Unless the occupation ends, no hope of peace in sight, no matter who’s sitting at the Moqata
Thanks once again to Claudio of Al-Awda Italia for forwarding this article (an excerpt of which can be found in its original Italian in il manifesto, although Claudio has forwarded a much longer article). I think it’s worth it to read in English, and I have searched like mad to find a copy of it someplace, but not being able to, I’ve translated salient portions of the article by Zvi Schuldiner.
The election of Abu Mazen doesn’t mean that the peace negotiations are immanent. The political writers who think that the process has changed are committing a fundamental error: the death of president Arafat really does open up a new chapter in the history of the region, but it is important to clarify that the problem of peace is not related to the errors or the politics of Arafat.
The essential problem was, and will be the problem of Israeli military occupation.
In a certain sense, the Palestinian elections take us away from the heart of the problem and make us forget what the essential elements of the problem are. Terrorism, criminal and condemnable, or the declarations of Arafat, intelligent, mistaken or stupid, were nothing more than the inevitable and necessary result of the occupation.
In the past years the occupation has become ever more cruel and violent. It has not been the Israelis alone who have paid the price of terrorism, but also the thousands of Palestinians who have been killed have paid the price of Israeli State terrorism.
The occupation hasn’t only meant death, invalidity, thousands of injured: the occupation means the systematic destruction of Palestinian society, of its political institutions, of its economy, the elimination of the weak “public order forces” that despite its 60 thousand officers, was nothing more than a pure economic value.
The occupation means razed fields, enormous unemployment, hunger and misery, destroyed homes and a gigantic Wall of Hate that in the name of the War on Terrorism, feeds yet more hate and a spirit of vendetta in the hearts of three million Palestinians who are crowded into the enormous prisons of the occupation.
Will Abu Mazen perhaps lead the Palestinian people without taking into account some claims that are basic, essential, elementary to a people under occupation? In the immediate future, it is foreseeable that the new Palestinian leader will concentrate himself on some of the natural objectives of a period of transition. The liberation of the prisoners and a probable withdrawal of Israel to the confines of the beginning of this second Intifada, those would be the immediate objectives. But the problem remains: a true peace passes only through the withdrawal to the borders of 1967.
The Israeli government that will swear in in the coming hours, will play the round of a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. To the demagogy of a “man of peace” like Sharon we will today unite the deceitful rhetoric of a Peres who will continue to be illuded by his own words and by the vicinity to power.
This will be part of a serious conflict in Israeli society, it will have a positive symbolic effect if it actually will bring about the evacuation of the Israeli settlers, but it is far from being a peace program. Worse still: if the clashes that the extreme right of Israel become reinforced, this will put an end to a real peace process for many years to come.
We are dealing with two new governments, the international presence in the Middle East is today stronger than ever, although all of this risks being a jolly festival in which the essential parametres of the conflict are forgotten, as well as the necessity to reach a negotiated peace that will before all else put an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory since 1967.
Dr. Zvi Schuldiner is head of the Department of Policy and Public Administration at Sapir Academic College in the Negev (Israel)
The Italian Al-Awda list is one of the best discussion groups of Pro-Palestinian activists that I’ve ever come across. Makes me glad I speak the language and proud to be in contact with such very good people. I want to share one of yesterday’s comments from forum member Claudio which I’ve translated into English.
“I’m almost filled with terror to find myself trying to critically evaluate the election of Mazen…. Schuldiner has comforted me: Abu Mazen has the same probabilities of success as Arafat did, because the problems themselves are the same (rather: they have only worsened in the course of time) and it doesn’t depend upn the will of this, that or the other Palestinian leader but on the American and Zionist strategies of the New Middle East and Greater Israel.
The much tauted exchange for security with the accords for a cease fire did not move the problem of problems ahead even one millimetre: the OCCUPATION that Israel has and the maintenance of these territories with Nazi methods (destruction, incarceration, nerve gas, targetted assassinations, killings in the refugee camps, raids and searches, the Wall of hate….)
There will be the legislative elections and the new Palestinian government: if Dahlan becomes the responsible for the reformed security services we are back where we were: a lot of talk and a much stronger control by the CIA and the Mossad over the Palestinian police force…..(meanwhile: Ramallah, 11 January – the councellor for National Security of the president of the Palestinian National Authority Jibril Rajoub has given his resignation. Rajoub was called to assume the post of Yasser Arafat. It is unclear of his resignation is an attempt to offer the newly elected Abu Mazen the opportunity to restructure the security services or if it is a polemic gesture.)
Al Jazeera revealed that Rajoub met Mohammed Dahlan, former responsible for internal security of the Abu Mazen government on 11 January. The two have never had idyllic relations. The meeting was meant to serve to repair any misunderstanding. In the meantime, the National Security Council, now overseen by the prime minister Ahmed Qurei, has prepared a reform project that in the next few dys will reunite into three organisms the numerous sectors of the Palestinian services: it is a reform that has been solicited by both the Palestinians as well as on an international level during the era of Arafat.
Meanwhile there is a government crisis in Israel: the executive has been saved by the Parliament, but outside there are 20,000 settlers on the war path against the plans of withdrawal from Gaza… ”