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From wwnews-report@wwpublish.com Mon Jun 24 22:00:05 2002
From: <wwnews@wwpublish.com> (WW News Service)
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To: <wwnews@wwpublish.com> (WW News Service)
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Subject: wwnews Digest #461
Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2002 21:31:47 -0400

Subdue Palestine, wage war on Iraq: Twin pillars of U.S. strategy to dominate Middle East

By Richard Becker, Workers World, 27 June 2002


As Workers World goes to press, the Israeli government has announced plans to reoccupy areas of the West Bank known as Zone A. Zone A is comprised of eight cities and some surrounding areas in the West Bank that are assigned to Palestinian Authority control. Most of the Zone A cities have been invaded and occupied by Israeli military forces repeatedly since March.

Zone A was created as part of the Oslo negotiating process beginning in 1993. The present Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has opposed the Oslo process since its beginning and has always opposed any return of Palestinian land. The pretext for the June 19 Israeli government decision to reoccupy Zone A areas was a bus bombing in Jerusalem the previous day, which killed 19 people and wounded 70 more.

Several members of Sharon's government called for expelling PA President Yasir Arafat and the entire PA leadership, and permanently reoccupying all of the West Bank and Gaza.

PA spokesperson Ahmed Abdel-Rahman responded: The Israeli decision to reoccupy Palestinian territories and settle inside them represents an open invitation to the Palestinian people and to all Palestinian factions to practice all sorts of resistance against the occupation.

Any resistance to this occupation now will be legitimate and accepted by all Palestinians against the occupiers and the invaders of Palestinian sovereign areas, he said.*

What is the connection between Bush's proposal for an interim Palestinian state and the public announcements that the CIA has been authorized to assassinate Iraqi President Saddam Hussein?

In recent days, seemingly disconnected events in the Middle East have continued to dominate the headlines. Seemingly disconnected because in reality subduing the Palestinian struggle and escalating the U.S. war against Iraq are inextricably intertwined in Washington's view.

Motivating the extremely murky interim state plan is the administration's desire to reduce mass anger in the Arab world over the U.S.-funded Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. The level of public anger toward Washington throughout the Middle East has caused widespread trepidation among the reactionary rulers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries.

The U.S.-dependent dictatorships and their Washington overlords fear that new U.S. military aggression against Iraq--especially while feelings are running so high over Palestine--could lead to a social explosion in the region, an upheaval that could endanger those very regimes.

On June 18, USA Today quoted Dennis Ross, a leading U.S. Middle East diplomat under both the Bush Senior and Clinton administrations, who asked rhetorically: Does the administration mean to roll up its sleeves and transform the [Palestine-Israel] situation, or is it trying to manage the conflict to prepare the ground for going after Saddam Hussein?

Clearly, Ross believes it's the latter.


There are powerful elements within U.S. ruling circles that oppose even the most superficial and vague proposals for Palestinian statehood. Among the administration figures associated with this view are Vice President Richard Cheney and his staff, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, and many others. They have given strong backing to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whose policy has long been to deny all Palestinian rights while seeking to absorb all of historic Palestine.

Bush himself has lavished absurd praise on the bloodstained Sharon, calling the mass killer a man of peace. At the same time, Bush has continued to place exclusive blame for violence on the Palestinians, ignoring the fact that three times as many Palestinians as Israelis have died in the 21 month-long Intifada (uprising).

Sharon has been received at the White House six times in the 17-month Bush presidency, more than any other foreign leader. Such support has emboldened Sharon--given him the green light as it is put in the Arab press--to unleash unprecedented repression against the Palestinian population as a whole, in the name of fighting terrorism.

The massive military invasion of the West Bank by 100,000 troops and thousands of tanks on March 29, the wanton destruction in Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah, the weeks-long curfews, the cutting off of all Palestinians cities and towns from each other, the massive round-up and abuse of Palestinian men and boys, and more have caused enormous suffering for the 3.3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.

Now the Israeli military has begun building a projected 217- mile-long fence well inside the West Bank. The fence is intended to annex even more Palestinian land, while entrapping the population inside apartheid-like Bantustans, cut off from each other by a network of Israeli settlements, military bases and Israeli-only roads.

Sharon's aim is clear: to create facts on the ground that would permanently prevent the establishment of any Palestinian state.

Under the circumstances and the extreme tightening of an already-harsh occupation, it should surprise no one that underground Palestinian organizations have continued to carry out operations against Israel inside its 1948 borders as well as in the West Bank and Gaza.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) led by its president, Yasir Arafat, has opposed attacks inside Israel. But in Catch 22 fashion, the U.S. and Israel, which destroyed most of the PA's infrastructure and security forces over the past three months, continue to blame the PA and Arafat for all attacks.

For Sharon and his cohorts, Palestinian resistance to occupation has become another convenient pretext for denying Palestinians the right to self-determination. Sharon is also cynically demanding that the PA must first be reformed before talks on a Palestinian state can be started.

Israel doesn't care if we are ruled by the Boy Scouts or Attila the Hun, retorted PA official Saeb Erekat, pointing out that this was just another in Sharon's endless list of reasons why there could be no Palestinian homeland.


What unites much of the Bush administration behind Sharon's repression is a common desire to crush the Palestinian resistance movement. But beyond that point, there is not unity between the U.S. and Israel.

The Sharon government wants to destroy the Palestinian movement in order to take possession of all of historic Palestine, once and for all. That has been the dream of those who Sharon represents for more than half a century.

The U.S. rulers want to crush the Palestinian resistance as a part of their program, disguised as the war on terrorism, of smashing all resistance to the U.S. empire on a global scale. They see the Palestinian movement as key to the broader Arab and Middle Eastern struggle. Dismantling the Palestinian resistance would pave the way for establishing uncontested U.S. hegemony in the region.

It would also pave the way to a new all-out war of recolonization against Iraq.

>From an economic and strategic point of view, securing control of Iraq is far more important to the U.S. ruling class than the division of land in Palestine.

Waging a new Iraq war, in the view of Secretary of State Colin Powell, first requires an easing of anger in the region over the suffering of the Palestinians. Powell is the loudest voice in the administration advocating an attempted diplomatic solution.

Powell's position is not based on pacifism; after all, he became famous as the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the U.S. military during the one-sided 1991 slaughter known as the Gulf War. If Powell believed that repression alone could destroy the Palestinian struggle, he would no doubt support it.

The past 50 years demonstrates that Powell's skepticism is well founded. Over and over, the Palestinians have been counted out of history by the corporate media. And over and over, in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, the Palestinians have steadfastly continued to resist, as they are today.