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From The Socialist newspaper, 23 March 2006

Can the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be resolved?

HAMAS' RECENT election win in Gaza and the West Bank put the final nail into the coffin of the imperialist inspired Oslo Peace agreement signed in 1993. Oslo attempted to provide the faŤade of limited, and ultimately meaningless, concessions from above to prevent an explosion of Palestinian mass anger from below.

Kevin Simpson, CWI, London

None of the aspirations of the Palestinians for an end to the brutal military occupation by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), and a genuinely independent country with decent living standards, education and medical services were fulfilled under Oslo. Instead, their IDF occupiers were supplemented by new oppressors in the form of the corrupt Fatah-led Palestinian Authority under President Arafat.

Moreover, since Oslo, the number of settlers in West Bank and Gaza has gone from 125,000 to 436,000. And apart from the odd ritual verbal reprimand, US imperialism and the European Union countries accepted this occupation.

This betrayal and the continued oppression of the Palestinians, led to huge anger which exploded violently in the second Intifada. Over time, the mass character of this movement receded and suicide bombings against Israeli targets became more common.

For Israeli Jewish workers, Oslo never fulfilled promises of security and an end to conflict. Additionally, the Israeli Jewish working class has suffered vicious attacks on their living standards by the same politicians who promised them peace and security.

The welfare state has almost been destroyed through privatisation and neo-liberal policies, while the top five families in Israel have become fabulously rich and politicians have wallowed in corruption.

As a result, the idea of a peace deal proposed by the politicians, diplomats, the United Nations and the US and EU powers has been completely discredited to one degree or another amongst workers and young people on both sides of the national divide. However, there is still an ever-present desire to end the conflict.

National struggle

Given the terrible oppression under Israeli occupation and the desperate poverty in the Palestinian areas some despairing Palestinians have become suicide bombers for Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

However, this tactic plays into the hands of the Israeli ruling class, by driving Israeli Jewish workers into the arms of their corrupt and exploitative rulers. Instead of mobilising mass action against oppression, suicide bombings rely on individual martyrs who cannot militarily defeat the Israeli state. International support for the Palestinian struggle for independence is undermined by suicide bombings.

In contrast, the Socialist Party supports a mass, democratic struggle by the Palestinian working class and poor peasantry led by accountable popular committees of struggle to end the occupation and to fight for genuine statehood. Such a movement will have to be armed to defend itself against IDF attacks and others, but those bearing arms should be accountable to the Palestinian working class as a whole.

There is a stalemate in the region. Israeli military repression cannot crush the Palestinian struggle for genuine statehood. But neither can the present tactics of the Palestinian struggle force the Israeli state to give genuine statehood or destroy the national consciousness of the Israeli Jews.

The history of conflict means that the idea for a single state for both national groupings would not be supported by the population on both sides of the divide.

Genuine Palestinian statehood can only be won through undermining the support of the Israeli ruling class amongst the Israeli Jewish working class. This of course does not mean that the Palestinian masses must postpone their struggle until the majority of Israeli Jewish workers and young people accept their right to genuine statehood.

Socialist movement

Despite numerous UN resolutions; the Israeli ruling class has not changed its position. Neither are the various major powers that are part of the UN willing to ensure a genuine independent Palestine and force acceptance of UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of the IDF, whatever their public condemnations are. This would threaten the interests of capitalism and imperialism in the region.

A genuine Palestinian state with decent jobs, a welfare state and democratic rights would undoubtedly lead to huge upheavals in the wider Arab world. A social movement would rapidly spread amongst the Arab working class and poor peasantry and could lead to the overthrow of the rotten corrupt Arab elite in the Middle East.

A democratic and socialist struggle against capitalism, imperialism and feudalism on both sides of the national divide needs to be built. This would be committed to the overthrow of the rotten dictatorial Arab regimes and the corrupt neo-liberals that run Israel today.

It means the setting up of a socialist confederation of Middle Eastern states where all the resources would be under the democratic control, management and planning of the working class and poor peasantry.

A socialist Middle East would include a socialist Palestinian state, with the rights of all religious and ethnic minorities guaranteed. It would also mean a socialist Israel, a completely new state, which would answer the security fears of the Israeli Jewish working class and also guarantee full rights for the Palestinians living there.

Israeli tanks bring Jericho's walls tumbling down

"IF WE get in, we'll kill them. If they don't leave they will be killed." This blunt ultimatum was delivered to prisoners in the Palestinian-run jail in Jericho by Colonel Ronnie Belkin of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). He wasn't bluffing as IDF tank rounds, heavy machine gun fire and an armoured bulldozer, backed up by helicopters, blasted the jail compound into rubble.

Minutes before this assault, US and British monitors at the jail hastily abandoned their posts and sped to the safety of Israel. This apparent collusion with Israel provoked violent retribution on the British Council offices in Gaza city and led to the abduction of 17 westerners in Gaza by Palestinian militants. All were subsequently released.

Israel now holds PFLP leader Ahmed Sadaat in their custody, whom they accuse of killing Israel's reactionary tourist minister, Rehavam Zeevi, in 2001 (assassinated in retaliation for the killing of the former PFLP chief). Under a US/UK brokered deal with Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Sadaat and five PFLP members were jailed with US and UK monitors ensuring they remained incarcerated.

However, January's general election victory for the Islamist organisation Hamas - which refuses to recognise Israel - meant that Sadaat could have been released by the new Palestinian Authority (PA). The US and UK governments didn't want the embarrassment of having prison monitors in place if the Hamas-led PA released Sadaat. But their actions could also symbolise the withdrawal of their previous (lukewarm) support for the PA.

These events will further enrage the long-suffering Palestinian population and millions of poor people throughout the Arab world - who sympathise with the Palestinian national cause and who are also angered by the occupation of Iraq and by US threats to Iran.

The IDF raid will also further weaken the crumbling authority of 'US-approved' Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah organisation lost the general election to Hamas.

The jail assault once again shows the hypocrisy of the Western powers. Bush and Blair promote 'democracy' in the Middle East but disregard the result of elections if not to their liking, and then give the green light to Israel - just weeks away from its own general election - to re-occupy Palestinian territory at will. Moreover, the US and UK governments continue to arm, finance and support dictatorial regimes in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf States to guarantee oil supplies and secure regional political influence and military bases.

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In The Socialist 23 March 2006:

Hands off our pensions!

How to win the battle to defend pensions

Time for a new workers' party

Successful Campaign for a New Workers' Party launch conference

Socialist Party members protest against Labour education minister Ruth Kelly

France: Millions protest against Villepin government

Iraq: A three-year nightmare

Can the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be resolved?

How to plan a revolution

Fight to save the NHS

Lewisham: Socialist Party takes up the fight against ALMOs

Fight privatisation in universities and colleges

Sheffield bus protest blocks the road

NUJ Conference: Defending pay and conditions


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