A moment for peace

Arafat is gone; US policy is transformed. Today, Israel and the Palestinians declare a truce after four years of bloodshed. Is this really a new beginning?
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The Independent Online
FATAH SUPPORTER

Amni Ayaydieh

Mother of four, sister of militant killed in September.

"It's a very critical moment. We don't know what will happen. The PA is doing its best to have a ceasefire, but it depends on what Israel will do. One of my brothers is in jail. He told us he doesn't think he will be freed and it seems prisoners taken during this intifada will not be released. This week is a chance to be used, to pressure Israel to accept a peaceful settlement. I hope Condoleezza Rice will help ... on prisoners."

THE SETTLER

Israel Madad

"We still have a long way to go before Palestinian society is democratic and responsible enough to make an adequate peace with the Israelis. The second thought is `Oh my God, it's deja vu' in the sense that, through the whole Oslo process and that of the road map, the Palestinian side has, for all its good and bad reasons, violated every single commitment as well as attempting not to become committed to anything most would consider compromise."

THE HAMAS OFFICIAL

Sheikh Hassan Yusef

"The American position is clear: to support the Israeli occupation. We hope the US reassesses its position in a good way, to give the Palestinian people full rights. As a first step, we want Israel to withdraw from all Palestinian lands they have occupied since 28 September 2000 [before the intifada began]. It is irrational to disarm the factions if the Palestinian people have not been given their rights. Why does the road map not also lay down measures to stop the Israeli aggression?"

THE ECONOMIST

Riki Armain

"I feel very optimistic about the new relationship between Israel and Egypt. I feel tired and the Israeli people are tired and when people are tired that is when changes happen. I don't think you can solve all the problems just by negotiations. I think about the political situation a lot because I am worried for myself and my family. I don't think Sharon is the best leader for a long time ahead but maybe he is the right man to lead Israel now. I think we are doing bad things to the Palestinians."

THE PHARMACIST

Reem Abu Awad

"The meetings this week are a good sign as long as the Palestinians don't do anything to upset the Israelis, such as a terrorist attack. We are a bit hopeful with Abu Mazen but when the PA first came here [after Oslo] everything seemed better but then things happened that backfired on us. You can't guarantee anything with the Israelis. Now I heard that Sharon is saying the Palestinians have not done enough to stop the violence. I don't know what he expected. He hates Palestinians."

THE RELIGIOUS ZIONIST

Zvika Ilan

"God will bring the solution; I don't think we can solve it by negotiations. The Palestinians haven't said anything except `we won't kill you'. We don't have to let murderers out of jail just because they say they won't kill us. They have to show they are serious about peace. That will take a few months, we don't have to wait for ever. Maybe there can be a Palestinian state but not on 1967 borders. About disengaging from Gaza, in my heart I don't want to, but if it gives us a solution, then I do."

THE SHOPOWNER

Ghandi Abu Sadah

"The Israelis and Americans don't care about us. All we are asking for is the implementation of UN resolutions but they do nothing. I don't believe Condoleezza Rice; the US backs Israel and I don't think she will do anything to remove the settlements. Israel is lying; they say they will make it easier for people to go from Ramallah to Nablus but nothing happens on the ground. I am worried something very bad will happen at Sharm el-Sheikh, Hamas will do an operation. Hamas don't care about us."

THE PEACE CAMPAIGNER

Janet Aviad

Member of Peace Now.

"Gaza disengagement is the first stage. We need to make sure it ... has to be put into a political context and I hope that's what's going to happen at Sharm el-Sheikh. If the context is the road map it'll have to be changed but if that's the code word for getting back into negotiation towards Israel leaving most of the West Bank, negotiation is best. I imagine the world will have to be recruited for this and Sharm is the first step. There's finally some hope."

THE POLITICIAN

Jawal Abdul Saleh

Independent Palestinian Legislative Council member

"It is difficult to see a solution with Mr Bush and Mr Sharon. Maybe Bush in his second term is not paying so much attention to the Jewish lobby - but the Israelis do nothing to give Abu Mazen credibility - like taking down the checkpoints which choke us or releasing prisoners who have not almost completed their terms. If Abu Mazen goes on with reform he will be a hero. He seems too attracted by the international arena."

THE CAFe PROPRIETOR

Ben Elul Yakov

"If it is land or people's lives, I prefer to give up the land. We can live with a two-state solution. We can live together, but if you want separation, let's separate. I employ Palestinians. The problem isn't between people, it's between the leaders and the politicians. The problem is if you put the politicians and the organisations, the factions into the equation. We have the same mentality as Palestinians. We inhabit the same place. We know each other very well."

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