Israelis, Palestinians United in Peace Pessimism


JERUSALEM/GAZA (Reuters) - Israelis and Palestinians were in rare agreement on Sunday -- peace doesn't stand a chance following the resignation of the Palestinian prime minister and a missile strike on Hamas's spiritual leader.

Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas quit his post on Saturday after a bitter power struggle with President Yasser Arafat.

Palestinians interviewed on the streets of Gaza City accused Israel and the United States of having undermined Abbas, echoing one of the reasons he gave for deciding to step down in a blow to a U.S.-backed peace plan he had promoted.

"They made him fake wings of nice and peaceful promises and when he tried to fly, he fell to the ground," Gaza taxi driver Ali Mhesen said. "Israel and the United States did nothing to make him look good before his people."

Israelis at a heavily guarded central bus station in Jerusalem were similarly pessimistic about prospects for peace.

"I don't see any peace on the horizon, as long as Arafat is around," Carmela Yitzhak, 50, said amid mounting calls by members of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet to expel the iconic Palestinian leader.

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