Still in a hotel after three weeks of fruitless house hunting. Cabin fever eased slightly by guaranteed bacon at breakfast. Brush my teeth thoroughly before we head out to the West Bank to talk to some hilltop settlers about Ariel Sharon’s promise to shift them.
Sitting in her 20ft trailer, a placid 23 year old with gentle brown eyes and a sleeping six-month-old baby tells me: “We’ll never give up a single inch of our land.” I believe her.
Spend much of the night lost in the back streets of Tel Aviv with my producer Ghousoon. We finally pitch up at the British Ambassador’s leaving-do an undiplomatic two hours late.
Fortunately the party’s still going.
There’s wine, dancing and lots of expats who tell me how much nicer I look in real life than on the TV, thinking it’s a compliment.
An Israeli soldier has shot dead a young Palestinian boy by mistake.
We edit a report trying to avoid the most graphic close-ups of the child with his head blown apart. The images run in full on the Arab news networks.
Drive “the Shabbat route” back to the hotel, bypassing the ultra-orthodox neighbourhoods. The Torah forbids driving on the Sabbath and a small group of ultra-observant Jews have taken to throwing stones at passing cars. On Friday night Jerusalem is not a party town.
Jerusalem still shut for the Sabbath so I head to Jericho with Ghousoon and a couple of her friends.
The journey takes 20 minutes but we’re held at an army checkpoint just outside the city for another 20. It’s becoming a familiar routine. It’s hot and the soldiers are in no great hurry. One Palestinian I met told me he has an in-car library, which he’s working his way through at roadblocks across the West Bank. Eventually we reach the local swimming pool. It smells of dodgy fertiliser but the view is beautiful, on one side the dead sea on the other the ancient hills of Jericho.
A work day for ordinary Israelis and for us. We spend the day travelling on the 14a bus through Jerusalem filming a feature about the mood in Israel a month into the ceasefire. The driver starts his shift by searching under the seats for bombs. The bus is packed by the time we pass the spot of the last bus bombing seven weeks ago.
The passengers don’t spend much time looking out of the windows, they watch the doors.
Edit and file the bus piece.
Otherwise all quiet. Jerusalem seems to be full of foreign correspondents kicking their heels. The old hands are enjoying the break but newcomers like me are getting jumpy. There’s a lot of debate about where the Middle East story goes from here. Broad agreement that the road map is probably leading nowhere.
Spend the morning with a tax lawyer in Tel Aviv discussing the obligations of foreign broadcasters in Israel. As dull as it sounds. Back to Jerusalem for a live two-way to preview Sharon’s meeting with President Bush. Back to the hotel to pace around my room. Still quiet.
For the first time I manage to sleep through the 4.30am call to prayer from the mosque next door to the hotel. My internal bacon alarm gets me up in time for breakfast. Jerusalem driving skills coming along nicely on the journey to work. Manage a few good blasts on the horn at the car in front 0.001 seconds after the traffic light turned green. Still working on the hand gestures. Another slow news day, so we chase a few feature ideas and plan a trip to Gaza. Dinner with a CBS correspondent who’s celebrating getting on air for the first time in two weeks (a feature). “It’s just a lull”, she tells me, adding the phrase I’ve heard 100 times since I arrived: “Jerusalem never stays quiet for long.”