The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict Intifada 2000 and The "Peace Process"

The flaws of the Oslo Accords

"The United States has been a terrible 'sponsor' of the peace process. It has succumbed to Israeli pressure on everything, abandoning the principle of land for peace (no U.N. Resolution says anything about returning a tiny percentage, as opposed to all of the land Israel seized in 1967), pushing the lifeless Palestinian leadership into deeper and deeper holes to suit Netanyahu's preposterous demands.

"The fact is that Palestinians are dramatically worse off than they were before the Oslo process began. Their annual income is less than half of what it was in 1992; they are unable to travel from place to place; more of their land has been taken than ever before; more settlements exist; and Jerusalem is practically lost...

"Every house demolishment, every expropriated dunum, every arrest and torture, every barricade, every closure, every gesture of arrogance and intended humiliation simply revives the past and reenacts Israel's offenses against the Palestinian spirit, land, body politic. To speak about peace in such a context is to try to reconcile the irreconcilable."Edward Said in "The Progressive", March 1998

The roots of Intifada 2000

"The explosion of Palestinian anger last September 29 put an end to the charade begun at Oslo seven years ago and labelled the 'peace process.' In 1993 Palestinians, along with millions of people around the world, were led to hope that Israel would withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza within five years and that Palestinians would then be free to establish an independent state. Meanwhile both sides would work out details of Israel's withdrawal and come to an agreement on the status of Jerusalem, the future of Israeli settlements, and the return of Palestinian refugees.

"Because of the lopsided balance of power, negotiations went nowhere and the Palestinians' hopes were never fulfilled. The Israelis, regardless of which government was in power, quibbled over wording, demanded revisions of what had previously been agreed to, then refused to abide by the new agreements. Meanwhile successive governments were demolishing Palestinian homes, taking over Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem for Jewish housing, and seizing Palestinian land for new settlements. A massive new highway network built after 1993 on confiscated Palestinian land isolates Palestinian towns and villages from one another and from Jerusalem, forcing many Palestinians to go through Israeli checkpoints just to get to the next town...

"According to President Clinton and most of the media, Prime Minister Ehud Barak conceded at Camp David virtually everything the Palestinians wanted, and Yasser Arafat threw away the opportunity for peace by rejecting Barak's offer. In fact Arafat could not accept it. Barak, backed by Clinton, wanted assurance of Israel's continued strategic control over the West Bank and Gaza, including air space and borders, and insisted that Israel retain permanent sovereignty over most of East Jerusalem, including Haram Al-Sharif. This was a deal no Arab would accept.

"As the protests grew, army helicopters rocketed neighborhoods in several Palestinian cities, destroying entire city blocks and causing scores of casualties. Israeli tanks surrounded Palestinian towns with their guns turned toward the town. Armed Israeli civilians within the Green Line rampaged through Arab neighborhoods destroying Arab property and shouting "Death of Arabs'...Israeli police who were quick to use bullets against Palestinian stone throwers failed to restrain the Israelis and instead fired at Arabs trying to defend their homes. Two Arabs were killed.

"The uprising was undoubtedly fueled by the resentment caused by years of daily abuse and humiliation under Israeli occupation. On September 6, a group of Israeli border police stopped three Palestinian workers as they were returning home from Israel and, for no reason at all, subjected them to 40 minutes of torture. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on September 19 that the policemen punched the three men, slammed their heads against a stone wall, forced them to swallow their own blood, and cursed their mothers and sisters. The incident only came to light because the policemen took photographs of themselves with their victims, holding their heads by the hair like hunting trophies. Israeli human rights workers said such beatings are a common occurance, but they are seldom reported." Rachelle Marshall, "The Peace Process Ends in Protests and Blood", Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 2000.

"Israel has failed the test"

"In the Oslo Agreements, Israel and the West put Palestinian leadership to a test: In exchange for an Israeli promise to gradually dismantle the mechanisms of the occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian leadership promised to stop every act of violence and terror immediately. For that purpose, all the apparatus for security coordination was created, more and more Palestinian jails were built, and demonstrators were barred from approaching the [Jewish] settlements.

"The two sides agreed on a period of five years for completion of the new deployment and the negotiations on a final agreement. The Palestinian leadership agreed again and again to extend its trial period...From their perspective, Israel was also put to a test: Was Israel really giving up its attitude of superiority and domination, built up in order to keep the Palestinian people under its control?

"More than seven years have gone by and Israel has security and administrative control of 61.2% of the West Bank and about 20% of the Gaza Strip and security control over another 26.8% of the West Bank. This control is what has enabled Israel to double the number of settlers in 10 years...and to seal an entire nation into restricted areas, imprisoned in a network of bypass roads meant for Jews only...

"Israel has failed the test. Palestinians control of 12% of the West Bank does not mean that Israel has given up its attitude of superiority and domination...The bloodbath that has been going on for three weeks is the natural outcome of seven years of [Israeli] lying and deception." Israeli journalist Amira Hass, "Israel Has Failed The Test," in Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, 10/18/00.

Jimmy Carter's simple statement of the facts—November 2000

"An underlying reason that years of U.S. diplomacy have failed and violence in the Middle East persists is that some Israeli leaders continue to 'create facts' by building settlements in occupied territory...

"At Camp David in September 1978...the bilateral provisions led to a comprehensive and lasting treaty between Egypt and Israel, made possible at the last minute by Israel's agreement to remove its settlers from the Sinai. But similar constraints concerning the status of the West Bank and Gaza have not been honored, and have led to continuing confrontation and violence...

"[Concerning UN Resolution 242] Our government's legal commitment to support this well-balanced resolution has not changed...It was clear that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories were a direct violation of this agreement and were, according to the long-stated American position, both 'illegal and an obstacle to peace.' Accordingly, Prime Minister Begin pledged that there would be no establishment of new settlements until after the final peace negotiations were completed. But later, under Likud pressure, he declined to honor this commitment...

"It is unlikely that real progress can be made...as long as Israel insists on its settlement policy, illegal under international laws that are supported by the United States and all other nations.

"There are many questions as we contine to seek an end to violence in the Middle East, but there is no way to escape the vital one: Land or peace?" Former President Jimmy Carter in The Washington Post, November 26, 2000.

Oslo and Intifada 2000 - continued

"After three weeks of virtual war in the Israeli occupied territories, Prime Minister Ehud Barak announced a new plan to determine the final status of the region. During these weeks, over 100 Palestinians were killed, including 30 children, often by 'excessive use of lethal force in circumstances in which neither the lives of security forces nor others were in immminent danger, resulting in unlawful killings,' Amnesty International concluded in a detailed report that was scarcely mentioned in the US.

"Barak's plan...ensure(s) that useable land and resources (primarily water) remain largely in Israeli hands while the population is administered by a corrupt and brutal Palestinian Authority (PA), playing the role traditionally assigned to indigenous collaborators under the several varieties of imperial rule: the Black leadership of South Africa's Bantustans, to mention only the most obvious analagoue...

"It is important to recall that the policies have not only been proposed, but implemented, with the support of the U.S. That support has been decisive since 1971, when Washington abandoned the basic diplomatic framework that it had initiated (UN Security Council Resolution 242), then pursued its unilateral rejection of Palestinian rights in the years that followed, culminating in the 'Oslo process.' Since all of this has been effectively vetoed from history in the US., it takles a little work to discover the essential facts. They are not controversial, only evaded," Noam Chomsky, "Al-Aqsa Intifada", October 2000, on Znet, www.lbbs.org/meastwatch.

America—An impartial mediator?

"America's credibility as mediator had long been questioned by Palestinians, and with reason. 'The Palestinians always complain that we know the details of every proposal from the Americans before they do,' one Israeli government source told The Independent recently. 'There's good reason for that: we write them.'" Phil Reeves in "The Independent" (U.K.), 10/9/2000

Lockstep U.S. Media tell (some of) the facts but not the truth

"Rarely do American journalists explore the ample reasons to believe that the United States is part of the oft-decried cycle of violence. Nor, in the first half of October, was there much media analysis of the fact that the violence overwhelmingly struck at the Palestinian people.

"Within a period of days, several dozen Palestinians were killed by heavily armed men in uniform—often described by CNN and other news outlets as 'Israeli security forces'. Under the circumstances, it's a notably benign-sounding term for an army that shoots down protestors.

"As for the rock-throwing Palestinians, I have never seen or heard a single American news account describing them as 'pro democracy demonstrators.' Yet that would be an appropriate way to refer to people who—after more than three decades of living under occupation—are in the streets to demand self determination.

"While Israeli soldiers and police, with their vastly superior firepower, do most of the killing...American news stories highlighted the specious ultimatums issued by Prime Minister Ehud Barak as he demanded that Palestinians end the violence—while uniformed Israelis under his authority continue to kill them...

"Like quite a few other Jewish Americans, I'm apalled by what Israel is doing with U.S. Tax dollars. Meanwhile, as journalists go along to get along, they diminish the humanity of us all."Norman Solomon, "Media Spin Remains In Sync With Israeli Occupation," from FAIR's Media Beat, October 14, 2000.

Intifada 2000—An overview

"There is, in the final analysis, only one way to 'stop the violence,' and that is to end the occupation. The desire for liberation will, eventually, always bring an occupied people out into the streets, stones in hand, ready to face the might of powerful armies, preferring to risk death than live in bondage. This is not extreme nation.0 racism or religious fervor. It is the need to be free...

"[Occupation] means a reality of unending violence. It means being surrounded by an abusive foreign army that enforces a social system indistinguishable from apartheid; confiscations of land that is then given to hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers in Jewish-only communities linked by Jewish only roads; home demolitions; torture; cities cut off from each other, closed down on a regular basis. It means living in a massive prison...

"Since 1967, there has been only one workable solution to the conflict. The plan is articulated in U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which sets up a two-part 'land for peace' solution. Part one holds that Israel must withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967. Part two calls for all states in the region to live in peace and security in those borders. The Israeli obligation, withdrawal from the occupied territories, is utterly unfulfilled." Hussein Ibish, communications director of the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, in the Los Angeles Times, October 18, 2000.

Albright stands the facts on their heads

"With the same deadpan, expressionless, emotionless, glazed look, Madam Albright repeated: 'Those Palestinian rock throwers have placed Israel undeer siege,' adding that the Israeli army is defending itself...[But] It is Israel that is the belligerent occupant of Palestine (and not the other way around) Israeli tanks and armored vehicles are surrounding Palestinian villages, camps and cities (and not the other way around). Israeli (American-made) Apache gunships are firing Lau and other missiles at Palestinian protestors and homes (and not the other way around). It is Israel that is confiscating Palestinian land and importing Jewish settlers to set up illegal armed settlements in the heart of Palestinian territory (and not the other way around). The settlers on the rampage in the West Bank and Israelis terrorizing Palestinians in their own homes (and not the other way around)...Israel is committing atrocities against the Palestinians with total impunity, and yet you maintain, 'Israel is beseiged.'" Hanan Ashrawi, in "The Progressive", December 2000

What Arafat was offered

"In American coverage of the recent Camp David meetings, the American press obediently followed the Israeli and US government spin that while Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak made courageous concessions for peace, Palestinian unwillingness to compromise caused the meeting to fail.

"Never mind that Barak's 'courageous concessions' consisted of allowing the Palestinians to have joint administrative responsibility over a couple of remote Arab neighborhoods of Arab East Jerusalem—pathetic crumbs tossed on the floor which Arafat was expected to gratefully pick up." American Jewish reporter, Eduardo Cohen, from "What Americans Need to Know—But Probably Won't Be Told—To understand Palestinian Rage" from Palestine Media Watch,www.pmwatch.org

What Arafat was offered - continued

"Barak appears to be asking for only 10% of the occupied territories. In reality, it's closer to 30%, taking into account the territories he wants to annex in the Jerusalem area and place under his "security control" in the Jordan Valley. But even worse, in the map submitted to the Palestinians, these percentage points cut the country up from East to West and from North to South, so that the Palestinian state will consist of groups of islands, each surrounded by Israeli settlers and soldiers.

"World opinion is always on the side of the underdog. In this fight, we are Goliath and they are David. In the eyes of the world [outside the US], the Palestinians are fighting a war of liberation against a foreign occupation. We are in their territory, not they on ours. We are the occupiers, they are the victims. This is the objective situation, and no minister of propaganda can change that." Israeli peace activist. Uri Avnery, "12 Conventional Lies About the Palestine-Israeli Conflict" from Palestine Media Watch, www.pmwatch.org.

An Israeli's "Open Letter to a Friend In Peace Now"

"It has been seven years exactly since I wrote my last letter to you. It was the day after the signing of the Oslo Accords, when you invited me to dance with you in Menorah Square...Permit me to quote for you a few passages from that old letter.

"'You danced in the square because you were happy about this peace. Not just plain peace, but a blend of peace,security, Palestinian chest-beating over sins committed (renunciation of terrorism), and far-reaching concessions by the other side. A peace that you can be proud of. A peace—so you boast—for which we are giving nothing ("Just a tiny bit," whispers the prime minister) and gaining much; recognition, greater security, a halt to the Intifada, renunciation of terrorism, being relieved of the Arabs and more. You are happy about this peace, and in its honor you invite me to dance with you. No thank you...You got rid of Gaza, you separated Israelis from Palestinians, you gave them the dirty work and you didn't even promise withdrawal or a real state. Could peace possibly be bought more cheaply?"

"'I, by contrast, see peace as an end and not merely as a means, and call for getting out of the Occupied Territories because we have nothing to be there for, even if the occupation did not cost us even one victim or one cent; and I am against shooting children—and adults—simply because it is forbidden to shoot children or ordionary civilians.'

"Since the writing of these lines you celebrated the peace and you became fat and prosperous. The repeated and varied violations of the agreements did not move you, not to speak of any change in our culture of war and occupation, the arrogant tone of those negotiating in our name and their attempts to demand more and more in exchange for less and less...

"What is there to be confused about? A conquering army is using tanks and helicopter gunships to disperse demonstrations. What is so hard to understand here?...There is an occupation and there is a struggle against the occupation. There are demonstrators and there is an army that has received orders to shed their blood. And don't come to me with the story of the rifles, Your glorious war record qualifies you to understand that even CNN reporters understand, that those rifles do not endanger either Israel or the soldiers if they don't get too close...

"[From 1993 letter]"peace is a tango that takes two equal partners dancing in unity; it is not a dance of one who drags around his partner at will...In your dance of peace you have no partners, only enemies. For your peace is his occupation, your success is his loss...Peace is still far away because peace demands honesty, because peace demands equality. You want to force them to lie, you want of them a peace of surrender, you are celebrating a peace of master and slave. Under such conditions there will perhaps be peace-and-quiet, but Peace, no. Not until you open your eyes and your heart. Not until we are ready for a peace of partnership and equality."Michael (Mikado) Warschawski, "The Party Is Over: An Open Letter to a Friend In Peace Now,", from Znet, www.lbbs.org/ZNETTOPnoanimation.html

"Barak promised peace and brought war, and not by accident."

"(Barak) promised peace and brought war, and not by accident. While speaking about peace, he enlarged the settlements. Cut the Palestinian territories into pieces by 'by-pass' roads. Confiscated lands. Demolished homes. Uprooted trees. Paralyzed the Palestinian economy...Conducted negotiations in which he tried to dictate to the Palestinians a peace that amounts to capitulation. Was not satisfied with the fact that by accepting the Green Line, the Palestinians had already given up 78% of their historic homeland. Demanded the annexation of 'settlement blocs" and pretended that they amount only to 3% of the territory, while in fact he meant more than 20% would remain under Israeli control. Wanted to coerce the Palestinians to accept a 'state' cut off from all its neighbors and composed of several enclaves isolated from each other, each surrounded by Israeli settlers and soldiers...Boasts publicly that he has not given back to the Palestinians one inch of territory...When the intifada broke out, sent snipers to shoot, in cold blood from a distance, hundreds of unarmed demonstrators, adults and children. Blockaded each village and town separately, bringing them to the verge of starvation, in order to get them to surrender. Bombarded neighborhoods. Started a policy of mafia-style 'liquidations', causing an inevitable escalation of the violence." Israeli peace activist, Uri Avnery, February 3, 2001, www.gush-shalom.org

A 'benign' occupation?

"Israelis like to believe, and tell the world, that they are running an 'enlightened' or 'benign' occupation, qualitatively different from other military occupations the world has seen. The truth was radically different. Like all occupations, Israel's was founded on brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers, and daily intimidation, humiliation and manipulation." Israeli historian, Benny Morris, "Righteous Victims."

What "closure" means

"Just an hour's drive from Jerusalem, a cruel drama has been underway for the past five months, the likes of which have not been seen since the early days of the Israeli occupation, but the majority of Israelis are taking absolutely no interest in it. The iron grip of the closure in its new format is increasingly strangling a population of 2.8 million people, yet no one is saying a word...

"It has to be said starkly and simply: There has never been a closure like this there, in the land of barriers and closure. In the worst of times of the previous Intifada, when the iDF was in eveÄr and curfew reigned supreme, there was not a situation in which a whole people was jailed without a trial and without the right of appeal.

"Israel has split the West Bank by means of hundreds of trenches, dirt ramparts and concrete cubes which have been placed at the entrance to most of the towns and villages. No one enters and no one leaves, not those who are pregnant and not those who are dying. There isn't even a soldier with whom one can plead and beg. A network of bizarre Burma roads that break through the encirclement are sending an entire people along muddy, rocky routes, with the situation aggravated by a substantial risk of getting caught or getting shot by soldiers who often open fire on the desperate travelers...

"Never before has there been distress and suffering on this scale among the Palestinians in the territories. They will engender unprecendented despair and ultimately they will spark violence more cruel and painful than anything seen so far...This is the point: the horrific distress of the Palestinians because of the present closure will quickly turn into the distress of the Israelis...The current siege, a shamefully appalling operation, must be lifted quickly. This must not be made conditional on the cessation of the violence, because the siege itself is the most effective spur to violence." Israeli writer, Gideon Levy, in Ha aretz, March 4, 2001.

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