The Guardian October 11, 2000


No to war!

Peace ... or a conflict with the real danger of escalating into full 
blown war. These are the two paths the Israeli Government must now choose 
from. In the face of world-wide condemnation, with mass demonstrations 
against Israel's murderous policies of violence and oppression against the 
Palestinian people, the international community is demanding that it end 
its bloody onslaught.

Throughout the developing conflict the Israeli leaders and the media in 
Australia, which supports the Israeli Government's policies, have attempted 
to make the Palestinian victims of the Israeli aggression take the blame 
for the situation.

But it is the stubborn refusal of the Israeli leadership to accept the 
right of the Palestinian people to statehood with their capital as East 
Jerusalem, that has led to the present situation.

The Israeli Government has also for more than 30 years, refused to comply 
with UN Security Council resolutions that Israel withdraw from all occupied 
territories.

The death of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy in his father's arms, the 
killing of a 29-year-old Palestinian man who was nearly decapitated by an 
Israeli attack helicopter, thousands of wounded and the death toll 
increasing every day have brought the Middle East's unresolved problems to 
the present dangerous crisis.

In virtually all the Arab capitals, from Morocco to the Gulf, tens of 
thousands are marching to show their support for the Palestinians.

Daily protest marches and sit-ins have been organised by university 
students in Egypt. There are protests in Iraq. In Syria over 4,000 
protesters stoned the fortified US embassy, scaled the walls and tore down 
the American flag chanting "Jerusalem is ours, down with America, down with 
Israel!"

Protests have taken place in Sudan, Libya, Morocco and Yemen. Yemen's 
President called on Arab countries to arm the Palestinians.

The Gulf countries have also joined in in supporting the Palestinians and 
denouncing both the US and Israel.

In Saudi Arabia thousands of protesters burnt Israeli and American flags 
and the Saudi Government, usually a puppet to US policies, has warned 
Israel about attacking Lebanon and Syria.

There are also protests within Israel itself. It was an Israeli peace group 
which tried to stop community violence against Arabs and called the actions 
of Zionist youth a "pogrom" against Arabs.

The Israeli peace movement is mobilising to stop the carnage.

Yesh Gvrul (There is a Limit), a movement inside the Israeli army for 
soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories, reports that one 
of its members, Noam Kuzar, a 19-year-old conscript was sentenced to 28 
days in a military prison for disobeying orders.

The Hadash Knesset faction said in a press release that the only way to 
stop the uprising was to urgently return to the negotiating table with a 
new attitude honouring the just national rights of the Palestinian people, 
including their independent statehood in all hitherto occupied territories, 
including East Jerusalem.

In Sydney last Sunday, 5000 members of the Australian Arab community and 
supporters joined a protest rally in Hyde Park and then marched to the 
Israeli Consulate in York Street. Some carried make-shift coffins.

Organisers wanted it understood that the march was a march of mourning for 
the dead who then numbered more than 80.

Speakers emphasised that Palestinians were unarmed, yet a fully equipped 
Israeli army shot indiscriminately at the protesters.

Many placards called the Israelis "child killers".

This theme was highlighted by the organisers calling the children together 
to march in a group.

The demonstrators also condemned the US's supportive role for Israel.

Security Council meeting

The UN Security Council, following an urgent meeting condemned the 
"excessive use of force" by the Israeli army.

This resolution was adopted by 14 votes to nil with the US abstaining. 
Apparently the US does not think that the use of helicopter gunships, 
rockets, machine guns, tanks and other heavy military equipment against 
stone throwing youths is excessive.

As the situation deteriorates, frantic diplomatic activities have seen the 
UN General Secretary, Kofi Annan, Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov, who is 
already in Gaza, rush to the area.

Not to be left out, US Pesident Clinton is reportedly preparing to attend 
an emergency meeting in Egypt in an attempt to salvage something, anything, 
from the "peace process" which has turned into a war process.

The failure of the Israeli and US negotiators to recognise and accept the 
legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians is responsible for the present 
crisis.

It is a monumental failure of US policies which have, despite soft words 
from time to time, consistently supported the Zionist policies of Israeli 
governments, built up Israel militarily and economically, so that Israel 
could be used against the Arab countries of the Middle East.

For a time the Arab countries were divided, but the present crisis has 
brought them together again.

Faced with this crisis the US administration is suddenly realising that 
their own foreign policy interests are in a shambles and are at stake, 
including oil supplies from Arab countries.

The US administration has not yet issued an order to evacuate its embassies 
in the Middle East though all of them were closed down over the weekend as 
a precaution against attacks. 

Mr Kofi Annan said that "time is short and the stakes are high" must be the 
understatement of the century. Nothing but the adoption of new and 
different policies by both Israel and the US will defuse the situation and 
make it possible for a negotiated settlement to be reached which must 
recognise the legitimate demand of the Palestinian people to statehood and 
that East Jerusalem be the new nation's capital.

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