The Guardian September 6, 2000

Crunch time for Palestinian State

This month has been the often-declared target date for the proclamation 
of an independent Palestinian state. In the lead-up, Yasser Arafat has 
toured many of the main capital cities of the world, no doubt, sounding out 
support for such a declaration.

The US has been desperately attempting to delay such a declaration, just as 
it has for many years obstructed the fulfilment of United Nations 
resolutions 242 and 338 that Israel withdraw to within the borders that 
existed before its war of aggression against its Arab neighbours in 1967.

The UN resolutions have been systematically ignored and buried in the 
various meetings, conferences and negotiations arranged by the US at Camp 
David and elsewhere.

The US and its Israeli accomplices have used the "peace process" to buy 
time, hoping that the Palestinians will be induced or forced into accepting 
an agreement which would consolidate Israeli domination of all Palestinian 

In this respect, the "peace process" is a misnomer. It is an exercise in 

Throughout the "peace process" the US has rejected efforts to find a 
peaceful resolution to the conflict which respects the rights of 

Outstanding issues

Outstanding issues include:

* the right of the Palestinians to establish the capital of an independent 
Palestinian state in East Jerusalem;
* the right of return for Palestinian refugees;
* the dismantling of the Israeli settlements which have been built on 
seized Arab lands;
* the freeing of all political prisoners from Israeli jails; and
* the return of all Palestinian land occupied in the 1967 war.

The intransigence of the US has been matched by that of all Israeli 
Governments whether that of the Israeli Labour Party or the right-wing 
Likud parties.

The only difference has been in their ability to manoeuvre and bend to the 
strong sentiment of a majority of the Israeli people for an end to conflict 
and a genuine settlement with the Palestinian people.

For example, the number of building starts in Israeli settlements increased 
by almost one-third from 1998 when the Labour Party's Barak replaced the 
Likud leader, Netanyahu.

The building of the settlements has been systematically planned to divide 
up Palestinian territory into a number of cantonments.

The cantons are completely surrounded by territory to be annexed to Israel.

The areas with a Palestinian population and under Palestinian 
administration would not be economically viable and would create an 
administrative nightmare.

The basic principle is that these territories and the crucial water 
resources would remain under de facto Israeli control.

A Palestinian State created under these circumstances would remain, in 
effect, a colony of Israel providing cheap labour to the Israeli economy.

It is certain that the creation of an independent Palestinian State would 
immediately receive widespread recognition throughout the world by many 
countries with the likely exception of the United States.

But it is also certain that the creation of a Palestinian state is only a 
step in the long struggle of the Palestinian people for their just rights 
and for real independence.

Israeli raid

Meanwhile, the raid last week by Israeli forces against a village in which 
Hamas has strong support turned into a disaster for the Israelis.

Three Israeli soldiers were killed and nine others wounded as the Hamas 
defenders returned fire.

One of the Hamas leaders ended up in the hands of Yasser Arafat's 
Palestinian police who have now charged him with "endangering Palestinian 
national interests".

The Israeli raid took place just at the time of negotiations between the 
Palestinian administration and the Israelis, suggesting that it was yet 
another provocation to disrupt and thwart any progress in negotiations and 
to forestall any announcement of the formation of a Palestinian State.

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