Letter

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The Independent Online
Sir: The blitz visit of Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State, to Jerusalem and Ramallah ("Hard decisions needed in Mid-East, says Albright", 13 September) dashed the hope Palestinians held of her putting the peace process back on track.

Instead of the spectacular political coup people expected from the "hard- hitting" secretary, she made statements that she could have made back home in Washington. She had time to visit Jewish survivors of recent suicide bombings, but not the slums of Gaza which years of Israeli occupation left behind and not the miserable living conditions caused by Benjamin Netanyahu's oppressive policy. She acted as though she was afraid of entering a labyrinth from which she would not be able to escape.

Mrs Albright's call to Mr Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat to make "hard decisions" before she returns on the scene is as caring as a referee walking out of a boxing ring.

Isn't it time for the US to make its own hard decisions and to assume the responsible role of a peacemaker, not just a peace facilitator. Short of direct and forceful involvement by the US, the unstoppable Mr Netanyahu will win his end-game and scuttle the Oslo Agreement and with it the elusive peace in the Middle East which three years ago the world saw within sight.

S A SHERIF

London W1

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