[EDITORIALS]Israel pours fuel on the fire

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[EDITORIALS]Israel pours fuel on the fire

As the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians escalates day by day, the Middle East crisis seems to get ever more severe. Arguments provided by both parties are many, and so are the reasons for the endless attacks and counterattacks that have been tearing at this region for a long time. It is hard to blame only one party for this whole mess.

The recent surge of violence is the result of a Palestinian suicide bombing in the Israeli coastal town of Netanya that claimed the lives of 22 people. In response to that attack, Israel attacked the headquarters of Yasser Arafat, and the cycle of small-scale war entered a new round. From Israel's standpoint it was necessary to counter terror attacks, and its actions were a justified response to a threat to the country's security.

Nevertheless, Israel's recent actions exceed the meaning of self-defense and have taken on the shape of a full-scale war that threatens to eliminate the very existence of the Palestinian government. Such drastic measures only pour fuel onto the fire, as Palestinians have escalated their own responses to Israel's attack, while the Arab world, too, grows increasingly hostile to Israel. In the international community, more and more voices of concern are raised about a possible crisis in the Middle East if appropriate measures are not taken.

Looking back at history, no matter how many tanks occupy the Palestinian areas, peace is never secured to Israel. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon knows only too well that even inside Israel a quite sizeable number of people favor a peaceful solution built on the assumption of a peaceful coexistence of the two peoples.

What he cannot neglect is the fact that only the Palestinian government can provide the means to an end of the ongoing bloodshed. He should restart negotiations with the Palestinian government immediately. The international community should urge both sides to stop aggression and begin a cease-fire. In addition, Israel should obey the UN Security Council's resolution calling on it to withdraw from all Palestinian cities, including Ramallah, so that a peace atmosphere can be created. Above all, the international community must come up with a method, through pressure, mediation or providing advice, that enables both sides to acknowledge each other and live together peacefully.

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