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Israel: Sharon's 'Entanglement Plan'
THE ISRAELI Knesset [parliament] votes this week on Ariel Sharon's "Disengagement Plan". Can such a plan bring the end of the Israeli-Palestinian bloodbath any closer?
SHAHAR BENHAR of Maavak Sozialisti (the Socialist Party's counterpart in Israel) reports from Israel.
AS A part of the disengagement plan, the Israeli government will try to evacuate 8,000 settlers from the Gaza Strip, end direct military occupation there, and evacuate four isolated settlements in the northern West Bank. Their very presence creates an apartheid regime which leads to the direct oppression of hundreds of thousands of people.
The Israeli government, which was behind the settlement effort in the first place, will also compensate the settlers (up to £300,000). But the Israeli army will completely control the passage to and from the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian enclaves in the West Bank, retain exclusive air control, and continue naval operations along the Gaza Strip's coast.
This unilateral separation is not part of any two-state solution to the conflict. According to Dov Weiglass, an advisor to Ariel Sharon, it will freeze the "peace process" taking the issues of Palestinian statehood, the return of refugees and the final status of Jerusalem, off the agenda.
It is obvious then why the Palestinian masses have no illusions about the results of the disengagement plan.
Sharon's obstacle course
THE DISENGAGEMENT plan has led to an earthquake within the Israeli political establishment, sharpening the tendencies towards divisions and splits within the larger parties.
Ideally the capitalists would prefer a joint "national union" government of the Likud and Avoda (Labor) parties, which would enable the disengagement and budget cut plans to pass through parliament. However, elements within the Avoda party and the Likud party have not allowed this union.
Another problem which the Sharon administration has to cope with is the growth of the small messianic faction among the settlers, which has been groomed by the different governments for over 30 years.
On 12 September, the Yesha Council - the main settler organisation (sponsored by the government) - organised an anti-disengagement demonstration in Zion Square in Jerusalem, with about 50,000 participants. Less than a month before that, this organisation had shown its capabilities by bringing about 100,000 activists to the "human chain" demonstration, composed of most of the Yesha Council's power base.
However, this organisation's leadership was scared by the movement's power, grown beyond its ability to control it, and hurried to denounce the growing calls for a civil war and for the assassination of Sharon.
Despite wide approval ratings for the disengagement plan within Israel, Sharon doesn't want a referendum on it. A referendum will delay the execution of the plan and threatens to put Sharon's political power to another test, which could end up kicking him out of political life altogether.
Even after the lack of support for Sharon was revealed in the Likud party Central Committee as well as in the party members' referendum, he announced that he would nevertheless proceed with the plan.
Capitalism is the powder keg
THE DISENGAGEMENT plan and the 600 kilometre separation wall cannot solve the problems but will only make them more acute, and threaten both the Palestinian and Israeli masses with another disaster in the future.
An end of the Israeli military direct occupation of the most heavily populated place in the world is essential and will save many human lives. However, this will not end the cycle of bloodshed.
The regional economic crisis is likely to deepen, and with it the severe oppression of the masses in the occupied territories and the continuing dispossession of the masses in Israel.
Given no current political alternative, much of the Palestinian masses' justified rage today is directed into the destructive but ineffective methods of Hamas. But Hamas cannot provide any solution, and in time, as the need for a solution grows more urgent than ever, it will suffer the same fate as Fatah (PLO) and the old People's Party (former Communist Party).
The most urgent tasks of the Israeli ruling class today are the disengagement plan, completion of the Wall and carrying out the budget cuts. The urgent task of the Palestinian and Israeli masses is to build revolutionary socialist organisations which will lead them in a serious fight for their future.
Capitalism cannot provide basic living conditions, nor can it offer a real solution to the massive poverty that exists in the region. It cannot overcome its internal contradictions and bring peace to the Middle East.
Only massive struggles by the masses in Israel and Palestine which will lead to the overthrow of the corrupt elites, to the management of society for our needs rather than for the capitalists' profits, and to the establishment of a socialist Israel side by side with an independent socialist Palestine, as a stage on the way to a socialist and democratic Middle East, will end this game of blood.
This is an edited version of a much longer article, see www.socialistworld.net
The Wall Of Illusion
The Separation Wall is being marketed as a 'magical solution' which will provide safe and protected lives to all those who live in Israel.
In the West Bank, the Wall would consist of about 600 Kilometres over a topographically varied terrain, and therefore the chances of crossing it are much higher than crossing the border of the Gaza strip.
It could be expected that after completion, Israeli Palestinians, who face the humiliation of the Israeli government's racist discrimination policies, will commit or take part in the planning of more bombings inside Israel.
Therefore, contrary to the Israeli government's claims that the situation created on "the day after" will be calm and stable, the chance of this happening approximately matches the probability of the Members of the Knesset [Israeli Parliament] volunteering to live on the minimum wage from tomorrow!
The Israeli government has made several adjustments to the Wall's route, in an attempt to placate Western imperialism and various human rights organisations.
But even with the adjustments, the Wall will directly ruin the lives of thousands of Palestinians, separate them from the centres of their daily activity, and prevent their access to services and workplaces.
It will only increase the oppression, poverty, rage and frustration and, paradoxically, will push more and more people into Hamas' arms.
Youth Dodge Military Draft
THE INTENSIFYING anger against the state expresses itself in the growing numbers of youth dodging the military draft and in a general low morale, especially when it comes to combat roles.
Who would want to be the last victim in Gaza, when it is clear that the withdrawal of the army is now only a matter of time? At the beginning of August, a group of 30 bereaved families published an open letter to high-school students, calling them to rethink their forthcoming enlistment. Here are some extracts:
"The following should not be regarded as a recommendation not to enlist. On the contrary - we really recommend the draft.
All of us, and of course, all of the dubious millionaires in the country, who steal large sums of money every day from the state, and who own some huge properties here, need the IDF in order to keep their property safe"
The dark side of the military...
"We will tell you about the dark side of the military...
In the military they take advantage of your naiveté and want you as a tool in the hands of ministers and fattened high ranking officials, who can think of nothing but their positions and their enormous salaries...
None of them really thinks of you...
You're a slave...
"You're a slave with the wage of 15 NIS [2.7 EUR] a day... They only look for cannon fodder. Free soldiers who will cost nothing, especially after they're dead".
Israeli incursions into Gaza
Over 100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed and many more injured since Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered Israeli troops to enter the Gaza strip in late September to hunt down Palestinian militiamen.
Homes, orchards and schools have been bulldozed adding to the massive social problems of the 1.4 million Palestinian population.
The Israeli government is backed by the US Bush administration which vetoed a UN resolution on 5 October criticising the incursion. The British government abstained.