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Proletarian issue 5 (April 2005)
Palestine negotiations take cautious steps forward
US and Israel caught up in a catch-22 situation as the occupation becomes increasingly untenable
Following on from the meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, at Sharm el-Sheik in February, which produced a 'formal verbal cease-fire' between the occupied and the occupiers, came the conference in London between the Palestinians and the so-called 'Quartet' (ie, the EU, US, UN and Russia, 23 countries in all). This meeting committed Israel and the Palestinians to future peace negotiations (although no Israelis were present, their imperialist US masters could speak for them).

Ultra-leftists were quick to denounce Abbas as a 'traitor' who was selling out the legacy of Yasser Arafat and the Al Aqsa Intifada. A small group had even gathered outside the London centre prior to the conference sporting banners declaring Abbas to be a 'US puppet'. The fact that these same groups used to also declare Yasser Arafat a 'traitor' and a 'US puppet' seems to have slipped their collective minds.

Let us be clear: to the Palestinian people, the war with the occupiers and negotiations with the occupiers are indivisible parts of the same struggle to win a Palestinian state and the right of refugees to return to the homes and lands they were driven from. The Palestinian people have fought the zionist butchers to a standstill and although the zionist leadership holds power at the whim of US imperialism (Israel owes its wealth and weaponry to the US, which needs an aggressive puppet in the Middle East), an increasing number of Israeli people are now loudly demanding peace because, thanks to the heroism of Palestinian martyrs, they too have felt the sharp end of the armed conflict.

For our part, we hope that genuine negotiations will take place and that these will result in a free and secure Palestinian state, the release of all Palestinian prisoners from zionist prisons, and the right of Palestinians to return to their homes in what is now called Israel. The Palestinians will, of course, expect dirty tricks and lies from the zionists and their imperialist backers, but the negotiations are a step that must be taken at this present time, in much the same way that the republicans in occupied Ireland, who also fought their occupiers to a standstill, have had to enter negotiations with British imperialism in spite of the dirty tricks and lies of the latter.

The western bourgeois press has waxed lyrical about how Mahmoud Abbas is the 'hope for peace', a 'moderate democrat' totally unlike the late Yasser Arafat, who 'supported terrorism'.

Mahmoud Abbas, just like Yasser Arafat, is the leader of the Palestinian people, which means it is his job to represent their wishes. We have no doubt that if the zionist murderers break the current cease-fire and negotiations as they have broken every previous cease-fire, negotiation and agreement, President Abbas will show the correct leadership. One has only to look at his statements at the London conference to see that he is no quisling. In regard to the implementation of the 'road map' he had only one demand, namely that "our implementation efforts be mirrored by Israel's true implementation of the provisions of the road map as presented by the Quartet".

During the conference a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv brought condemnation from President Abbas who, far from betraying the Palestinians by this, correctly pointed out that "all Palestinian factions have denied responsibility for this attack and reaffirmed their commitment to the cease-fire". In spite of the obvious truth of President Abbas's words, the Quartet seems to have refused to accept that this was the work of a lone bomber, perhaps unbalanced by years of witnessing the merciless brutality and murder of the occupying zionists. They produced a draft statement, which was shown to members of the press, demanding that the Palestinian Authority (PA) "take immediate action" against those responsible.

This provocative move by the Quartet, no doubt led by US imperialism, caused a bitter note in the talks for, as one unnamed Palestinian official commented: "They want the occupied Palestinians to give security to their Israeli occupiers." This is exactly what was being asked of the Palestinians and if it was not so serious it would be laughable that people who have illegally occupied a land, expelled huge numbers of people from their homes and committed atrocities and murders against them too numerous to record here should be demanding that its victims guarantee its security from any individual! Such is the logic of imperialism.

With regard to security, Abbas commented as follows: "I fully believe that our security efforts serve the needs of the Palestinian people who are thirsty for safety and security. Yet at the same time, security is vulnerable to regression and even collapse if it is not protected by a serious political process between us and the Israelis, the delay of which is unjustified … When I refer to a serious political process, I mean a process that gives the Palestinian people confidence that the occupation that began in 1967 will end without delay. Creating such confidence requires that the manifestations of such occupation - the construction of settlements, the Wall and land confiscation - immediately come to a complete end."

Of course, if Israel genuinely decides to live in peace with its neighbours, its usefulness to US imperialism ceases (as would the financial and military assistance from the US). However, the Palestinians are not their only neighbours, and the public bullying of Syria by the US suggests more dirty work that the zionist assassins could do, although they may not be too keen on crossing Lebanon's border after being unceremoniously chased out by Hizbollah! Meanwhile, with the Palestinian intifada having claimed over 1,000 Israeli lives to date, in addition to causing profound damage to Israeli tourism (an essential part of the economy), the status quo is becoming untenable. The 'choice' to live in peace will be forced on Israel by the forces of Palestinian liberation.

The oil-rich Middle East is still much desired by all imperialists and figures highly in all their machinations; it will certainly become a greater bone of contention between them as the current economic crisis grows deeper and the fight for control of resources, markets and profitable investment opportunities grows fiercer.

As for the brave Palestinian people, they have the right and the duty to fight against the occupation of their country using whatever means they consider appropriate.
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