the Sharm-al-Sheikh summit last week, Barak got from the US his green light to
slaughter. To judge by the Israeli media, what we have seen so far is just the
prelude. "The most important will come in the middle of next week,
when…Israel will have to consider taking the initiative, rather than merely
responding to events". (‘Haaretz’, Amos Harel, Oct 19.00)
and pieces of the "initiative" have been revealed: It includes
entering PA areas "to confiscate weapons", and ‘inevitable’ air
raidings. There is talk about the Palestinian Kosovo, with 2000-3000
Palestinians dead. As usual, the blame for this slaughter is put in advance on
Arafat, who, the story goes, wants his people to be slaughtered, to gain
aspect of what is being planned has started already, with very little coverage,
under the calm title of ‘evacuation’. Palestinian residents of ‘areas of
conflict’ near Jewish settlements have been called to evacuate their homes
"for their own protection". So far this happened in el-Bireh (7.10),
Beit-Jallah (18.10) and the Askar refugee camp near Nablus (19.10). And this is
just the beginning. In more direct words – transfer under the pretext of war.
military preparations and training for the Israeli attack have started already
in June, when Barak first informed Israeli media that "there is a danger of
a Palestinian unrest, following the model of Southern Lebanon". But to get
there, it was first necessary to manifest Barak’s unprecedented eagerness for
peace. The model was rehearsed on Syria earlier this year: Intensive "peace
talks" at the end of which Barak declared that there is no partner for
peace. The camp David "peace round" was sufficient to convince the
obedient Israeli media that the same is true of the Palestinians. All that was
still needed was US approval.
three weeks now, Barak has been dragging full execution, waiting for US green
light. As reported in early October, "Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is
appealing to the United States for approval of a massive offensive against
Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. So far, the United States has appealed to
Barak for more time" (World Tribune, Oct 9).
may have been fooled to believe he won’t get US approval this time. There is so
much opposition to Israel’s acts throughout the world. The Arab world is
storming with demonstrations. US embassies had to close temporarily, and the
Yemen explosion was some indication of the burning soil.
US was first cautious – not even the customary vetoing of the security council
resolution. CNN – the most direct seismograph of the White House – betrayed the
hesitations. There was a week when sharp criticism of Israel was allowed in
their news, along with the standard pro-Israeli propaganda, and even Edward Said
got a full-length interview, probably for the first time in CNN’s history. But
no more! – The three weeks of deliberations did end with a green light.
Intensive diplomacy of threats and promises convinced the US that the Arab
regimes can still be relied upon to stand their people’s pressure. They expect
the Arab-league summit to end up as a harmless ceremony. They believe that when
it ends, the tanks can start talking, undisturbed.
the US, this is a dangerous game. But what’s at stake here is not just its
automatic backing of Israel. The explosive Arab anger has been directed at the
US no less than Israel. The rational move for the US would have been to cool
things off for now, to stop Barak. But that has never been the US strategy. They
can’t tolerate even the slight disobedience of loyal servants. They have to show
who is the master.
the Sharm-al-Sheikh summit, Arafat complied again. We may have been fooled to
believe that this time, under the pressure of his people, he is going to change.
But it is too late for him to change. The tragedy of the Palestinian people is
that the person who in the past symbolized their struggle in the world’s eyes
has turned into an executer of the Israeli occupation.
substantial issue which was worked out in the summit, behind the public show of
"cease fire", was the security agreement, which guarantees Arafat’s
continued commitment to do the security job for Israel, namely, prevent
Palestinian retaliations inside Israel. As reported in ‘haaretz’, "its
implementation will be overseen by CIA chief George Tenet and the CIA
representative in Tel Aviv. This agreement will, for the first time, involve CIA
observers in the field in addition to CIA participation in Israeli-Palestinian
meetings." (‘haaretz’, Aluf Ben, oct 18.00)
just a day after the summit, Israeli undercover unit seized eight Palestinians
who were in the crowd that lynched two Israeli soldiers a week before.
operation was carried out with the connivance of some members of the Palestinian
security forces, who apparently tipped off the Israelis where to find the
men." ‘The Telegraph’ (U.K.), Alan Phillips in Jerusalem, 19 October 2000,
official propaganda in Israel is that Arafat is responsible for the uprising,
and "he is not a real partner for peace". Not only does this provide
the continuous justification for the planned slaughter, but it is also the
biggest service Israel can offer in return for Arafat’s compliance. Israel’s
constant ‘dissatisfaction’ with Arafat is his only claim for credibility.
Israel intensified its murder of unarmed demonstrators, on Friday the 20th (with
10 dead in one day) Arafat’s spokesman, Arikaat, was interviewed pleading no
other then the US to investigate and to protect the Palestinians. This follows
another concession of Arafat at Sharm- al-Sheikh. -No more pleas to the
international community. From now on, little red ridinghood can only call the
woolf to protect her.
there is anything that could still prevent the blood-shed, it is international
intervention. International inspectors, UN forces, or even just NGO volunteers
present in the area could potentially slow down Israeli forces. It is therefore
extremely important now to understand Arafat’s collaborating role, and to
remember that it is Israel, rather than the Palestinian people, who view the US
as the ‘neutral moderator’.
Reinhart Tel Aviv University and the university of Utrecht.