Since President Yasser Arafat addressed the Palestinian people and asked them all to abide by the cease-fire and told them that not honoring the cease-fire would label those who violate it as outlaws, calm prevailed for more than three weeks. This despite the fact that the occupation forces did not stop attacking the Palestinian people in all the Palestinian territories, and despite the storming of PA controlled areas by Israeli tanks and the continued siege imposed by the Israeli occupation forces on the Palestinian people, their leadership and on President Arafat himself.
The day following President Arafat’s speech Sharon replied (despite American promises of a favorable Israeli response) with the attempted assassination of Palestinian activists in Hebron which left a number of child victims, and he continued in daily attacks against the Palestinian people in all areas.
What is very strange and very much condemned is that the American administration continued to demand that President Arafat fight terrorism and arrest wanted activists, without referring to the Israeli army’s continued terrorist operations against the Palestinian people – as if what these occupation soldiers were doing was legitimate and did not fall under the category of organized state terrorism against an entire people. We can say that complete calm prevailed over all the territories for three weeks despite these Israelis attacks. The Americans did not keep their promises, and did not move to set up, based on this calm, a mechanism for implementing the Tenet accords and the Mitchell recommendations as they had promised to do.
At the same time Sharon and the military leadership were looking for an opportunity to set off an explosion that would justify to the Americans Sharon’s request that General Zinni not be sent to propose a timetable for the implementation of the Tenet-Mitchell package.
Suddenly, Israel carried out a suspicious piracy operation in international waters and took over a ship owned by an Iraqi and carrying weapons that Israel claimed the Palestinian Authority and President Arafat personally were responsible for.
Despite the firm denial that neither President Arafat nor the Palestinian Authority were involved with this ship or its cargo, Israel insisted that they were and made the United States continue to accuse them. The Palestinian Authority formed a committee to investigate the matter of this ship. Even though the preliminary results indicate beyond any doubt that President Arafat and the Palestinian Authority are in no way involved with the ship Karine A, the American administration continued to demand that President Arafat explain the incident.
When the Authority had begun to counter the Israeli incitement and defamation campaigns, Sharon took the decision to assassinate Raed Al-Karmi, one of the Fatah leaders in the Tulkarem area. Sharon knows, as do the officers who rule Israel these days, that assassinating Raed Al-Karmi will provoke his relatives and friends into avenging his death. This is exactly what Sharon wanted, as is the case any time calm prevails.
Every time there is calm for the famous seven days, Sharon carries out a series of crimes no one expects the Palestinians to ignore. He does this so he can ask the Americans not to intervene and to leave him and his blood thirsty generals the freedom to abuse the Palestinian people, destroy their houses, suffocate them with siege and take away Yasser Arafat’s freedom of movement. And so came the revengeful reaction in Hadera.
Once again Sharon used the reaction in Hadera as a basis to escalate the barbaric military attack against the Palestinian people, and to ask the Americans to stay away from the Middle East. Israel believes it is more capable than the U.S. in dealing with the Palestinians and the Arabs, according to what Sharon said to President Bush in a special message delivered to him by Ari Ginger – an American Israeli businessman who produces Israel’s chemical weapons, and who financed Sharon’s party and other activities.
Sharon had been sending his private messages to President Bush via Ari Ginger ever since he became Prime Minster – without showing them to his Foreign Minister Shimon Peres or his Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer. This was apparent when Ben Eliezer’s statements asking the Americans to send General Zinni to the region quickly were in complete contrast with the content of Sharon’s letter to President Bush (delivered by the businessman Ari Ginger).
Immediately following Raed Al-Karmi’s assassination the Israeli army denied any involvement in the incident. Binyamin Ben Eliezer charged that Raed Al-Karmi was preparing explosives for a terrorist operation inside Israel. The following day, all the Israeli newspapers published details of Raed Al-Karmi’s terrorist activities. It was obvious that these newspapers had each received a copy of a report distributed by he Israeli intelligence service regarding Raed Al-Karmi. This clearly indicates that the occupation forces were behind the assassination.
The Israelis tried to convince the Americans that they did not assassinate Raed Al-Karmi because the Israelis had promised the Americans that they would stop the assassination operations.
Palestinians accused the Israelis of carrying out the assassination, thus escalating the situation in order to delay the return of the American envoy, and the Israelis, in the person of the Defense Minster Ben Eliezer, continued to deny it. Deputy Defense Minister Dalia Rabin, who is the daughter of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who was assassinated by an extremist security man, exposed Ben Eliezer when she announced on Monday 21-1-2002 that the decision to assassinate Raed Al-Karmi was a wrong Israeli decision, and that the government knows that this killing would cause provocation and reactions. She said that the government made a mistake when it did not use the three weeks of complete calm that prevailed over the territories to return to negotiations with the Palestinians (official Israel radio, Monday 21-1-2002 at 9:30 am). Dalia Rabin’s statement is important and requires that we discuss it thoroughly so that the Americans can understand the facts through the statements of a top Israeli official, the Deputy Defense Minister.
First: Dalia Rabin publicly confessed that Israel took the decision to assassinate Raed Al-Karmi and carried it out. This confession has the following implications:
Israeli Defense Minister Ben Eliezer tried to deceive both the Americans and the Israelis by denying that Israel had carried out the assassination and by claiming that Al-Karmi was preparing an explosive charge to be used in a terrorist operation against Israel when it exploded, and this was another lie.
Most of the statements coming out of the Israeli Defense Ministry or Sharon’s office are so contradictory that one cannot believe that the American officials are naive enough to believe these contradictory claims. Dalia Rabin’s statements, however, showed the Americans, whose eyes are closed to Sharon’s crimes, clearly and unequivocally that the Defense Minister, Sharon’s office and his advisors are lying.
This evaluation should be used as a measure of their previous statements and claims.Thus, the American administration must stop its policy of viewing matters using double standards, and must demand that the Israeli government stop its terrorism and attacks against the Palestinian people when it is demanding that President Arafat and the Palestinian Authority control and arrest Palestinians violating the cease-fire or carrying out operations against civilians inside Israel condemned by the Authority.
Second: Dalia Rabin openly accuses the Israeli government of not wanting to return to negotiations, and points out that the insistence on a calm period is an excuse the Israeli government uses in order to not return to negotiations. She also said that when the Authority was successful in controlling the situation and calm prevailed in all territories for three weeks, the Israeli government worked to destroy the opportunity.
Third: Dalia Rabin is openly accusing the Israeli government of working to sabotage the cease-fire and disable the American role by continuing to take decisions to carry out assassinations and acts of aggression against the Palestinians in order to provoke them and create reactions that would make calm almost impossible. If the Europeans, the Russians, the United Nations and the major industrial countries are aware of these facts, then is it possible that the Americans are not?
If we think for a moment that President Bush, his Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, his Secretary of State Powell and his advisor on national security matters Rice were all victims of Israeli deception before, then Dalia Rabin’s statements, who is the Israeli Deputy Defense Minister, should remove any traces of the old deception and open their eyes and cause them to quickly come to the Middle East region that is currently in a countdown towards explosion.
Let us assume for a moment that the Americans are bewildered between the Palestinian and Israeli versions of the events, and that this bewilderment is what is delaying them from beginning to implement what had been agreed. In this case, it is easy and obvious for any sane person to say to the American administration that, faced with this bewilderment, they can take the decision to head to the Middle East and impose on both the Israelis and the Palestinians the implementation of the Tenet accords and the Mitchell recommendations as the Palestinians, Israelis, Americans, European, Russian and the United Nations have all accepted the Tenet-Mitchell documents.
I do not think matters could be any clearer, and committing both sides to moving forward in implementing this package will break the cycle of violence and will make it possible to return the negotiations to the track of implementing the American vision of a solution in the Middle East – the vision proposed by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1982, the Land for Peace formula, and the vision proposed by George Bush Sr. which is the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in exchange for guaranteeing the security of Israel, recognizing it and normalizing relations with it. He too was a Republican. Another vision is the one proposed by George W. Bush (a Republican) which involves the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on lands occupied by Israel in 1967, and the implementation of resolutions 242 and 338 in exchange for the security of the state of Israel.
After all this, if the American administration continues to take an irresponsible stand regarding the daily Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people, then all we can say is that the American administration supports the official terrorism Israel is carrying out against the peoples of the region, especially the Arab Palestinian people. The U.S. is therefore in complete contradiction with what it calls for and assembles the world for – fighting terrorism and finding political solutions to major regional problems.
Bassam Abu-Sharif is a special advisor to President Arafat.