The Guardian July 26, 2000


Middle East: Peace now?

by Hans Lebrecht in Tel Aviv

Clinton's invitation to a three-cornered Clinton-Barak-Arafat peace 
conference came while Israeli Prime Minister Barak was on a short visit to 
Paris. Barak's first reaction was to accept the invitation as important for 
the future of Israel but quickly added that he would safeguard all the "red 
lines" established by his government a year ago.

However, it is precisely these lines that have prevented peace and they 
cannot be upheld if peace is to become a reality. Should they stand, Israel 
will never return to its pre-1967 boundaries or agree to any partition of 
Greater Jerusalem.

Most of the Jewish settlements established in the occupied Palestinian 
territories would remain under Israeli sovereignty and Palestinian refugees 
would be denied the right to return to Israel.

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat also welcomed Clinton's invitation but 
stressed he would strictly adhere to the guidelines set by the Palestine 
Central Council (PCC) at its last general meeting.

These guidelines call for full implementation of all resolutions of the UN 
Security Council and negotiation on the principle of "Land for Peace".

Arafat pointed out that these provisions are included as a must in the Oslo 
agreement and following interim accords. These were his "red lines", he 
stressed.

Now the question is, will Clinton be able to match up the red lines of 
Barak and Arafat?

Almost everybody in Israel, as well as in Palestine, expects that, should 
the summit collapse, a new popular uprising  an Intifada  is all but 
certain. And the weapons will not be stones as was the case in 1987-93 
Intifada, but an uprising with fire-arms and heavier equipment.

On the Israeli side, Barak's right-wing opposition are engaged in an all-
out operation to bring down the Barak Government. They hope to force a 
general election this year.

Barak's governing coalition is crumbling: three parties have decided to 
leave it. Barak remains with a minority government of only 42 supporters in 
the 120-member Parliament.

Barak has promised to bring any accord with the Palestinians (and with 
Syria) to a public referendum. He expresses the belief that, 
notwithstanding a possible parliamentary defeat in the Knesset, the public 
will support any peace accord negotiated by him.

On the street corners and city squares, the peace forces are mobilising 
their forces to counter the massive "conquering the street" smear campaign 
organised by the right-wing parties and the radical elements among the 
colonialist settlers.

The left parties and a recently-established common front of the peace camp 
have so far won the battle of the streets and have defeated the first goal 
of the right-wing smear campaign, which had hoped to prevent Barak from 
going to Camp David.

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People's Weekly World, paper of Communist Party, USA

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