This is not the time for negotiating, but the time for emphasizing demands

The prevailing atmosphere in Israel and occupied Palestine is one of political and military bidding, aimed at increasing the value of the shares of those competing in parliamentary elections which are to take place soon in Israel and occupied Palestine.

We are saying nothing new about this idea of bidding –” everyone has read, heard and seen all the Israeli and Palestinian biddings this season. In Israel the contenders make extremist statements, but soon afterwards they make different statements as a result of US and European pressure.

The Israeli biddings are both internal and external. The contenders’ statements regarding the leadership of the collapsed Likud gathering are accompanied by verbal biddings between the Likud party and Sharon’s new Kadima party, and between Kadima and the Labor party headed by its new leader Amir Peretz, as well as biddings of the extremist rightwing parties. All these biddings lead in one direction: Who plans to seize the largest area of West Bank lands, who will besiege the Palestinian more, and who will assassinate more faction leaders?

Mofaz, who is competing for the leadership of the Likud gathering, states that he will impose an economic siege on the Gaza Strip. The following morning he makes a contradictory statement. He threatens to close the Rafah crossing only to come back the following day to announce his intention to discuss procedures at the Rafah crossing with the Palestinian side.

This applies to all Israeli faction leaders competing to win the Israeli public’s votes. They all think that extremism is the key to winning. We believe this is an illusion.

On the Palestinian side we see Khaled Mashal, the head of the Hamas Political Bureau, threaten not to renew the truce while Hamas sources in the Gaza Strip say that they are committed to the calm. Mushir Al-Masri and Sami Abu-Zuhri support what Khaled Mashal said.

The Palestinian Authority is carrying out political arrests and the Ministry of Interior and the presidency institution threatens to strike at all who violate the commitment to a calming period.

These are the current conditions. We must not take every statement or announcement seriously, but in the spirit of competition and bidding. Being dragged along by these statements will cast a thick fog over seeing reality and comprehending the truth.

This phase is one of conflicts, changing alliances and having everyone, Israelis and Palestinians alike, submit to the people’s decision and options. It is not therefore a negotiations phase but one for demanding rights and raising the banner of justice.

It is a phase of insisting at every moment that the wall be removed from Palestinian land, that settlements (colonies) be removed, that the Israelis withdraw back to the border of June 1967 according to Security Council resolution 242 and that all (new) border points set up by Israel all over the country be removed.

These demands must begin in Palestine so that other countries do not use the Palestinian Authority’s laxity and their failure to strongly demand the rights of the Palestinian people as an excuse to be negligent and not use their influence to pressure the international community to move positively to implement Security Council resolution 242.

The circumstances that are shuffling all these cards are not however the only circumstances that make us believe that the time is not right for negotiations but is right for emphasizing demands.

The most important factor is that at the moment Israel has the ability to bargain with the US on having Israel strike at Iran. The US does not want to get involved in a military venture against Tehran because it is mired down in Afghanistan and Iraq in light of American opposition to the war and demands for withdrawing US troops from Iraq.

Therefore, the US elite (financial and oil) is now pressuring the US administration not to pressure Israel and prompt it to direct a strong strike against Iran.

The statements made by Israeli officials over the past few months indicate that Israel’s patience regarding Iran will run out and that Israel will have to defend itself if the international community is not able to force Iran to give up its nuclear program.

In this context we refer to the dangerous statement made by ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in which he expressed his resentment at the Iranian positions while at the same time he warned against the use of the military option, which indicates that he knows what is being planned for Iran with regards to this matter.

During the last two days Israel’s threats to strike at Iran have increased. Sharon said: “We cannot simply watch Iran build a nuclear force that will threaten Israel, and we will defend ourselves.” Israeli Foreign Minister and candidate for Likud party leadership Silvan Shalom said: “The international community must act quickly and submit Iran’s nuclear file to the Security Council.” Europe, Russia and China are refusing to do so at the moment and are in favor of political negotiations to find a solution to Iran’s nuclear reactor. Therefore the US hesitates and gives more time for talks with Iran.

The latest statements made by the Iranian president over “the illusion of the holocaust”, and demanding that Germany and Austria set up a state for the Jews on their lands instead of on the land of Palestine, have however started a new fire and have prompted Israel to demand that a strike be carried out against Iran.

The meeting of the joint American-Israeli committee on strategic affairs, which was held last week in Washington, most likely did not discuss the details of the strike, which Israel calls “preventive”, against the Iranian nuclear reactor and Iranian missile factories.

If we go back to the situation in Palestine we find that the circumstances are ripe for Israel to pressure the US in exchange for striking at Iran and acting as it pleases in occupied Palestine (the wall, settlement expansion, the Judaization of Jerusalem and not discussing the implementation of the roadmap) even if it is for a limited time only.

We conclude from this that these circumstances require everyone on the Palestinian scene to emphasize the demand for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

Going along with the financial and oil elite’s desire to strike at Iran, there is talk behind the political scenes in Washington about the imminent resignation of US Defense Minister Rumsfeld and the appointment of the Zionist senator Lieberman in his place to supervise Washington’s new war which Israel will launch against Iran.

The Israeli government has made a decision to launch a large-scale media and diplomatic campaign against Iran and its president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in preparation for launching a military strike and to pressure the European countries to end negotiations with Iran and turn its nuclear file over to the Security Council.

This decision comes after the meeting of the joint American-Israeli committee to discuss strategic cooperation between Israel and the US.

It is interesting to note that secrets of sales of heavy water to Israel were revealed this week. Britain knew that (at least) 50 tons of heavy water that was transferred to Norway (according to an agreement between the two countries) would eventually end up in Israel, and that this would enable Israel to make several atomic bombs. Despite this Britain transferred the heavy water to Norway and it eventually made it to Israel to be used in the manufacture of atomic bombs at the Dimona reactor near the Dead Sea. After that Israel relied on other sources.

Vannunu revealed the secrets of Israeli atomic bombs and was arrested and imprisoned by Israel. He is still not allowed to move freely under orders from the Israeli security services for fear that he will disclose other secrets that they believe he has knowledge of.

The timing of publishing the information about the heavy water could be linked to the British Secret Service’s knowledge of the plan drawn up by Israel to strike at the Iranian nuclear reactor and Britain’s concern over its soldiers in the south of Iraq and along the Iraq-Iran border.

What is certain is that there is a green light for Israel to carry out an air strike against Iranian missile factories and the Iranian nuclear reactor. Well informed sources informed us that Israeli submarines have for two years been sailing in the Gulf waters and that there are specialized Israeli monitoring groups working in several areas of the Iran-Iraq border and that special Israeli training troops live in Iraqi Kurdistan using the excuse of training Kurdish security forces. Yediot Ahronot revealed these secrets in an article published on December 1st, 2005.

Once again we say that Israel now has the green light to act as it pleases in the West Bank and Gaza Strip because the decision has been made to make it strike at Iran in exchange for this, major economic aid, support for Kadima (Sharon’s new party), allowing settlement expansion and remaining silent about it, and appointing Lieberman as Minister of Defense. This requires the Palestinian Authority to go on alert and launch a campaign to demand the removal of settlements, the implementation of the roadmap, a halt to the Israeli aggression and a halt to the Judaization of Jerusalem.

This campaign cannot be fought in the offices of the Palestinian Authority, but in the countries of the world and in international institutions by sending delegations to discuss and talk to international public opinion and create an atmosphere for pressure towards ending the occupation.