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Israel/Palestine: Stop Sharon's Bloody War
THE ISRAELI army may have withdrawn from towns in the West Bank following its series of brutal invasions but Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stranglehold on the occupied territories is far from over.
His IDF troops remain around the towns, poised to re-enter at any moment and smaller incursions are being carried out to seek out wanted men and intimidate the Palestinian population.
Having bulldozed houses full of Palestinian families, imposed curfews for weeks and killed anyone who dared to go out to buy milk for their children or medicine for the injured, Sharon declared he had "destroyed the bombing infrastructure" on the West Bank.
But his gloating abruptly ended when a Hamas suicide bomber killed 16 Israeli civilians in a billiard hall in the town of Rishon Letzion.
Far from stopping attacks by Palestinians, Sharon's actions have massively fuelled their anger and will to fight back. For every Palestinian arrested or killed, there are many more prepared to take their place.
The Israeli government has been weighing up whether to escalate the situation further by launching a major offensive on the Gaza strip. After initial plans, they hesitated, realising the difficulties they would face in such a densely populated area and the international outrage that would result.
Ordinary people throughout the world were horrified at the devastation and loss of life during the invasions of West Bank towns such as Nablus and Jenin. A full-scale invasion of Gaza would create an even worse bloodbath.
The Israeli government is holding back for now, but only to discuss how best to complete the destruction of the Palestinian Authority and to try and force the Palestinians into submission through brutal force.
The most ruthless wing of the Israeli government want to see mass expulsions - "transfers" as they put it - of Palestinians out of the occupied territories.
Sharon has just lost a vote in his Likud party's central committee at the hands of his rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, on a resolution rejecting the creation of a Palestinian state.
Sharon wanted to keep formal acceptance of the goal of a state in the government's programme for the sake of public presentation, whereas others wanted to exploit the present increase in fear and insecurity of Israeli Jews to make it clear that a Palestinian state is not on the agenda.
Tragically, further escalation of the bloodshed is likely given the aims of Sharon himself and the pressure from right-wing capitalist politicians around him.
Surrounding countries could be drawn in, resulting in a wider war in the Middle East. Representatives of capitalism in the region and worldwide have no solutions to offer, as none are possible within the confines of their profit-driven system.
The need to build the forces of socialism and to work towards a socialist Israel and a socialist Palestine as part of a socialist confederation of the Middle East has never been more urgent.
How Can A Palestinian State Be Achieved?
National rally for Palestine
Saturday 18 May
Assemble 12.00 noon, Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park (nearest tube Marble Arch)
Rally at Trafalgar Square
In The Socialist 17 May 2002: