International Peace Brigade for Palestine?
The Communist Party of Israel has circulated a "Call for the Establishment of an International Peace Brigade in the Palestinian Territories 2001". The call, issued at the beginning of July over the name of Knesset (Israeli Parliament) Member Issam Makhoul, is intended to circumvent US attempts to use its UN veto to thwart international attempts to stop Israeli aggression in Palestine. The purpose of the Brigade would be "to enforce a people's monitoring of the events in the Palestinian territories, of the crimes of the occupation, of the attacks by the settlers, of the destruction of the environment and of the reality of the lives of the Palestinians living under the occupation". Aimed at individuals and non-government organisations, Makhoul's call says "the lost honour of the conscience of humanity, of human solidarity with the plight of the Palestinian people, can be saved, by movements and organisations worldwide joining together to organise an International Peace Brigade in the course of this [northern] summer". Issam Makhoul is a member of the Communist-led Hadash Front — The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality. The proposal comes at a time when efforts to end the bloodshed in Palestine are becoming more remote. The Government of Israeli Prime Minister Sharon is attempting to spurn diplomatic and political processes, viewing them as an inconvenience to be sidestepped. Many ministers in Sharon's Government do not conceal their disappointment at the fact that the "war" slipped out of their grip, and they are calling for an escalation of the security situation. This step would enable them to implement the aggressive plans that have already been approved by the Israeli Government. These include an extensive military strike against Palestine, with the intention of causing the collapse of the Palestinian National Authority and creating an entirely new situation in the region, tearing up UN and other international resolutions and agreements including the Oslo Accords. In this manner, the Israeli hawks hope to force upon the Palestinian people a solution that is based on Israeli dictates. The Sharon Government believes that it is possible to achieve this goal through deepening the policy of repression and humiliation in the occupied territories of Palestine. Steps to be taken include intensifying the suffocating and starving "closure" (actually an internal blockade of the Palestinian territories), giving free rein to the policy of assassinations based on blacklists and permitting the Israeli "settlers" to freely attack the Palestinian civilian population. Other actions as part of this strategy would be to extend the vicious policy of uprooting Palestinian olive groves and orchards, including ancient groves, and levelling entire rows of homes and sometimes, entire Palestinian neighbourhoods. At the same time Israeli forces would pursue their policy of dividing and separating the Palestinian territories into isolated apartheid-style "Bantustans" and destroying Palestine's economic infrastructure. All of this is aimed at breaking the Palestinian people and putting an end to their uprising against the Israeli occupation. In the Communist Party call for an International Peace Brigade, Issam Makhoul says: "Although the policy of repression, the daily brutalisation of the Palestinian civilian population and depriving them of their right to a livelihood has been perpetrated for nine months, the international community has largely remained silent and inactive, not fulfilling its elementary moral role." The US veto in the UN has prevented the sending of international forces to protect the Palestinian civilian population from the brutality of the Israeli occupation. At the same time, by preventing international forces from monitoring events there, it has allowed Israel to portray itself, its occupation and its settlements, as the victims, rather than the cause of the violence. But, says Makhoul, "the blatant lies of the occupation can be exposed. The US veto cannot paralyse people, human rights organisations, genuine peace movements, the movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people and all NGOs." Makhoul calls on interested individuals and organisations to join in the work of the International Peace Brigade in the Palestinian Territories 2001, "with a view towards a genuine international presence on the ground, committed to non-violence, human rights and a just peace". Meanwhile, in Israel, Makhoul is working on establishing "a peace framework of Israelis and Palestinians who accept this idea [the Peace Brigade], and who will formulate a concrete program of action in the event that we receive [a] positive and prompt response" from international organisations and individuals. Organisations and individuals interested in the proposal for an International Peace Brigade to go to Palestine should write with their comments and proposals to: Issam Makhoul Knesset Member The Knesset Jerusalem, Israel