West Bank Explodes!

Richard Bos Richard.Bos at hagcott.meganet.co.uk
Fri Sep 27 09:37:55 MDT 1996

Dear All,

For those of you who do not get the chance to look at the New Worker
site; I am posting this week's lead story.

                      West bank explodes

 by our Middle East Affairs Correspondent

ISRAELI troops have opened fire on Palestinian demonstrators in Ramallah
killing four and wounding over 300 others in what Palestinians are now
calling a new massacre.
 Israeli soldiers stormed into the town on Wednesday, which is in the
"autonomous" zone, and fired into the crowds protesting at the opening
of a tunnel in occupied Arab Jerusalem, which threatens the foundations
of the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa mosque which are sacred to
Islam. Palestinian police returned fire and three were killed in the gun
 The whole of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is ablaze with anger.
Israeli patrols have been stoned in Jerusalem and Palestinians observed
the one-day general strike throughout the occupied territories with
anti-Israei marches and protests.
 The tunnel, begun 12 years ago but shelved following previous Arab
protests, was opened under cover of darkness last Tuesday night. The
Palestinians responded by calling a general strike the next day.


 Hanan Ashrawi, a cabinet minister in the Palestinian National
Authority, which administers the 'autonomous" zone described the Israeli
onslaught on Rarnallah as "a massacre". She herself was badly beaten by
Israeli troops in Jerusalem when they tried to break up a march
she was leading in the Arab city.

 On the eve of the general strike Palestinian President Yasser Arafat
warned that the Israeli action was "a big crime against our religion and
holy places. This is an Israeli madness to change the features of
 When he heard the news from Ramallah Arafat declared; "We will not
accept the Judaisation of East Jerusalem. No-one can accept it".
 Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu, in Paris for talks with the
French government dismissed accusations that he had deliberately stoked
up the flames. The Palestinians want it raised on the UN Security
Council. The Arrtb League is meeting in emergency session.

 Earlier in the week, Netanyahu was in London for talks with John Major.
Not that the Israei leader had much to say in public. And Netanyahu
could have stayed at home for all his comments were worth.
 Gone are the days when Israeli leaders could strut around the western
world posing as heads of a regional super-power. And so have the days
when Western leaders would fete Israeli politicians as if they were.

 But though the red carpet was laid out, the Israeli premier's visit was
virtually ignored by the media pre-occupied with the rifts within the
Conservative Party over European Union integration and the single
currency. The usual platitudes were exchanged at Downing Street.
Major said relations with Israel were in as good shape as I can
remember". Netanyahu told him that Britain with its "deep roots in the
Middle Fast" could do more to help the "peace process"

 What Netanyahu thinks the "peace process" is remains in doubt. He
effectively ruled out the idea of an independent Palestinian state when
he told the BBC that he envisaged a Palestinian 'self-governing
authority enabling Arabs to run their own affairs with minimum
interference from Israel".

                          nothing to offer

 Which means there is Little or nothing to talkabout -- and that's why
the peace talks have stalled. The new Israeli government has ditched the
"peace for land" principles laid down by the United Nations which were
the basis for the Middle East peace conference in the first place.

 Netanyahu has reverted to the sterile formulas of "peace for peace" and
"peace for security" which would endorse Israel's occupation of the West
Bank and Syria's Golan Heights.

 Needless to say he's had no takers either in the West or in the Arab
world. None of the Arabs are prepared to settle for such a surrender
peace. And Egypt, the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, is
beginning to publicly criticise the stubborn position of the Tel Aviv

 Netanyahu has no interest in encouraging an independent western
European position towards the Middle East crisis.

 Britain, France and Germany are all quite happy to let the Americans
take the lead while reserving a few pious phrases for the benefit of the
Palestinians to preserve their substantial oil interests and arms deals
with the Arabs.

 The American president, Bill Clinton, is in the threes of his
re-election campaign and he is unlikely to take on any new initiative
until the results have been declared. Which gives Tel Aviv a free hand
to stall at least till the end of the year.

 But events are not entirely in Israeli hands. The conflict in southern
Lebanon is betting up again. Only last week two Israeli soldiers were
killed and eight others wounded by the resistance inside the occupied
border strip. The Islamic Palestinian resistance has warned that a new
suicide-bomb campaign is in the offing and now the occupied territories
are in ferment.
 Israel's new leaders may think that if they say a thing often enough it
will happen. Events in the Middle East have proved time and time again
that this is never the case.


      New Worker Online http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/2853

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