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Violence hardens attitudes on both sides in conflict

Few see possibility for partnership in peace

October 15, 2000|By Ann LoLordo and Mark Matthews | Ann LoLordo and Mark Matthews,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

"People who have tried to portray things as `All the Palestinians love us and are saints' have only done us all a disservice," he said. "I know many, many Palestinians have a great anger and hatred against us and would prefer that we disappear.

"You don't make peace with your friends, but with your enemies."

Ibrahim Fawzi, an Israeli Arab restaurant owner, has experienced the change in attitudes firsthand. His Lebanese-style restaurant in Abu Ghosh, an Israeli Arab town 20 minutes west of Jerusalem, is usually packed with Israelis on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath when most Jewish-run businesses are closed.

Now his business is down 80 percent, he said. A few loyal customers have broached the subject of the Palestinian riots and the disturbances staged by Arab citizens in the north of Israel.

"We are connected emotionally with these people," the 35-year-old chef said of the Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestinians were hopeful that a peace plan would end their days in occupation, but now they feel an agreement will never be realized, and Israeli Arabs are tired of being treated like second-class citizens, he said.

Mustafa Barghouti, a public health physician and former peace negotiator, gave up on the Oslo accords while tending Palestinians wounded by Israel's firepower, a barrage that included helicopter-launched rockets and tank gunfire.

He escorted a Red Cross representative through Ramallah Hospital yesterday and talked about the 24 children under the age of 15 who were killed and the 1,341 children injured in the clashes.

He stood at the bedside of a 27-year-old Palestinian man who is brain-dead from the rubber bullet that smashed through his skull.

What of the horrific beating deaths of the two Israeli soldiers? "Unacceptable." said the doctor, who runs a number of local health clinics. "If I was there, I would have prevented them."

He pointed to the Palestinian casualties. He spoke of the week-old disappearance and death of Issam Hamad, a 39-year-old father of five, who Palestinians believe was tortured and killed by Jewish settlers, an accusation that exacerbated the rioting in Ramallah during two days. Israeli police say Hamad was killed in an automobile accident.

But he identified the underlying cause of the rage as the failed peace process: its never-ending delays, the unabated expansion of Jewish settlements in Palestinian areas and the overall economic decline in the territories.

Many Israelis and supporters in the international community point to Barak as the concession-maker, for his proposal on control of Jerusalem that would have given the Palestinians a greater say in parts of the Holy City. But Barghouti said people forget that Palestinians have compromised greatly by agreeing to live in a state that would be only 22 percent of the land they claim to be theirs.

"These formulas don't work," he said of the peace process. "Thirty-three years of occupation is more than any people, any country should have to endure."

The clashes of the past two weeks are a "new uprising," he said, referring to street protests of 1998-1993 that led to the Oslo accords.

"It's not about throwing stones," he said. "It's about a whole new mind-set where people decide finally to defy the rules of the occupier. This is an intifada. This is the uprising of independence."

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