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Shimon Peres - a wolf in sheep's clothing
Former Isreaeli president Shimon Peres's reputation as a 'peacemaker' is a myth, photo by Nader Daoud (Creative Commons) (Click to enlarge)
Most mainstream media obituaries described Shimon Peres, the recently deceased former president of Israel, as a 'peacemaker statesman' who constrained the settlerist, nationalist policy of prime minister Netanyahu's rule. In reality, Peres was a wolf in sheep's clothing.
From Israel's foundation in 1948 to the present he defended every military action and war the Israeli state, both at home and abroad, undertook.
As a politician he signed off on numerous attacks on the living standards of the Israeli working class. His neoliberal economic policies contributed to the creation of unprecedented inequality and poverty alongside an elite of super-rich capitalist families.
As Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy said: "This man had done almost nothing to bring an end to the occupation [of Palestinian territories]... he was the 'beautiful face' of Israel abroad - but behind this face, unfortunately, was hidden not a small amount of fake".
Peres was involved in planning the 1956 Sinai war unleashed by Israel, Britain and France against Egypt as a response to the nationalisation of the Suez Canal by Nasser. French imperialism paid back Israel with a secret agreement to build the nuclear reactor in Dimona, which was signed in October 1957.
Peres is considered the "father" of the agreement which established the Israeli military nuclear programme - a programme whose existence is still routinely denied by the Israeli state.
30 years ago, after receiving a direct order from Peres, the Prime Minister at that time, Mossad agents kidnapped from abroad the nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu.
It was Peres as prime minister who pushed in 1985 the decision to establish the "South Lebanon Security Belt" that led to the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, with catastrophic results, for another 15 years.
For years, Peres enthusiastically promoted the "Jordanian Option": putting the areas of the West Bank populated by Palestinians under Jordanian sovereignty while annexing the settlements, the Jordan valley and East Jerusalem to Israel.
After the first Intifada erupted (1987-91 - the heroic mass uprising of Palestinians in the 1967-territories against the occupation and for national liberation) the Israeli ruling class changed tack and sought a one-sided agreement with Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).
Despite the huge hopes that arose in the beginning among the masses from both sides of the conflict, the 1993 Oslo accords between Israel and the PLO were in reality a smokescreen for reinforcing the settlements and a sophisticated way of rebuffing the possibility of establishing a truly independent Palestinian state.
Peres explained in the Knesset (Israel's parliament) after the signing of the first accord: "This agreement is about Gaza and Jericho. Regarding what's next, I oppose a separate Palestinian state."
In January 2005 he led his Labour party back from 'opposition' into Ariel Sharon's second government, to assist in passing the 'Disengagement Plan' from Gaza.
The IDF pull-out from Gaza was used in fact to turn Gaza into the largest prison in the world and to bolster the settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It paved the way for the horrible rounds of war in recent years.
Peres never promoted or pointed to a practical way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The policies that he conducted in this regard, including during the Oslo years, intensified the conflict significantly.
- This article is based on a more detailed obituary by Shahar Benhorin and Yasha Marmer of Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI, Israel-Palestine) which can be read on socialistworld.net