Can there be peace in the Middle East?

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BBC, Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 May, 2004

The four powers behind the Middle East peace plan have outlined a set of measures aimed at reviving the process.

At a meeting hosted by the UN's Kofi Annan, representatives from the US, Russia and the EU reaffirmed their support for a two-state solution.

Mr Annan also called on the Palestinian Authority to act against militants, and urged Israel to avoid civilian casualties.

Earlier this week, the governing Likud party rejected Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's proposals for Israeli troops and all 7,500 Jewish settlers to leave the Gaza Strip.

Can peace be brought to the Middle East? Send us your views.

The following comments reflect the balance of the opinion we have received:

Equality of claim and clarity of goal provide the best hope for long-term peace

John M, Lyne Meads,UK

Of course there can be peace but only if all sides agree that both the Israelis and Palestinians have equal claim to the territory that is Israel-Palestine. From that starting point two separate countries, each with contiguous territory, can be formed. Provided the final goal is clear those two states could be formed over a period of time in such a way that the transition is not traumatic or disruptive to either side. Equality of claim and clarity of goal provide the best hope for long-term peace.
John M, Lyne Meads,UK

I used to think peace was possible, but it simply is not. All sides are too stubborn and unwilling to make concessions. Peace will only come when one side destroys the other, and it is such a big weight on my heart to have said that.
Ali, New York, USA

Peace can only be achieved if both sides are treated equally. There is no point in claiming that one side is readier to accept a peaceful solution than the other. Both Israelis and Palestinians are playing games.
Edvin Agacevic, Zagreb, Croatia

Since when did it matter what peace accords and withdrawal plans have to say in this part of the world?

Kahka, Cairo, Egypt

Since when did it matter what the parties, people, committees, peace accords and withdrawal plans have to say in this part of the world? People will still be murdered at random on both sides, construction of settlements will continue and everybody will keep on criticizing the conflict like it's the end of the world. And the leaders just keep getting older and older and older ... it's pathetic!
Kahka, Cairo, Egypt

After the Likud's denial of the Gaza plan, combined with the inability of the Palestine Authority to stop suicide bombers, I truly wonder: is there anyone left in Israel and Palestine who wants peace? Or are they too content with trying to exterminate one another to care?
Rob, Reston, VA, US

A major part of the vote against Sharon stems from the fact that on the voting day a pregnant woman with her 4 daughters were murdered in cold blood in the Gaza strip.
Michael, Haifa, Israel

He should resign - the world would be a better place.
Francine, Montreal Canada

I have yet to hear so much as one peep from the Palestinian camp about how to achieve peace

JK, NY, USA

What next for Arafat? I have yet to hear so much as one peep from the Palestinian camp about how to achieve peace. They just sit there and condemn. I read the English version of Al Jazeera when I can. They openly despise Israel, but have yet to report on Palestinian peace initiatives.
JK, NY, USA

Sharon will continue to try to keep Israel safe from dangerous people who wish to harm it.
Andre, USA

How many views condemn Sharon for lack of peace in Israel/Palestine, and make no mention of Arafat and Hamas sworn intention to eradicate Israel?
Harry T, Johannesburg South Africa

One can hardly have any hope for peace when most unfortunately the Middle East leaders have opted for "fighting" their way out of the political impasse. I hope for a new generation of leaders with the "guts" to focus on a promising future and live the past as a memory.
Artur de Freitas, Johannesburg, South Africa

It is a win for Sharon. Bush has backed "the evidence on the ground" therefore given the green light to further land grab. If Sharon toughs it out in Gaza he'll have grounds to keep it with the US blessing.
Keith, UK

A former Pentagon official recently spoke about her experience with the Bush administration, saying that our foreign policy agenda essentially came down to fighting Israel's enemies. Sharon should be in good shape for awhile; no matter what he does, our government supports him.
Nancy, U.S.

He will continue to be berated and condemned the world over

Olivia B., Hayward, USA (UK expat)

He will continue to be berated and condemned the world over. Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership and Hamas will continue to receive the tacit support of just about everyone.
Olivia B., Hayward, USA (UK expat)

What next for Sharon? I expect a bunch of folks who know nothing about him and less about Israel to call him a 'trickster' and 'war criminal' on the BBC's 'Have your say' site.
Daniel, Jerusalem, Israel

Those who claim the peace initiative depends on Sharon and on Israeli government will, are either ignorant or dishonest. The peace there is possible only when Arab world, and Palestinians in particular, will abandon their quest for destructing Israel and will stop their murderous terror against innocent civilians.
Robert, Canada

Chances for peace are very little

Nami Umali, Montreal, Canada

Israel and the US are shaping the future of the Palestinian people without their own consent. Chances for peace are very little.
Nami Umali, Montreal, Canada

Lükud Party's overwhelming refusal is just a trick. Ariel Sharon was given a broad opportunity to avoid further US pressure to withdraw from Gaza strip.
Bariº Bozkurt, Turkey

What's next? Hopefully prison in The Hague, in a cell next to Arafat, for crimes against humanity.
John Smith, Los Angeles, USA

It seems to me that there is no solution to the lingering solution in this part of the world.
Emmanuel, Benin City

Sharon won again! He got a US endorsement for keeping and expanding West Bank settlements, but now without having to pull out of Gaza; Bush and Blair were taken for a ride.
A. Hon, GA, USA

A better question is "What next for Bush?" Bush was too quick to jump on Sharon's bandwagon and now he is exposed again for his shallowness. So now what is the U.S. position on Middle East peace?
Joseph, USA

It seems to me this was an issue of confidence within his party. I don't see how he can continue as Prime Minister. I hope he takes this opportunity to step down, so that peace will have a chance in Israel.
J Toth, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

The failure of Sharon's proposal makes him look weak and incompetent at a time when he is already facing corruption charges and voters are becoming increasingly aware that he has failed to deliver on his security promises. He has to know that it's over, but I suspect that he won't leave until he's pushed.
Mike, London, UK

I find the international community rather dim. Sharon will continue in his post until the elections when he will step down for Netanyahu who will be voted into office. Then the Israeli government will tell the US administration they need time to get organized. Again all peace initiates will successfully be postponed. Meanwhile, Sharon will retire to his multi-million dollar ranch, grinning that he got what he planned all along. True, he told Bush he would remove the settlers from Gaza and other west bank settlements. But also true that he had no intention of doing so. He just wanted to show Bush Israel's peaceful intentions.
Mike, Croydon

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