no boundaries and will present itself in acts of violence that could well lead to a major worldwide conflict.
    Richard MacHugh, Massachusetts, USA

    The Israeli-Arab conflict will not resolve itself until forms of democracy and capitalism spread throughout the region and Muslim fundamentalism subsides in extremist states. This would allow all Arab nations to make the necessary long-lasting concessions required for a true peace. Specifically, Arab nations must choose to participate in greater society with Europe, Asia and America in order for peace to reign in the region. Until that time, Israel will continue to represent Western interests in the Middle East, and take the brunt of the historical battle between Near Eastern and Western ideologies.
    KMF, New York, USA

    I think that Hezbollah would be wise to stop attacks on Northern Israel. If they don't the consequences will be disastrous for them as Israel could embark on a similar invasion as 1982 to rid Lebanon of these terrorists who stop at nothing to cause untold misery for innocent people in Northern Israel in the name of Islam.
    Martin, UK



    The problem is so complicated, that it is not possible to find any right solution

    Danca, Czech Republic
    We spent half a year in Israel and we can say that the problem is so complicated, that it is not possible to find any right solution. All the time there will be somebody, who feels as a loser even if the right is also partly on his side. Palestinian's have the right to have their own country.
    Danca, Czech Republic

    Wars due to ideological differences can only be settled through reassessing the ideologies. Such wars have never solved the problems by fighting on the ground. Land, water and other resources are used as excuses to settle the ideological scores. Ideological wars should be settled using argument as weapons across a table and not on the ground. The present wars humiliate even our ancestors of stone ages.
    Mahender Singh, Switzerland

    The Israeli withdrawal is good news for the Middle East. It will increase Barak's standing with his neighbours, no doubt. But as for it being the first step to an ultimate peace, I think not. The fact remains that Israel is a state founded on the concept of occupation, 'lawful' or not, and a bunker mentality. Should she feel threatened again, she will not hesitate to seize land. Until all pre-1967 borders are restored including, most importantly, Jerusalem, there will NEVER be peace in this area.
    Idris Ahmad, UK



    Make no mistake - Hezbollah will continue attacking Israel until its masters get back their strategic advantage of Northern Israel

    Jon S, UK
    The key issue is Syria and the Golan Heights. Hezbollah is controlled and financed by Syria and has been used to show Israel that Syria can exert pressure for a withdrawal from Golan by using proxies. Make no mistake - Hezbollah will continue attacking Israel until its masters get back their strategic advantage of Northern Israel, i.e. Golan. Lets hope I'm wrong
    Jon S, UK

    This is a golden opportunity for both Lebanon and Israel to come together and discuss ways of ending hostilities. Unfortunately with Lebanon being controlled by Syria I don't see it happening; on the contrary the Syrians will press Hezbollah the more to take the war into Israel. Sadly the only losers of such a move would be innocent people of Lebanon who undoubtedly long for peace in their country.
    Mike, England

    Having shown good will in retreating from the Lebanese soil despite the lack of a peace agreement with Syria; it'll be clear soon as to whether Syria really has peaceful intentions. Being the major power broker in Lebanon, they should either swallow their pride or renegotiate peace with Israel, or they should get out of Lebanon and let the country reassert its independence. Israel has shown an initiative for peace - Syria should do the same.
    Jonathan, England



    Lets face it, there is no defeat - as there is no victory for either side

    Olivier, France
    It is strange how over the years people have been asking for Israeli retreat in Lebanon. Today the same who where asking for retreat talk about humiliation, defeat, or victory of the Hezbollah... But lets face it, there is no defeat, as there is no victory for either side. No defeat for Israel because they retreat from a territory that they have never claimed. It is a courageous retreat because you have to have courage to recognise your mistakes. No victory can be claimed by Lebanese or by Hezbollah partisans. Today this is even more true, and as long as this remains the truth, no one, absolutely no one in Lebanon can claim victory!
    Olivier, France

    Israel has been guilty of state terrorism for many years. However, it is now time Hezbollah also stopped acts of terror and proceed to rebuild its country. The UN the most undemocratic world organisation today can never gain any credibility for not forcing Israel to conform to UN Security Council resolutions. The USA has a lot to pay for its part in promoting state terrorism.
    Krishan Canagasabey, UK



    What is ironic is that we all believe that we are fighting for our belief in God

    Saleh, New York
    What annoys me the most is that although independent UN reports have shown that it's Israel who has attacked many more civilian targets, people still call Hezbollah terrorists, although they have only claimed military casualties. The tragedy goes on until countries stop breaking international laws without punishment simply because they are powerful.
    Wissam Hussain, London, UK

    A moment when people have been liberated after 20 years of occupation should be a moment of rejoicing. Instead, I have seen the media focus largely on the humiliation of the occupiers, rather than the joy of those liberated. It is rather shameful.
    A D, Cambridge, UK



    The UN and major world powers should protect the moderate governments of Israel and Lebanon

    Greg, Canada
    The UN and major world powers should protect the moderate governments of Israel and Lebanon. No Moslem radicals and no Jewish radicals should be involved with any peace process.
    Greg, Canada

    Let's understand that all people, not only the West and its allies, have the right to live in peace. World peace will never be achieved by double standards.
    Chiedozie Agu, London

    Barak and the Israelis will have to make a choice between living in harmony with their Arab neighbours or continue the path of war and risk the very existence of their beloved country.
    Marwan, London

    We must pray for the killed and wounded on both sides. Young men and innocent people lost their lives, children are growing up without a father. What is ironic is that we all believe that we are fighting for our belief in God.
    Saleh, New York



    As a Lebanese who has almost given up hope of ever seeing the region at peace, the Israeli withdrawal has been the first tangible step that brings a new hope for real peace in the region

    Michael A, Canada
    While Israel still occupies the disputed territories on the West Bank, Hezbollah has a justification (whether it's right or wrong) to carry on the violence. From their point of view, the Israeli withdrawal could be seen as a victory, and a reason for carrying on the terrorist action.
    Andrew Dowle, UK

    Although Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon was "technically" illegal, who can blame them for trying to protect their own people from terrorist attacks? The tragedy is that Hezbollah will continue to fire their rockets at innocent civilians living in the north of Israel when during the entire occupation, Israel targeted legitimate terrorist targets.
    Iain Watt, Israel

    As a Lebanese who has almost given up hope of ever seeing the region at peace, the Israeli withdrawal has been the first tangible step that brings a new hope for real peace in the region.
    Michael A, Canada

    I want to comment on the blatantly ethnocentric statements made by the man from England who remarked that people in the Middle East should "bang their heads together" and "grow up". As if the history of Europe and the West hasn't been riddled with bloody conflict. In fact it was European colonialism as well as the racism of the Holocaust that has lead to so much of the conflict in the Middle East today.
    Nadim, USA

    The nightmare is not over. There are too many uncertainties. Hizballah may have ended the occupation but it wants the return of its imprisoned leaders and the Shebaa Farms before it lays down its guns. Heavily armed Palestinians from Lebanon's refugee camps may move into the border areas. Syria's reactions to Israel's withdrawal have yet to emerge. Israel may find hostile forces on its northern border too close for comfort and decide to retake the area.
    Rudy N, Canada

    I find it difficult to see how problems can be resolved when you have proud and arrogant people on both sides. However, I am pleased to see that Israel has the good sense to withdraw from the region and maybe has the good sense to make peace with Syria by withdrawing from the Golan Heights. I doubt it though Israel is too strongly dependent upon ultra-orthodox Jews who are not known for their peaceable nature and hence ultra-orthodox Shia Muslims will never stop killing until all their demands are met.
    Mark, Germany



    We all bleed - be it Jew, Christian or Muslim.

    Mr. Najib, Lebanon
    We now have a chance for peace. The sins of the past should not destroy the lives of the future. Peace will bring about prosperity, and ideological hatred will only bring suffering. The fighting in Lebanon is for the benefit of a few groups of people, and all that remains is suffering for the Lebanese people. We all bleed - be it Jew, Christian or Muslim.
    Mr. Najib, Lebanon

    I live far from the northern border. I believe we all have the right to live, and live in peace. I'm glad my friends are out. and I am dead scared.
    Tammy, Israel

    The tragedy is not over unfortunately. Despite Barak's optimism the very reason for Israel's invasion in the first place still remains - a number of Israel's neighbours will not rest until Israel is destroyed completely. The real problem therefore is this ideology of hatred towards the Jew, one which is unique in history and one which has not disappeared with time.
    Keith Taylor, Scotland

    Unfortunately this is unlikely to be the end. There is little chance the various terrorists groups will leave Israel, or each other, in peace.
    Chris Hann, USA

    The struggle is not over. Hezbollah needs to stay until every single Israeli soldier is out of Lebanese territory and to ensure civilians are safe from Israel's indiscriminate attacks against villages in Southern Lebanon. Perhaps the time has come to even continue/expand their struggle to free the Golan Heights from illegal Israeli occupation. A public apology and compensation for Lebanese civilians who lost 22 years of their life and those who died would be a good beginning to peace between Israel and Lebanon.
    A. Hack Canada

    The dark chapter in the lives of the Lebanese people is finally coming to a close. It is about time Israel stopped getting special treatment and start respecting international laws, specifically UN Resolution 425, which had called for the withdrawal of Israel years ago.
    Khaled, USA

    I think the whole lot out in the Middle East need their heads banging together. They've never gotten on with one another, and it's about time they all grew up.
    Steve Fricker, England

    What kind of peace is Israel interested in? The kind that that they have offered the Palestinians. Can we call that peace?
    A. Qadir, UK.



    If Barak can simply claim everything is over, then peace would have come to the Middle East long ago

    Sunny Carlton, Singapore
    This is an interesting experiment by Barak. If Israel pulls out of Lebanon, it gives the Arabs a chance to lay down their arms and start down the road towards a peaceful existence alongside their Jewish neighbours. However, if the Hezbollah decides to continue with acts of terrorism and indiscriminate murder, Israel will claim justification on the global stage for a full-scale retaliation. They will retake the land they have left with all the might and aggression their armed forces can muster.
    Alex S, UK

    When Arial Sharon planned the Lebanon's invasion, his main objective was to reduce if not eliminate the existence of the armed Palestinians. Sharon succeeded, but Israel never left Lebanon and the unlawful invasion turned into an occupation. And in spite of both (the illegal invasion and occupation) the international community failed to deter Israel and stop it violating UN regulations and international boarders.
    Bashar, Jordan

    If Barak can simply claim everything is over, then peace would have come to the Middle East long ago.
    Sunny Carlton, Singapore



    The withdrawal from Lebanon is Syria's chance to show that it is serious about peace with Israel by withholding Hezbollah from attacking Israel's border

    Simon V, Ireland
    The Israeli occupation was no doubt contrary to international law, but much of the blame lies with the international legal system. If a sovereign nation continuously suffers what it perceives to be terrorist attacks from just over its border, should it not have the right to protect itself? The tragedy here is that Israel has pitted Christians against Muslims, and has really not resolved anything - if Hezbollah keeps up its attacks, Israel will simply invade again. Both sides are at fault here, and it is petulance on the part of Hezbollah which may reignite the powder keg as soon as it has been extinguished.
    Paul, UK

    I feel that Israel's original intent to provide a security zone against PLO attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel was justified. Whether or not their plan worked remains to be seen. If Hezbollah remains true to their purpose, which is to liberate southern Lebanon of Israeli occupation and to provide aid to victims of the fighting, then they will respect Israel's withdrawal and end the violence.
    John Williams, USA

    The withdrawal from Lebanon is Syria's chance to show that it is serious about peace with Israel by withholding Hezbollah from attacking Israel's border. In doing so, they can gain the necessary trust from the Israelis that is needed for any agreement between Jerusalem and Damascus.
    Simon V, Ireland



    This just shows that the excuse used by Israel for being there all along, to create a buffer zone for its northern citizens, was false

    Bilal Hakim, California, USA
    This just shows that the excuse used by Israel for being there all along, to create a buffer zone for its northern citizens, was false. If northern Israel was truly in danger, the Israelis would never have pull out. The Hezbollah forced the USA out of Lebanon years ago and it was only a matter of time before the will of Israelis was broken. Whereas the Lebanese will is stronger than ever.
    Bilal Hakim, California, USA

    Two things are obvious: first is that the whole Lebanese adventure was an Israeli lost war from the very beginning, second is that Hezbollah is not a good alternative to Israelis either. I predict a new outbreak of violence in Lebanon in the near future, and a "hawks" victory in Israel as a result of the "Lebanese syndrome".
    Ilya Girin, USA

    One thing is sure, Israel no longer pulls the strings in the Middle East. Peace will only come after the Arabs are no longer considered third class citizens in their own land.
    Abdul K, England

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    23 May 00 | Middle East
    Barak: Lebanon 'tragedy is over'


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