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Palestinian Uprising Intensifies
Capitalist leaders cannot solve Middle East conflict
THE WORLD leaders meeting in the peaceful Egyptian desert resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, were a million miles away from the smouldering events on the ground.
Mandy Rabin, Maavak Sozialisti - CWI, Israel
While they sat in meetings, attempting to formulate a ceasefire agreement, Palestinian youth escalated their protests. The roar of Israeli bullets and missiles intensified and the death toll climbed.
The Palestinian masses understood full well that US, Arab and Israeli leaders had organised the summit in order to stifle the uprising and silence the masses; and they weren't having anything of it.
It is quite astonishing that in the midst of a war that has trampled the Oslo peace process to death, President Clinton and US Secretary of State Albright are still warning that the current conflict may harm the peace process, and Ehud Barak has announced that he is "taking time out" from the peace negotiations!
Arab league meeting
AS EXPECTED, the Arab League meeting in Cairo showed the hypocrisy of the Arab leaders. The Palestinian uprising has already led to mass demonstrations of sympathy in Arab capitals, and demands that the Arab regimes take measures against the Israeli State.
The reactionary Arab leaders are terrified that these mass movements could threaten their own rule, or push them into war with Israel, which would jeopardise their political, military and economic ties with US imperialism.
At the Arab League summit, the Arab leaders offered no concrete support to the Palestinian masses; they didn't even agree to impose economic sanctions on Israel, or cut off diplomatic ties, but limited themselves to symbolic gestures. They issued strong verbal condemnations against the aggression of the Israeli army, demanded the establishment of a war crimes tribunal, called on the UN to protect Palestinians and offered financial aid to the families of Palestinian victims.
WHILE ISRAELI and Palestinian leaders were supposed to be implementing the Sharm al Sheikh ceasefire agreement, armed Palestinians fired at the Jewish suburb of Gilo, in Jerusalem, while the Israeli army responded with tank missiles and helicopter gunfire at the tiny Palestinian village of Beit Jala.
Gilo is a sleepy, working-class, suburb of Jerusalem. It was built in 1972 by the Israeli government on land confiscated from the Arab residents of the surrounding villages, including Beit Jala and Beit Safafa.
Strategically, it was designed to increase Jewish control of East Jerusalem, and to prevent the expansion of neighbouring Arab towns and villages.
The Jewish residents who settled there are not hardline settlers, but young working-class couples who, unaware of the machinations of the Israeli ruling class, moved there from the poorer neighbourhoods of Jerusalem because of massive government aid. Many Gilo residents weren't even aware until this week that their neighbourhood was even located on the wrong side of the Green Line!
The battles in Gilo illustrate the cynical use made by the Israeli ruling class of the Israeli working class, as pawns in their strategic games to oppress the Palestinian masses.
Unfortunately, the attack by Palestinians on a working-class Jewish suburb will only serve to further alienate Jewish workers from the Palestinian cause.
BARAK'S PROPOSED 'solution' to the current crisis is unilateral separation. This means, in the absence of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, that the Israeli government would probably annex the big settlement blocs in the West Bank, and set up an artificial border.
The planned separation would be economic as well as physical. The effect of this on Palestinians would be extremely grave - tens of thousands of Palestinians, previously working in Israel, would now be prevented from entering the country, and so would lose their livelihood.
The effects on Palestinian trade would also be severe. Palestinians are also totally dependent on Israel for their water and electricity supply. Barak's plan of separation is unworkable: the Israeli and Palestinian economies are too intertwined, and Barak's 'separation' entails leaving isolated Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, in place.
Barak's enforced separation, and Arafat's declaration of an independent Palestinian State, will not solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Such a Palestinian 'State' would be impoverished - even more so, in view of Barak's separation plans.
Only a workers' struggle for socialism by eliminating capitalism and landlordism - the fundamental causes of conflict, national oppression and poverty - would allow genuine, democratic societies to develop. Socialist democracy would enable Israeli and Palestinian workers and youth to agree on issues that would provide both populations with prosperity, security and genuine peace.
MAAVAK SOZIALISTI intervened in a rally in Haifa, organized by Hadash (the Communist Party front). The rally then marched to join up with a demonstration, under the slogan "For a just peace, equality for all", organised by 50 Left organisations in Israel.
There were about 2,000 people on the Hadash demo - overwhelmingly Palestinian youth, from Haifa and its environs. In the subsequent demo, all 50 organizations on the Israeli Left didn't manage to mobilize more than 300 people! This includes organizations like Peace Now, who in the past mobilised tens of thousands.
Some speakers denounced the Israeli Left, who have responded to police brutality against Israeli Palestinian demonstrators (at least 12 Israeli Palestinians were killed by police gunfire) by establishing Jewish-Arab peace tents, and expounding meaningless slogans such as "Yes to coexistence, no to violence." In this way, the peace groups have tried to whitewash over the issue of police brutality and the need to struggle against it, and for equal rights for Palestinians.
The demonstration included youth waving Palestinian flags (who were subsequently arrested), and Jewish intellectuals condemning violence, and calling for a return to peace negotiations. Some people refused to buy our paper because we are against the Barak government!
We sold 56 papers, and gave out about 900 leaflets, explaining why Oslo had failed, and calling for Jews and Palestinians to struggle against Israeli and Palestinian capitalism, and for socialism in the Middle East.
In The Socialist 27 October 2000: