Letter: Assassin the only winner in Middle East

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Sir: The Middle East peace process was fatally flawed from the start. Those involved in the diplomacy do not represent their respective populations. Hamas beat Arafat's Fatah hands down in recent local elections and as Netanyahu's mandate is based on an alliance with fundamentalist religious parties he does not have broad support across Israel.

All agreements, all truces are like thin ice which might be at any moment break as a wave of resurgent popular opinion washes over it. Every time a new Jewish settlement is built and with every Hamas suicide bomb or Hizbollah ambush in South Lebanon there is a reaction from the opposite side.

The events which followed the initiation of building at Har Homa show how the tension can suddenly explode into overt violence. This has happened before. After the initial face-off there will be a return to the tension in which further attempts at diplomacy will be made. These will continue to fail irrespective of American intervention, as neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis seek peace for what it should be, an end to a conflict which dates back to Abraham. Rather the negotiations are a new war, fought not with guns and guerrilla tactics but from office to office, the two nations scoring points against each other instead of working together in pursuit of one goal. This goal has never been decided upon; until it is the see-saw of action and reaction will continue.

The optimism of the early Nineties was extinguished by one man. The real victor is Yigal Amir, Rabin's assassin. His aim, unlike those of any of the parties in the conflict, has been realised. It might be suggested that Yigal Amir was the only one who really knew what he wanted.