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|The intifada and its ramifications||| Print ||
The Political CommentThe events of the intifada and its ramifications over the progress of the peace process and the domestic "Israeli" situation reveal that "Israel" must inevitably face the reality which the American interests in the region dictate, namely the ending of the Arab-Israeli struggle by establishing a state for the Palestinians and by compelling "Israel" to comply by the international law and to implement the United Nations resolutions, especially resolutions 242 and 338. America and the West are concerned that their vital interests in the Middle-East, namely the Gulf oil and its supply routes, may fall under a region whose people embrace an ideology that poses a threat to the Western civilisation and the Western viewpoint towards life. Furthermore, the direct friction with the Jews and the lack of a declaration pertaining to ending the state of conflict adds fuel to the tension. This explains why the Americans and the West have for a long time been eager to find a solution that would bring stability to the region, safeguards the Western interests, and allows America to continue her hegemony over the region. Observers of the political crisis within the Israeli circles, which is reflected in the struggle over power between Barak and Sharon, would find that America has pushed the Jews towards a historical turning point, which the leaders of "Israel" have repeatedly dodged. The delay in reaching this point was because the region has been the subject of a struggle over hegemony and dominion between Britain and America since the middle of the last century. The struggle was eventually settled in favour of America, but the region was not ready to proceed in this solution yet. This turning point will determine the political future of "Israel" and on its basis, the bigoted mentality of the Israeli society will be curbed. The secular trend, championed by the peace campaigners' camp, will be consolidated. This led Barak to call for the drafting of a constitution soon after he returned from Camp David and express his intention to stage a "civil revolution", which in fact is an intellectual revolution aiming at curbing the Jewish religious movements and weakening their impact upon Israeli society.
Barak came to power in "Israel" with the support of the United States in order to complete what Rabin had started with regard to the settlement of the issue, especially on the Palestinian and the Syrian tracks. It could be said that the steps of the settlement have practically started when Barak and Arafat returned from Camp David. Contrary to what the media attempt to highlight, Barak has succeeded in preventing Netanyahu from returning to power and in incinerating Sharon regionally and internationally when he allowed him to defile the sacred sites of the Muslims, by entering Al-Aqsa Mosque, which triggered the intifada. He also succeeded in influencing the Israeli public opinion with regard to the final stages of the settlement, by snatching the issues of Al-Quds, the settlements and the borders from people's conversations, and taking them out of the sphere of political intransigence and religious taboos. He enticed the Israeli public through the several remarkable opinion polls, which will turn them into a partner in the decisions pertaining to the phase of the final settlement.
It is also noted that the process of coaxing public opinion in "Israel" is in full swing, led by the state's institutions. For instance, the Jews were duped over their issues, in terms of their importance, such as making the issue of the refugees more serious than the sovereignty over Al-Quds, despite the fact that the issue of the refugees does not have the same doctrinal dimension that the issue of Al-Quds has, for both the Muslims and the Jews. To portray the issue of the refugees in this magnitude is only a deception of the Israeli public opinion with the aim of making the Jews accept that they used to refer to as a surrender with regard to Al-Quds. On the other hand, the Israeli masses are being prepared to accept the idea of the refugees' right to return, as it is, to begin addressing it from a humanitarian viewpoint, thus allowing some of the refugees to return and to keep this idea confined to those who were born in the lands that were occupied in 1948. At the same time, the Israeli authorities are warning the Jews of the threat of a full scale war in which several Arab and Islamic (states) would take part, as an alternative to peace, which necessitates making a concession with regard to Al-Quds. This was reflected in the statement made by Barak on 4th January 2001; he said: "The alternative to any agreement is an endless cycle of violence, a review of the agreements we had signed with Egypt and Jordan and a gradual deterioration which will lead to isolating Israel and to a full confrontation." The security report made by the head of the Israeli intelligence services included the following statement: "the signing of a political agreement with the Palestinians in the next few months will lead to stability in the region and will prevent an all-out war. However, failure to achieve such an agreement will lead to an escalation; then Hizbollah, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and maybe Iran as well, will join in. if such an escalation occurred, Egypt and Jordan are not going to remain idle." The report also stated: "The threat posed by Hizbollah's deployment of a short-range missile system in the wake of the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon exceeds the threat posed by the Iraqi missiles during the Gulf War." The report added: "The only way to nullify the effect of these time-bombs which threaten the whole region is to reach an agreement with Arafat." In addition to scaring the Jews with a potential war, the Israeli media tend to highlight the dissent among the Israeli soldiers and the refusal of some of them to serve in the armed forces as protectors of the settlements, -such as the story of the Israeli soldier who escaped Lebanon only to be killed in Gaza-. All of this is undertaken by the Israeli authorities with the help of Arafat and his cronies, with the aim of rallying the Israeli public opinion -who does not perceive the rules of the political conflict in the region- behind the solution tailored for the electoral campaign of Barak.
As for Sharon, he is attempting to invest his military background in order to convince the electorate that he is more capable of making peace and achieving security. He promises to give the Palestinians a state over 42% of the West Bank and over most of the land in Gaza, but not all of it. As for Al-Quds, it remains unified and the capital of the state of "Israel". The settlements will not be dismantled but he promises that no other settlements will be built and there will be no right of return to Palestinian refugees, except in some humanitarian cases. In addition to this, he said that he would work towards controlling the vital and sensitive areas and the water sources. In return, the Palestinian state will be able to undertake a host of economic projects, provided it works towards curbing terrorism. Sharon is attempting to market himself as a peace campaigner who is working towards winning the Israeli public opinion over. As part of Sharon's agenda, it is remarked that there is work towards changing the fundamentals upon which the Likud and the Israeli right are based, through establishing the thoughts related to the Palestinian state, the return of the refugees and the freezing of settlements, which Sharon is deemed one of its major backers. Hence, the right led by Sharon has taken a new step in the process of changing the Israeli public opinion in a manner that agrees with the general outlines that America has laid for the solution
Ben Ami commented on the plan of Sharon by saying that this plan would make "Israel" completely isolated internationally, just like the Yugoslavian union was during the rule of Melosovic; as for the periodical agreements, these have proved their failure as was the case in Bosnia.
Barak's electoral campaign exploited Sharon's bloody past, describing the man as being an inciter of war. In the television time devoted to electoral propaganda, a horror musical tune is played with the voice of Sharon declaring the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Meanwhile the radio campaign described him as "having always been an opponent of peace and a champion of war. Nothing is going to make him change now."
Barak declared in a television interview that he did not believe in the opinion polls that show Sharon ahead of him. This cast doubts over their credibility and aims. They could be exploited to rally support for Barak by showing that Sharon is ahead, thus prompting Barak's supporters and the peace camp to stand by him. The opinion polls say that only 15% of the electors could be influenced during the election campaigns. From Berlin, the member of Knesset, Azmi Bushara, called upon the Arab voters to cast blank papers in the ballot boxes; this would remove the suspicions that Barak will have won with the help of Arab votes, thus consolidating his negotiating position and allowing him to make concessions in his quality as representative of the people. Within the same framework, Shimon Perez called upon his supporters to support Barak, knowing that opinion polls predicted that Perez would defeat Sharon if he were to stand against him in the elections. The next few days will reveal numerous matters related to the fate of the peace process in its final stages.
5th Thul-Qi'idah 1421h