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From: The Socialist issue 314, 13 September 2003: More Money For Public Services

Search site for keywords: Palestinian - Palestine - Israel - US - Occupation - Hamas - Yasser Arafat - George Bush - PLO

Abu Mazen Resignation Ends Bush's 'Road Map'

GEORGE BUSH'S 'road map' for a resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005 lies in shreds.

His 'choice' of Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen) has resigned after 102 days in office having lost a power struggle with Palestinian president Yasser Arafat.

The Israeli government of Ariel Sharon who describes the virtually imprisoned Arafat as a "terrorist" (as does George Bush) says it will not work with Arafat loyalist Ahmed Qurei, the former banker and new Palestinian PM.

Sharon and his pro-settler allies, due to US pressure, had paid lip service to the road map while pursuing repressive policies designed to wreck any peace deal that aimed to give the Palestinians their own state.

For instance, in the last 14 days alone the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has carried out a similar number of murderous attacks on Palestinian militia leaders, including an attempt to kill the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Hamas has vowed retribution for the attack.

None of the occupied Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza strip have been removed, in fact some have been expanded with Israeli government approval.

Indeed, the building of a 370-mile "security fence" effectively defined, ahead of any negotiated settlement, some of the borders of a 'greater Israel'.

The armed occupation of Palestinian Authority towns and cities have not been lifted, and the economically choking and humiliating IDF checkpoints that bisect Palestinian territory remain.

Moreover, despite the announced release of 339 prisoners (now suspended and who were in any case nearing completion of their sentences) - thousands of Palestinians remain rotting in Israel's jails, many not charged but simply held as "administrative detainees".

Hypocritically, Sharon had denounced Abbas as failing to arrest the militants of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PLO's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - responsible for suicide bombings in Israel and attacks on Israeli settlers.

Yet the equally ruthless assassinations of the militia leaders, and at the same time many unconnected Palestinian civilians, has fostered revenge attacks and boosted the political support for the militias amongst a desperate and impoverished Palestinian population.

Abbas's dilemma

It was the IDF 'targeted assassinations' that scuppered the ceasefire negotiated by Mahmoud Abbas with the militias after only two months. Washington and Tel Aviv both said they could do business with him.

But without an effective Palestinian police force to enforce his authority (because of the Israeli occupation), even if he wanted to, Abbas was unable to confront the more powerful militias without provoking a civil war.

But by responding in part to Bush and Sharon's demands to 'deal with' the militants, Abbas was increasingly viewed by Palestinians as a stooge of the US and Israel.

In June he called for an end to the Intifada. Moreover, he was in a losing fight with Arafat for political power.

In a last roll of the dice Abbas made a 'back me or sack me' speech to the Palestinian legislative council last Saturday.

With the road map halted and the US embroiled in a war of occupation in Iraq, resurrecting the 'peace process' is unlikely to feature high on Bush's agenda.

The Israeli government, having already embarked on a low intensity war against the militias, might also now expel Yasser Arafat. But another turn of the screw will push more poor and politically disenchanted Palestinians to join the militias and become martyrs, as well as bolstering support for Arafat and boosting the political influence of right-wing political Islam - precisely the opposite effect to what Sharon's government wants.

Increased repression and completion of the fence will not prevent a bomber hitting a target within Israel. The cycle of tit-for-tat violence is likely to continue.

Capitalist impasse

The road map backed by the US, Britain, Russia, the EU and the United Nations, has failed; as has every other peace initiative of imperialism in the decade since the signing of the Oslo peace accords.

Palestinians are no nearer to achieving self-determination than they were in 1993. For their part, with over 700 Israelis killed during the three-year Intifada, Israelis lack the security which the IDF occupation and repression of Palestinian areas is meant to have achieved.

Capitalist politicians intent on securing profit by exploiting labour, grabbing land, water and political power, have failed the mass of Palestinians and Israelis.

They have been unable to provide jobs, decent living standards and peace. Only a perspective of building socialist movements among Palestinians and Israelis with an agenda for revolutionary change throughout the region can end the current impasse.

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