Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Palestinians’ Reaction To Sharm al-Shaikh Summit

The response of Palestinians to the Sharm al-Shaikh Summit varied from cautious optimism to hopeless disappointment. While many consider the whole summit a waste of time and a repetition of the failure of previous summits and gatherings, some consider it a step forward in putting an end to the bloodshed and believe it will bring back hope for a better peaceful future.

Here are some of the comments of both optimistic and pessimistic Palestinians:
“It's the same old same old. So many summits have come and gone. Besides, it is only security related, nothing more. And if there is no binding agenda, the summit will fail. This is just a delaying tactic being used by Sharon,” says a 38 years old lady. “We have so many decisions in the past-why doesn't the international community force Israel to abide by them instead of coming up with new summits?”

Others were guardedly optimistic about the summit, in which Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon verbally committed to an end of four years of violence.
“It's good for now. People are tired, they are poor, and they are hungry. They have truly reached the point of misery in all its meaning. This is a security-related summit, not a political one anyway, and in that regard it is a positive step, “said a store owner.
an unemployed widow said: “We need peace ... not more summits. We need the release of the prisoners, and the right of return for the refugees. At the same time, we pray for something to come out of this meeting. The situation is truly bad.”

On the other hand, families of prisoners being held in Israel, who have been demonstrating in the thousands throughout Gaza city for the past few days, said they had hoped for more tangible results on the issue, which was not so much as addressed in the speeches.
In addition, some of the most complicated and crucial issues, such as the right of return of Palestinian refugees, the status of Jerusalem, settlements in the West Bank, and the illegal separation wall, were completely absent from the speeches.
“I have no hope, and I'm not optimistic. He's only withdrawing from cities that he believes are 'calm' or neutralised. What he said to the Palestinian people - about wanting peace and wanting us to govern ourselves - was a lie.” A Palestinian citizen says, “How can we govern ourselves as he says if we can't even go from here to the south of Gaza without being stopped? If you truly want peace, and want to withdraw, then withdraw from all of our cities.”

Source: Al Jazeera