Arafat, Not the Cause of Violence

While President Bush was not elected but rather appointed by a Supreme Court whose members were mostly appointed by Bush’s father, Arafat won an election in 1996 capturing 88.1% of the popular vote in an election that was monitored by the international community and by the Carter Center and was personally certified by Jimmy Carter. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Mahoud Abbas was an American puppet installed by the Americans because of the administration prejudice against Arafat engendered by years of demonization by Israel and their Israel-is-always-right chorus in the US. The Bush Administration has no right to marginalize Arafat, the legitimately elected leader of the Palestinian people.

Despite Ariel Sharon’s linking Arafat to every attack against Israeli civilians, the State Department has periodically reported to congress that there is no clear evident that Arafat was behind or knew of any such attacks. The 2001 annual State Department Report on Global Terrorism does not mention Arafat, but does state, “Israel’s destruction of the PA’s [Palestinian Authority] security infrastructure contributed to the ineffectiveness of the PA. Significantly reduced Israeli-PA security cooperation and lax security and a lax security environment allowed Hamas and other groups to rebuild terrorist infrastructure in the Palestinian territories…”. Thus the report lays part of the blame for increased terrorism against Israeli’s, not to Arafat but to the Sharon government.

The Roadmap states “The government of Israel [shall] take no action undermining trust, including, deportations, attacks on civilians: confiscations and/or demolitions of Palestinian homes and property, as a punitive measure or to facilitate Israel construction; destruction of Palestinian institutions and infrastructure….

Neither has this provision of the Roadmap been respected nor has the violence against the Palestinian ceased. Even as Bush, Sharon and Abbas were affirming their mutual allegience to the Roadmap at the Aqaba Summit, Israel had for the third day conducted raids in the in the Balata refugee camp and in Nablus in which, according to the Red Crescent, 50 people were treated for bullet and shrapnel wounds. The Rafiah hospital in Nablus reported 32 people injured by the Israeli army on June 4, the day of the summit.

Only hours after the summit, Agence France Presse reported that Israeli tanks and armored bulldozers entered the town of Rafah on the southern edge of the Gaza strip and demolished 4 houses. Later that day, the same press service reported that the Israeli army expelled the residents of a two story house in Dein al Balah, in the Gaza Strip, and destroyed the house. The following day, June 6, an Israeli death squad assassinated two Palestinian men in Talkarm. whom Israel claimed had plans to become suicide bombers.

On June 8, Palestinian fighters attacked and killed 5 Israeli soldiers whiles suffering 5 dead themselves. Though the Israeli government saw an opportunity to brand the attack as more terrorism, such an attack by occupied people on the purely military targets of the occupation army is legal under international law.

On June 9 and 10, as the Israeli army was exercising its token adherence to the Roadmap in removing a makeshift outpost of no more that 10 “illegal” settlers who had set up a house trailer in the West Bank, the Israeli army blew up 13 houses in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Nanoun making dozens of Palestinians homeless.

On June 10, Hamas issued a statement saying “We will study Abu Mazen’s (Mahoud Abbas) call for dialogue while bearing in mind the interests of our nation, its rights, the strengthening of its national unity, and first and foremost the question of prisoners, the right of return, Jerusalem, and an end to the occupation.

Later in that day, the Israeli army carried out an assassination attempt on the life of medical doctor and popular Hamas spokesman Abdul Aziz al Rantissi. The attack injured him and his son and killed a woman bystander.

Long time observers of Sharon will confirm that this is a typical pattern. Sharon will order an assassination as negotiations with Hamas on ending the suicide bombings are nearing fruitition. And the violence begins again. Sharon is a military general, not a diplomat. He has no interest in negotiating away gains he has made and feels he is making as a result of military operations. Bush is wrong in characterizing Sharon as “a man of peace”‘ not merely for his apparent ignorance of Sharon’s past, which include handfuls of massacres of Palestinians, including Sabre and Chatila, during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, but in fundamentally misunderstanding Sharon’s intentions and the motivations that drive Sharon.

Despite the Roadmap’s admonition against creating facts on the ground, Israel has continued the constructions of the Apartheid Wall with the bulldozers running seven days a week, from dawn until dusk. Indeed, the construction of the Wall was proceeding at full speed even as Sharon was meeting with Bush at Aqaba, with the vista of the Gulf of Aqaba in the background, and with Sharon expressing solidarity with Bush and the Roadmap.

Arafat accepted the two state solution in a speech to the United Nations in 1988 and again when he signed the Oslo Accords of 1993 which Arafat believed would lead to a Palestinian state. Sharon never accepted Oslo and has sought to destroy it, the Palestinian Authority and Arafat as well. Under the Oslo regime, the Palestinians lost ground to 200,000 more Israeli settlers who now occupy Palestinian land as Israel continued to strangle their economy.

Abbas shook hands with Sharon, visited Sharon in his office in Jerusalem after being given the blue and white carpet treatment and got nothing in return; no cessation of Israeli assassinations, no freezing of settlements, and the continued the construction of the 30 ft high Aparthied wall designed to steal 55% of Palestinian land and confine Palestinians to a giant prison.

The failure of the Roadmap is due to Bush, not Arafat, because Bush does not have the guts to stand up to Sharon and his friends in the American congress and seriously threaten to cut off funds to Israel unless Israel stops the assassinations and stops creating facts on the ground including the continued construction of the Wall, continued demolition of Palestinian homes, continued destruction of Palestinian agricultural lands, continued road building and continued settlements in the occupied territories.