'If Abbas fights terror, we will give him a lot more'

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The Independent Online

In the heart of Jewish west Jerusalem yesterday, armed soldiers were patrolling the shopping streets, police were manning every corner. Information had been received that Palestinian militants were planning a suicide bombing.

In the heart of Jewish west Jerusalem yesterday, armed soldiers were patrolling the shopping streets, police were manning every corner. Information had been received that Palestinian militants were planning a suicide bombing.

But the alert did little to dampen the wary optimism with which Israelis greeted the election of Mahmoud Abbas as the President of the Palestinian Authority.

"There is optimism," said Haim Barhoum, 56, a bank messenger, "but not euphoria. It all depends on Abu Mazen [as many call Mr Abbas]. If he fights terror, Israel will be ready to give a lot more territory than the world at large thinks. We want quiet. If he doesn't fight terror, it could be a lot worse for us and the Palestinians." Mr Barhoum insisted that the two could live in peace with each other. "We can help them, they can help us so that the whole region develops and we all prosper."

Dalit Gola, 37, a sales representative, said Israelis were waiting for peace. "There are doubts," she explained. "During the election Abu Mazen sounded more like Yasser Arafat. I hope that was just campaign rhetoric and that he'll calm down now."

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