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Renewed Bloodshed As Palestinian State Becomes Distant Prospect
THE DEMISE of the US-promoted 'road map' for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has brought with it the return of daily bloodshed.
This massively uneven military conflict has been stepped up on the Israeli side with actions such as a recent brutal army operation in the West Bank town of Jenin and renewed onslaughts in the Gaza strip.
The Israeli forces use the latest tanks and helicopter gunships against Palestinians armed only with secretly smuggled guns and homemade bombs, and with old cars and donkey carts for transport.
Palestinian suicide bombers are once again in action - desperate acts, conditioned by the hunger, extreme poverty and humiliation that surrounds them.
The eventual completion of Israel's 370-mile 'security fence', which confiscates yet more Palestinian land, will not prevent further bombings within Israel.
Ariel Sharon's Israeli government not only refuses to negotiate with Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, who is the only elected Arab leader, but has voted to remove him altogether at a time of their choosing.
Two senior ministers declared that this could mean killing him. In the meantime, the unrelenting expansion of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories continues, together with new roads linking settlements with each other and with Israel, cutting off Palestinian towns and villages.
WITH ALL these factors, and the recent fall of the Abu Mazen-led Palestinian 'government', there is questioning in the territories on whether the Palestinian Authority can now play any role.
There is rightly widespread doubt that the newly appointed Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei, who is part of the privileged and wealthy top layer around Arafat, will make any difference.
In addition, having seen hardly any concessions from the other side, there is increased scepticism among a layer of Palestinians about whether a state of their own will ever be possible.
Palestinian Labour Minister, Ghassan Khatib, is amongst those who believe it will not happen. He is advocating equal rights for Palestinians in one secular state encompassing Israel and the territories, with everyone having a vote.
However, this is not a prospect that would be accepted by Israeli Jews, as it would end the state that they have built and fought for as a home for the Jewish people in a predominately Jewish country.
The 5.4 million Israeli Jews would soon become a minority in a single state that included the existing 4.93 million Palestinians in Israel and the territories because the birth rate is higher in the Palestinian population than amongst the Jews.
It is estimated that there will be 6.69 million Jews and 8.49 million Palestinians in that area by 2020.
A single state either dominated by Jews or Palestinians would be seen as too great a threat to those who end up in a minority.
For those Palestinians who now rightly see no solution in the form of one capitalist state or two, it is inevitable that a layer will turn to the view that the only solution is to try to wear down and destroy the Israeli state.
From this layer in particular can come many more suicide bombers, with new targets in sight.
In response to the Israeli forces firing missiles into the homes of Palestinian militia leaders, Hamas recently said "the enemy has to harvest what it has sown", meaning that as well as attacking Israeli civilians they will now also target property.
There is a great danger of a horrific spiral into worsening bloodshed and of a wider war in the region. On this path, at some stage, the one million Israeli Palestinians would inevitably be fully drawn into the conflict as well as those in the territories.
Internationally, many capitalist governments and peace advocates still argue for a capitalist Palestinian state with a border near the green line (the pre-1967 border).
A similar position is being put by some leaders of the Israeli Labour Party, who are bluntly saying that Sharon's path is threatening the very survival of Israel as a Jewish state.
The speaker of the last Israeli parliament, Avraham Burg, recently wrote in a mass circulation Israeli paper: "The Israeli nation today rests on a scaffolding of corruption, and on foundations of oppression and injustice.
As such, the end of the Zionist enterprise is already on our doorstep. There is a real chance that ours will be the last Zionist generation".
He went on to argue for the removal of all Jewish settlements in the territories and for a Palestinian state next to Israel.
But following the failure of the Oslo peace process and now the road map, there is little confidence among Israeli Jews in progress along this route. Capitalism in the region and internationally has proved incapable of providing a Palestinian state and will never be able to deliver one that satisfies Palestinian aspirations.
THE ONLY way of achieving two neighbouring states - Palestine and Israel - that can satisfy the aspirations of both peoples, if both peoples want this, is on the basis of socialism.
Even without regard to the military situation, Israeli capitalism is in severe crisis. Average household income in Israel is falling each year.
Unemployment is at record levels and the number of people needing income supplements has more than doubled in the last three years.
Round after round of cuts are being made to state spending and there is growing media criticism of the government for failing to improve the situation.
Israeli public sector workers have already taken anti-cuts strike action earlier this year and the Histadrut labour federation is presently preparing for more, involving 700,000 workers.
These large-scale strikes show that the Israeli working class is increasingly forced to fight back against the constant decline in their living standards.
This decline is all that crisis-ridden capitalism can offer. Young Israelis in particular, will turn to anti-capitalist ideology in the next period and become interested in a socialist alternative, as this is the only way that decent living standards will be possible.
Only through building a socialist Israel and a socialist Palestine in a socialist confederation of the Middle East can the national conflict be ended and needs and aspirations on both sides satisfied.
In The Socialist 27 September 2003: