As the world is preoccupied with the US aggression war against the people of Afghanistan, the government of Sharon escalated its aggression on the Palestinian people following the assassination of Minister Rehba’am Ze’evy and sent a warning to the Palestinian National Authority to hand over the planners and the perpetrators of the assassination and to declare several Palestinian organizations as outlaws.
The Israeli government followed its warning with re-imposing military occupation over vital areas around all the Palestinian towns and cities and tightening the military siege on all Palestinian regions and freezing contacts with the PNA, in addition to other measures. The Israeli measures are considered a first step in the context of a full-scale war that will lead, according to Israeli military sources, to the “most comprehensive and longest military operation against the Palestinian regions since the start of the Intifada on September 29, 2000”, while the town of Ramallah will be the main target of this operation since it includes the main headquarters of several Palestinian factions.
Sharon had advocated the execution of this “full-scale military operation” directly after the September 11 incidents in the US. He also re-affirmed his intention to implement it after the assassination, using the same terms that had been used by US President George Bush following the bombing operations in New York and Washington when he announced before the Knesset that “a new phase has started and the situation today is no different that it was yesterday”.
The current threats of Sharon remind us of similar incidents 19 years ago when the Israeli government used then the assassination attempt against the Israeli ambassador in London to launch its war against the PLO in South Lebanon. At that time, Israeli PM Menahem Begin said the war against the PLO will bring to Israeli 40 years of calm and will wipe out what he called the “source of terrorism”.
It seems that Sharon who assumed at that era the position of Minister of Defense is trying now through his new position as PM to commit the same mistake and achieve the same political failure witnessed in his previous military campaign because the Palestinian people did not surrender and continued their struggle to regain their rights as ratified by the international legitimacy while Sharon and his current government deny these rights.
The past experience has proven that the path of military force has not achieved 40 years of calm. Therefore, the Israeli government has no options but to change its approach and try another path, which is the path of political solution based on the recognition of the right of the Palestinian people in self-determination and the end of occupation and the implementation of international legitimacy resolutions.
The warning made by the government of Sharon to the Palestinian leadership targets in practicality de-legitimizing it and pushing it to engage in a conflict with its people, which threatens with a split in the internal front. The Palestinian leadership has rejected such a scenario and will reject any such situation in the future simply because it is aware of its national responsibilities and because it already knows that the dangers of an Israeli military strike will not be harsher than the dangers of an internal split.
On the Palestinian front, we have to say at these critical and sensitive moments that if Sharon government’s interest lies in military escalation and blowing up any chance to political moves, this means that the Palestinian national interest requires the opposite. The bombing incidents in New York and Washington and their ramifications led to a new reality with prospects of a new political move, which might result in achieving progress in the field of solving the Palestinian cause. This requires that we test this opportunity till the end and not to allow Sharon to use the disaster of New York and Washington as a pretext to deal with the PNA as Washington deals with Taleban Movement.
We realize the extent of oppression and injustice that is inflicted upon the Palestinian people by the occupation; we are also aware of the size of losses and sacrifices offered by the Palestinian people throughout the years of their struggle and that the Palestinian people have a natural and legitimate right to respond to this oppression, but all this does not necessarily mean that we can isolate ourselves from our Arab and international surroundings and do whatever we like anytime and anywhere.
Therefore, the urgent task facing our people and their forces and leadership is not to give any justifications to be dragged into a full military confrontation that will enable Sharon to execute his schemes or that can grant him the opportunity to isolate the Palestinian people under his so-called new phase of war against the Palestinians. Sharon believes that his scheme can record additional points to Israel in front of the US and other European countries and convince them not to pose any new political initiatives to solve the Palestinian cause.
In the case that the Israeli government executes its threats and launches its military operation, this does not exempt the Arab countries and the international community from assuming their responsibilities and taking the necessary measures and steps to deter this aggression. It is better if they start as of now to take such steps.
The writer is Member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian People’s Party.