THE US president George Bush's plan for 'reform' in the Middle East announced this week will not bring about peace. He gave his complete backing to Israel and its brutal repression of the Palestinians. Right wing prime minister Ariel Sharon sent his troops and tanks to 'indefinitely' reoccupy the main Palestinian areas in the West Bank in the days before Bush made his speech.
Israeli soldiers and tanks killed ten Palestinians as they swept through Jenin, Nablus, Bethlehem, Tulkarm, Qalqilya and Ramallah. But Bush said nothing. He was also silent about the Israeli settlers who control almost half of the West Bank. This is land that is supposed to belong to the Palestinians. Instead Bush denounced the Palestinian 'terrorists', echoing Ariel Sharon's excuse for killing Palestinian men, women and children.
Over 1,500 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the new intifada (or uprising) in September 2000, compared to 500 Israelis who have died. Bush also directed his fire towards the Palestinian state, which he claimed is 'corrupt'.
But he doesn't mention that its police force was set up under the guidance of his own CIA. Sharon's troops have already surrounded the ruined compound of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. Israeli tanks only recently lifted their months-long siege of Arafat in the compound. Arafat is now forced to work in one of the few offices in the building left standing after the previous attacks.
Bush had the nerve to demand that the Palestinians have to appoint a new leader. 'When the Palestinians have new leaders, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state,' he commanded. No wonder his speech was cheered by the Israeli government. They have long wanted to get rid of Arafat, who they blame for not clamping down on Palestinian militants.
Bush's plan will enrage many Palestinians. It is yet another example of a 'peace plan' that enshrines Israel's robbery of Palestinian land. Israel was set up on 78 percent of the land that the Palestinians owned in 1948.
It kicked out 750,000 Palestinians into the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Then Israel occupied these territories in 1967. There was supposed to be a peace plan drawn up in Oslo in 1993. The Oslo peace accords did not bring justice and peace for the Palestinians. They consolidated Israel's control over the Palestinians.
The number of illegal Israeli settlers living in the Occupied Territories doubled during the peace process. This is despite the Oslo peace accords giving Palestinians limited control over their own areas.
Yasser Arafat responded to Bush's speech, calling it 'a serious contribution to pushing the peace process forward'. This shows the tremendous pressure he is under from the combined political and military weight of the US and Israel. But he is in danger of becoming their instrument, imposing what they want to use against his own people.
This will isolate him further from the mass of Palestinians who are sick of being crushed by Israel. The Palestinians deserve their land back, to live without brutal repression, and nothing less.
More Palestinians are gunned down
ISRAELI SOLDIERS deliberately fired on a group of Palestinian children who were shopping in Jenin last week, killing three of them. But there hasn't been a cry of outrage from press and politicians about this. The Israeli government has also begun constructing a 225-mile 'security' fence to wall off Palestinians in the West Bank from Israel.
Israeli settlers have stepped up their violent attacks. They ran rampant near Nablus on Friday of last week, terrorising an Arab village and shooting a Palestinian man dead. The Israeli army controls 42 percent of the West Bank to protect the settlers. It has divided the Palestinian areas up into eight separate 'cantons'.
Israel controls the roads in between these areas, and constantly punishes the whole Palestinian people by closing them and not allowing Arabs through. Only last week Awda Abd-Allah, a 54 year old Palestinian, died at a roadblock north of Ramallah.
Israeli soldiers would not allow the ambulance carrying him to pass the checkpoint. Awda Abd-Allah was the 66th Palestinian to die during the intifada because of being denied access to medical treatment.
When the Israelis close off the Palestinian areas they have a devastating effect-food, medical supplies and other essentials cannot get through. The economy has been destroyed-three quarters of Palestinians are living on less than $2 a day.
Over 7,000 Palestinian men are held in Israeli prisons just because they are 'suspected' of being involved with militant Palestinian groups.
What drives bombers?
BRITAIN'S RIGHT wing media went berserk last week when Cherie Blair briefly expressed some understanding of the plight of the Palestinians. 'As long as young people feel that they have got no hope but to blow themselves up, you are never going to make progress,' she said. The ensuing response forced her to apologise.
But her comments and similar ones expressed by Ted Turner, billionaire owner of CNN, hit on the real roots of the suicide bombers. Palestinians have been robbed of their land, attacked and killed. Five million out of eight million Palestinians are refugees.
They are fighting against the occupation of their land, and their resistance to it is legitimate. Children have faced Israeli tanks with only stones to fight with. Many of them would prefer to have anti-tank guns and surface to air missiles that could destroy the Israeli jets. Until they get them they will hit back at the Israelis any way they can. For some that means taking the desperate step of becoming a suicide bomber.
'WE ARE refugees in our own land. Our country is under occupation. We are the victims of terror. But our people's struggle goes on. My husband was kidnapped by the Israelis three months ago. His only crime was to be an elected leader of his people. He has been physically and mentally tortured. There are thousands of detainees. You must intervene. Our people will win with your support.'
FADWA BARGHOUTI, wife of arrested Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, speaking at a meeting in London last week
SIGN UP FOR PALESTINIAN RIGHTS
Public meeting to launch national petition for the Palestinian people Tuesday 2 July, 7pm, House of Commons (Committee Room 9), Westminster, London Speakers include Jeremy Corbyn MP, John Austin MP, Julie Christie, Afif Safieh, Alexei Sayle, Mike Rosen, Alex Gordon (RMT president) Organised by the Campaign for Palestinian Rights
ISRAEL: THE HIJACK STATE
A Socialist Worker pamphlet by John Rose. Available from Bookmarks for £2 Phone 020 7637 1848 or go to www.bookmarks.uk.com to order your copy