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Thursday, 16 May, 2002, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
Middle East: What hope for the future?

  Click here to watch Talking Point with Roger Hearing on the latest attempts to revive the peace process.  

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has denounced a decision by the Likud party of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to oppose the creation of a Palestinian state.

His comments came as he was visiting the West Bank town of Bethlehem - the first time he has been outside Ramallah since he was confined there by the Israelis in December.

The Likud resolution was passed against the wishes of Mr Sharon at a stormy central committee meeting in Tel Aviv.

The resolution effectively hands victory to his party rival, Binyamin Netanyahu, who tabled the motion.

What effect will this have on the current situation in the Middle East?

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The only hope for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is already there in the internationally accepted recipe for peace. Israel must end occupation and Palestinians/Arabs must accept Israel and establish normal relations with it. That is the HOPE and the inevitable future no matter which way you look.
Brad, USA

When both groups are ready for a peace, then a peace will be fostered.

Brandon Jeardoe, US
If you want peace, look to Mr Sharon and Mr Arafat. These two gentlemen will be the practitioners' of peace between these two bodies. When both groups are ready for a peace, then a peace will be fostered. What we have here is two men clinging to a sense of power, one refuses to cede land, while the other refuses to cede the weapons of war. These don't sound like peace loving men, they sound like ancient warlords. Peace can not be obtained through feudal war, peace can only be obtained when two parties genuinely want it, and meet with common goals and open hearts and minds, not closed fists and threats of continued aggression.
Brandon Jeardoe, US

I think Ariel Sharon has proved beyond doubt that he is committed to peace by going against his own party in supporting a Palestinian State. As soon as the Palestinians are ready to be peaceful, they will have their state. It's as simple as that. The time has come for Arafat to either break his (and the PA's) links to terrorism and vicious anti-semitism, or make way for someone who can. As soon as the Palestinians are ready, Israel will be ready to talk peace.
Stephen, UK

I think the vote in by the Likud party has betrayed a steady swing to the right wing that has been rife on the ground in Israel. This has hugely undermined peace. The argument that the Israeli's are prepared to give the Palestinians what they are fighting for (ie a state of their own) but only after they stop blowing people up ceases to hold water. Likud has said whether or not you stop shooting at us, you will never get what you want and if you don't like it we'll send tanks and bulldozers to your town. I have never and will never support or condone the killing of the innocent but only now do I really see their point.
Adewale, Nigeria

That means real leadership

Patrick, Netherlands
Peace between Israelis and Palestinians is not dependent on US/EU intervention, no matter how much influence or pressure they can bring to bear on Arafat and Sharon. It is down to one thing only. A real desire for peace between the leaders of both peoples, and some bold and brave steps forward in that direction. That means real leadership.
Patrick, Netherlands

The Middle East situation is like a revolving door. You step out and feel there is progress yet the moment you hold the door, you are back where you started. The non-negotiable security of Israel is one part of the door and the Palestinians' quest for an independent homeland with pre-1967 borders is the other part. In between talks and attacks, are the empty spaces between the doors. They signify nothing, unless there is a stopper between the two doors - international force.
Dr R.P. Sehgal, Canada

The UN are doing nothing now yet consistently state a desire for world peace and humanity

Alex, London, UK
I think the greatest shame is that the international community and the UN are doing nothing now yet consistently state a desire for world peace and humanity. Act now, enforce law and order, show it with an independent peacekeeping force in both Israel and Palestine.
Alex, London, UK

Sharon should follow the Bethlehem example. It is only through peaceful negotiations that the Israeli nation can get a real defensive shield.
Dr. Khamis, Sweden

As an Israeli and living in Jerusalem I have given the peace process all my support even long before the Oslo Accord and will always do so. I have always advocated bringing the PLO as it was then into the peace process. There is no doubt that Arafat, the longest surviving persona (outlasting all Israeli prime ministers) has been very disappointing to say the least. I am no supporter of Sharon, but it must be remembered that Arafat made his election certain by not in some way offering continuation of the process Barak offered. I fear that Arafat is "an all or nothing" leader, and in so doing is converting many Israelis to this type of vision. The key to peace here is in Arafat's hands. If he shows that he means it, is ready to end violence and promise the continuation of Israel, many Israelis will vote next time for a leader promising to push ahead the peace process. If he does not, Israelis will become increasingly hardened and the future is bleak for all of us here. Arafat should decide where he stands, and if it is to violence he should resign or leave.
Daniel, Jerusalem, Israel

Political dialogue and compromise is the alternative to bloodshed and war, but when two leaders (Arafat and Sharon) are paralyzed with the thought of victory being achieved only with the demise of the adversary, it's hard to build trust let alone lasting peace. However, I very much doubt that the majority of peoples of the two countries (yes Palestine will have to become a state) much like the people of my country Iran, share the uncompromising and outdated values and beliefs of their leadership. It's time for the world to recognize this truth, and in levelling the playing field for compromise and fair judgment to take precedence lend its support in favour of changing the old guards.
S Shahabi, Tehran, Iran

My Question is why are those 13 Muslim Terrorist being given Sanctuary in Cyprus? They should be treated as terrorists, held responsible, tried in court, and then sentenced to life in prison.
Sunil Nathalal, Slough UK

As Colin Powell stated, "Peace involves a two state solution." However, does anyone really envisage two states being created?
Max, London, England

Ariel Sharon was elected by the Israeli people to deal with terror, and this he has done.

Gary, Japan
Ariel Sharon was elected by the Israeli people to deal with terror, and this he has done. You can't stop all terrorism. But attacks on Israeli civilians have become much less frequent in recent weeks, and this shows that the Israelis have done a good job dismantling the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure. Eventually, of course, Israelis and Palestinians will have to go back to the negotiating table and try to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict permanently. But that can't be done as long as suicide bombers and other terrorists are wreaking havoc in the region.
Gary, Japan

The Palestinian militias have obviously come to the following conclusions. They do not believe for a second that Israel has any intention whatsoever of ending the occupation of Palestinian lands. They do not believe that the U.S. either desires or has the political willpower to bring about an end to the occupation. And they logically conclude that the international community is allowing Israel to trample on all international laws and treaties. In this situation, the Palestinian militias conclude that the only hope they have is through an armed struggle. This is a struggle that they cannot win militarily, but one they hope will make Israel realize that peace and security on one hand and occupation on the other cannot co-exist.
Alan Nazzal, Houston, Texas, USA

I have lived in a country where terrorist attacks happened every day. What I learned from those years is that violence is not the way to combat terrorism. It's evident that Sharon does not want to cease the violence, he wants, if it would be possible, to cancel the Palestinian Authority and their people.
Gabriela Arbulu, Peru

All leaders who are only leaders for the few are big failures

Red, USA
Has Sharon failed? Yes, in winning the hearts of the Palestinian people. I, for one, don't believe in a separate Palestinian state, but neither do I believe in a Jewish state. Why can't other countries be like America and make themselves a state for all people. In this respect, all leaders who are only leaders for the few and not leaders for all their country are big failures, and that includes Arafat as well.
Red , USA

To our Jim, USA: 'Our government will never and should never support any terrorist regime no matter if it right or wrong.' What about: Peru, Afghanistan (80's), Chile, Indonesia (against East Timor), Iraq (against Iran), Pakistan, etc. Wake up and smell the coffee.
Manjit Singh, Kent, UK

There is no military solution to the Israeli/Palestinian problem. The only way that the Palestinians can win any support or reconciliation with Israel is through a political agenda. Every time a homicide bomber kills Israeli civilians it is one step away from gaining any kind of resolution. The USA will never support any terrorist regime, even if the Palestinian cause is just, we will turn a blind eye towards Israeli retribution. Sharon will kill many in his upcoming attack on Gaza, and the international community will scorn him in the usual way. Only when the Palestinians change their tactics will there be any real support for them, because the fact remains: Our government will never and should never support any terrorist regime no matter if it right or wrong.
Jim, USA

Sharon's tactics are brilliant. If Arafat becomes isolated and irrelevant then Sharon wins because a new leadership (for better or worse) will eventually come to the fore. On the other hand, if Arafat becomes more popular (as appears the case) then ipso facto his power increases. He then cannot use the excuse that he cannot exercise control. Thus he must accept the responsibility as to whether the Palestinians choose peace or resort to terrorism.
Raymond Shaw, Sydney, Australia

As a Jew I am absolutely appalled by Sharon's policies. Israeli illegally occupies the West Bank and Gaza. The so-called Peace agreement reduced the West Bank to 200 plus tiny cantons surrounded by Israeli troops. The Palestinian economy collapsed and died. Palestinians were humiliated at the checkpoints on a daily basis. The occupied faced one of the most militarily powerful states in the world. No wonder they fought back - just like the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. There cannot be peace until the Palestinian refugees are allowed back to their homes. Exclusive ethnic states are a disaster - in Serbia, in Israel, in Pakistan. The only solution is to have a secular & democratic state in Palestine / Israel with one person one vote, and rights for minorities.
Neil Rogall, London, UK

Sharon has only inflamed an already desperate situation by reducing the capacity for the Palestinians to govern

Joe, UK
I do not believe that this conflict has a military solution, however, until a Palestinian Authority, backed up by an effective civilian police force, is capable of restoring order to Palestinian territory, peace cannot come. I believe that both sides deserve justice but we cannot keep living in the past. Palestinian terrorism highlights the fact that there is no real law and order in the region imposed by the current administration. The recent destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, government buildings, and authority, will only serve to worsen the situation. In my opinion Sharon has only inflamed an already desperate situation by reducing the capacity for the Palestinians to govern and police their own people. Either Sharon must support and allow a truly peace-committed Palestinian Authority to govern its people, or he must police the entire region himself.
Joe, Leicester, UK

All your comments are irrelevant. Sharon does not answer to any of you. Only the Israeli public decides who their leaders are and what they do - and they are overjoyed that suicide bombings have dropped from 2 a day to one a month after the latest attack. All you who say violence solves nothing - I don't see any evidence for the truth of this statement anywhere.
Ben Shniper, Philadelphia, PA

To all those saying Sharon is succeeding because he is blocking potential attacks several times a day: Your logic is highly flawed. Were there suicide bombings several times a day, or even once a day before Sharon came to power? I think not. It is Sharon who is provoking these attacks through his actions and policies and through his continued support for both the illegal occupation of Palestine and the Settler movement. If Israel withdrew completely and the Palestinians got their own country back you would see an end, not just to the number of attacks, but to the desire for such attacks which stems from the oppression and terrorisation of a whole nation.
Stephen Wey, UK

Lets face reality. Peace will never be achieved as long as Israel receives billions of dollars from the US no matter what it does. The world does not really care because most of them live comfortably in their own little corners of the world while the ones that are not comfortable have their own problems to worry about. The Israel-Palestine problem will go on and on and on until the day when we all actually feel the pain physically or the US runs out of money.
R. Ain, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

As we all know from the Frenchman, Emile Zola, the pen is mightier than the sword

M.Farrugia, Malta
Everybody is hurting and each side has its point of view but no civilised nation can reward terrorism. The balance of the argument is Israel has a right to self defence and the Palestinians deserve a homeland but there is no justification whatsoever in using suicide bombers, who more than likely have been indoctrinated into their actions. I note that the bombers are always young, almost certainly impressionable. The people who continue to send them have no understanding of the essence of peace, or how to go about it. As we all know from the Frenchman, Emile Zola, the pen is mightier than the sword.
M.Farrugia, Malta

f you want peace in the Middle East, you need to get rid of Sharon, Arafat and all the hawks in the United States government. These are the people that are supporting Israel with billions of dollars every year in weapons and technology. I bet that if you were to stop the money Israel gets, and if the Europeans were to stop the money the PA gets, both sides will come to an agreement very quickly.
John Doe, Mracaibo, Venezuela

I strongly believe that Mr Sharon plan has failed dramatically. It is up to Mr Sharon to understand a political solution is needed. Let's call an international force that will protect Palestinian and Israel. Mr Sharon must understand since the incursion of the Palestinian territories, violence has reached its high speed. The policy of eye for eye has shown its limit.
Gerard tcheumani, USA

Sharon will never succeed because he's not after peace. The way to end this conflict is to give the Palestinians a state and their dignity back, which he will never do. Sharon has already ignored Bush and the UN. Perhaps it is the world that needs to show leadership.
Dr. Julie Gibson, Nottingham

Sharon has blocked the daily, almost hourly attacks. This can not block 100% of attacks, but it is much better than previously experienced. If the Palestinian terror organizations continue to exist, the Palestinians should prepare for even more.
Michael, Hong Kong, China

Now is the best opportunity for Arafat

Cosmas Ikechi Ogiri, Lagos Nigeria
There seems to be one way out of the Middle East impasse. The Palestinians must realise that they cannot get what they want through the style they now apply. First, they must continue to cash in on the apparent sympathy from the international community, instead of weakening our support for their just course. Secondly, they should remember that something led to the 'Israeli occupation'; let them put history into perspective and be realistic. Finally, let them use every available means to assure the world and Israel of their real commitment to a resolution, making way for a lasting peace through a balanced compromise from both parties. Remember that even if Israel pulls out of all the areas now, there are still the hard-core militants who would not want to see any Israeli live in that region. Now is the best opportunity for Arafat.
Cosmas Ikechi Ogiri, Lagos Nigeria

Internationally everyone knows what the solution should be and thus it should be imposed on both sides. The two sides are incapable of reaching the solution on their own. Israel should know that time is not on its side.
Ragi Abou-Chacra, Beirut, Lebanon

The question says it all. Sharon needs to see the big picture and develop a 'strategy' to resolve the conflict. So far having only to rely on tactics has lead to death, economic loss, international alienation, and no vision for peace. The Israeli people deserve someone who has experience building relationships with neighbouring countries, not fighting or attacking them.
Patrick, Atlanta

Israeli prime minister Arial Sharon all the time claims that his mission in the occupied territories is against the terrorist's activists. However, the stand off at the Nativity church reveals that all their allegations unjustified and has nothing to do with terror. For the last 37 days innocent civilians in Bethlehem have been suffering and living under curfew, which is imposed by the Israeli forces. They are deprived from basic needs such as medicine and food. It is for the first time ever since the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem that Christians hadn't the opportunity to celebrate the Easter day at the Nativity church, and the IDF even forbade the Christian community to practice their rituals at other churches at the neighbouring towns.
Majed Abu Kubi, Biet Jala, Bethlehem, West Bank

The many comments so far have not addressed one key criterion by which any democratically elected leader should be judged. This is public opinion. All recent polls suggest a majority of Israelis in favour of a tougher stance on terror. Can anyone imagine a democratic government ignoring the clear sentiment of its people on the number one issue (by far) facing the nation?
Sam, London

Sharon, has succeeded, He has managed to stop up to two bombings a day for the last few weeks. I would suggest Sharon publicly does not retaliate on this occasion and pushes for peace. I would be curious to see if that would make any difference¿
Benjamin, London, UK

It's not a question of tactics or strategy it's a simple matter of goodwill

Amoroso Gombe, Cambridge
The very fact that you speak of tactics underscores what's wrong. It's not a question of tactics or strategy it's a simple matter of goodwill or the lack thereof. There is no reason that there cannot be peace. To pretend that it isn't incumbent upon Israel to give peace a chance is to be disingenuous to the extreme. Israel can simply pull out and hand everything back to the Palestinians, give them a state and all will be fine. Nobody can seriously tell me that anyone will attack Israel. Who will dare? It would be as mad as attacking the U.S. directly. Peace will come when Israel stops trying to break the Palestinian people, it is not at all complicated.
Amoroso Gombe, Cambridge, UK

History has shown us that terrorists respect only one thing - and that is force. For Israel to show restraint will be a sign of weakness, and will give the green light for further terrorist attacks against its people. Israel must, and has every right to, take the necessary actions to protect its citizens.
Adam Weinberg, Sydney, Australia

The policy must now be turned into positive action. If Arafat is so willing now to condemn the murderous bombers and those who sent them, why can't his security forces and the IDF co-operate to arrest, charge and permanently imprison those guilty of sending them and inciting them. Surely more co-operation between the PA and IDF can only help build confidence and show to the world that Arafat means what he says.
Martyn , UK

Any act of terrorism should be dealt with by every possible means. In that, Sharon may be right. But the fact of the matter is that young people are blowing themselves up. Now the Israelis can just close their eyes and start shooting blindly or open their eyes and try to see what is going on. The leaders of both Israel and Palestine are battling against each other and, in their hatred, thousands of innocent people are being killed. Suppression only brews more resentment, Palestinians should think more positively and take some actions against the suicide bombings, but the Israeli govt also needs to change its tactics and be more patient with the other side. There is always give and take. I see no reason that a young man or a woman is willing to go and blow him or herself up just for nothing. It goes to show that there is something grossly wrong.
Faiza Rab, Islamabad Pakistan

Compromise, even with those you hate, will be the only way out of this impasse.

William, London
It seems that neither Arafat nor Sharon has the courage and far-sightedness to lead their people out of this carnage. Neither security for Israel nor a state for the Palestinians will be achieved by violent means. Just as in Northern Ireland, compromise, even with those you hate, will be the only way out of this impasse. Sharon seems blindly incapable of compromise, and Arafat has long given different messages to his domestic and foreign audiences. How much blood must be shed before they end this folly?
William, London, UK

Sharon kills innocent people because Israelis are killed by fanatics. Who is morally right - neither! Both sides resort to the killing of innocents to resolve political issues. This problem cannot be solved until people who truly want peace become involved. Sharon would like all Palestinians dead and Arafat supports the fanatical Islamists so there is no hope as long as these people are in charge. If the Israelis and the Palestinians really want peace they need to replace their leaders.
Patrick, Porstmouth , UK

The Palestinians, and the Arab world on the whole, have a decidedly different outlook on politics and how to achieve their goals than the western world, while Israel is trying to live up to the western world. This, in my opinion, is a very hard task when confronted with such a dilemma.
Levi Tangy, UK

Regardless of your sympathies and views one has to agree that his policies haven't worked. This is not so much a judgement about the nature of his policies but an admission of reality. The intifada has continued, and anger, death, and destruction on both sides has only increased. Whether right or wrong they aren't working.
Joe, Hull, UK

Anyone in favour of continued retaliation has blood on their hands.

Edward, London
Sharon's policy is not working. It's just a depressingly familiar tit for tat war, which is creating new martyrs on the Palestinian side and more civilian casualties in Israel. It's the same as the Irish problem which saw a polarisation and a rise in violence during the Thatcher years when she took a hard line stance against the IRA. Ultimately, unless the two sides can be brought together to transcend the violence, the cycle will continue. Anyone in favour of continued retaliation has blood on their hands. What is Sharon's solution? To wipe the Palestinians out altogether? He cannot do this - so he must make the first move to a total peace in the region.
Edward, London

I think Sharon's methods are basically right. Confront terrorists head on, fire with fire. It is outrageous to try and equate Israeli military action with the action of these terrorists themselves, by using such terms as 'cycles of violence'. The comparison quite frankly is wicked. Palestinians have proved by repeated suicide bombings inside Israel, against civilians that they are not merely fighting occupation, but are bloodthirsty killers. It is high time the whole international community faced up to this, and give Israel its support.
John, Inverness, Scotland, UK

If you believe Sharon when he says that his government's recent military actions were designed to "root out terrorists," then one can only conclude that his actions have failed. However, I do not believe that this is Sharon's goal, rather I think it is to humiliate, oppress, frustrate and eventually scatter the Palestinian people. Sharon and his right-wing cabinet use these condemnable and horrific suicide bombings against Israeli civilians as their excuse to accelerate the reaching of their long-term goal, which is to drive the Palestinians out of the occupied territories.
Gregory, Raleigh, USA

The time has come for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to choose new leaders.

Sohail Khan, Salt Lake City, USA
It is not coincidence that every time Sharon is in Washington, there is a suicide attack! The time has come for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to choose new leaders. There is no escaping the fact that only a political solution will end the misery suffered by both the Israeli and Palestinian people. This is the time for the US to provide that extra ounce of leadership to guide the Middle East into a comprehensive agreement with Israel leading to creation of a Palestinian state. Any delay in this will mean more innocent deaths.
Sohail Khan, Salt Lake City, USA

Why do the Palestinians always suicide bomb when Israel makes a move for peace? When Israel entered Jenin, they did not go from house to house shooting children. But the Palestinians seem to think it's perfectly acceptable to blow up kids playing pool. I'm sad to conclude...they do not want peace.
Karen, USA

Sharon has failed totally in his security policy. No one in Israel is safe. The irony is that the terrorists, now, control Sharon. Every time that we have a suicide attack we have retaliation from Sharon. This is exactly what the terrorists want: a no end game that creates more and more hatred (and consequently more and more terrorist). The only way to end terrorism is to have the courage to use justice and not violence. We need to end this war game with an act of courage at the political level. Unfortunately Sharon cannot understand this. He was trained to do war not politics.
Nando B, Boston, USA

How can you say he failed if for almost three weeks there was quiet and no suicide bombings? How can you say he failed if now Arafat has begun to condemn suicide bombers, something he has resisted until now? How can you say he failed if Hamas has "officially" declared that children are too precious to die, and they must not be involved in suicide bombing? How can you say he failed if every nation in the world has condemned the latest attack? How can you say he failed if Tony Blair and Collin Powell have asked for Arafat to begin with action, because words are not enough?
Leo, USA

It is Arafat who has failed to seek peace or live up to his promises with literally every leader of Israel over the last twenty years.

Stanley Lerman, New York
It amazes me how the media constantly paint a picture blaming Sharon for the crisis. Why is it that in a democratic country such as Israel, the entire blame for what many consider to be aggressive policies, be attributed to Sharon as opposed to the Israeli government and the Israeli population? Secondly, it is Arafat who has failed to seek peace or live up to his promises with literally every leader of Israel over the last twenty years. He refused an incredible offer from Barak, but now the world and media blame the occupation as the reason for the intifada. What nonsense. The occupation started after Israel was attacked, and has continued because Arafat and the PLO want the destruction of Israel and it's peoples
Stanley Lerman, New York, USA

It will be fruitless to send in more military force to Gaza even if the latest bomber was from there. It is human nature to free oneself of oppression from an occupying force. You can bulldoze homes, but it is harder to bulldoze minds. You can't change minds by force. When you take away their bombs, they will get more. The Hamas retaliated to the previous attacks, and Israel will retaliate to this latest bombing. Let both sides step in the others shoes and then ask themselves "why are we trying to solve this with more violence"?
Kenny Sabir, Sydney, Australia

Sharon's tactics have failed dismally and will always fail. Why? because he is has never been an advocate for peace. He has opposed ALL peace treaties and accords with the Palestinians and the Arabs, the peace treaty with Egypt and the Oslo accord included. As long as Israel is ruled by the right wing there will never be peace in the region.
Barry, UK

Every death and injury makes it so much harder to achieve any lasting peace.

Anthony, England
The world has so much evidence about what happens in conflicts, and how difficult it is to bring peace. Because I was born in Northern Ireland, I have talked to many people who have lived through wars, both in Ulster and elsewhere, to try and understand human hatred. Every death and injury makes it so much harder to achieve any lasting peace. Recently I have talked to older people (A German, Pole and Englishman) who lived through the Second World War. All 3 still quote with bitterness what the opposition did to them and their families 60 years ago. Their hatred will only die when they die themselves. As so it is with Israel and Palestine. There is just too much hatred and bitterness on both sides there now to do anything other than to build a mile wide barrier of barbed wire around Israel (including Jerusalem) and police it for the next 50 years. No suicide bomber or Israeli tank can achieve an end to this conflict.
Anthony, Reading, England

All Mr Sharon has succeeded in doing is adding fuel to the fire by launching the biggest recruitment campaign for new extremists and suicide bombers in years. Another generation of hatred, another generation of terrorists, another generation of conflict, of wasted lives and wasted opportunities. He has probably succeeded in replacing the moderating influence of Mr Arafat among Palestinian youth with something for more ugly that is as yet gestating in the refugee camps of Gaza and the West Bank. When that is unleashed, one fears for the future of not only Israel, but the whole world.
Desmond, London, UK

Sharon stated a few weeks ago that their incursions into the Palestinian territories would destroy all terrorist infrastructure and protect Israel. It is 100% clear that this is not true. Only a political solution will offer any degree of protection to the Israelis. Also, now due to the lack of PA infrastructure only the Israelis are in any position to stop the cycle of violence. Sadly, Sharon is a one policy politician.
George, Guildford, Surrey

We need real leaders who are willing to make a step in the right direction

Gebran Azzi, Sydney, Australia
Neither side is smarter than the other. On the one hand we have Israel occupying and killing innocent civilians and on the other hand we have an oppressed people killing for freedom. Until one side stands up and says 'that is enough', the killing will go on. We need real leaders who are willing to make a step in the right direction and end the revenge tactics.
Gebran Azzi, Sydney, Australia

Violence begets violence and the occupation must end as well as the suicide bombing. Kofi Annan celebrated the independence of East Timor. When are we going to celebrate the independence of Palestine?
Mounif El-Youssef, Rochester USA

Sharon's tactics may have resulted in some short term stifling of suicide bombers but planted the seed of a deeper resentment among Palestinians. Everyone talks about Israel's right to exist but I hardly hear of Palestine's right to the same.
Jim Pershing, Novi, USA

The Palestinians have never been a part of Sharon's vision for Israel

Daniel, Toronto, Canada
Sharon's actions are a success if one examines the real motives behind them. The counter-terrorism argument is naive. The Palestinians have never been a part of Sharon's vision for Israel. Ultimately, expulsion is the only solution that Sharon will accept.
Daniel, Toronto, Canada

It's finally been proved "an eye for an eye" doesn't work. How about trying "turn the other cheek" now?
Nathan, UK

Sharon's success is Israel's failure as in just a few short months he's done more harm to Israel than any fanatical anti-Semite could do.
Des, London UK

Have Sharon's tactic failed? Let's not single out individuals. Everybody's tactics have failed. If the killing is to even begin to end, a third party is required as a peacekeeping force. Arafat may be the legitimate leader of the Palestinians, but surrounded and hampered by Israel he cannot hope to contain his wayward militants. He needs help, and that help can only come from Muslim UN troops. Accepting this kind of international force into the West Bank will be an incredibly hard thing for the Israeli right-wing to contemplate. but I for one can see no other way forward.
Glenn Barker, Victoria, Canada

For the Israeli government to persist with its current policy is to court certain failure.

Brian Deacon, UK
The government of Israel cannot succeed in any policy of trying to suppress terrorists from Palestine. The only way to stop the killings and the only route to long-term peace in the region, is to address the issues which, long-term, give rise to terrorism. For the Israeli government to persist with its current policy is to court certain failure. If, however, all that it really wants to achieve is to appease right-wing domestic political opinion, it can succeed. Ultimately the current policy will damage (perhaps even destroy)the Israeli cause, not the Palestinian.
Brian Deacon, Bedford, UK

I think a lot of Palestinians are playing with fire here. There is starting to become a danger that Israel will just tire of this, declare war on Palestine and then just wipe the whole Palestine Authority off the face of this planet. The sad thing is, it probably wont stop terrorists like Hamas as they will just get more poor deluded young people to blow themselves up - note how Hamas itself never does this!! What this needs is the Arab countries to actually do something about Hamas and similar.
Ed, UK

I am amazed at the number of people who have commented to say that Sharon was successful as his actions have reduced the number of attacks. This is not a numbers game. Tell that to a Palestinian or an Israeli mother who has lost a child in the latest escalation and they'll put you into your place. The only solution lies in giving the Palestinians what had forcibly been taken from them, their right to live on their land. As long as the return of the refugees issue and the settlements issue are not addressed sympathy for the "terrorists" will not cease.
Murat, Istanbul, Turkey

Sharon's tactics are failing but there's still a chance to seize the initiative afresh and make further progress toward peace. Perhaps now that the Palestinians are coming to see some sense and condemning these attacks outright without actually being forced to do so, it would be a good time to extend a hand of friendship and ask for more Palestinian help in apprehending these murderers rather than retaliating in kind and starting yet another round of this insane violence.
Peter Grimes, Gerrards Cross, UK

This attack proves that the Palestinians are not fighting the occupation, but the people of Israel.

Dean, Boston
If suicide bombings are used to fight occupation, why are the Palestinians targeting civilians in Israel proper? The people who were murdered yesterday were not occupying anybody's land. They were not soldiers on active duty. They were just young people playing pool. Does Sharon have another choice but to be aggressive in the face of such blind hatred and killing? This attack proves that the Palestinians are not fighting the occupation, but the people of Israel.
Dean, Boston

The timing of the latest suicide bombing was not coincidental. As far as I can remember, every time Israel is ready to negotiate with Palestinians, Hamas and other "freedom fighters" escalate their attacks on Israeli civilians. Why? They are afraid of peace with Israel because that peace would make them (and other Palestinian extremists) irrelevant.
Oleg, Canada

I do not think that the tactics of Mr Sharon has failed at all. He was visiting with the President of the United States in trying to move this dreadful saga in the middle-east forward. The bombing in Tel Aviv coincided with his meeting time with President Bush. Both sides have said in the past they are open to impartiality in being guided by US diplomacy but it seems extremism in Palestine does not want to admit or recognise Israel as a state. Ariel Sharon has promised retaliation but if that is the case he needs to be very careful in who he is targeting. Many innocent civilians have been caught up in this brutality in recent months and on the verge of something hopeful this happens to Israel. Mr Arafat is now a free man and has been for a few days now. More diplomacy is required from the US with Mr Arafat if there is ever going to be a peace settlement, he is the other side of the coin and he must be given a chance to voice opinions in the proper political process. Mr Sharon and President Bush MUST make allowances and provisions for a Palestine voice to be heard otherwise there is bound to be a continual capitulation of anything deemed to be good.
Mark Dowe, Scotland, UK

As long as Sharon and Arafat act alone, each is doomed to fail.

John Saxton, USA
While the Defensive Shield program may be responsible for the recent decrease in suicide bombings, its not because Israel managed to find and eliminate the terrorists. The terrorism decreased because the terrorists are hiding and waiting for a better opportunity. The terrorists are still out there. In fact there are probably more as a result of the resentment caused by the latest Israeli incursions. The incidents will increase as the Israelis withdraw. Of course Sharon's tactics were a failure.
I think a more complete question would also ask if Arafat's tactics have failed. As long as Sharon and Arafat act alone, each is doomed to fail.
John Saxton, Clarksburg, NJ, USA

The best thing Ariel Sharon could do is to take seriously some of the peace proposals on offer, such as that proposed by the Saudis. Israel has lost a lot of international support recently because of its heavy-handed approach to the Palestinians. The Palestinians know this and are exploiting it. Israel needs to get the international community back on its side by showing some restraint. Reprisals will do nothing except drag Israel into further conflict and misery

Whilst the suicide bombings continue, Sharon's tactics must be judged to have failed. The humiliation and injustice the Palestinians have suffered for several decades will cause more attacks if these resentments are not adequately resolved. The question is, what will Sharon do next? If he can only become more violent and reactive there are few options open to him that would be acceptable, even to the US. Getting tough has not paid off. Sharon says he will only settle for peace when Israel has won, but this is a war they cannot win. Another way must be found
Mark Errington, UK

This was the first bombing in over a month.

Jonathan, UK
Before the Israeli military operation took place, suicide bombings were occurring at the rate of one a day - although tragically a bomber did manage to get through yesterday, this was the first bombing in over a month. The operation has resulted in the deaths or arrests of a large number of those who planned and organised previous outrages and the confiscation of huge amounts of explosive and ammunition. It should also be noted that the bomber appears to have come from Gaza, which was an area left untouched during the recent operation. However, the Israeli security services were always careful to say that even if the operation was as successful as it could be, it could not stop all bombers - the aim was to make it much more difficult for the bombers to operate. It is also clear that the only way to end the violence is through political dialogue and to reach a peaceful negotiated resolution. In my view Sharon should continue the operations against the terrorists and the terrorist infrastructure in the Palestinian territories but with the aim of achieving a calm to allow the scheduled peace conference to take place. What would help of course, is for the Palestinians to realise that their tactics of violence are self defeating and only puts off the time when a deal can be done and delays the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Jonathan, UK

Israel must continue its campaign against Palestinian terrorists in the same way as the U.S. and its allies are doing in Afghanistan. Anyone who thinks political problems can be solved by blowing themselves up and taking another 20 children with them must be dealt with prior to them carrying out their vicious acts of murder.
Simon Braun, England

Yes they have failed. The Israeli military went into Jenin, massacred civilians and reduced most of it to rubble? How did they expect the Islamic militant groups to respond? I can't help thinking that Sharon is secretly glad that this has happened, as he now has a new "reason" to invade numerous Palestinian settlements and kill even more people. This suicide bomber has killed 15 Israeli civilians, and it will be very interesting to see how many Palestinians the Israeli army kill in retaliation. I'm guessing it will be at least 50.
Daley, Sheffield, England

Surely initial indications that the suicide bomber came not from the West Bank - but from Gaza - which was untouched by the 'defensive shield' operation, shows that the military operation was largely successful. As an Israeli, it is clear to me that Sharon's 'defensive shield' operation broke the wave of Palestinian terror that was peaking at two bombings daily - and whatever the future may hold, you can't deny Sharon that achievement.
Daniel, Israel

Sharon is effectively building up his opponents weapons of destruction at every turn.

Ron, England
His policies were always going to fail. It's like thinking Britain going to war with the Republic of Ireland and smashing up Dublin would have brought peace in Ireland. He can't get rid of all the ammunition in the Middle East so he must get rid of the weapons that carry the explosives, which in this case is a suicide bomber. And yet every action he takes seems destined only to increase the numbers willing to take up that role. Sharon is effectively building up his opponents weapons of destruction at every turn.
Ron, England

It is ironic that people lay the blame for terrorism at the feet of Sharon/the 'occupation'. I'm no fan of Sharon, but this is ludicrous. The argument falls flat since the terrorism started long before Sharon became prime minister and long before the so-called occupation. The argument also fails to account for the worrying trend in terrorism in, for example, Pakistan. How can it be reasonable to condemn the killing of innocents and in the same breath deflate that message by insinuating that their death is somehow justified or understandable?
Alain, Manchester

Have Sharon's tactics failed? How could they ever succeed? Unless he is prepared to kill every Palestinian in the occupied territories there will always be an abundant supply of men and women who feel they have absolutely nothing to loose and who see Israel, the occupying power, as their enemy. Continued military operations by the IDF may disrupt what Sharon calls the infrastructure of terror but for every militant killed or captured, many more will step forward to continue their struggle. What is needed is the courage to break the cycle of violence. Unfortunately neither side seems to have this.
Ben, London, UK

The peace process needs to be brought centre stage, and hopefully, reduce support for the extremists.

Martin, UK
Blaming each other for the cause of the violence between the Israelis and the Palestinian will solve nothing. What is required here is leaders on both sides to have the political courage to move the peace process forward. I am not naive enough to thing that this will end the violence but its obvious that there will be no long term peace for either side if the situation continues. The peace process needs to be brought centre stage, and hopefully, reduce support for the extremists.

Its not so long ago that Protestant and Catholic terror groups were "retaliating" against the others terror attacks. But now these have largely stopped - the peace isn't perfect but people are talking to put it right, rather than dying.
Martin, Swansea, UK

Israel have backed themselves into a corner here by vowing to react violently and relentlessly to such horrendous attacks. There are obviously some parties on the Palestinian side who have no interest in peace. They knew full well how Israel would react to this as they (the Israelis) have made it very clear. If Israel wants peace it has to figure out a way to, as Colin Powell said when he was over there, "move beyond the response". No amount of military might can stop men who are willing to die in this way.
Adewale, Nigeria

So Sharon vows to retaliate yet again - is it any wonder that the Palestinians will reciprocate, continuing the cycle ad infinitum? Terrorism is disgusting, but two wrongs do not make a right. Retaliation may win popular Israeli support for Sharon, but it is a terrible thing to do and is also the wrong strategy to stop terrorism.
Brendan Fernandes, UK

Israel has no choice but to launch limited military operations like the last one.

Hanan Buch, Belgium
Sharon tactics did not fail. How could they? Before the Israeli military operation in the territories, there were up to 3 terror attacks a day inside Israel. Now there are so much less... It is quite clear that in the long run, the best way for Israel to achieve peace and quiet is to let the Palestinian Authority ( and later on, the Palestinian State) take care of it's extremists. But since the Palestinians were not (and are not, as much as I can judge) willing to do that, Israel has no choice but to launch limited military operations like the last one. More than that: If Israel withdraw unilaterally to the 67 borders (or something of the kind) and terror attacks continues (They probably will), it is impossible to imagine that it will sit down and not retaliate. No one can expect it to do otherwise.
Hanan Buch, Belgium

Even if the bomber came from the West Bank, Sharon's tactics largely succeeded. They have drastically reduced the frequency of such bombings. There will continue to be more Operation Defensive Shields until the terrorism comes to an end - the Israeli public has crossed the psychological barrier and is now willing to use real force. Like it or not, the Palestinians will now lose much more than the Israelis in every round of this fight. If they have any sense, they'll stop now.
Gideon Greenspan, UK

Sharon's policy is opposite to what is required. There is an analogy of people sitting around a table unable to eat the food because their spoons are so long that it is impossible to put the food into their mouths; there is only one solution; for the people seated at the table to feed each other. The only solution is for the Israelis and Palestinians to reverse the insane self-centredness and selfishness that is the root of all of our human sufferings.
Kelsang Pamting (Buddhist Monk), Spain

I am saddened by some of the comments coming from my country and finding myself agreeing with a Buddhist Monk from Spain. Violence will always fail as a political strategy. Remove the reasons for violence and realise that the only way to succeed is to co-exist. You don't even need to like each other to work together.
Peter H, Netherlands (Ex UK)

There is only so much Sharon can do if the other side doesn't respect the sanctity of human life.

Richard, UK
There has been a complete stop in suicide bombings for largely a month now. This is the due to Operation Defensive Shield. The army asked for 8 weeks and they got only 5. It has been reported in Israel that the bomber came from Gaza the one place that the Israeli army spared an anti-terrorist offensive. Arafat hasn't created the conditions for peace but Sharon has now created the quiet necessary to progress - this last bombing was an unfortunate consequence of the army not routing out all the would-be bombers and factories in Gaza. The sooner the West understands that Arafat is a murderer who heads a gang of murdering thugs the closer we'll be to a peaceful solution for both the Palestinian people and the Israeli people. There is only so much Sharon can do if the other side doesn't respect the sanctity of human life.
Richard, UK

Is the Israeli military action retaliation against the terrorist attacks, or are the suicide bombers retaliation against the Israeli occupation and their tactics?
Martin, England, UK

I think Sharon failed when he agreed to allow Arafat out of confinement. He should have removed confinement by expelling Arafat. It seems that there will not be an end to suicide bombings until the people from Palestine change their attitude towards Israelis. Whilst I agree with my sister in UK, when she deplores the loss of any innocent life, I think Israel should come up with a new tactic: When they discover where the latest suicide bomber lived, they need to flatten the immediate neighbourhood with a couple of bombs. I would be surprised if the suicide bombings would continue if the Palestinians knew that they would be held responsible, and personally suffer the consequences for suicide bombings. I bet that every innocent parent will know where their child is and if they are up to no good. When the Palestinians have been scared into behaving, and being accountable, then there will be time for a change in attitude towards the Israelis to come about.
Paul M, US/UK

To Paul M: It is against International Law to hold an entire peoples responsible for the actions of a few, so to suggest that 'dropping bombs' on the residential neighbourhoods where suicide bombers originated from is both illegal and morally repugnant. All this statement shows is that in your opinion a Palestinian life is worth less than that of an Israeli. It is unfortunate that those that hold a dominant position over others very rarely posses the necessary humility, common sense and empathy with those less fortunate than themselves to be able to use their dominance in a responsible and just manner.
Jason, Leicester, GB

Of course the tactics failed. You are talking about impoverished people with nothing to lose. Kill one martyr and another will follow. The only solution to this problem is through peaceful dialogue. I grieve for every innocent Israeli and Palestinian who has died in the conflict and hope that the leaders of these nations can come together and show the world they are serious about peace.
Mitch, UK

Evil will only bring evil

Max, England
Evil will only bring evil. Violence will only bring violence. The only way to solve this mess is to build a secure fenced perimeter to separate the two sides. When both sides grow up, then you can have peaceful negotiations. But during the present turmoil, negotiations are useless.
Max, England

This is not a case of "time will tell" for the past one month there seems to be partial lull over suicide bombings, let Sharon not count these as fruits from his aggressive policy against innocents Palestinian in Jenin camps. The recent bombing is a clear proof. UN has extended the suicide bombings and Sharon's aggressions on Palestinians by failing to force Sharon to accept UN fact finding mission. There is no peace for Israelis without land and peace for Palestinians.
Abdisalam Aga, Kenya

The Americans are responsible for this because they put so much pressure on Israel to stop its operation Defence Shield

Emmanuel, United Kingdom
Sharon's tactics have not failed. The Americans are responsible for this because they put so much pressure on Israel to stop its operation Defence Shield - and now this is the result. The fact is that Sharon should be allowed to create a buffer zone between Israel and the Palestinians.
Emmanuel, United Kingdom

Although I don't subscribe to Sharon's aggressive tactics, I think it is Arafat who has failed. He failed to strike a deal with Mr. Barak, fearing, no doubt, that the establishment of a civil Palestinian State would make him redundant. It was clear from the beginning that no military strike can provide 100% immunity from suicide attacks. Alas, this recent attack seems to rather justify Sharon's attics than falsify them.
David Kiltz, Germany

Sharon must accept that any innocent life - Israeli or Palestinian - is of infinite value, and cannot be sacrificed by a government claiming legitimacy and a democratic mandate. Whether he likes it or not, the Israeli government must play the game by very different rules from Hamas and the other militants.
GZC, Scotland

Sharon has failed but will not change. His policies are every bit as responsible for the suicide bombings as the terrorists who carry them out. Terror cannot be beaten by terror. But Sharon continues to pursue a policy of incursions into Palestinian territory and killing of Palestinians knowing too well what the response will be. And so the circle of killings continues. The only way that peace can be achieved in this region is for a total withdrawal of all Israelis from the West Bank and Gaza Strip with these territories being a recognised independent State of Palestine. The USA is the only country that can make this happen.
W J Andrews, England

Ariel Sharon needs to take some lessons from the United States and its recent war against terrorism

Robert Morpheal, Canada
Clearly Ariel Sharon needs to take some lessons from the United States and its recent war against terrorism, inclusive of its actions in Afghanistan. The Al-Qaeda no longer appears to threaten America, and terrorist acts against the United States, of that sort, have stopped. Clearly there is something to be learned from that kind of success. Perhaps if Mr. Sharon emulated American policies and actions, he too might eventually succeed in his war against terrorism.
Robert Morpheal, Canada

Kind of depends what his intentions were; only a fool would think his actions wouldn't provoke retaliation! Either he is a fool and didn't realise this, or he did not care, or he actually wanted to provoke retaliation so he could support what he did and clamp down all the harder. I am surprised no one has detonated a suitcase nuke in Tel Aviv yet¿
Lee, England

Sharon will never win this war and neither will any one after him. You can not dispossess someone of his property without expecting resistance. The Palestinians have every right to claim their lands back and statements by hypocrites will not put them off. They have made up their mind; either victory or martyrdom. So let's see who can change their mind.
Dheyab Al-abri, UK

It is apparent that the Palestinians do not want peace. Therefore, Israel should do all that is necessary to ensure that the safety of its people is paramount.
Chris, England

Mr Sharon's decision not to allow the UN fact-finding mission to enter Jenin, was a shock

Topi Lappalainen, Finland
From a Finnish point of view, Mr Sharon's decision not to allow the UN fact-finding mission to enter Jenin, was a shock. Mr. Ahtisaari, our former president, has an impeccable record in mediating in previous conflicts and there never was any question about the impartiality of the UN mission. I thihink all the decisions taken by Sharon with regard to Jenin have been completely irresponsible. Sharon should desperately do something to regain Israel's lost credibility as a democracy.
Topi Lappalainen, Finland

Sharon's tactics were always going to produce further suicide bombings, because they fuel the resentment at the heart of the conflict. However it's only a failure if you assume Sharon doesn't have a hidden agenda: to push the Palestinians into a state of open revolt so he can reoccupy the West Bank and remove Arafat. Every move of Sharon's since he came to power has been to force this end game. He demands a crack-down on militants before talks can resume, yet has effectively disabled the Palestinian security forces. He demands an end to suicide bombings, but continues a course of military action which he must know will only produce further bombings.
Andrew, UK

See also:

08 May 02 | Middle East
Sharon anger over suicide bombing
07 May 02 | Middle East
Bethlehem snags blight Sharon talks
08 May 02 | Middle East
Israel's history of bomb blasts
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