Struggle for peace in the Mideast continues

News Analysis



TEL AVIV – The latest acts of state terror against the Palestinian people and their elected leadership last weekend have awakened a fury of mass protests by Palestinians and have met sharp criticism and protest actions in Israel and around the world.

Despite curfews, mass demonstrations were held in Palestinian towns under the slogan, “We are ready for peace but not for capitulation; we will not give up our part of Jerusalem or any grain of our land, guaranteed by international law and resolutions.” Obviously, the furious Israeli attack on Palestinian President Arafat’s office has backfired.

Gush-Shalom staged a peace vigil Sept. 22 joined by many peace activists in front of the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. The participants carried posters saying that the attack on Arafat’s presidential headquarters is “contradicting Israel’s true security interests” and “can only result in much more hatred, much more blood on both sides” and that “Only negotiated Peace can bring true Peace for Israel and Palestine.”

Prime Minister Sharon and his cabinet were forced to stop short of expelling Arafat from the West Bank. They make no secret of their aim to destroy his headquarters and rob him of all his means of power, or of their hope that Arafat will surrender.

They have destroyed all but the wing of the headquarters occupied by Arafat. Sharon and his cabinet ordered the destruction as retaliation for a suicide attack upon a bus in Tel Aviv last Thursday.

Many in Israel ask why Sharon’s fury was directed at Arafat, who denounced the suicide atrocity, and not against the Hamas militants, who openly said that they had perpetrated the Tel Aviv attack.

Bush administration criticism of Sharon’s “excessive actions,” is seen here as lip service to public opinion, because these actions might interfere with Bush’s war designs in the Middle East.

Many of Israeli political observers and media commentators agree with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who warned Israel that its destructive attacks and threat to Arafat’s life would lead to new acts of vengeance from growing Palestinian resistance. In the long run, the Arab world would not stand aside much longer, he predicted.

For Wednesday and Thursday this Sukkoth week (Sept. 25-26), the Women for Peace Coalition and the Jewish-Arab Ta’ayush movements are calling for a two-day Sukkoth tabernacle meeting at the Meggido highway a cross from one of the major prisons for Palestinian detainees in central Israel, and near the crossing into the West Bank near Jenin.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org