Monday, January 7

MCC Palestine Update #35

MCC Palestine Update #35

7 January 2002

Today, January 7, Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas, while Western churches mark Epiphany. Epiphanies are sorely needed in Palestine/Israel today, dramatic recognitions by the "wise ones" (or those who claim to be wise) that violence and injustice will buy neither security nor liberation, neither peace nor stability.

If the Magi were to make their trek to Bethlehem today, they would have to pass through (if their documents were valid) a variety of checkpoints, roadblocks and other obstacles. May roads be opened so that those who rule might come on bended knee before the nonviolent Messiah.

Below are three pieces of analyzing the current dire situation in Palestine/Israel, the first by veteran Israeli peace activist Uri Avneri,the second by Palestinian-American critic Edward Said, and the final one by Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi.

1. So, Who Is Relevant?
Uri Avnery
Maariv, 25 December 2001

[The following article of Uri Avnery is the translation from Hebrew of his Ma'ariv column, published Tuesday, Dec. 25.]

The year 2001 is about to end, but at the last moment a new word – a Latin one to boot – has entered the Hebrew political lexicon: “irrelevant”. This is a new phase in the fatal duel between the two veteran gladiators, both experienced and shrewd, Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat. Sharon has declared that Arafat is “irrelevant”. Arafat has turned the tables by making a speech that focused world attention on him.All the while Sharon’s tanks are parked a hundred yards from Arafat’s office, their cannons aimed at his head.

If Sharon imagined that Arafat would run away or plead for his life, he doesn’t know the man. In 1982 I met him in a besieged West Beirut, during the heavy bombardments, when hundreds of Sharon’s agents were searching for him in order to kill him. He was in high spirits, at his best.

If Arafat imagined that by the speech he would disarm Sharon and cause him to stop, he doesn’t know the man. Sharon never lets up. When he encounters an obstacle, he goes around it. When he doesn’t get what he wants on the first try, he will wait and try again and again and again. If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a clash between two great historic movements, Sharon and Arafat are their most outstanding representatives. Sharon is the ultimate Zionist. Arafat is the embodiment of the Palestinian national movement.

This is a clash between an irresistible force and an immovable object. On the one side, Zionism, whose consistent aim is to turn all the land between the Mediterranean sea and the Jordan river (at least), which is called in Hebrew “The Land of Israel”, into a homogenous Jewish state. This to be achieved trough a “strategy of phases” - a Zionist method, and the settlers implement it.

On the other side is Palestinian nationalism, whose aim is to establish an independent Palestinian state on Palestinian land. For lack of an alternative, the Palestinians have given up 78% of the land between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea, which they call Filastin, and the intifada is designed to turn the other 22% into the State of Palestine.

When Sharon came to power, he presented himself as the benign grandfather, who loves sheep and children, and whose only desire is to enter the history books as the man who brought peace and security to the area. That was a successful fraud, in the spirit of “make war by tricks”. The Israeli public, which wants peace and longs for security, believed him and elected the Israeli de Gaulle, the old general who has lost his best comrades in battle and understands that nothing is more precious than peace.

For people who know Sharon, is was both sad and frightening to behold: a naive public following a pied piper. Sharon doesn’t care a damn either for peace or for security. For him they are signs of weakness and degeneration. From the moment of attaining power, he had a quite different agenda: to destroy the Oslo agreement, remove the Palestinian Authority and its armed forces, give new impetus to the settlement movement. For that purpose he acquired Shimon Peres on the cheap, in order to camouflage his true designs in the eyes of the world, and started the great campaign. (Actually, he had started it even earlier, when he went to
the Temple Mount and lit the fire.)

Those who assert that “Sharon has no political plan” are quite wrong. He has got a clear plan: to go on with the offensive and liquidate the Palestinian leadership, in order to break the spirit of the Palestinian people, bring Hamas to power, so that he will be able to say that there is nobody to talk with. He believes that the Palestinians will eventually flee the country (as in 1948) or resign themselves to a life in several isolated and surrounded enclaves (like South African Bantustans).

Faced with this onslaught, Arafat resorts to the classic Palestinian strategy: Sumud (steadfastness). Survival. Not to move. Not to surrender. Not to be dragged into a civil war. To use the meager means in his arsenal – political action, diplomacy, violence, in varying doses – in order to enable his people to hold on. His greatest asset is the ability of his people to absorb punishment, which makes Israeli generals mad with frustration.

The battle is far from finished. I believe it will end in a draw – no mean feat for the weaker side. And the draw will lead, inevitably, to a historical compromise.

2. Israel's dead end
Edward Said
Al-Ahram Weekly, 20-26 December 2001

Edward Said wonders: is Israel more secure now?

"The earth is closing on us, pushing us through the last passage, and we tear off our limbs to pass through." Thus Mahmoud Darwish, writing in the aftermath of the PLO's exit from Beirut in September 1982. "Where should we go after the last frontiers? Where should the birds fly after the last sky?"

Nineteen years later, what was happening then to the Palestinians in Lebanon is happening to them in Palestine. Since the Al-Aqsa Intifada began last September, Palestinians have been sequestered by the Israeli army in no fewer than 220 discontinuous little ghettos, and subjected to intermittent curfews often lasting for weeks at a stretch. No one, young or old, sick or well, dying or pregnant, student or doctor, can move without spending hours at barricades, manned by rude and deliberately humiliating Israeli soldiers. As I write, 200 Palestinians are unable to receive kidney dialysis, because for "security reasons" the Israeli military won't allow them to travel to medical centres. Have any of the innumerable members of the foreign media covering the conflict done a story about these brutalised young Israelis conscripts, trained to punish Palestinian civilians as the main part of their military duty? I think not.

Yasser Arafat was not allowed to leave his office in Ramallah to attend the emergency meeting of the Islamic Conference foreign ministers on 10 December in Qatar; his speech was read by an aide. The airport 15 miles away in Gaza and Arafat's two ageing helicopters had been destroyed the previous week by Israeli planes and bulldozers, with no one and no force to check, much less prevent, the daily incursions of which this particular feat of military daring was a part. Gaza Airport was the only direct port of entry into Palestinian territory, the only civilian airport in the world wantonly destroyed since World War II. Since last May, Israeli F-16s (generously supplied by the US) have regularly bombed and strafed Palestinian towns and villages, Guernica-style, destroying property and killing civilians and security officials (there is no Palestinian army, navy, or air force to protect the people); Apache attack helicopters (again supplied by the US) have used their missiles to murder 77 Palestinian leaders, for alleged terrorist offences, past or future. A group of unknown Israeli intelligence operatives have the authority to decide on these assassinations, presumably with the approval on each occasion of the Israeli Cabinet, and more generally, that of the US. The helicopters have also done an efficient job of bombing Palestinian Authority installations, police as well as civilian. During the night of 5 December, the Israeli army entered the five-storey offices of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in Ramallah and carried off the computers, as well as most of the files and reports, thereby effacing virtually the entire record of collective Palestinian life. In 1982, the same army under the same commander entered West Beirut and carted off documents and files from the Palestinian Research Centre, before flattening its structure. A few days later came the massacres of Sabra and Shatila.

The suicide bombers of Hamas and Islamic Jihad have of course been at work, as Sharon knew perfectly well they would be when, after a 10-day lull in the fighting in late November, he suddenly ordered the murder of the Hamas leader Mahmoud Abu Hanoud: an act designed to provoke Hamas into retaliation and thus allow the Israeli army to resume the slaughter of Palestinians. After eight years of barren peace discussions, 50 per cent of Palestinians are unemployed and 70 per cent live in poverty on less than $2 a day. Every day brings with it unopposable land grabs and house demolitions. The Israelis even make a point of destroying trees and orchards on Palestinian land. Although five or six Palestinians have been killed in the last few months for every one Israeli, the old warmonger has the gall to keep repeating that Israel has been the victim of the same terrorism as that meted out by Bin Laden.

The crucial point in all this is that Israel has been in illegal military occupation since 1967; it is the longest such occupation in history and the only one anywhere in the world today. This is the original and continuing violence against which all the Palestinian acts of violence have been directed. On 10 December, for instance, two children aged three and 13 were killed by Israeli bombs in Hebron, yet at the same time an EU delegation was demanding that Palestinians curtail their violence and acts of terrorism. Five more Palestinians were killed on 11 December, all of them civilian, victims of helicopter bombings of Gaza's refugee camps. To make matters worse, as a result of the 11 September attacks, the word "terrorism" is being used to blot out legitimate acts of resistance against military occupation, and any causal or even narrative connection between the dreadful killing of civilians (which I have always opposed) and the 30-plus years of collective punishment is proscribed.

Every Western pundit or official who pontificates about Palestinian terrorism needs to ask how forgetting the fact of the occupation is supposed to stop terrorism. Arafat's great mistake, a consequence of frustration and poor advice, was to try to make a deal with the occupation when he authorised "peace" discussions between scions of two prominent Palestinian families and Mossad in 1992 at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge. These discussions only discussed Israeli security; nothing at all was said about Palestinian security, nothing at all, and the struggle of his people to achieve an independent state was left to one side. Indeed, Israeli security to the exclusion of anything else has become the recognised international priority, which allows General Zinni and Javier Solana to preach to the PLO while remaining totally silent on the occupation. Yet Israel has scarcely gained more from these discussions than the Palestinians have. The Israeli mistake has been to imagine that by conning Arafat and his coterie into interminable discussions and tiny concessions, it would get general Palestinian quiescence. Every official Israeli policy thus far has made things worse rather than better for Israel. Ask yourself: is Israel more secure and more accepted now than it was 10 years ago?

The terrible and, in my opinion, stupid suicide raids against civilians in Haifa and Jerusalem over the weekend of 1 December should of course be condemned, but in order for these condemnations to make any sense, the raids must be considered in the context of Abu Hanoud's assassination earlier in the week, along with the killing of five children by an Israeli booby trap in Gaza -- to say nothing of the houses destroyed, the Palestinians killed throughout Gaza and the West Bank, the constant tank incursions, the endlessly grinding away of Palestinian aspirations, minute by minute, for the past 35 years. In the end, desperation only produces poor results, none worse than the green light George W and Colin Powell seem to have given Sharon when he was in Washington on 2 December (all too reminiscent of the green light Alexander Haig gave Sharon in May 1982). With their support went the usual ringing declarations turning the people under occupation and their hapless, inept leader into worldwide aggressors who had to "bring to justice" their own criminals even as Israeli soldiers were systematically destroying the entire Palestinian police structure which was supposed to do the arresting!

Arafat is hemmed in on all sides, an ironic result of his bottomless wish to be all things Palestinian to everyone, enemies and friends alike. He is at once a tragically heroic figure and a bumbling one. No Palestinian today is going to disavow his leadership, for the simple reason that, despite all his wafflings and mistakes, he is being punished and humiliated because he is a Palestinian leader, and in that capacity, his mere existence offends purists (if that's the right word) like Sharon and his American backers. Except for the health and education ministries, both of which have done a decent job, Arafat's Palestinian Authority has not been a brilliant success. Its corruption and brutality stem from Arafat's apparently whimsical, but actually very meticulous, way of keeping everyone dependent on his largesse; he alone controls the budget, and he alone decides what goes on the front pages of the five daily newspapers. Above all, he manipulates and sets up against each other the 12 or 14 -- some say 19 or 20 -- independent security services, each of which is structurally loyal to its own leaders and to Arafat at the same time, without being able to do much more for its people than arrest them when enjoined to do so by Arafat, Israel and the US. The 1996 elections were designed for a term of three years, but Arafat has shilly-shallied with the idea of calling new ones, which would almost certainly challenge his authority and popularity in a serious way.

He and Hamas have had a well-publicised entente of sorts since the latter's June bombings: Hamas wouldn't go after Israeli civilians if Arafat left the Islamic parties alone. Sharon killed off the entente with Abu Hanoud's assassination: Hamas retaliated and there was nothing to stop Sharon squeezing the life out of Arafat, with American support. Having destroyed Arafat's security network, his jails and offices, and having physically imprisoned him, Sharon made demands that he knows can't be met (even though Arafat, with a few cards up his sleeve, has managed, astonishingly, to half comply). Sharon stupidly believes that, having dispensed with Arafat, he can make a series of independent agreements with local warlords, and divide 40 per cent of the West Bank and most of Gaza into several non-contiguous cantons whose borders would be controlled by the Israeli army. How this is supposed to make Israel more secure eludes most people, but not, alas, the ones with the relevant power.

That still leaves out three players, or groups of players, two of whom, in his racist way, Sharon gives no weight to. First, the Palestinians themselves, many of whom are far too intransigent and politicised to accept anything less than unconditional Israeli withdrawal. Israel's policies, like all such aggressions, produce the opposite effect to the one intended: to suppress is to provoke resistance. Were Arafat to disappear, Palestinian law provides for 60 days of rule by the speaker of the Assembly (an unimpressive and unpopular Arafat hanger-on called Abul-'Ala, much admired by Israelis for his "flexibility"). After that, a succession struggle would ensue between other Arafat cronies such as Abu Mazen and two or three of the leading (and capable) security chiefs -- notably, Jibril Rajoub of the West Bank and Mohamed Dahlan in Gaza. None of these people has Arafat's stature or anything resembling his (perhaps now lost) popularity. Temporary chaos is the likely result: we must face it, Arafat's presence has been an organising focus for Palestinian politics, in which millions of other Arabs and Muslims have a very large stake.

Arafat has always tolerated, indeed supported a plurality of organisations which he manipulates in various ways, balancing them against each other so that no one predominates except his Fatah. New groups are emerging, however; secular, hardworking, committed, dedicated to a democratic polity in an independent Palestine. Over these groups, the Palestinian Authority has no control at all. But it should also be said that no one in Palestine is willing to accede to the Israeli-US demand for an end to "terrorism," although it will be difficult to draw a line in the public mind between suicidal adventurism and actual resistance to the occupation, as long as Israel continues its bombings and oppression of all Palestinians, young and old.

The second group are the leaders in the rest of the Arab world who have a vested interest in Arafat, despite their evident exasperation with him. He is cleverer and more persistent than they are, and he knows the hold he has on the popular mind in their countries, where he has cultivated two separate Arab constituencies, the Islamists and the secular nationalists. Both feel under attack, even though the latter has hardly been noticed by the vast number of Western experts and Orientalists who take Bin Laden -- rather than the much larger number of Muslim and non-Muslim secular Arabs who detest what Bin Laden stands for and what he has done -- to be the paradigmatic Muslim. In Palestine for example, recent polls have found that Arafat and Hamas are now about equal in popularity (both hover between 20 and 25 per cent), with the majority of citizens favouring neither. (But, even as he has been cornered, Arafat's popularity has shot up.) The same division, with the same significant plague-on- both-your-houses majority, exists in the Arab countries, where most people are put off either by the corruption and brutality of the regimes or by the reductiveness and extremism of the religious groups -- most of which are more interested in the regulation of personal behaviour than they are in matters like globalisation or producing electricity and jobs.

Arabs and Muslims might well turn against their own rulers were Arafat seen as being choked to death by Israeli violence and Arab indifference. So he is necessary to the present landscape. His departure will only seem natural when a new collective leadership emerges among a younger generation of Palestinians. When and how that will happen is impossible to tell, but I'm quite certain that it will happen.

The third group of players includes the Europeans, the Americans and the rest, and frankly, I don't think they know what they're doing. Most of them would gladly be rid of Palestine as a problem and, in the spirit of Bush and Powell, would not be unhappy if the vision of a Palestinian state were somehow realised, as long as someone else did it. Besides, they would find functioning in Middle East difficult if they didn't have Arafat to blame, snub, insult, prod, pressure, or give money to. The mission of the EU and General Zinni seems senseless and will have no effect on Sharon and his people. The Israeli politicians have concluded correctly that the Western governments are, in general, on their side and they can continue what they do best, regardless of Arafat and his people's fruitless begging to negotiate.

The slowly emerging group of Palestinians, both in Palestine and in the Diaspora, is beginning to learn and use tactics that solidly place a moral onus on the West and Israel to address the issue of Palestinian rights, not just of the Palestinian presence. In Israel, for example, an audacious Knesset member, the Palestinian Azmi Bishara, has been stripped of his parliamentary immunity and will soon be on trial for incitement to violence. Why? Because he has long stood for the Palestinian right of resistance to occupation, arguing that, like every other state in the world, Israel should be the state of all of its citizens, not just of the Jewish people. For the first time, a major Palestinian challenge on Palestinian rights is being mounted inside Israel (not on the West Bank), with all eyes on the proceedings. At the same time, the Belgian attorney-general's office has confirmed that a war crimes case against Sharon can go forward in that country's courts. A painstaking mobilisation of secular Palestinian opinion is underway and will slowly overtake the Palestinian Authority. The moral high ground will soon be reclaimed from Israel, as the occupation becomes the focus of attention and as more and more Israelis realise that there is no way to continue indefinitely a 35-year occupation.

Besides, as the US war against terrorism spreads, more unrest is almost certain; far from closing things down, US power is likely to stir them up in ways that may not be containable. It's no mean irony that the renewed attention on Palestine came about because the US and Europeans need to maintain an anti-Taliban coalition.

3. Image and Reality: The Role of the U.S. in the Middle East
Hanan Ashrawi
MIFTAH, 28 December 2001

At no time in history have the short sightedness and narrow self-interest of American policy makers had such a devastating impact on the realities of the Arab world and the Middle East, and by necessity on American national interests and standing.

Without delving into the historical roots of repeated American blunders in the region, it is time to point out the dangerous implications of the current American policy and its potential for generating massive instability and conflict.

The most glaring fault lies first and foremost in the total subjugation of American decision making to the priorities and policies of the Israeli government-a government that happens to be the most extremist, ideological, hard line, militaristic, and irresponsible since the creation of the state of Israel (see Georgie Anne Geyer's "Faltering U.S. policy in the Middle East," The Washington Times, Dec. 20, 2001, p. A 19).

Whether as a result of gullibility, inherent (strategic) bias, or a determined avoidance of any confrontation with major Jewish and pro-Israeli lobbyists and campaign funders, both American executive and legislative branches seem to be bent on pursuing a precarious course that threatens not only to wreak havoc in the region, but also to lay to rest any hope of salvaging the image, influence, and interests of the US throughout the region.

Instead of hiring suspect spin-doctors and Hollywood image-makers, it behooves the US administration to re-examine both its words and deeds (as well as its silence and inaction) when it comes to the Palestinians, the Israelis, and the Arab world.

Arab public opinion, hitherto blithely ignored by successive American administrations, relates to the US in relation to its role in, and impact on, fundamental regional/national issues-the most compelling, emotive, and visible expression being the Palestinian question.

Over five decades of dispossession and displacement, over three decades of military occupation, over a decade of American involvement in the "peace process," left the Palestinians more visibly victimized with a daily loss of lives, rights, lands, and even the most basic human consideration.

Throughout, the US was seen as the staunchest ally of Israel, supplying it with billions of dollars (estimated at $ 92 to date), sophisticated weaponry (used to shell, bomb, assassinate, and kill Palestinians on a daily basis), and with blind political cover (24 UN Security Council veto's to date).

Turning a blind eye to the ongoing, extremely provocative, and illegal Israeli settlement activities, the US also "sponsored" a peace process that gave Israel a free hand in acquiring more Palestinian land and in carrying out other "unilateral actions" (particularly in the illegal annexation of occupied East Jerusalem) with full impunity.

With every agreement renegotiated, modified, or even negated in action, the American sponsors exonerated all Israeli violations and abuses while putting intolerable pressure on the weaker Palestinian side to show "flexibility" and seriousness of intent.

Such a punitive peace process became an abstract political exercise for its own sake, with no legality, substance, or relationship to behavior on the ground. Deliberately ignoring the increasing pain of the Palestinian people and the escalating cruelty of the Israeli occupation, the US exhibited alarming insensitivity to the victims and total collusion with the occupiers, leading ultimately to the tragic breakdown of September 28, known as the second intifada. The fact that all signs were in place, all symptoms visible, was brushed away by the willfully oblivious "sponsor" who failed to acknowledge the most basic human component of this "political process."

This has been the most consistent aspect of the oft-repeated double-standards charge leveled against the US, a negation of the humanity of the Palestinians and the dubious or suspended or negated applicability of international law and legality to the Palestinian condition.

The only America expression of regret, sorrow, or outrage over loss of life came when the victims were Israeli, while thousands of Palestinians were killed or assassinated by the Israeli occupation with full impunity and total human disregard.

Overall, the negotiating process ignored the applicability of UN resolutions, the asymmetry of power that required protection for the Palestinians and accountability for the Israelis (at least in compliance with the Fourth Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law), and an effective system of mediation and arbitration to resolve disputes in a decisive and objective manner.

With the added (or basic) consideration of Israel's disproportionate power and influence in the domestic arena, US policy became hostage to the enormous pressures and influence of a major special interest group-the pro-Israeli lobby and its institutions in the US.

Maintaining such a biased and one-sided monopoly on the politics of the region and the course of the peace process, the US excluded all other global players, including the UN, the EU, major Arab countries (including close American allies), and anybody else who wanted to invest in peace making or who could counter the extreme one-sidedness of the Americans-even for their own good.

Hence, Israel ended up calling the shots, not only as the occupying power wielding force against the Palestinians, but also as the formulator of US policy and conduct (sometimes by proxy through its American lobby and institutions), and finally for the whole world.

The ultimate "triumph" came when the European and UN leaderships adopted wholesale the political diction and parameters of the Israeli-American alliance as the defining factors for their role and activities in the region. Israel became the gatekeeper of the peace process, and all stood in line waiting for permission to play a role and expressing their willingness to pay the price.

The natural outcome was a flawed peace process, non-binding agreements with no applicability on the ground or legitimacy, and the escalation of Palestinian victimization.

Now that these fatal flaws have run their course, leading to the tragic breakdown and the intifada of September 2000, it is time to learn from the mistakes of the past.

The post September 11 world has signaled an end to American isolationism or to its selective intervention with no consequences. The question of the "responsibility of power" has become more compelling.

However, the danger inherent in the concept is its exclusive translation into military power or negative intervention, while claiming sole rights on redefining friend and foe, ally and enemy, in accordance with temporary and subjective criteria.

Therein lies the difference between "responsibility" and "arrogance" of power.

Its moral imperative lies in positive, constructive, and peaceful intervention that focuses on human, rather than on military, security.

In the Palestinian-Israeli context, this requires a rapid and effective "interventionist" peace initiative to replace the current lethal dynamic and to provide the parties with a political alternative.

First and foremost, it should bring about a "separation" of the parties by lifting the Israeli siege and blockades on Palestinian areas and curbing Israel's brutal assaults against the Palestinians.

Instead of adopting the "terrorist" label and repeating the "stop the violence" mantra, the US, more than ever, is called upon to demonstrate its own distinctiveness and to carry out a parallel "separation" from the language, policies, brutality, extremism, and violations of the Israeli occupation.

As a major liability, Israel has done the most to discredit the US and undermine its standing, not only in the region, but throughout the world.

A courageous distancing (as well as a critical distance) is essential if the US is seeking to address the causes of conflict and terrorism by adopting a responsible and long-term strategy.

Pounding the Palestinians into submission, or delegitimizing their leadership as well as their human reality, will succeed only in fanning the flames and discrediting the US even further.

Restoring confidence and hope require the full mustering of US prestige and standing behind a legitimate and politically forceful peace offensive.

Sharon must understand that he does not own the agenda, but that the peoples of the region are in possession of their own futures through a legitimate alternative that only the US can bring about to nullify the Israeli war offensive.

A clear articulation of the objectives has to follow the framework of the Powell speech of November 19, 2001: ending the occupation, withdrawal of Israel to the June 4, 1967 lines, removal of settlements, establishing the independent and viable Palestinian state, and bringing about a just and equitable solution to the Palestinian refugee question-all based on the appropriate UN resolutions and the land-for-peace equation.

The road map must include the implementation of all agreements and of the Mitchell and Tenet plans immediately and without any preconditions or forced sequencing.

Unconditional negotiations must also proceed immediately with full third-party participation and guarantees, including the US, Europe, the UN, Arab countries, Russia, and Norway-among others.

Mechanisms for even-handed intervention and arbitration must be in place, with the prior consent of the parties to ensure compliance.

On the ground, international monitors must provide the "quiet" and "ceasefire" conditions required for the conduct of the talks.

Simultaneously, the reconstruction of all that had been destroyed by Israel must commence, while the Palestinians must commit to the nation-building process that would ensure a genuinely democratic state with full respect for the rule of law and human rights, and with accountable and efficient institutions.

Clearly, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. All the building blocks of peace have been identified and are accessible. The real need is for the political will on the part of the US and the international community to start the process.

By necessity, this requires standing up to Israel and liberating international policy from the militarism, greed, obstinacy, abuses, and arrogance of the Sharon government.

That, in itself, is a good thing, with an intrinsic value.

Its impact on peace making, on Palestine and Israel, and on the image and credibility of the US will be beyond measure.

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