This week the events in the Middle East dramatized the need for a stronger movement for peace and justice, in the U.S. and internationally. The Peace and Solidarity Commission of the Communist Party USA has issued this statement as a part of the discussion of the historical framework and the direction needed now to bring about an end to the conflict.

The barbaric violence inflicted upon the Palestinians by the Israeli government, with the support of the Bush administration, has led the region to the brink of an all-out war. Retaliatory attacks, including suicide bombings by Hamas and massive military bombardment of the Occupied Territories by Sharon’s military, have only strengthened the right-wing elements on both sides.

This escalation of violence occurs within a dangerous and unstable international context following the terrorist attacks on the United States and a unilaterally declared U.S. “war on terrorism.” At stake are not only the lives of millions of peace-loving Palestinians and Israelis, but also peace and security in the entire Middle East.

The world reacted with horror at the recent suicide bombings by Hamas that killed many Israeli civilians. Little reported, but equally reprehensible were the Israeli provocations that prompted these retaliatory attacks. In the weeks following Sept. 11, the Israeli government engaged in an extraordinary new wave of killing of Palestinians.

Israeli bullets and bombs have killed well over a hundred Palestinians since Sept. 11, including the deliberate murder of five children as they walked to school. The death-squad-like assassinations of Palestinian political leaders by Israel were guaranteed to result in violent retaliations from Hamas.

Israel’s brazen aggression against the Palestinians, masquerading as its own “war on terrorism,” has included aerial bombings and military invasions of Gaza and the West Bank. These are an attempt to completely destroy the Palestinian people’s quest for national liberation and self-determination.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, himself a war criminal, is gunning for the destruction of the Palestinian Authority. The destruction of the secular leadership of the Palestinians is all but ensuring a spectacular rise in support for extremist groups such as Hamas.

In the midst of this growing right-wing danger, both the Israeli and the U.S. governments are cynically exploiting the attacks of Sept. 11 to reframe the Palestinian struggle for liberation as nothing more than “terrorism.” But no amount of Zionist propaganda can conceal the true history and ideology behind this conflict.

Colonialism and occupation.
At the root of this conflict is a classic anti-colonial struggle by the Palestinian people against Israeli occupation. Beginning with the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians during the formation of the state of Israel in 1948, and further conquest of Palestinian land in the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars, this brutal occupation has cast a dark shadow on every aspect of Palestinian daily life.

For millions of Palestinians, Israeli colonialism has meant the killing of unarmed civilians, confiscation of their property, demolition of their homes, the building of illegal Jewish settlements on occupied land, regular confrontations with the Israeli military and armed Jewish settlers, inhumane restrictions on basic amenities like water, and the apartheid-style dismemberment of their land.

The United States’ unqualified economic, military and political support for Israel bears much of the blame for the continuation of this conflict. The main contradiction in the politics of the Middle East is U.S. imperialism, which cynically uses the language of human rights and democracy to justify its interventions, while undermining those very rights through its actions.

The U.S. flexes its military might to control and dominate the two-thirds of the world’s known oil reserves that exist in the region. In its drive to control these oil supplies, the U.S. has given free reign to right-wing, expansionist and colonialist ambitions of successive Israeli governments. Israel has continued to serve as a U.S. client state in the Middle East, against the best interests of peace in the region.

The growing right-wing danger
The escalation of violence in the recent period signals the growth of right-wing fanaticism on both sides. In particular, the election of the Sharon government signaled the Israeli right-wing’s belligerent intention to terrorize the Palestinians into submission through military means.

The ultraright in Israel views any peace with Palestinians as neither desirable nor possible. The increasingly militaristic drive of the Bush administration in its global “war on terrorism” feeds into these Zionist illusions of a military solution to Palestinian resistance. In turn, the growth in popular support for the extremism of Hamas and Islamic Jihad reflect Palestinian frustrations with the failed Oslo peace process.

Indeed, the roots of the latest Intifada lie in the failure of the Oslo peace process to address the basic facts of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The 1993 Oslo Accords, and the numerous summits that followed, leading up to the Camp David meeting in July 2000, deliberately avoided any discussion of the return of occupied territory, recognition of full sovereignty rights, or the right of refugees to return.

Seven years of the Oslo Accords have seen an acceleration in appropriated Palestinian land for new Jewish settlements; the fragmentation of “autonomous” areas; suffocating restrictions on the movement of Palestinians between these areas; and the prevention of a viable and independent Palestinian economy with the result that unemployment in the Occupied Territories is over 25 percent and the standard of living has dropped precipitously. Peaceful and legitimate resistance was often met with overwhelming Israeli military force and violence.

The content and framework of the Oslo process itself reflect a failed attempt by Israel to consolidate its colonial conquest through Palestinian acquiescence and bears responsibility for the growing right-wing danger.

The impact on the U.S.
These policies have had a direct impact on the working people of the United States. The Israeli war against the Palestinian people is being waged with U.S. tax dollars and U.S.-supplied planes, helicopters, missiles, tanks, and guns to the tune of over $5 billion every year, even as Congress drastically slashes spending on domestic social needs such as healthcare, Social Security and public education.

Indeed, much of the $5 billion goes directly into the profits of the defense contracting industry in this country.

Consequently, corporations like TRW, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin and others, subcontracted by the Israeli government to produce these armaments, oppose any peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The defense lobby has been supported in its efforts by the powerful and influential right-wing Jewish and fundamentalist Christian lobbies in the United States. The right-wing Jewish lobby has been consistent in its anti-Arab, anti-peace propaganda that views the existence of a Palestinian state as a simultaneous delegitimation of Israel, while the Christian fundamentalists see the conflict in terms of a holy war against Islam that must be waged as a precursor to Armageddon.

The power of these right-wing pro-corporate lobbies in determining U.S. domestic policy is behind the U.S. administration’s blocking of all efforts by the international community to resolve the conflict. Even recently, the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that encouraged “all concerned to establish a monitoring mechanism” to curb the violence in Palestine. Tackling the power of these lobbies to determine the outcome of local, state and federal elections, Congressional spending policies, and media coverage of these issues is essential to changing U.S. foreign policy, particularly on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Towards a peaceful resolution
In view of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the growing right-wing danger on both sides, the Communist Party USA strongly reaffirms the following minimum imperatives for peace:

• At this critical juncture, all efforts should be concentrated on ending the violence that has resulted in the deaths of over 850 Palestinians, mostly unarmed civilians, and over 230 Israelis in 15 months of bloodshed. The immediate presence of international peacekeepers in the Occupied Territories is absolutely crucial.

• Terrorist acts, including Israel’s assassination of Palestinian leaders, Hamas’ suicide bombings, and the killing of innocent civilians, particularly children, must be condemned by both sides. Israel is bound to observe the terms of the 4th Geneva Convention.

The protections that the Convention affords to the Palestinians are a matter of human rights and not a bargaining chip. The killing of innocent civilians, whether by individuals, groups or states, is categorically rejected by international law.

• Israel and the United States must comply with international law. International laws and treaties remain squarely on the side of peace and against colonialism, as well as the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and an independent state.

Numerous U.N. resolutions, particularly Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, have demanded that Israel fully withdraw from territories it annexed during the 1967 and 1973 wars. These U.N. resolutions consider the annexation of East Jerusalem to Israel an illegal act. International law also recognizes the inalienable right of Palestinian refugees to return to their land and property, if they so wish.

• The U.S. government should cut all aid to the Israeli government until it complies with relevant U.N. resolutions and international laws. The U.S. should demand that the Israeli government immediately halt further home demolitions, annexation of land and the building of new settlements.

The Communist Party USA believes that nothing short of a process that ends the Israeli occupation of Palestine will succeed in bringing an everlasting peace to both Israelis and Palestinians. Such a peace would envision, at a minimum:

• A secure, independent and contiguous Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem and full sovereignty over its economic, political and social policies,

• The right of all Palestinian refugees to return to their land and property or to be justly compensated, according to their wish, and

• Peace and security for a democratic Israel with equal rights for its Jewish and non-Jewish citizens.

The road towards peace in the Middle East will entail a long, difficult and organized struggle on the part of the international peace movement – a struggle based on principled solidarity with the working class in the United States, Israel and Palestine.

The peaceful aspirations of the Israeli and Palestinian people cannot be founded on imperialist and colonialist policies that support corporate greed and superpower domination. They also do not find a solution in backward, right-wing ideologies such as Zionism, pan-Islamism or Christian fundamentalism. Only a movement based on secular, democratic and socialist ideals can ensure that justice will prevail in Palestine.