TEL AVIV - The scenes broadcast these days from the Palestinian territories are like December 1987, when the Intifada - the six-year popular uprising against the terror of the Israeli occupation - began.
Like then, Palestinian youths hurl rocks and Molotov Cocktails against Israeli occupation troops at the "seams," on the border of Palestinian-held territories where the Israelis arbitrarily have set up their check points. The occupation troops fire back with plastic bullets, tear gas and sometimes live ammunition.
The new factor in these scenes is the presence of Palestinian police and security forces who try to curb the stone-throwing youths, to prevent the Israeli provocations from developing into more serious and bloody clashes.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet and their radical right-wing coalition partners try to enhance the old Zionist goals of "conquest of the land" or, in their mind, the "redemption" of the land and "conquest of labor," replacing Arab workers with Israelis. They follow in the path of Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who, with the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948, promised that "Israel's borders will be defined by the tent-pegs we drive into the soil."
Every time the indigenous Arab-Palestine population resists these colonialist conquests, they are blamed for causing "terror" and bloodshed - they who are the victims of ever more Jewish settlements on Palestinian soil and arbitrarily-enforced Judaization of occupied eastern Jerusalem.
The Palestinians and their president, Yasser Arafat, are expected to repress their justified and legitimate struggle against the Israeli occupation and conquest of land. Netanyahu and his creed think that, with military strength in their hands and the backing of the U.S., they have the right to dictate their "peace" terms to the Palestinians and the whole Arab world.
The only way to prevent further violence and bloodshed is for Netanyahu and his government to change course, away from setting up more colonialist Jewish settlements in "the territories," including the Judaization of eastern Jerusalem and its wider vicinity which has been illegally annexed by Israel. Settlements such as the latest on Mt. Abu Rh'neim (Har Homa), Jews occupying Arab houses in several Arab neighborhoods and the demolition of houses because they were supposedly built without a permit from the occupation authorities - all these and more are playing into the hands of those who are afraid of real peace.
What is needed now is to put a stop to all this anti-peace activity and to return to the negotiation table for serious talks about the immediate implementation of all Israel has pledged to do under the Oslo accords and the "Hebron Protocol. " In addition, Israel must sit down and negotiate the final and permanent peace agreement, delayed long enough because of the Israeli policy.
Arafat and his team cannot be expected to return to the negotiating table as long as Israel continues its aggressive colonialist policy and behaves as a super-lord who thinks it can dictate its terms to the "inferior" Palestinians, the Palestinians having equal rights to national sovereignty and nationhood with the Israeli partners in peace. This is in the interest of both our peoples, the Israelis as well as the Palestinians, and in the interest of peace in the whole Middle East.
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