Socialist Worker

'We won't bow to Bush's blackmail'

Issue No. 1807

THE KILLING of six Palestinian children, 700,000 Palestinians trapped in their homes, the assassination of Palestinian leaders, the rounding up of Palestinian men, the reoccupation of Palestinian land. This is what George Bush's vision for the Middle East means-Israel's freedom to do whatever the hell it wants to the Palestinians.

Ariel Sharon, the right wing Israeli prime minister, used Bush's call for a 'new Palestinian leadership, uncorrupted by terror' on Monday of last week to reimpose Israel's control over the Palestinians. Israeli forces have 'indefinitely' reoccupied seven Palestinian towns in the West Bank. They have enforced a curfew. This has had a devastating effect on the Palestinian people, who have already suffered 54 years of Israeli oppression.

Some 700,000 people cannot leave their homes to get food, go to work or school, or get medical treatment. Israeli troops shot six children dead when they left their homes thinking the curfew had been lifted. Across the West Bank 15,000 teenagers could lose out on a university place because they missed their final exams.

Israeli soldiers arrested all the men over 15 years old in the Al Amri refugee camp near Ramallah last Sunday. Israeli commandos assassinated Muhaned Taher and another Palestinian in an attack on a home in Nablus last Sunday. Taher was the leader of the military wing of the local Hamas Islamist group.

Israel has assassinated many Palestinian leaders since the intifada, or uprising, broke out in September 2000. The media hailed Israel's so called dismantling of 'settlements' last weekend and its plans to remove more. But the 'settlements' disbanded were only outposts of already existing settlements.

Israeli settlers are violent fundamentalist extremists who believe that all the West Bank and Gaza Strip belongs to Israel. They terrorise local Palestinian people and take their land.

During the Oslo peace process, which was supposed to bring Palestinian control over the Occupied Territories, the numbers of settlers doubled. Some 44 outposts have been built since Sharon came to power in February 2001.

The settlers then use the outposts as 'bargaining chips' which can be sacrificed to make it look like they are compromising. The Israeli state has confiscated 43 percent of Palestinian land in the West Bank and its troops control it, protecting the settlers. Israel has eight 'security zones', 120 army checkpoints and 220 military enclaves controlling the Palestinians and their lives.

Israeli settlers in the Middle East set up the state of Israel on 78 percent of the land of historic Palestine by ethnically cleansing 750,000 Palestinian people in 1948. Since then the Palestinians have been without a homeland. Israel then invaded the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967 and ran them as its Occupied Territories ever since.

The Oslo peace process of the 1990s was supposed to bring peace, justice and a homeland for the Palestinians. It was a fraud-it left the settlers free to grab more land.

Now Bush is saying he will not recognise any Palestinian leader who resists this. Even Mohammed Dahlan, who is supposed to be Bush's choice to replace Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, says, 'Bush is effectively demanding a coup d'etat against Arafat. As long as the Israelis are against Arafat, I'm with him.'

Children taught to hate

A PHOTO of a Palestinian baby dressed as a suicide bomber was splashed all over the media last week. Newspapers like the Daily Mirror put it on the front page. They parroted Israeli government propaganda. They said the photo was proof that all Palestinian children are indoctrinated with a cult of martyrdom, hatred and violence.

But these newspapers never splash pictures of Israeli settler children, like this one, who are brought up to hate all Arabs. They are taught to use and carry guns from an early age. Nor do the papers talk about the gun clubs in the US. These provide President George Bush with the backbone of his support, and boast of introducing young children to the gun culture of the US right.

We must choose

'IT IS very terrible,' Fadel, a Palestinian in the West Bank, told Socialist Worker. 'I hate this situation but I cannot do anything. Many people cannot eat. We don't have money or anything. I must stay in my house. I do not have a country. The Israelis control everything so we cannot go anywhere.

I have just finished university but I cannot go home. All the roads are closed. I want to go to Jenin which is 13 kilometres away, but I can't. George Bush wants a new Palestinian government, but he cannot expect us to do what he says. We must have a new government, but we must choose it. Nobody else can tell us to do this.'

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Sat 6 Jul 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1807
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