The explosion of anger that has rocked the cities of the
Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories was predictable and inevitable.
The latest "cease-fire" agreement--as if this has been a conflict between
two armies--is unlikely to produce anything more than a temporary lull in
the protests. The Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and
Gaza is the violent context that makes such protests inevitable. There
is, in the final analysis, only one way to "stop the violence," and that
is to end the occupation.
The desire for liberation will, eventually, always bring an occupied
people out into the streets, stones in hand, ready to face the might of
powerful armies, preferring to risk death than live in bondage. This is
not extreme nationalism or racism or religious fervor. It is the need to
Americans seem stunned by the uprising, but few have any real grasp of
what living under Israeli military occupation since 1967 has meant for
It means a reality of unending violence. It means being surrounded by
an abusive foreign army that enforces a social system indistinguishable
from apartheid; confiscations of land that is then given to hundreds of
thousands of Israeli settlers in Jewish-only communities linked by
Jewish-only roads; home demolitions; torture; cities cut off from each
other, closed down, besieged on a regular basis. It means living in a
massive prison, bereft of all normal civil, human and national rights.
The seeds that produced the new uprising were sown seven years ago at
the White House Rose Garden. If American foreign policy lies in ruins, it
is because it was based on a fundamentally false premise: that the
Palestinians would accept something less than their own freedom. At Camp
David this summer, the Palestinians were told bluntly they could expect
nothing of the kind. Israel, they were told, would keep large chunks of
the occupied territories, including the Old City of Jerusalem; would
continue to control all the borders and the water; and would have a veto
on many policies of their "state," the territories of which would be a
patchwork lacking any geographical coherence. This, they were told, was
"generous" and the best they could ever get from any Israeli. In other
words, forget about liberation.
The predictable result was the massive uprising of recent days.
Since 1967, there has been only one workable solution to the conflict.
The plan is articulated in U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which
sets up a two-part "land for peace" solution. Part one holds that Israel
must withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967 (land). Part two
calls for all states in the region to live in peace within secure and
recognized boundaries (peace).
Every "peace process" document, from the Madrid Summit to the final
Camp David communique, reiterates that the aim of the negotiations is the
implementation of 242. The Palestinian obligations under 242 were
fulfilled years ago. The Palestinian Authority recognized Israel in its
1967 borders and its right to live in peace and security in those
The Israeli obligation, withdrawal from the occupied territories, is
utterly unfulfilled. Any doubts that the occupation continues in all its
grim brutality were irrefutably demonstrated in recent days. Israel
simply refuses to end its occupation, especially of Jerusalem, as Ariel
Sharon's invasion of the Muslim holy site was intended to show. The
original sin of the U.S.-dominated Oslo process is that it pushed aside
international law and the U.N. in an attempt to provide cover for Israel
to avoid complying with 242. We have witnessed the results of this
shortsightedness over the past weeks. The latest agreement in Egypt
continues this fatal error by allowing the United States to monopolize
the international investigation into recent events.
But 242 is a solemn commitment by the international community to the
Palestinian people. It is the key to security for Israel, liberation for
the Palestinians and peace for the Middle East. Until the international
community, including the United States, seriously commits itself to
ensuring the complete implementation of 242 by all parties, and ending
the occupation, the "peace process" is going to keep producing results
that look a lot more like war.
Hussein Ibish is communications director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times