Middle East Conflict — Solution Possible?

Our best quotes on how people feel about the Middle East peace process.

June 12, 2003

Our best quotes on how people feel about the Middle East peace process.

Israelis and Palestinians are talking to each other again. Once more, U.S. involvement was required. If it were not for many previous failures, the world could look at the negotiations with more optimism. Yet, in order to win peace, Israelis and Palestinians are obligated to talk — and gain each other's trust. Our Read My Lips feature explores what is at stake.

Why should the whole world pay attention to the Middle East conflict?

“I do not believe there is any other issue with the same power to re-unite the world community than progress in the issues of Israel and Palestine.”

(British Prime Minister Tony Blair, March 2003)

Who else can play a crucial role during negotiations?

“A fundamental and final solution to the Palestinian issue can only be realized through an international consensus, with the United Nations playing a central role.”

(Iran’s Foreign Minister Seyed Kamal Kharrazi, May 2003)

Is the U.S. President aware of the challenges ahead?

“The journey we are taking is difficult, but there is no other choice. No leader of conscience can accept more months and years of humiliation, killing and mourning.”

(U.S. President George W. Bush, June 2003)

What is at stake for the U.S. image in the world?

“We never had problems with Americans before their Israeli conflict. That is really the root of all of this. Why don’t Bush and Blair solve that conflict — and forget about Iraq?”

(Ahmad Shehat, 24-year-old Cairo protester, March 2003)

What is the relationship between the conflict and Islamist extremism?

“While Osama bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein are latecomers to the Palestinian cause, the Palestinian issue is increasingly the oxygen that fuels Islamist extremism.”

(David Gordon, National Intelligence Officer for economic and global issues, April 2003)

How much do views on extremism differ in the region?

“Our extremists are opposition groups — but the Israeli extremists are operating the government.”

(Michael Tarazi, legal advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization, May 2003)

Does the U.S. President condone Israeli moves against Palestinians?

"I am troubled by the recent Israeli helicopter gunship attacks. I regret the loss of innocent life, I'm concerned that the attacks will make it more difficult for the Palestinian leadership to fight off terrorist attacks."

(U.S. President George W. Bush, June 2003)

Yet, what is one of Israel's conditions?

“There can be no compromise with terror. Israel — together with all free nations — will continue fighting terrorism until its final defeat.”

(Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, June 2003)

Does that mean the peace process is in tatters?

“Let’s stop playing games. It’s over. The question is: Do we want to recognize it?”

(Palestinian official, September 2003)

What is Israel's view on the peace negotiations?

“Israel seeks peace with all its Arab neighbors. Israel is prepared to negotiate in good faith wherever there are partners.”

(Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, June 2003)

Is Israel ready to accommodate Palestinian concerns about settlements?

“We can also reassure our Palestinian partners that we understand the importance of territorial contiguity in the West Bank for a viable Palestinian state.”

(Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, June 2003)

Why is it important even to watch the adjectives?

“When Sharon spoke of a Palestinian state at Aqaba, he spoke of a democratic, contiguous state — but dropped references to it being independent and sovereign.”

(Ahmad Daoud, Palestinian information director, June 2003)

How does Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas view Jewish history?

“We do not ignore the suffering of the Jews throughout history. It is time to bring all this suffering to an end.”

(Former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, June 2003)

What can Palestinians expect in return?

“As progress is made toward peace, settlement activity in the occupied territories must end.”

(U.S. President George W. Bush, March 2003)

Why is that also economically important?

“In order to succeed, Palestinians must be able to move, go to their jobs and schools, visit their families — and conduct a normal life. Palestinians must not be afraid for their lives, property or livelihood.”

(Former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, June 2003)

What will be the implications of another breakdown?

“The lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has left a deep undercurrent of cynicism in the Arab world.”

(Jordan’s Queen Rania, April 2003)

Does U.S. Middle East policy bode well for democracy in the region?

“Was invading Iraq the right way to start building democratic momentum in the Arab world?”

(Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, September 2003)