|Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
19 - 25 April 2001
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
This is the deal
To this minute -- President Mubarak and King Abdullah's visits to Washington notwithstanding -- nobody knows for sure what the new American administration's Middle East policies comprise. What is the extent of its involvement, bias, active intervention? What can no longer be doubted is that the Bush administration has given the Sharon government the green light to implement its plans in the region during the 100 days Sharon has set aside for the task of ending the Intifada, disabling Palestinian resistance and forcing Arafat's Palestinian Authority to comply with the plan he has set out. At the same time, Sharon aims to lower expectations on the Syrian and Lebanese front by attacking Hizbullah, intimidating Syria and pressing for its withdrawal from Lebanon.
There is no other explanation for the indifference with which Washington contemplates Israel's activities -- the drive to escalate strife on every available front, which has finally translated itself into a systematic war waged on Palestinian towns and villages, using missiles, military aircraft and heavy artillery on a daily basis. The human casualties and material loss this war has inflicted on the Palestinian side no longer matters to the American administration, which paid no attention when the Israeli military seized lands that lie under the sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority and assassinated Arafat's associates. Israel has even threatened to remove Arafat himself.
Sharon acts as though the rules of the game have changed, attacking Syrian bases within Lebanon, in the context of the immunity period that Washington has sanctioned. The UN's response to Hizbullah operations in Israeli-occupied Shebaa was, in effect, a prologue to the Israeli attacks. Yet the UN remains calm when it comes to the war waged by Israel on the Palestinian people. Inexplicably, a state of stupour besets the Arab world despite the gravity of a situation that could easily engender a regional war. The complicity hypothesis finds support in the fact that US Deputy Secretary of State Edward Walker, who is now touring the region, carries only the outlines of a project to tighten the embargo on Iraq.
Washington has displayed little desire to give an opinion on the Egyptian-Jordanian initiative, even less to express its sorrow at the fact that Israel is employing American weapons to attack the Palestinians. The trick of separating security negotiations (overseen by America) from political negotiations (whose progress is no longer overseen by anyone) appears increasingly like an absurd argument enabling Israel to exercise the kind of oppression it has promoted consistently. If the Arab countries themselves have proved incapable of acting, it is only understandable that the EU should be equally bankrupt and incapable of intervening. It seems that the object of European-American coordination, too, is to enable Sharon to go ahead with his plans.
All the evidence suggests that the Palestinians are condemned to rely only on their own resources and sacrifices. If they are now asked to alter their tactics of resistance, however, this should imply only that they must abandon ill-studied individual sacrifices and concentrate instead on well-planned large-scale operations that, while avoiding civilians as far as possible, target Israeli military presence in Gaza and the West Bank. Otherwise the Palestinians' fate will be sold off for only 42 per cent of the land -- i.e., Sharon's deal.
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