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Socialist Democracy July - August 2003 Index


ISRAEL/PALESTINE:

A "ROAD MAP" TO LASTING PEACE

By Wale Eleto

The Western bourgeois press describes it as "

the most concerted effort to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 1993 Oslo accords". It is a so-called road map to 'peace' in the long-drawn Israeli-Palestinian crisis, particularly the 31 months old bloody intifada. The cartographers are the 'quartet' of US, UN, EU and Russia, with the US Bush regime as the main arbiter. The roadmap, spread over two years, is a three phase blue print designed to end the Israeli-Palestinian crisis by 2005. "It calls first for a return to the situation before the intifada broke out in September 2000; second, for the setting up of a Palestinian state with provisional borders; third, for a final negotiated agreement". (The Economist, May 3rd, 2003).

In more elaborate terms, by the blueprint, the newly reformed Palestinian police force is to resume security cooperation with the Israeli army, and to act to "end all acts of violence against Israelis everywhere"

. In return, Israeli is to open up the territories by gradually withdrawing from the Palestinian Authority (PA) areas it reconquered during the Intifada. It is also instructed to freeze Israeli settlement building in Palestinian areas straight away. The end of the first stage envisages new Palestinian elections followed in the second stage by setting up of a Palestinian state "with attributes of sovereignty"

at first behind provisional borders covering yet undefined areas. This state will then hold permanent agreement talks with Israel, hoping to resolve the familiar thorny issues of Jerusalem, the settlements, borders and refugees, to reach a fully-fledged agreement by 2005". (The Economist, May 3rd , 2003).

As far as the Palestinian authorities are concerned, the road map is okay by them. In fact, the new Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbass (also known as Abu Mazen) has demanded that "It (the road map) must be implemented, and not negotiated"

. Meanwhile, the case is not the same for the Israeli leadership led by Ariel Sharon, who has been playing perfunctory lip service and in some cases have even contemptuously repudiated the blueprint. Sharon agrees that victory of the US led coalition forces in Iraq creates a new period of peacemaking in the Middle East which must not be allowed to slip by. So also he agrees to make some "painful concessions" e.g. letting go some settlements to make way for a Palestinian state. He said the implementation of the "road map" will depend on a number of conditions, one of which is that the Palestinians "make it clear right at the start"

that they forgo the right of return of the 1948 refugees. Not only that, as against the proposal of the cartographers, particularly US, for a simultaneous or parallel execution of the lines mapped out by the blueprint, Sharon wants a "

performance based" implementation of the plans.

By this, Palestine is expected to have righteously fulfilled all its own obligations to the new deal before Israel practicalises its own commitment. In other words, Sharon "

wants a complete ceasefire and the Palestinian militias disarmed, plus a lengthy period of quiet, before Israel has to pull back its troops from Palestinian towns. What about the question of withdrawing from occupied Palestinian territories and halting the bloody burgeoning acquisition of new settlements? Sharon says "it's a delicate issue that should come up in the final phase of the negotiations. We should not have to deal with it now". To this, the Palestinian leaders expectedly demur.

Sharon's contemptuous attitude is fuelled by the local conservative parties and even his own reactionary right wing Lhikud party, who have expressed their open opposition to any Israeli concessions. It is uncontestable that Sharon and his infrastructure of terror had never wanted peace and do not want a settlement with the Palestinians. The December 14, 2001 edition of Le Monde Magazine had quoted his internal security minister, Uzi Landans, proclaimed bluntly, 'We'll see about peace plans later…What's sure is we will never accept the existence of a Palestinian state. It would be a catastrophe".

However, it should be stated that whatever the map shows or demonstrates, in theory and practice, will definitely not translate into genuine self-determination for the oppressed Palestinian people. Neither will it result into a lasting peace in the Israel-Palestine in particular nor the Middle East region in general.

This is not the first time an attempt would be made by US imperialism and other capitalist world pioneers to "resolve" the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, through accords, treaties, etc. After the 1990-92 Gulf war, the US placated the Arab world with the Oslo accord, which led to the setting up of the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a supposed step towards the establishment of a Palestinian state. However, because of capitalism's internal contradictions and the hypocrisy of US imperialism, nothing fundamental has been achieved from the Oslo process. The last one decade has witnessed more intense military repression of the Palestinians and continuous trampling down of Palestinian aspirations by the Israeli state, with overt and covert military and economic support from US imperialism, due to the latter's strategic interest in the Middle East region.

 

BACKGROUND

 

The current state of Israel was established in 1948 after a bloody military occupation that drove out and dispossessed up to a million Palestinians into refugee camps. To the Palestinians of West Bank and Gaza Strip, Bethlehem, Nablus, Jenin, the emergent Israeli state was a nightmare, having viciously squashed their national aspirations for self-determination and social and democratic rights. Following the horrific revelation of the World War II Nazi holocaust, when millions of Jews were massacred, there had developed a mammoth feeling of sympathy for the idea of an independent Jewish state Israel, among the western powers and even sections of the world population.

The Jewish state, it was so held, would fulfil the aspirations of the persecuted and disposed Jewish people for a national homeland, especially their claimed Biblical homeland. The problem however is that the current state of Israel was founded on other peoples land, the land of the Palestinians, majority of whom were driven out by a bloody and forceful military occupation. Therefore, right at the start, the idea and desire of an independent Jewish state of Israel was pursued on a wrongful and crisis laden perspective of fulfilling the national aspiration of a people by trampling on another people's right to self-determination. Hence, the genesis of the current crisis.

The conflict was compounded by the 1967 "Yom Kippur" war and the role of US imperialism. During the cold war period (1945-1990), US imperialism strengthened Israel as a bridgehead for imperialist intervention against the twin threat of Stalinism and the Arab revolution in the strategic oil rich Middle East. Israeli in turn occupied Palestinian territories of West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 war and expelled another one million Palestinians. Today, there are four million UN recognised Palestinians refugees and another one million "displaced Palestinians".

These have given birth to a strong and propelling feeling of national consciousness among the Palestinian people, with an unrelenting demand and life-and-death 'struggle' for self-determination, democratic national and social rights. This conflict is fuelled by the acute condition of poverty among majority of the Palestinian people, with over 53% of the population unemployed.

It is the view of genuine socialists that despite the way the Israeli state was established, given the fact that it has since grown into over five million population, it would be clearly incorrect now to attempt to deny the Israeli Jews their right to a national homeland. However, genuine self-determination for Israeli Jews, can only be achieved and sustained on a lasting basis with peace, security and based on social equality and democracy if the Jewish working class supports the national self-determination for the Palestinians. Nowhere in the world has military action succeeded in eradicating national aspirations.

 

CORRECT METHOD REQUIRED

 

At the same time, correct strategy and tactics are necessary in the struggle of the Palestinians to fulfil their national aspirations for genuine self-determination built on a solid and lasting foundation of peace and social justice. Obviously, US imperialism and its co-travellers cannot be relied upon to implement any plan that can lead to a viable Palestinian state or fundamentally resolve the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. Israeli ruling class and US imperialism have fear that a truly independent Palestinian state could develop into a radical rallying point for the poor and oppressed people throughout the Middle East which would threaten their power, profits and prestige.

The struggles of the Palestinian masses have been pursued along the line of courageous martyrdom, suicide bombings and generally uncoordinated and isolated armed violent attacks on Israeli citizens and targets. The courage of the Palestinian masses and youth in the pursuit of their national aspirations pushes stone-throwing boys against heavily armed Israeli soldiers leading to death of thousands of Palestinians during such confrontations and also in "reprisal" attacks by well 'armed sophisticated Israeli troops in response to Palestinian executed suicide attacks.

The anger of the Palestinian masses is justified and understandable. But suicide bombings and martyrdom will not win the struggle for self-determination. If anything, the methods are counter-productive, because attacks on Israeli civilians drive Israel's workers and masses into the embrace of Sharon and the reactionary/Israeli ruling class. This attitude does not differentiate between the Israeli ruling class and the working class majority, most of whom are poor and impoverished. It must be noted that without breaking its social base among the Jewish working class which can only be achieved by adopting a strategy, which seeks to clearly differentiate the poor working people of Israel (the working class) from the violent ruling class, it will be impossible to defeat the heavily armed Israeli ruling class. The Palestinian movement needs to undermine support for Israeli capitalism and US imperialism amongst the Israeli Jews particularly among the working class. This would require the building of a mass movement of the Palestinians under democratic control of popularly elected committees of struggle. The mass movement will seek to unite and coordinate the anger of the Palestinian masses, workers, youth, women, artisans, etc on a popular mass struggle for self-determination, national, social and democratic rights. For this movement to be successful too, there will be a need to specially orientate towards the working class of Israel with calls for fraternal support from the poor working people of Israel especially the Israeli conscripts in the occupied territories.

 

A WORKING CLASS SOLUTION

 

The above analysis reveals the need for a working class solution to Israeli- Palestinian conflict. Workers, youth and masses of Israel and Palestine need to build a mass revolutionary workers' movements on both side of the national divide, committed to a socialist programme. There can be no lasting capitalist solutions to these problems. Only a socialist Palestine alongside a socialist Israel within the framework of a socialist federation of Middle East can resolve the Israeli-Palestine conflict and bring enduring peace and development to the region. The killings of over 60 people as a result of Israeli military attacks and Palestinian suicide bombings since the commencement of the implementation of the "road map" is an indication that there is no real solution to the conflict on capitalist basis.

 

 

 

Socialist Democracy July - August 2003 Index