GLW: Support Palestine's call for a UN protection force

Green Left Parramatta glparramatta at
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
 Palestinian sovereignty.”

 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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