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Palestinians, Jews doubt peace deal is near

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Ordinary Palestinians and Israelis said Thursday their leaders' decision to stay on at the Camp David summit talks had done little to lift their hopes that a peace deal is about to be concluded.

Some people questioned by Reuters in Jerusalem welcomed the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat had stayed on, but many said they feared they may only be delaying acceptance of failure.

"You ask what I think of him staying longer?" Danny Tsur, a 32-year-old Israeli, said of Barak's decision as he hurried through Jerusalem's busy Mahane Yehuda marketplace.

"A waste of time. You ask what I think of him going in the first place? A waste of time," he said.

His views were shared by 63-year-old Gabriella Jakubowyz, who blamed Arafat for the failure to reach any agreement before President Bill Clinton's departure for a Group of Eight summit in Japan early Thursday.

"I think he (Barak) should come back as quickly as possible because the other side has no goodwill," she said.

"Arafat always threatens violence if he doesn't get his wishes. I voted for Barak (in a general election) last year, but I won't do it again."

Hashim Saiemh, a 29-year-old resident of Jerusalem's old city, said that peace between Israelis and Palestinians would not be possible for many years, let alone at Camp David.

Other people said it was important to keep talking and give peace a chance, even if the chances of agreement were slim.

"They should stay at Camp David," said Fuad Mahmood, 17, from the Abu Dis region on the edge of Arab East Jerusalem.

Israeli Daniel Rihak, 19, supported the decision to stay because of the need to tackle the main stumbling blocks, such as the main dispute over Jerusalem. Both sides want the city as their capital.

But he said he would not accept concessions on such core issues, which have long remained unresolved.

"The situation (Barak) is dealing with is the very same, regardless of whether it's now or two years from now," he said. "He should stay there (at Camp David) as long as there are no far-reaching concessions."

Grace Abu Melleh and Ammad Siam, both residents of Arab East Jerusalem, said Arafat and Barak were right to continue to negotiate because peace was in the interests of both sides.

"This is the best for Arabs, for Jewish people, for everyone," Siam said. "The Palestinian people need peace ... and the Arab people have wide hearts. Believe me."

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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