The Guardian July 25, 2001


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

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