The Guardian August 9, 2000


Israel:Right-wing pressure on the peace process

by Hans Lebrecht in Tel Aviv

According to a leak published by the Israeli Ha'aretz daily, 
President Clinton and Madeleine Albright, the "neutral" Camp David 
mediators, presented the Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams with 
their own proposal. The proposal was meant to "bridge the gap" between both 
sides in order to achieve some kind of agreement.

However, the US proposal was also designed to curtail sovereign freedoms 
for the Palestinian State in a way that makes that sovereignty a sham.

No wonder, the Israeli side showed "willingness to consider it", while the 
Palestinians in Camp David, as well as the Palestinian public outright, 
rejected the US proposal as being biased in favour of Israel's 
annexationist designs.

Meanwhile, back in Israel, the united right-wing and right-radical Greater-
Israel Front was brutally attacking Barak's withering coalition and its 
pledge to achieve some kind of peace.

Three right-wing parties in Barak's former coalition have left the 
government. While Barak was at Camp David, the Greater-Israel chauvinists 
motioned no-confidence votes again and again, as well as Bills to undermine 
the government and torpedo Barak's promise to get any peace accord he signs 
endorsed by a public referendum.

One of these Bills, already adopted by a preliminary Knesset vote attempts 
to restrict such a referendum with an outright racist qualification  the 
right to participate would be for Jewish citizens only.

Barak and Clinton try to blame Arafat and his team for the impasse but 
Arafat and his followers are demanding respect for the vested national 
rights of their people.

These rights, accepted by the world community, were formally recognised in 
the 1993 Oslo Declaration of Principles, signed by the PLO and Israel, and 
co-signed by the US administration.

As long as Arafat adheres to these principled stands, and does not give in 
to extremist demands by radical Palestinian elements, who advocate not 
signing any peace agreement with Israel, he will have the backing of the 
vast majority of his people. Even the Israeli peace camp will stand by his 
side.

On July 16, the Israeli Right ferried more than 100,000 Israelis to Tel 
Aviv, using hundreds of buses, to protest against the peace process. The 
cost for this mobilisation  about $5 million  was, as openly admitted, 
carried to a great extent by some American moneybags.

Spokespersons for the united, mainly Zionist, peace camp excuse their 
failure to counter with similar rallies on the grounds that they are unable 
to finance such a rally. But the regrettable truth is an obvious, hopefully 
temporary, weak position of the major Zionist parties of the peace camp.

At a peace camp rally at Paris Square in Jerusalem, slogans brought by the 
more militant peace forces, such as demands to recognise the Palestinian 
right to establish their capital in eastern Jerusalem, or to recognise the 
Palestinian refugees' right to repatriation, were confiscated by the Peace-
Now marshals.

Only non-committal slogans, such as "Barak, bring home peace" or "Peace 
without settlements" were allowed.

The truth is that the Zionist peace forces, led by the Meretz party 
leadership, are "stuttering, vague, fuzzy and frightened to raise former 
slogans, abandoning its clear positions in favour of an Israeli withdrawal 
to the pre-1967 lines, which now have become unmentionable", 
(Ha'aretz, July 23).

However there are activities by peace groups in spite of financial 
weakness. Parts of the Hadash Front and Communists, as well as other peace 
groups, mount vigils using real peace slogans.

With the failure of the Camp David talks, the reaction in the Israeli and 
Palestinian homefronts will be fateful for the future of our region.

After his return to Israel, Barak's Foreign Minister has resigned, saying 
he cannot defend policies he does not support, meaning the peace policy. 
Barak is under intense pressure from the right to resign or call new 
elections.

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People's Weekly World

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