Ending the Israeli occupation will bring security for Israel

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The more the Israeli government escalates its aggression against the Palestinian people, the more the crisis in the Middle East worsens, and the more the American administration continues in its absolute support of the Israeli government, the more the Israeli occupation forces escalate their aggression against the Palestinian people, institutions and infrastructure.

The formula Sharon is using is very clear; that is, he is using the American support to go ahead in his plan to strike at the Palestinian people, place it under siege and starve it – hoping to make the Palestinians submit to what he wants: accepting a nominal Palestinian state on 42% of the lands of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and annexing 48% to Israel and tightening its control over the borders with Jordan and Egypt.

This political path, that Sharon followed in his political campaign and in his actions after he became Prime Minister, is in great contrast with the American vision of the solution for the Middle East that both President Bush and his Secretary of State Colin Powell proposed. They both confirmed that the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the lands of the West Bank and Gaza Strip based on Security Council resolution 242 was the core of the solution in the Middle East.

What is strange is that the American administration is still dealing with the developments on the Palestinian and the Middle East front from Sharon’s political point of view, and not based on the American vision previously mentioned, and not based on international legitimacy or the Land for Peace formula.

Instead of going ahead with the implementation of the American vision of a political solution, the American administration is engrossed in the security matters, which cannot be dealt with as if they were separate from their political reasons.

The Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian people stem from Sharon’s political vision. The Palestinian people’s self-defense is confronting Sharon’s vision on the one hand, and holding on to the right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on the other.

Actions and the reactions to them stem from the differences in the vision of a final solution. This is once again the issue.

I have no doubt, and perhaps neither does any observer of the events in the Middle East, that all parties are very much aware of these facts.

Sharon is pushing matters towards military escalation and is continuing in practicing his deadly tactics that produce angry reactions so he can claim that there is no calm and that the cease-fire is not holding. This is so he can provide his government with an excuse to stay away from political negotiations, and to demand that the Americans not begin any political discussions (that could put Sharon face to face with the American vision).

Yasser Arafat for his part knows very well what Sharon is after, and so he insists on dealing with the whole situation; that is, without separating security from politics. He wants the international community to implement the resolutions it approved, including the Mitchell committee recommendations, Security Council resolution 242 and the American vision of the solution in the Middle East.

It has become apparent to everyone that there is not, and there will not be, any solution that separates security from politics. Security is one of the results of a political solution – the political solution is not one of the results of security prevailing.

Let us give a recent example of what we are saying. While Sharon was getting his papers in order before heading to Washington next Thursday, he issued his orders to have five leading activists of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine assassinated in the Gaza Strip. He used Apache helicopters to assassinate them and to destroy several factories and houses in Gaza. The occupation forces also stormed several villages in the West Bank and arrested dozens of civilians just because they suspected them. Exactly as Sharon did on the eve of his last visit to the American capital when he ordered the assassination of Abu Hnoud (one of the leaders of the Ezzedein Al-Qassam brigades).

He is hoping that the DFLP will avenge the deaths, as the Al-Qassam brigades had done the last time, so he can take with him to Washington the pictures of dead Israelis and cry on President Bush’s shoulder, and ask him to “understand” his situation, and that he cannot begin political negotiations “in the shadow of the continued Palestinian terrorism”!!!

Naturally, neither Sharon nor President Bush will remember that Sharon had ordered the assassination of five activists of the DFLP on the eve of his departure to Washington.

Four days before leaving for Washington Sharon held a meeting with Abu Mazen, Abu Alaa and Khaled Slam, without this meeting changing his position, his impossible conditions or the arrogance of the American position one little bit.

The real reason behind Sharon’s initiative to hold this meeting is a tactical objective. By this meeting Sharon wanted to contain Shimon Peres’s talks that dealt with the political aspect as well as the security one, and to prevent his Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer from giving his visit to Washington a political angle.

Sharon has another tactical goal from this meeting with these three Palestinians, which is to make the American administration believe that he is meeting with Palestinians but is boycotting Yasser Arafat because “he supports terrorism”.

Armed with what reactions he can get to the assassination and the destruction, and with the weapon of boycotting Yasser Arafat and opening up to Palestinians, Sharon will seek to push President Bush to continue in his unfair and supportive position of Sharon without a thorough review of the United States’ interests in the middle East.

It is feared that Sharon will package his goals and objectives on the Palestinian front in a wide framework, which is that of fighting terrorism and directing preemptive strikes at Iran and Iraq. Sharon had previously presented President Bush, during his last visit, with a file on the dangers that threaten the United States and Israel from the development of weapons of mass destruction in Iran and Iraq, and the development of long range missiles by these two states.

During his imminent visit, Sharon will submit a file on military operations to strike at the missile development facilities of these two countries, in which Israel will contribute and take part. This will make President Bush more inclined to continue in his support for Sharon, especially in light of his State of the Union address, in which he stated that Iraq, Iran and North Korea pose a threat to the United States’ security.

President Bush’s position, if he continues to offer absolute support to Sharon, will undoubtedly be to link what is taking place in Palestine with what the American administration calls the war against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

This presents a serious danger not only to the peoples of the Middle East region, but also to the American nation itself. This position strongly contradicts the American nation’s interests, which are strategic and sensitive interests in the Middle East.

The main source of the terrorism in this region is the Israeli occupation of Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese lands. Anyone who resists this terrorist occupation is merely practicing a legitimate right that was stated in the UN charter and the Geneva Convention.

The dialectic link should be between occupation and terrorism, and the logical conclusion of this dialectic linking would be that ending the occupation forever is an integral part of fighting terrorism, the opposite would be to support terrorism.

Therefore, we say that the United States is required to join the European efforts based on its vision of the solution in the Middle East (as announced by President Bush and Secretary Powell) to begin implementing resolution 242 (ending the occupation) and the establishment of the independent Palestinian state on all Palestinian land occupied by Israel in 1967, including East Jerusalem.

This brings us back to how the American administration is handling the current situation, and its absorption in security details (based on Israeli reports and not on neutral ones). Such absorption will not help at all in ending the violence and finding a political solution. Security is a natural consequence of a political agreement, and not vice versa.

Thus, the American administration is required to stop matters in the Middle East from deteriorating and heading towards a dead end, and to announce to the Palestinian and Israeli sides that the United States has decided, in cooperation with the European Union, Russia and the UN, to begin the implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations, and that the four sides will supervise Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to follow up on what had been agreed to in the Taba talks. Committing both sides to this is the way out of the crisis.

Once again we assert that the occupation is the source of the terrorism, and that ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands is what will achieve security for everyone, including the state of Israel.

Bassam Abu-Sharif is a special advisor to President Arafat.

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