Israeli Prime Minister Sharon prepared the Europeans and the Israelis for his meeting with the head of the European Union, the Prime Minster of Belgium, Mr. Guy Verhofstadt, the high commissioner for the European Union Javier Solana and the Belgian Foreign Minister.
Prior to the arrival of the delegation, Sharon announced that Israel does not see, and does not want to see, a political role for Europe in the Middle East, and that he wanted Europe’s role to be confined to economic aid. Not only this, but Sharon also directed insults at the European Union in a manner unprecedented in the history of diplomacy or politics.
Sharon announced he intends holding on to all his conditions that the world, and the European Union, see as aiming at disabling the peace process and disabling the implementation of international legitimacy resolutions. He asked the Union to cut off all aid to the Palestinian Authority because, according to him, it was using this money to buy weapons to attack Israel.
Rejecting the peace process with the Palestinians, he added that Yasser Arafat was leading terrorist groups. On top of all this, Olmert, the mayor of Jerusalem who is close to Sharon, launched his morally and politically vulgar attack when he called the Prime Minster of Belgium and his government filth.
Once again Sharon reveals to everyone that he and his government act like a gang of highway robbers, refusing to abide by international law, considering themselves above international legitimacy and continuing to use Israel’s state military and security institutions, and armed settlers, to assassinate Palestinians, kill civilians, destroy the Palestinian infrastructure, destroy their houses, villages and cities, uproot their trees and put an entire people under a suffocating economic and logistic siege.
We do not think that these facts are not known to the American administration which is demanding that President Yasser Arafat exert effort in stopping the violence and the terrorism.
Here we borrow the words of Prince Soud Al-Faisal when he said that America’s stand can almost drive a sane person crazy because it deliberately ignores the facts, and does not insist on the implementation of international legitimacy resolutions.
Sharon and his government have gone too far and the situation is no longer acceptable from all humanitarian, legal and political aspects. The Middle East region is about to explode as a result of Israel’s actions and the American administration’s silence regarding them.
So what does President Bush want the Palestinians to do? Does he want them to get slaughtered and killed and have their houses demolished and their trees uprooted, and then smile?
Does President Bush want the victim to cheer for his executioner?
Did President Bush smile for the terrorists who brought down the World Trade Center? So why then does he want the Palestinians to smile for their executioner and for those who are carrying out state terrorism against them and are using F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters, tanks and rockets to kill Palestinians and destroy their properties?
While the European Union delegation was in the region, and during their meeting with Sharon, orders were issued for committing the most heinous crimes against the Palestinians. As if Sharon was saying to the West: I will continue to kill Palestinians until you meet my demands. It is clear blackmail. Sharon is killing the Palestinian hostages on a daily basis just like Abu Sayyaf do, and just like all terrorists do, to blackmail the United States and Europe.
He has announced more than once that Bush cannot take a stand against Israel because the majority of the Congress supports Sharon, and the majority of the Americans too. Does President Bush know this, does he hear of Sharon’s comments? The Palestinians hear them, and so do the Arabs who are sure they reach the White House too. The Arabs therefore conclude that the American administration supports the killing and mass crimes Sharon is committing against the Palestinians. What explanation does the White House have?
The American administration is demanding that President Arafat stop the violence. What violence does the American administration speak of? If the following figures have escaped the American administration’s mind, then let us remind them:
The American administration will hand over 52 advanced F-16 fighter planes to Israel to add to its air fleet that was supplied by he American administration é a fleet that now includes 257 of the most modern American fighter bombers. Israel has an unknown number of nuclear heads that have not been under any form of control. Israel also refuses, until now, to sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Israel has an undefined number of long-, medium- and short-range ground-to-ground missiles. It has missiles that are capable of intercepting other missiles, ground-to-air missiles and submarines that are capable of launching nuclear-armed missiles.
Israel has more than four thousand tanks and armored cars that are mostly American, as well as what machinery Israel itself makes. It has more than 320 helicopters of which the Apache is the offensive nucleus. It has developed biological and chemical weapons (Technion Institute, Haifa), and it has é
We hope President Bush knows that the Palestinians have stones and rocks, automatic and semi-automatic weapons that Israel handed over to them. They buy M-16’s, Kalashnikovs and ammunition from Israel in order to defend themselves against this arsenal the U.S. gave to Israel over the past two decades.
President Bush is undoubtedly aware of the volume of the aid that the U.S. gives to Israel, be it financial or military. He is also aware that the amount of aid the U.S. has approved for the Palestinian people does not exceed 500 million dollars over a five-year period.
So what violence do President Bush, Ms. Condoleezza Rice and Secretary Powell speak of? Yesterday, during a meeting between the head of the European Union and the Israeli Prime Minister, Israeli tanks opened fire unjustifiably on a Palestinian police patrol charged with maintaining the peace and the cease-fire north of the Gaza Strip.
This patrol, that was made up of an officer and Palestinian navy police and that was allowed to carry light weapons as per the signed agreements with Israel, was carrying out instructions to keep the peace.
We state here the events of this horrible crime committed by the Israeli army so that President Bush and his staff can become aware of the facts related to the violence and terrorism, as told by General Abdel Razeq Al-Majayda, the head of the Palestinian delegation to the trilateral American-Israeli-Palestinian higher security committee.
General Al-Majayda, the head of general security in the Gaza Strip, announced yesterday morning that at exactly 10:30 p.m. the night before last 18-11-2001, the Israeli occupation forces committed a brutal massacre and cold-blooded murder.
He added that this massacre was committed while a patrol of the navy forces was carrying out patrol and guard duty and checking out positions along the Beit Lahia road in the Atatara area under full Palestinian control. The occupation army’s tanks shelled the patrol and the American school and fired heavy-caliber machine guns at them, which led to two of the school guards and two of the navy forces being injured.
Gen. Majayda emphasized that the occupation forces in the area then took two of the wounded and shot them intending to commit premeditated and cold-blooded murder. This of course led to their death. The two were Captain Naval Engineer Mohammad Azzo Abu Dalal, and Naval First Assistant Mohammad Hussein Ibrahim, both of the navy police. He stated that the matter did not end there, an Israeli military vehicle then ran them over and mutilated their bodies.
We will give President Bush an example of the scale of the crimes being committed against our Palestinian people by the Israeli occupation forces by citing one example é the city of Rafah on the Palestinian-Egyptian border. We will not mention figures other than those announced by human rights organizations following field studies.
The report of the Mizan human rights organization published on 18-11-2001 states that the losses that Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, suffered between the end of September 2000 and October 2001 are as follows:
74 civilians were killed by occupation forces either by gun shot, land and air bombardment. 560 civilians have been wounded, some with permanent injuries. The occupation forces have destroyed, in Rafah alone, 164 houses whose owners, men, women and children are now homeless living in tents that do not keep out heat or cold. Israeli tanks and bulldozers have destroyed 2,050,000 square meters of agricultural land.
We can supply President Bush with a similar report about every city, town and village. The Israelis have killed close to a thousand Palestinians, wounded more than thirty thousand, uprooted more than 200 thousand fruit trees and destroyed more than six thousand homes.
So who then is the terrorist Mr. President?
What we want to say here, is that the time has come for the American administration to use one standard in putting an end to terrorism, not double standards.
The Israeli organized state terrorism is being carried out daily against an entire people. The occupation, through its suffocating siege: has rendered more than 46% of the population unemployed, has caused financial losses for the Palestinians worth close to three billion dollars and has ruined the Palestinian national production and the individual’s income.
More than half the Palestinian population lives on an income not exceeding 4 dollars a day, in the shadow of the Israeli aggression and siege. Is this not a suffocating terrorism that is gradually killing an entire people?
We are not asking President Bush to do more than abide by the United States’ stands and implement them; that is, implement resolution 242 by ending the Israeli occupation and establishing a sovereign independent Palestinian state on lands occupied on June 5th 1967.
This state is the Middle East and Israel’s bridge to security and peace. The Palestinian people and the Arab people are expecting and waiting for President Bush to bring back the United States’ credibility and prestige, and to rid the Palestinian people of the occupation by the state of Israel that the United States provides unlimited support for.
Bassam Abu-Sharif is a special advisor to President Arafat.