THURSDAY, GEORGE Bush endorses Israel's land grab in the Occupied Territories. Friday, he and Tony Blair line up behind Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. Saturday, another Palestinian leader is murdered. The fiction of a "road map to peace" in the Middle East is dead, murdered by an expansionist Israeli government that wants to humiliate the Palestinians and leave them with a tenth of the land they lived in only two generations ago.
Ashraf, a Palestinian living in Ramallah in the West Bank, told Socialist Worker about the response to Sharon's scheme to annexe half the area: "Palestinians are so angry now. For the last few days there have been demonstrations everywhere. That Bush and Sharon could decide a whole nation's life is unbelievable. Bush is legitimising what Sharon wants. It is justification for Sharon to build more settlements. The 'withdrawal' from Gaza means that Israel will come out of the prison and close the door behind them. They will close the borders. Israel will still be able to interfere in Gaza for 'security reasons'. They will assassinate more Palestinian leaders as they leave.
Sharon will give a Palestinian state less than 42 percent of the West Bank. There will be no right of return for the refugees. Sharon said a week ago that he will keep and protect the biggest settlement in the West Bank. The only settlements Israel will remove are small. The Israeli cities throughout the West Bank will remain. A Palestinian state will probably have less than 10 percent of the land of historic Palestine when you take the separation wall Sharon is building round the West Bank, the settlements, water resources and bypass roads into account. Bush is saying that he is supporting peace and fighting terrorism with these proposals. But he is clapping the criminal and condemning the victims."
Ghada Karmi, a Palestinian writer living in Britain, says, "Bush and Sharon have different agendas. Bush is desperate to get even a pretend agreement to shore up the electoral problems caused by his failure in Iraq. He wants to be able to say he is working well on this big problem in the Middle East. Sharon has realised after three years of trying to crush the Palestinian resistance that it is going to keep going on. The Israelis don't want Gaza at all. It's a mess and they don't like it. Sharon is marketing Israeli withdrawal from Gaza as a wonderful Israeli peace offer. That is ludicrous. He is taking more than half of the West Bank. Less than half is left for the Palestinians and that is already subdivided. No one is talking about Jerusalem. It is out of the equation."
Ha'aretz, a liberal Israeli newspaper, compared the plans for Gaza to apartheid South Africa's "bantustans" for black people. Bush and Blair's unquestioning support for Sharon gave the Israeli state the confidence to assassinate Palestinian Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz Al-Rantissi last Saturday.
Omar, who lives in Ramallah on the West Bank, says, "The most dangerous thing is that Bush has given Israel the right to continue the occupation. There will be no Palestinian sovereignty. This plan is about putting the Palestinians under control in a better way. Settlements will continue to divide the West Bank. The Gaza settlers will be moved to the West Bank. Israel is saying to the Palestinians, 'Always know that you will never get full liberation-you will always be under our control. We will control the water, the land, the electricity, the air, the sea. That is your life.' People are saying the only solution for a free Palestine is to continue the resistance."
Shame of Labour MPs
RESPECT MP George Galloway slammed Bush and Sharon's agreement and Tony Blair for his "cynical and base betrayal" of the Palestinian people last week. Galloway spoke to thousands of cheering Palestinian refugees in a camp in south Lebanon on Friday.
He said Blair's claim that the agreement might advance peace was "an insult to the intelligence of the world. That by tearing up the road map you can at the same time further it is worthy of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass. This betrayal of millions of Palestinian refugees-you, the most bitterly betrayed-is a harbinger of a new generation of bloody conflict between Palestinians and Israel."
Blair promised Labour MPs he would push to get peace and justice in Palestine in return for their backing for the war on Iraq. Many Labour MPs cited that pledge as a reason for voting for the war.
"What are they feeling today?" asked Galloway. "Do they have the courage to stand up and say that we were, once again, lied to and misled by this prime minister? I think not. But history will be their judge, as it will be on this miserable, craven prime minister."
GEORGE FOULKES, Labour MP for Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley, spoke for war on Iraq during the 18 March debate in the House of Commons last year. He said, "Does my right honourable friend agree that, with the publication of the road map for Palestine having given real hope for the people of Palestine...there are now no valid reasons whatever for any Labour MP not to support our government tomorrow?"
Left with 10% of land
1947: United Nations partition plan for the historic land of Palestine offers the Palestinians 45 percent and Zionist settlers 55 percent.
1948: Zionist settlers ethnically cleanse 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and grab 78 percent of the land. Palestinians become refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Israel seizes in 1967.
2004: Sharon's US and British backed land grab leaves the Palestinians with 10 percent of historic Palestine and still under the heel of the Israeli army.