The long war against the Palestinians
Following the Isareli-Arab war of 1967, the UN Security Council adopted resolution No 242 which required Israel to return to the borders it occupied before the war. This meant evacuation of the occupied Palestinian lands, the Golan Heights (Syria) and the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt). The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt a number of years ago but instead of returning the Palestinian lands or the Golan Heights, Israel has systematically seized Arab lands and set up Israeli settlements. Its intention is to permanently annex these lands to Israel. Despite the continuing struggle of the Palestinians and other problems Israel, with the assistance of its ally the United States who has provided, arms, money and diplomatic backing, has pushed ahead with the expansion of settlements in an attempt to consolidate its occupation. The most recent summit meeting called by US President Clinton, while being sold to the world as part of a "peace process" was nothing more than a further opportunity to force the Palestinian negotiators to accept whatever sort of "peace" the Israeli and US Governments dictated. It was to be a final surrender. Breakdown The Camp David negotiations broke down when the Palestinian negotiators refused to accept an agreement which would result in the complete emasculation of the remaining Palestinian lands which have been effectively divided up into isolated cantonments by illegal Israeli settlements. Furthermore, East Jerusalem would be annexed as Israeli territory and be denied to the Palestinians as the capital of the State of Palestine. During the summit, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat came under intense pressure from the Americans to give and give. On his return to Palestine, Arafat was greeted as a hero for his steadfast refusal to bow to the US pressure. Not surprisingly, Israeli Prime Minister Barak, and less directly, US President Clinton have blamed Arafat for the failure of the summit. In remarks following the breakup of the talks, Clinton praised Barak for moving much farther from his initial positions than Arafat during the negotiations. But the Palestinians had made their principal concessions at the time of the 1993 Oslo agreements. They agreed then to abandon armed struggle against Israel and recognise a Jewish state occupying about 78 percent of the historic homeland of the Palestinians — stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Refugees In exchange, they expected that Israel and the US would recognise a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and acknowledge some measure of responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. Subsequent negotiations have been aimed to deny these Palestinian expectations, giving time for the creation of more and more Israeli settlements while sustaining the pretense that genuine "peace" negotiations are taking place. Both the US and Israel have ignored the many UN resolutions dealing with Israel and the Palestinians. UN resolutions called for the recognition of the right of Palestinians to statehood, censuring Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem, affirming the Palestinian refugees' right of return and condemning Israel's illegal actions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since 1967. The US and Israel continued to ignore these UN resolutions at the recent Camp David meeting. The Israeli terms, fully backed by the US were spelt out: no right of return for the refugees, Arab (East) Jerusalem to be permanently annexed to Israeli West Jerusalem, no return of the Jordan Valley, no dismantling of most of the Zionist settlements in the occupied territories and no genuinely independent Palestinian Arab state. In the occupied territories Palestinians are demonstrating against any surrender of Arab and Muslim religious rights to East Jerusalem and against any retreat on the rights of the millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in what is now Israel. Arafat has only one card left — the threat to unilaterally declare Palestinian independence (as previously announced) in September coupled with the warning that unless there is some attempt to meet Palestinian demands a violent backlash will follow. The next Intifada may be fought with guns, not stones.