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Sharm deal is no long-term solution
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas have agreed to a ceasefire, but one commentator sees the deal merely as a time-out for two exhausted societies.
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2005 23:02 GMT
Abbas and Sharon agreed to a truce on Tuesday
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas have agreed to a ceasefire, but one commentator sees the deal merely as a time-out for two exhausted societies.

"Both sides need a rest. The Palestinians need to recover a semblance of normal life, and the Israelis need to revive their economy, which was hard hit by the near destruction of the vital tourism industry," Hani al-Masri told Aljazeera.net.

Al-Masri writes a regular column in the Ram Allah-based daily Al-Ayyam.

The verbal agreement stipulates a mutual cessation of hostilities, including resistance attacks by Palestinian fighters against Israelis and military incursions into Palestinian towns and villages by the Israeli occupation army.

More than 3800 Palestinians and about 1000 Israelis have lost their lives in the past 52 months of violence.

Unenthusiastic

Sharon has also promised a set of largely undefined "goodwill measures" that ostensibly will alleviate the plight of more than 3.5 million Palestinians.

"The summit may have succeeded in stopping the bloodshed for the time being, but it has by no means removed the causes and factors that would make the resumption of violence inevitable"

Hani al-Masri, columnist for the Ram Allah-based Al-Ayyam

Al-Masri believes the public in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories have accepted the agreement but not embraced it enthusiastically.

But the summit is unlikely to lead to far-reaching progress towards the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and al-Masri said the summit has only "temporary importance".

"The summit may have succeeded in stopping the bloodshed for the time being, but it has by no means removed the causes and factors that would make the resumption of violence inevitable.

"I am not even talking about Jerusalem and the refugees, but lesser real problems such as daily Israeli repression, land confiscation and the building of the apartheid wall," he said, referring to the illegal separation wall Israel is building in the West Bank.

Miles to go

The commentator said the summit deal was just a small step.

"They agreed to travel only 10 miles in a 1000-mile journey. This gives us some optimism corresponding to this small distance, while uncertainty continues to hover over the remaining 990 miles which both sides have to travel before there can be peace," he said.

Palestinians say that Israeli
checkpoints disrupt their lives

Meanwhile, resistance group Hamas has criticised the summit agreement, arguing that it "left things as they are", referring to Israeli repression against the Palestinians. 

Hamas' spokesman in the West Bank, Hasan Yusuf, told Aljazeera.net on Tuesday that Palestinians were unlikely to feel a qualitative improvement in their daily lives as a result of the summit.

"What good will this summit bring us when sadistic Israeli soldiers continue to humiliate and beat our people at these diabolic roadblocks and checkpoints? Sharon even didn't suggest that he would remove them," Yusuf said.

Roadblocks

Palestinians have consistently demanded the removal of roadblocks that are used to seal off cities and severely disrupt their lives.

"What good will this summit bring us when sadistic Israeli soldiers will continue to humiliate and beat our people at these diabolic roadblocks and checkpoints?"

Hamas' spokesman Hasan Yusuf

The issue of Palestinian captives and political prisoners, many held without charge or trial in Israel, is also sensitive.

Tel Aviv last week promised that it would free hundreds of the estimated 9000 Palestinian prisoners it is holding.

But Palestinians have described the Israeli proposal as "insulting", demanding a commitment to release all the prisoners in accordance with international law.

Ultimately, the success of the Sharm al-Shaikh summit will depend on Israel's willingness to take a strategic decision to give up the land it seized after the 1967 Middle East war, al-Masri said.

Source:
Aljazeera
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