Israel/Palestine: Sharon steps up Palestinian repression -with US backing

THE ISRAELI government of Ariel Sharon stuck two fingers up at the United Nations (UN) after the UN general assembly passed a resolution on 21 October condemning Israel’s ’security fence’. Israeli deputy prime minister Ehud Olmert said: "The fence will continue being built…"

The concrete and steel structure, which when completed will run for hundreds of kilometres, carves out swathes of Palestinian territory as it incorporates Israeli settlements on the West Bank. In the process it cuts off Palestinian farmers from their land and villages from their schools and hospitals. Some 210,000 Palestinians have been directly affected by the fence.

But being in breach of a UN resolution isn’t likely to result in serious sanctions for Israel as its principal political and military backer, the US, voted against the resolution.

US President George Bush has effectively abandoned his flawed ’road map’ to a peace settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Instead, his administration has given Sharon’s government the ’green light’ to attack Palestinian areas as part of the ’war against terrorism’. In reality, it is a one-sided war of occupation designed to deny Palestinian national self-determination and to enlarge Israeli territory.

In response to Palestinian militia attacks on Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, Israeli aircraft fired missiles into the Gaza strip, killing 10 Palestinians and wounding 100. More Palestinian homes were bulldozed.

Ariel Sharon said that these devastating attacks will continue. However, even members of his governing coalition were dismayed by this brutal response. The interior minister Avraham Poraz said: "We should not carry out mass killings in order to strike two or three terrorists". The ministers of infrastructure urged the government to apologise to and compensate the victims.

It can only lead to further questioning of the Sharon government by Israelis who are paying the heavy price of a deep economic recession, exacerbated by the cost of this war. Many workers have been forced to strike against job cuts and attacks on welfare provision and against privatisation measures.

Generating anger

However, at this stage there is no mass left-wing opposition in Israel to marry the class struggle to the wider question of socialism and a socialist resolution of the national conflict.

Sharon has rejected a new military truce with the Palestinian Authority led by the beleaguered president Yasser Arafat. Instead, he has insisted that the PA disarm the militias – an impossible task both politically and militarily.

Yet the daily repression meted out to the Palestinians is fuelling anger amongst the despairing populations of the West Bank and Gaza strip.

One recent survey suggested that 75% of Palestinians supported the recent devastating Haifa suicide bombing as justified retaliation at Israeli repression. Another opinion poll reported that Palestinian support for Islamic militia movement Hamas has increased by 60% during the course of the three-year Palestinian Intifada (uprising).

In other words far from achieving a secure Israel, Sharon’s measures are leading to increased attacks on ordinary Israelis.

Editorial from The Socialist , paper of the Socialist Party, cwi in England and Wales

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November 2003