Letter: Two leaders who do more damage than Hamas

PATRICK COCKBURN quite rightly says that there is a community of interest between Palestinian militants and the Israeli right ("Peace rocked by bungled bomb", 8 November). Both want to undermine any compromise agreement that brings Palestinians and Israelis together in peace.

Considering the deep-rooted resentment throughout the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, extreme movements are inevitable. But they are a minority. They can be dealt with by leaders who see eye-to-eye on the sort of peace their people and future generations need and who are prepared to commit themselves to make it happen. Instead, we see two leaders engaged, since Benjamin Netanyahu came to power, in accusations, delaying tactics, provocations and political posturing. This has inflicted as much damage, if not more, on the peace process as the Hamas bombs and settler violence.

The Wye Plantation pact brought a glimpse of hope that negotiations will, at last, move forward towards a final settlement. It took one bungled Hamas bomb to put in jeopardy what both sides and the US worked so hard to achieve. And when the Israeli cabinet, after much dithering, approved the accord it tacked on new conditions likely to undermine it, to the delight of extremists in both camps.

It takes a vision and guts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Neither Mr Netanyahu nor Yasser Arafat seem able to rise to the challenge. The former demonstrates that he does not believe in equal co-existence with Palestinians. The latter negotiates from a position of weakness and is inept at that. Isn't it time for both to make room for other leaders to do the job?

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