GLW: Support Palestine's call for a UN protection force
Green Left Parramatta
glparramatta at SPAMgreenleft.org.au
Mon Nov 20 15:28:45 MST 2000
The following article appeared in the latest
issue of Green Left Weekly
Australia's radical newspaper.
Support Palestine's call for a UN protection force!
It is time for the opponents of Israel's
colonialist war against the Palestinian people to mobilise in
support of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Yasser Arafat's
demand that a United Nations force be sent to protect the unarmed
and defenceless people of east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza
from Israel's brutal occupying army.
Every day since the latest intifada (uprising) began
on September 23, thousands of courageous Palestinian
young people have dared to take on the might of the Middle East's
most powerful military machine with little more than stones.
The murderous response by Israel's occupation army has shocked
the world hundreds of Palestinian civilians have been shot at
with potentially deadly rubber-coated steel bullets; slingshots
have been answered by deadly accurate Israeli snipers; and
isolated, mostly ineffective, Palestinian gunfire has been
answered with collective punishment on residential areas
inflicted by tank cannons, mortars and helicopter-fired missiles.
Following each of the relatively few Israeli deaths that have
occurred over the last two months, the Israeli military and its
paramilitary allies among the Zionist settlers have unleashed an
orgy of revenge attacks on Palestinian neighbourhoods, towns and
villages, using all the heavy weapons at their disposal. Homes,
schools and hospitals have not escaped Israeli bombardment.
The death toll from this Gestapo-style terror has increased by an
average of six Palestinians every day. As of November 14, more
than 250 Palestinians have been slaughtered around a third
under the age of 18 and 9000 wounded since September 23.
Israeli generals have openly threatened to unleash hit squads to
take out Palestinian leaders who refuse to control the
Palestinian people's just struggle for national independence.
That these threats were not idle was made viciously clear when
Fatah leader Hussein Abayat was assassinated on November 9 by
Israeli missiles fired from a US-supplied helicopter gunship.
The intifada exploded in September, not because the Palestinian
leadership had control of the Palestinians living in the
territories occupied by the Israeli army in 1967, but because to
a large extent it had lost control of them. The new intifada is a
largely spontaneous revolt produced by seven years of pent-up
frustration and anger at the US-controlled Oslo peace process
and the unanswered litany of compromise-upon-compromises agreed
to by the Arafat leadership.
Since Oslo accords were signed in 1993, Israel has consolidated
its military and economic control over the West Bank, Gaza and
east Jerusalem. In all areas, life has got worse for the majority
of Palestinians. Illegal Israeli Jewish-only settlements have
expanded across the occupied territories.
For seven years the Arafat-led PA has played the role Israel's
Palestinian gendarme against the aspirations of his own people as
the Zionist occupiers transformed the West Bank and Gaza into a
patchwork quilt of bantustans dependent upon, and servile to,
Israel. Despite this, Israel has refused to abide by the most
minimal of commitments given in 1993.
The new uprising of the Palestinian people in the occupied
territories supported by the Palestinian minority within Israel
and the masses of the Arab world seems to have pulled the
historical leadership of the Palestinian national liberation
struggle back from the brink of the Oslo precipice.
Negotiations from now on must be about implementing
international legitimacy and ending the occupation in the West
Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, Palestinian leader Mustafa
Barghouti told November 9-15 Al-Ahram newspaper. That is only
possible peace, the bare minimum of justice and the real
compromise. Oslo was an adventure where Palestinians were
continually being asked to compromise on the compromise. And you
can't compromise on the compromise. If the intifada is telling us
anything, it is telling us that.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation's representative for
Jerusalem, Faisal Husseini, told the same newspaper: We do not
want to `negotiate' UN resolutions 242 and 338. We want Israel to
implement them and recognise the 1967 lines as the borders of
Husseini was referring to the two key resolutions unanimously
passed by the UN Security Council demanding the withdrawal of the
Israeli army from the Palestinian lands it invaded in 1967.
In November 1988 the Palestine National Council, the Palestinian
parliament-in-exile and highest decision-making body of the PLO,
compromised and accepted UN resolutions 181 (the resolution which
partitioned Palestine into Jewish and Arab states in 1947), 242
and 338 as the basis for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian
This was a significant step back from the PLO's previous demand
for a united, democratic, secular Palestine. Israel's repudiation
of even the phony Oslo peace process proves that the Zionist
ruling class was not content with the PLO's historic
compromise, but wanted its total surrender.
Under pressure from his people to halt the leadership's retreat,
and in the face of the Israeli army's indiscriminate killings of
Palestinian civilian protesters, Arafat on November 10 demanded
that the UN Security Council approve a 2000-strong UN protection
force for the occupied territories to protect Palestinian
civilians and to supervise the withdrawal of Israel's occupation
For 33 years, Israel has occupied east Jerusalem, the West Bank
and Gaza in open defiance of the UN resolutions. The United
States has persistently used its veto in the Security Council to
prevent any action being taken to force Israel to comply with
these resolutions. US President Bill Clinton has stated that
Washington opposes Arafat's call for a protection force because
Israel will not agree to it.
Washington's attitude toward Israel's 33-year occupation of the
internationally recognised Arab territories stands in stark
contrast to the US response to Iraq's invasion of the oil-rich,
pro-Western emirate of Kuwait on August 2, 1990. Then, the US
called the Security Council into emergency session immediately,
and passed resolution 660 which condemned the invasion, demanded
an immediate withdrawal and called for direct negotiations
between Iraq and Kuwait. Four days later, the council imposed a
trade and financial embargo on Iraq that continues to this day
and has taken the lives of 1.5 million Iraqis.
On November 29, 1990 the Security Council passed resolution 678,
which authorised UN member states to use all necessary means to
force Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. The US air force began
bombing Baghdad on the evening of January 16, 1991. The Pentagon
had sent 400,000 troops to Saudi Arabia well before November 29,
and the US commander, General Norman Schwarzkopf, was in command
from the first. The UN secretary general was not even informed
when Operation Desert Storm was to begin.
Why did the US take such a hard line against Iraq's invasion of
Kuwait while working hand in glove with Israel to maintain its
1967 invasions? Because Washington's decisions on whether to act
against an invasion, or condone one, have nothing to do with the
lying rhetoric it peddles about respect for international law,
the rights of small nations or human rights. Rather, they are
decided on the basis of what will protect and extend its
corporate masters' global empire.
Needless to say, Israel is US imperialism's key ally in the
Middle East. As a Pentagon document reported upon by the New York
Times on March 8, 1992, explained: the overall [US] objective is
to remain the predominant outside power in the [Middle East]
region and preserve US and Western access to the region's oil.
The Palestinian leadership's demand for the sending of a UN
protection force to the West Bank and Gaza and for the withdrawal
of the Israeli occupation army has the potential to mobilise the
millions of people around the world who are shocked and disgusted
at the magnitude of the violence being inflicted upon a
defenceless people. It should be vigorously supported by all
those who support the democratic right of the Palestinian people
to national self-determination.
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