People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 17

April 25, 2004

Bush Backs Sharon's Illegal Plan Against Palestinians

Prakash Karat


THE visit of the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to Washington has led to American President Bush endorsing the latest and most vicious Israeli plan to deprive the Palestinian people of their homeland.  President Bush, in a statement on April 14, has declared that Israel will not have to return to the pre-1967 borders. He has sanctioned the annexation of large parts of the West Bank, which would have been part of the new Palestinian state, and he has ruled out the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendents who were evicted from their homeland by Zionist settlers in 1948-49. 


Sharon had unveiled his latest plan before leaving for Washington. Israel would withdraw from the Gaza strip and wind up the small settlement of Jewish settlers who number around 7000. At the same time, Sharon declared that all the major West Bank settlements would remain and Israel's new borders would be drawn around them. The plan would mean only four out of the 120 settlements scattered over the West Bank would be dismantled annexing big chunks of West Bank territory into Israel.  Whatever rump remained could be negotiated for the Palestinian state. There is no question of accepting any of the four million Palestinian refugees and their descendants back into Israel.


Bush has come out in full support of Sharon's diabolical plan at a time when the Americans are conducting a ruthless military campaign to suppress the popular uprising in Iraq and go ahead with its plans to install a pliant regime. Both Palestine and Iraq represent the brutal face of imperialism in the Middle East.


The United States has always backed Israel ever since it was setup in 1948.  The US-Israeli alliance has been the cornerstone of America's strategy to dominate West Asia and its vital oil resources.  However, at no time had the United States come out in such a blatant support of Israeli colonialism and expansionism as Bush has now done. 


So far, the United States had officially maintained that there has to be a negotiated settlement between Israelis and the Palestinians on the question of the occupied territories, which Israel annexed in the 1967 war. Even though the United States tacitly supported the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, it maintained that the  issue of  Israel's borders should be settled through negotiations by both sides. 


Now, for the first time, the Bush administration has recognised the Jewish settlements in the West Bank as "already existing major Israeli population centres".  The acknowledgement of this annexation is sought to be justified Sharon's proposal to withdraw from the Gaza strip and the vacation of the small Jewish settlements.  One and a half million Palestinians are squeezed together in this narrow strip of land mainly in makeshift refugee camps.  Sharon's plan envisages some fringe settlements being removed in the West Bank while retaining six major settlement blocs where over a hundred thousand settlers will continue to live. 


By agreeing to Sharon's plan, Bush has dismissed the United Nations resolutions, including resolution 242, which called for Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders in return for guarantees of its security. It also nullifies a number of UN resolutions like 446, 455, 465 and 471 which calls upon Israel to remove the illegal settlements from the occupied territories. 


The final blow to a negotiated settlement is Bush's endorsement of Israel's refusal to allow any refugees to return to Israel. Bush categorically stated that they can return to the areas of the future Palestinian state but not to Israel. 


The implications of this new American stance is to nullify the two-state solution, even though Bush reiterates support for the same.  Sharon's plan, if put into effect, would mean the Palestinians cannot have an independent state.  All that they will be left with are small enclaves cut-off from each other by Israeli walls, armed forces and Jewish settlements.  These will be similar to the bantustans set-up by the apartheid regime in South Africa for the black people. Sharon has proceeded to construct a 640-kilometer wall right across the West Bank cutting off the Palestinians' access to their own lands and the right to free movement.


The Bush-Sharon agreement is a new version of the 1917 Balfour declaration. This policy declaration by the British colonialists committed to the formation of a "national Jewish homeland" in the British protectorate of Palestine, ignoring totally the rights of the indigenous Palestinian and Arab inhabitants. 


It also spells the end of any negotiations in the form of an already dead American-sponsored `road map', or, other peace initiatives. The US has been supporting Sharon's stand that he cannot negotiate with Yasser Arafat because he is a terrorist.  Neither have the Americans insisted that Israel talk to the Palestinian Prime Minister Querei. 


The dangerous path Bush has embarked upon is the approval of the Sharonite tactics of physically eliminating the Palestinian leadership, or, incapacitating them. Yasser Arafat has been under virtual house arrest in Ramallah for more than a year.  The Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was assassinated by a missile attack in March. 


Within a few days of the Bush-Sharon meeting, his successor Abdul Aziz Rantisi has been killed in a similar missile attack on his car. The Bush administration has justified the killing as a necessary step for Israel's security.  As in the killing of Yassin, the UN Security Council meeting to discuss the assassination of Rantisi will also face a US veto on any resolution condemning such State-sponsored terrorism.


Bush's naked support for Sharon’s plan will please the Zionist-Jewish circles and the Christian fundamentalists in the US. The only other prominent supporter is Tony Blair who has promptly performed his role of a loyal servitor by claiming that Sharon's plan is "an opportunity to get back into the road map process".


The Bush administration has resorted to this brazen support for Israeli lawlessness when it is getting increasingly isolated over its occupation of Iraq.  After the killing of more than 600 civilians in Fallujah town, the US is nowhere near pacifying the Iraqi rebellion.  The Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero has announced, within hours of taking office, that Spanish troops will be withdrawn from Iraq immediately.  Some other countries like Honduras have decided to follow suit. 


At this juncture, Bush's adventurism in backing Sharon's criminal conspiracy against the Palestinians is only going to further deepen America's isolation.  The European Union which was one of the sponsors of the `road map' for peace has differed from Bush's stand.  In a statement in response to the Bush announcement, it said, "The European Union will not recognise any change in the pre-1967 borders other than those arrived at by agreement between the parties".  Russia, which was another partner in the peace initiative, will also not be able to support the American stance.


For the beleaguered Palestinian people, the immediate prospects are bleak.  They are hemmed in by the Israeli armed forces with full American backing.  The neighbouring states of Jordan and Egypt are run by men who are American puppets -- President Mubarak and King Abdullah.  They cannot be expected to take a firm stand against the US-Israel axis.  But the Palestinian movement has struggled for five decades for self-determination. They have the support of the mass of the people of the Arab countries notwithstanding their craven regimes.  The heroic resistance put up by the Palestinian people against the might of Israel and its imperialist patron cannot be extinguished.


One year after the American occupation of Iraq, a countrywide-armed resistance has developed. It will inspire the Palestinian people to struggle on in these difficult times.


The Vajpayee government has remained notably silent about this new attack on the Palestinian people.  Both Bush and Sharon are the ideological soul mates of the BJP.  Complicity with the Israeli regime's criminal actions will be another blot on the government's record.