In the last few weeks fascist Israel has announced its intention of withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, removing the settlements which it had built illegally, and which house some 7,500 Jewish settlers. For all that the Israeli government parades this proposed withdrawal as a massive step towards peace, for which they are to reward themselves by annexing all those parts of the West Bank where no fewer than 230,000 Jews from all over the world have been illegally settled on land stolen from the Palestinians who previously made a living from working it, the withdrawal from Gaza has actually been brought about by the strength of Palestinian resistance to the settlements. The resistance, which has brought about a constant state of war in the Gaza Strip, has impressed upon the Israeli government that its settlements are not capable of being defended. It is in fact withdrawing from futile attempts to subdue the Palestinian population of the area by terror. It is not that they have lacked the will to be vicious: for instance, in the week ending 21 February, the Israelis killed 300 people in Rafah (a town close to the border with Egypt). These 300 included 87 children. Since the beginning of the Intifada, 9970 of Rafah’s inhabitants have seen their homes destroyed by the Israeli army. On 7 March 2004 Israeli armoured vehicles backed up by helicopter gunships entered the Nuseirat and Bureij camps guns before dawn, guns blazing, and did to death 14 people, 4 of whom were children under 16. Again there was massive damage to property. In the whole of March, throughout Palestine, Israelis killed 73 Palestinians and demolished 118 homes. Saeb Erikat, the negotiations minister for the Palestinian Authority, commented: “At a time when they’re speaking about withdrawing from Gaza, they’re destroying Gaza”.
There is no doubt that the heroic resistance of the Palestinian people has put Israel’s nose right out of joint, which is why they are not only destroying Gaza, as far as they are able, but also targeting Palestinian leaders for assassination. On 22 March they killed the elderly, quadruplegic, wheelchair bound Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and on 17 April they murdered his successor Abdel Aziz Rantissi – in each case by “targeted bombing”. By going for the systematic assassination of the political leadership of the Palestinian resistance, Sharon has opened the gates to Hell. Because Hamas is implicated in suicide bombings which kill Israelis, the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, who oversaw the massacres of innocent Palestinian men, women and children at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut in September 1982, claims the right to effect extra-judicial executions at will. Well, no doubt as he sows so shall he reap, in the fullness of time. Most newspaper commentators are convinced that these murders will only exacerbate Israel’s situation. As Massoud Derhally put it in The Independent of 21 April (‘No wonder the Arabs no longer have faith in America’), Israel’s murders of Palestinian leaders will “most certainly lead to a proliferation of Osama bin Ladens”, i.e., Palestinians and people who support their cause who are prepared to attack in retaliation for the crimes perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people not only Israelis in Israel but also US citizens and US property, because without the support of the US, Israel could not exist. The technology needed, for instance, for killing the two Hamas leaders, was supplied by the US, which has refused to condemn the murders.
The Oslo Accords were a compromise under which the Palestinians gave up their claim to the whole of Palestine, and agreed to content themselves with a Palestinian state comprising the West Bank and Gaza, joined by a narrow corridor. However, the foreign invaders, Jews from all over the world, motivated by the obscurantist mythology of Zionism, according to which the whole of Palestine together with the southern half of Lebanon belongs to the Jews, and supported first by British imperialism and then by US imperialism, also had to give up their ambition to steal the whole of the Palestinian territory and content themselves with just over half of what they believe God decreed should be theirs. In the event it turned out that, egged on and supported by the mighty US imperialism in every crime they commit, the Zionists were not willing to respect the Oslo Accords, and as a result of dragging their feet in granting to the Palestinians the little that was due to them, the Palestinians increasingly lost faith in the peace process, until finally the second intifada was launched in response to Ariel Sharon provocatively visiting the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, as if to lay claim to it. Peace proposals have come and gone since then, but the Israelis have only escalated the violence against the Palestinians, pushing more and more of them into action against the Israelis.
It is interesting to note that shortly before he was killed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin had apparently published a speech on the Hamas website in which he “held out the prospect of cessation of attacks in the event of an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza” (Financial Times, 23 March 2004). (What he actually said was: “If the Zionist entity completely evacuates the Gaza Strip, we can start a new phase of calmness in order to discuss the issues of Jerusalem, the West Bank, the prisoners and the refugees”). As a result of his murder, thousands of Palestinians have vowed vengeance, and it is a vow that will bind them whether Israel withdraws from Gaza or not. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that those who murdered him actually wanted the Palestinians to attack Israelis, in order to “justify” further genocidal measures against the Palestinian population.
Following Sharon’s announcement that Israel would withdraw from Gaza, abandoning its settlements, George Bush seized the opportunity to announce that, in view of Israel’s magnanimous gesture, the US would now accept Israel’s right to annex those parts of the West Bank on which it had placed settlements, and that it accepted Israel’s refusal to recognise the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes from which they fled in 1948 in fear of being murdered at the hands of Zionist terror gangs who were then roaming the country murdering Palestinians at will. Bush announced that “In the light of the new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centres, it is unrealistic to expect … a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949”.
For the first time Bush is publicly in effect admitting US imperialism’s complete contempt for UN resolutions, for what he has said is in breach of UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 calling for Israel to withdraw from Arab lands occupying during the 1967 war (ie, the West Bank and Gaza, the Golan Heights and the Sinai – only the Sinai has been abandoned to date). He is also defying UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which states that the Palestinian “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practical date.”
How can one understand US policy which on the one hand constantly appears to be brokering peace, but on the other hand constantly seems to be egging on the Israelis to intransigence, thereby ensuring that the struggle continues? It is clear that the “peace” moves are totally insincere. They are intended to give hope to Palestinians in particular but also the Arabs in general that there is light at the end of the tunnel, to prevent them from turning en masse against US imperialism and the various pro-US feudal regimes in the region who safeguard western imperialism’s black gold – the flow of oil. Israel – a country implacably hostile to its oil-wealthy neighbours and utterly dependent for its existence on the goodwill of imperialism – must continue to exist to act as a base should it be required for imperialist military action to secure oil supplies and routes in the Middle East. Israel can only exist at the expense of the Palestinians. Hence US policy is a foregone conclusion, regardless of who is president. The fact that successes of the Palestinian resistance may lead to Israeli retreat – such as the retreat from Gaza, if it materialises – makes no difference to the overall policy. If the opportunity presents itself, i.e., if the Palestinians let up on their resistance, the Israelis would be back, for Gaza is part of the area the Zionists claim to be theirs, and if the Israelis want it then US imperialism will support them. The only way that they could be induced to change their policy is if the whole of the Arab world stood together to deny US imperialism oil and investment until the Palestinian issue were fairly resolved. This is not something which will happen in the near future, as most Arab countries are run by stooges of US imperialism. These stooges, however, are as a result of what is happening in Palestine (added to which there is now what is happening in Iraq), finding their thrones increasingly shaky. Sooner or later collapse is inevitable, the barriers will come crashing down, and the people of the Middle East will make short work of the Israeli occupation to the extent it has not already been routed by the Palestinians.
VICTORY TO THE INTIFADA !