There is one thing in common between all of the various methods of Israeli violence against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority. That factor is the reversal of nearly all the changes that had taken place during and because of the peace process of the last 10 years.
The first and most severe of this violence, ongoing since last September, has been the drastic disintegration of the Palestinian territories and the complete termination of any central function of the Palestinian Authority. Almost 80 percent of the Israeli air raids have targeted Palestinian police headquarters, which not only resulted from the peace process, but are also a tool by which the Palestinian Authority can continue to exist.
Another main characteristic of the period after the Oslo accords was the existence of areas under complete Palestinian control and authority. Gradually, Israel has canceled this concept by subjecting those areas to constant bombardment and siege; repeatedly invading many of those areas and reoccupying them, sometimes temporarily, but more recently not.
The Israeli assassination policy, especially when it targets political leaders, is another way of reversing the peace process. The hatred and hostility resulting from this policy, as well as the removal of these influential leaders from the scene makes it difficult if not impossible for any leadership to return to negotiating peace.
A case in point: when one prominent Palestinian official was taking part in the funeral of assassinated leader Abu Ali Mustapha of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an angry woman shouted at him, “Why don’t you go to your friend [Israeli dove] Yossi Beilin instead of attending the funeral of someone killed by his people?”
The political objectives of this violent and oppressive Israeli campaign against the Palestinian people, which has lasted almost a year and has ended the lives of almost 700 Palestinians, remain in question. It is difficult to answer this question because this Israeli government has no political proposal that it might be trying to impose by force.
In light of the nature of the Israeli campaign to reverse the situation back to the days prior to the peace process and in light of the lack of political alternatives posited by the Israeli government, once can only logically conclude that what Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is trying to do is simply to nullify the Oslo agreement and peace process. The reasons for doing this are that their end results contradict Sharon’s ideology of maintaining Israeli control over all of historic Palestine and preventing the development of a viable Palestinian entity or state.
Over the last 10 years, Sharon has been at the center of the peace process opposition. Now he finds himself in power, but unable to declare the cancellation of the Oslo agreement and process. Therefore, he has decided to achieve the same objectives – only gradually and step by step. That is why the only common thread between all his political and practical moves is the reversal of the peace process.
If that is Sharon’s real objective, then he is being quite successful, moving systematically towards that end. This is apparent, not only by looking at the practical steps, but at the fierce confrontations themselves, which are creating a hatred and hostility for further deepening and widening the cycle of violence and making it very difficult to repair the situation and restore the political process in the future.
The new generation that was saved from the conflict over the last 10 years might have been the vehicle for a different future, Now, however, they have been sucked by Sharon into the vortex of the conflict and are full of hatred, hostility and thoughts of revenge. Sharon is not only not succeeding in obstructing any chances for peace based on mutual recognition of rights, but he has assured that such a peace will not be possible for yet another generation.
Mr. Ghassan Khatib is the publisher of the Palestine Report.