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Date: Sun, 24 Mar 1996 19:29:02 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: Brian Hauk <bghauk@crunchy.asgo.net>
Subject: 'Antiterror' Summit Props Zionism

'Antiterror' Summit Props Zionism

By Candace Wagner and Maurice Williams, The Militant,
Vol. 60, no. 13, 1 April 1996

U.S. president Bill Clinton hastily cobbled together a summit of peacemakers at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheik March 13 in an effort to buttress the Israeli regime. Heads of state and other high- level government officials from 30 countries, including Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Russian president Boris Yeltsin, and Palestine Liberation Organization head Yasir Arafat, posed together after the meeting to release a brief statement. The gathering was called following four suicide bombings in Israel by Palestinian activists that resulted in 62 people getting killed.

Clinton later promised Tel Aviv $100 million in aid on a one-day stop in Jerusalem March 14, in addition to stepped up collaboration in spying on Palestinian fighters. According to the Washington Post, the declared purpose of Clinton's visit was to bolster the Zionist regime in the face of their Arab enemies.

Israeli government officials say negotiations to begin beefing up military and security agreements between the two countries may be announced by Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres before the May 29 elections. U.S. secretary of state Warren Christopher, CIA director John Deutch, and Lt. Gen. Daniel Christman remained in Jerusalem for further military talks on March 15.

On March 5, Israeli troops barricaded 465 West Bank communities and confined some 1.2 million residents to their villages in a campaign of collective punishment against the Palestinians following the suicide bombings. Clinton backed the sweeping assault meted out to Palestinians as justified at a time when it's hard to tell who may be wrapped in plastique explosives.

After Clinton's departure from Jerusalem, the Israeli government announced that much of the U.S. funds would be spent on building a high-tech border fence between Israel and the West Bank.

'International propaganda rally'

Representatives of the Syrian and Lebanese governments skipped the summit. Syrian state radio called the gathering an international propaganda rally where the Zionist regime hoped to exploit the bombings and withdraw from the so-called peace process as a way to put the blame for that on Arabs in general and Syria in particular. Damascus released a statement calling for the return by Israel of all occupied territories in order to remove the impetus for armed attacks. Negotiations between the Israeli and Syrian governments on the return of the Golan Heights were suspended after the bombings.

Many of the participating Arab governments paid lip service to the need to address the crackdown imposed on the Palestinians by the Zionist state, and the continuing occupation of West Bank territory. Collective punishment, closure and every type of violence against innocent people will in turn generate more violence, declared Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal in his remarks at the closing ceremony. President of the Palestinian Authority, Yasir Arafat, who played a central role through his presence in giving the imperialist-inspired gathering a facade of Arab representation, also condemned the blockade of West Bank towns and the Gaza Strip.

Shimon Peres, speaking to Israeli correspondents, explained the significance of the summit in helping to break down the isolation of the Zionist state in the region. For 13 Arab countries to get up and express in a loud voice that their hearts are aching for the victims in Israel - only Israel was mentioned - is something, he crowed.

Meanwhile, the Zionist state has begun to allow a trickle of food shipments into the Gaza Strip and West Bank towns under siege since February 25. After border closures caused several deaths of children needing medical treatment, the Israeli government announced March 13 that emergency cases will now be allowed through the check points.

Palestinian officials report that the closure has caused unemployment to rise to around 70 percent. Schools are having difficulty functioning as some 20 percent of the 700,000 students in the West Bank and up to 50 percent of 40,000 teachers cannot get to the schools.

Following the conference, Arafat told reporters that the Israelis informed us that there has been a partial lift of the security cordon and we hope that during the next few days there will be a total lift of the blockade.

On March 17, however, Shimon Peres announced that the closure would continue indefinitely. He proposed the creation of an international fund of $100 million to help provide jobs for the Palestinians. Previously the Israeli government had announced a decision to import 16,500 more workers to replace Palestinians who are blocked from traveling to Israel because of the closure.

Peres also postponed the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank town of Hebron scheduled for the end of March. He stated that the withdrawal will depend on Arafat's cracking down on Hamas and on fulfilling his pledge to strike from the PLO charter the call for a democratic secular Palestine to replace the Zionist state of Israel.

Israeli troops blew up a number of homes of Palestinians Tel Aviv alleges were suicide bombers. In the West Bank town of Burka, youth defied a curfew and threw stones at soldiers performing the demolition. This will not stop the people from struggling against the occupation, remarked 72-year-old Aysla Awdeh as he watched the explosion.

The Israeli-Palestinian accords have given limited self-rule to six cities and hundreds of small towns in the West Bank. Less than 30 percent of the West Bank has been conceded by Tel Aviv to be under Palestinian control. The surrounding areas, as well as vital resources, remain under Israeli occupation.

The March 9 issue of the Jerusalem Post international edition reported that Israeli army colonel Shaul Arieli suggested several ways for pressuring Arafat to accept Israel's demands on suppressing the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, including cutting off water, electricity, telephone and Israeli medical services to the Palestinian Authority. This plan was supposedly dropped, but the suggestion illustrates the limits of Palestinian autonomy gained in the accords.

In this peace, they are putting us in reservations like the Indians here, Hamas leader Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook told the New York Times March 8, from a jail in Manhattan where he is being held for possible extradition to Israel.

The Israeli crackdown is provoking more resistance throughout the region. On March 20, another suicide bomber attacked Zionist army units occupying a part of southern Lebanon, near the border with Israel, killing one Israeli soldier.