Despite our conviction that the American administration is aware of the information and facts from A to Z regarding what is taking place in Palestine, we feel that it is sometimes, or most times, necessary to shed light on some of these facts. This is in order to remind those who have forgotten, or to refresh the memory of those who pretend to forget.
This is an attempt to foil the American efforts exerted by General Zinni and Peres in the region to defuse the situation and push the peace process towards its desired end. This comment came from more than one source, especially from the two sides more concerned than others; that is, the Palestinian and Israeli sides. These comments are most certainly true, but what are these actions? They are the work of Sharon and his army, and the reactions of Palestinian extremists to them.
This is the first fact. In order for the cease-fire missions to work, and in order to spread peace and stability, General Zinni must look at situation carefully and in a balanced way with both eyes wide open, not just one. Sharon welcomed General Zinni with an unprecedented escalation in military aggression, and with continuing assassinations é assassinations the United States had condemned and had asked the Israeli government to cease carrying out as it had asked it to stop using Apache helicopters to attack Palestinian civilians.
The night before Sharon left for the United States, and in the presence of General Zinni, Sharon ordered his forces to assassinate Mahmoud Abu Hnoud, to demolish more houses belonging to citizens in Rafah and to storm cities and villages in the north of Palestine.
The Palestinian Authority had warned more than once that the policy of assassinations would only lead to parallel or even bloodier reactions. More than one side, including the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, had expressed the need for Israel to stop these operations because they are a double-edged sword.
We will not go through the whole Israeli history in this pattern of bloody terrorism (the assassinations) é that would take us back decades. I myself am one of the victims of this terrorist policy. Instead we will remind people of what took place a few weeks ago.
Despite the world’s warning to Israel, and its demand that Israel stop the assassinations, Sharon insisted on continuing with them. Children, women, civilians, activists and leaders were all victims of these operations. The assassination of Abu Ali Mustafa, the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, constituted a dangerous marker in this path. This was a provocative and intentional escalation because Abu Ali Mustafa was the Secretary General of the second largest Palestinian organization after Fatah, and was democratically elected.
The PFLP has over twenty seats in the Palestinian National Council, and has an elected representative as a member in the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Abu Ali Musrafa’s assassination did not have an impact on the American administration and the European Union. We believe that this crime, that Sharon committed publicly and officially, portrayed the highest disregard for international law, political ethics, signed agreements and for the United States’, the European Union’s and the United Nation’s demand that such crimes be stopped.
In carrying out this action, Sharon wanted to be certain that the cease-fire announced by President Yasser Arafat would not be allowed to live. What is strange, and unbelievable, is that Sharon’s sending of two Apache helicopters to fire three missiles at Abu Ali Mustafa’s office was not considered by the American administration to be Israel not abiding by the cease-fire, and they demanded that Arafat exert more effort to cease the firing. As if it was Arafat who had sent two Apache helicopters to fire three missiles at the office of the leader of the Likud party.
Abu Ali Mustafa was a partner in the Palestinian government alongside President Yasser Arafat é his party had over twenty seats in the Parliament. Ze’evi was also a partner in the government with Sharon, but with fewer seats than what the PFLP had in the Palestinian Parliament. If Israel held against Abu Ali Mustafa his call to the Palestinians to resist occupation (which is only right and just), then Ze’evi was publicly demanding the Yasser Arafat be killed; that is, the committing of bloody and terrorist crimes. Where was the United States’ other eye to see this, and where was its other ear to hear this?
Sharon’s provocation was intentional, and the reaction that could be expected came, and Ze’evi was killed. The United States was in an uproar. So where then is the equality and the using of one standard? Assassination is assassination, and it is condemned, regardless of the side that is committing it.
Those events were a dangerous and clear sign, and Sharon should have learned their lesson é assassination is a weapon that backfires on those using it. Sharon instead insisted on continuing in this policy and issued orders, in the presence of General Zinni and on the night before he was leaving to meet President Bush, slighting everyone including President Bush, to assassinate Mahmoud Abu Hnoud, one of the leaders of Hamas. Apache missiles killed Mahmoud Abu Hnoud.
Sharon undoubtedly expected that there would be a violent reaction to this crime é no, he wanted a violent reaction so that he could use it in the U.S. to persuade President Bush not to exert any pressure on Israel because it is facing terrorism of the sort the United States is facing.
And so came the reactions, that were condemned é suicide operations that killed thirty Israelis and wounded dozens. Sharon, the victim, sat with President George W. Bush to explain to him the terrorism that Israel was facing. The United States was in an uproar.
General Anthony Zinni visited the site where the Israeli army killed five children while they were at the gates of their school é a United Nations’ school. He saw the destroyed houses in Khan Younis and Rafah, and saw with his own eyes the American school that was intentionally shelled by Israeli tanks for no reason but that it was an American school. We did not hear a strong reaction from the United States, and we did not notice a request from President Bush to Sharon to arrest the killers of the five children and bring them to justice!!!
Terrorism is condemned, whether it is organized terrorism committed by a state through its military and security institutions against an entire people (as is the case with Israel and the Palestinian people), or terrorism committed by extremist organizations against civilians.
So where is the United States’ other eye so it may see the whole picture? Where is its other ear so it may clearly hear the moans of children killed by occupation soldiers é moans that quickly faded as their bodies were torn apart by explosives? Parts of the pages of their schoolbooks remained for General Zinni to see with his own eyes.
If we go on from here, then we must remember that the core of the current problem is that Israel has been using military force since the 28th of September 2000 to destroy the Palestinian Authority and bury the political solution é the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These are Israeli attempts to force the Palestinian people to submit to the Israeli occupation and colonization.
Colin Powell’s speech regarding a political solution was as clear as daylight: ending the Israeli occupation, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza based on Security Council and United Nations’ resolutions.
President Bush’s announcement of the support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and a similar announcement made by the British Prime Minster, confirmed beyond any doubt that there was now an international consensus regarding this position.
This was what scared Sharon and made him go even further in his use of military might to destroy and kill, seeking Palestinian reactions that he could then use to justify more destruction, destroying the Palestinian Authority and maybe even assassinating Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian leadership, until he, in his opinion, ends the Palestinian ambition and buries the international consensus supporting the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on Palestinian lands occupied by Israel in 1967.
On the other hand, Sharon and the Israeli right always, especially at the moments that the Israeli right is politically cornered, find Palestinian extremists to be of great help to them in solving their political crisis. This can be seen from Netanyahu’s history all the way to Sharon’s.
Blowing up buses and killing civilians leads only to harming Palestinian national interests, and to supplying the Israeli right with lethal political weapons. Every time the Palestinian people build, with their struggle, a few stones, the Israelis bring them down onto the heads of the people.
Thus, the moment of truth has indeed come, and disregarding the Palestinian people’s interests, and their struggle to build our independent state, must be ended.
Confronting the aggression and resisting the occupation is a right and the duty of every Palestinian, but when we condemn Israel for killing our children, and set the world against these crimes, we cannot accept or remain silent about the killing of Israeli civilians é this is condemned.
Sharon has deployed his soldiers and tanks in every alley, under every tree and at every home. The enemy’s soldiers are there in front of everyone é resist them.
The Palestinian Authority is required to impose its presence and to control matters. The Palestinian Authority is the state that currently exists as a preface to the establishment of a complete state. Thus it is required to do this and more. It is also required to take care of the Palestinian people’s economic situation that has reached a very miserable state, hold people accountable, control matters and is at the same time required to put qualified people in the right places because this stage is the stage of building the independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and we must not miss this opportunity in any way.
Not missing the opportunity requires serious actions, the improving of the image and reputation of the Palestinian Authority in the world and leading the people towards their national goals through honest and sincere work.
Bassam Abu-Sharif is a special advisor to President Arafat.