Released May 19, 2001
Gush Shalom, P. O. Box 3322, Tel Aviv, 61033 Israel
Website: -- Press Contact: Adam Keller

To Stop the Bloodshed, End the Occupation

TEL AVIV -- The disgusting and terrible cycle of bloodshed, the endless sequence of retaliation upon retaliation and revenge upon revenge, cannot be ended without ending the occupation.

Today the inhabitants of Netanya are paying the price of ongoing occupation, the price of maintaining and extending settlments in occupied territory, a heavy and painful price.

In the elections, just a few months ago, Ariel Sharon promised his voters to make peace. A peace by force, peace of occupation, peace with settlements and without concessions. It did not take long for this promise to become exposed as fraud. Quite evidently, Sharon and his cabinet have no real solutions to offer, nothing but the ever-mounting use of force which characterized Ariel Sharon's entire military and political career since the 1950's, and which already had disastrous consequences in the past.

Following this morning's horrendous suicide bombing, in which six Israeli civilians got killed, Sharon with his Laborite allies Peres and Ben-Eliezer resorted to a not less horrendous state exhibition of brute force - the first- ever use of Israeli Air Force fighter planes (American-made F-16) against Palestinian cities.

The F-16 is an enormously powerful weapon, especially in comparison with the Palestinians' puny arsenal - but with little accuracy. As the military commentator on the Israeli TV (Channel-I) remarked tonight, most of the twelve Palestinians so far known to have been killed tonight were simple low-paid prison guards at the Nablus prison, which was heavily bombed. That bombing was apparently ordered with the aim of killing a Hamas leader reportedly incarcerated in that prison, which the inaccurate overkill failed to achieve and which is in any case a highly questionable approach (to say the least).

There is no reason whatsoever to assume that use of such methods would in any way prevent further suicide attacks. On the contrary, historical precedent - Israel's own and that of other countries - as well a simple common sense would suggest that it can only lead to further inflammation of an already highly- charged atmosphere.

Had the Sharon-Peres Government seriously desired to put an end to violence and break the cycle of bloodshed, an excellent diplomatic means was at hand in the past weeks - the Mitchell Report, the result of months of intensive work by a respectable international panel headed by a well-known former US senator. The Mitchell recommendations would require the Palestinian Authority to declare and effectively enforce a cease fire, while the Government of Israel would accept and implement a reciprocal obligation to put a complete halt to the extention of settlements in the Occupied Territories. The Palestinians expressed complete agreement to the deal; Sharon and his fellows are opposed.

The linkage between cessation of violence and cessation of settlement is an obvious and indispensable one. Settlement creation and extention is itself an extremely violent process, involving military bureaucrats arbitarily declaring a certain parcel of Palestinian land to be "state land"; large military forces enforcing the decree, fencing off the land and excluding the former owners; and finally a group of settlers, composed of Jews only, coming to take up possession and set up an armed community in the enclave behind the barbed wires. In some places this process is accompanied by protests of the dispossessed, put down by force; in other places, the anger and frustration generated burst out in other, seemingly unconnected places.

There can be no "end to violence" while such settlement practices continue; the fact that Oslo contained no provision to stop them was a major reason why - in spite of high expectations - the process deteriorated into the present gloomy situation. However, for Sharon to agree to a total settlement freeze seems out of the question. He was, more than any other Israeli politician, intimately involved over decades in the creation and extention of settlements. The settlers are the core of his political power base. Therefore, Sharon sent Peres, to try and water down the Mitchell Report, and get settlement extention legitimized under the old guise of "natural growth" (it had served to double the settler population from 100,000 to 200,000 in just seven years, 1993-2000, which is a phenomenal "natural growth" indeed).

The escalation which the last week, and especially the last twenty-four hours produced may have finally derailed the entire diplomatic initiative centered on the Mitchell Report. And in any case, there is little reason to assume the Sharon-Peres Government is willing or able to take the steps needed for a cease-fire - much less for a lasting peace. Eventually this government's lack of any solution to cardinal problems will lead to its collapse. But for the time being, Israelis and more so Palestinians pay with their lives.

[Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.

Israel "aided Hamas directly - the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization)," said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies. . . .

According to ICT papers, Hamas was legally registered in Israel in 1978 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the movement's spiritual leader, as an Islamic Association by the name Al-Mujamma al Islami, which widened its base of supporters and sympathizers by religious propaganda and social work.--Richard Sale, "Analysis: Hamas history tied to Israel," United Press International, June 18, 2002]

Francisco Gil-White, "Doesn't Israel Fund Hamas? No. This is an unfounded allegation made by the CIA," Emperor's Clothes, May 25, 2003]

[Hamas was used to distribute needed food, and other life sustaining supplies to the Palestinian people because Israel had created a humanitarian crisis in the occupied territories. How that amounts to a CIA conspiracy against Israel is anyone's guess, but the simple truth is that the mosques and other internal Palestinian organizations were used to provide those services because neither Israel, nor the UN could.--Anisa Abd el Fattah, "Hamas was used to distribute needed food," January 26, 2005]

Copyright © 2001 Gush Shalom
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