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News ::
06 Jun 2003

By Richard Becker
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the June 23, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper


By Richard Becker

What is the Bush administration seeking to accomplish with its "road
map" for Palestine and Israel? Answering this question is key to
understanding the current diplomatic offensive undertaken by Washington
in the aftermath of the Iraq war.

While facing growing opposition to its colonial-style occupation in
Iraq, the administration is moving forward very aggressively to
reorganize and subjugate the entire Middle East. The "road map" is a key
element in their plans.

The military defeat of Iraq and the destruction of its government and
state were seen by Washington as necessary pre-conditions for opening a
new round of negotiations with the Palestinians.

From the beginning of his administration until just recently, Bush had
refused to even speak with the leadership of the Palestinian National
Authority (PNA). During that time, he hosted Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon at the White House on eight occasions, more than any other
foreign leader. The U.S. has continued, during the same period, to
funnel massive economic and military aid to Israel.

Since the start of the second Intifada in September 2000, Israel has re-
occupied the Palestinian cities, towns and villages in the West Bank and
Gaza. Economic life has been largely destroyed, unemployment has risen
to 80 percent or higher in many areas, and poverty and hunger have
skyrocketed. Over the past 32 months, 2,200 Palestinians have been
killed--three times more than Israelis. Tens of thousands of
Palestinians have been injured and more than 10,000 imprisoned. Those
jailed are routinely beaten and tortured by the Israeli authorities.

Despite facing overwhelming firepower--the Israeli military is rated as
the fourth most powerful in the world--and widespread suffering, the
Palestinians have not been defeated.

But with the crushing of Iraq, Washing ton views the Palestinians, and
Arab people as a whole, as in a weakened position.

It was a similar combination of factors that impelled the first Bush
administration to open the Oslo "Peace Process" after defeating Iraq in
the 1991 Gulf war.


Before officially announcing the "road map," the U.S. insisted that the
PNA reorganize itself and choose a prime minister acceptable to
Washington. They specifically wanted Mahmoud Abbas, a long-time
associate of PNA President Yasir Arafat. Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen,
has been critical of the Intifada and has called for an end to armed
resistance to the Israeli military occupation.

Officially entitled, "A Performance-Based Road Map to a Permanent Two-
State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," the document
projects three phases leading to a final resolution by 2005. Overseeing
the plan is the "Quartet"--the U.S., European Union, Russia and the UN--
though the pre-eminence of the U.S. role is beyond doubt. It makes
absolutely clear that it is the Palestinian "performance" that is to be

Overwhelming emphasis in Phase I is placed on "Security," which it
translates as ending Palestinian "violence and terrorism." Section after
section focuses on re-organizing PNA security forces, cutting off
funding to Palestinian resistance organizations, creating a U.S.-Jordan-
Egypt "oversight board" to train and monitor the PNA police and

Egypt and Jordan, it should be noted, both maintain large police forces
funded by the U.S. to ruthlessly control their respective populations.

While Israel is called on to take "no actions undermining trust," the
document nowhere links words like "violence" and "terror" to actions of
the Israeli military.

As Andrea Anderson, director of Harvard University's Middle East
Initiative noted in a recent commentary: "the conditionality of the
agreement only applies to ending Palestinian violence."

Israeli settlements in the West Bank have nearly doubled in population,
to 235,000, since the Oslo "peace" process began to be implemented in
1993. The Israelis are supposed to stop expanding these settlements and
dismantle a small number of lightly populated "outpost" settlements.

Phase II is envisioned as beginning later this year--presumably after
the Palestinian resistance has been terminated: "In the second phase,
efforts are focused on the option of creating an independent Palestinian
state with provisional borders and attributes of sovereignty ..."

Speaking in extraordinarily patronizing and colonial tones, the "road
map" contin ues: "As has been noted, this goal can be achieved when the
Palestinian people have leadership acting decisively against terror,
willing and able to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and

In other words, when the Palestinians have "shown they are worthy," they
will be awarded not self-determination, but autonomy.

After presumably meeting many more similar requirements, the
Palestinians are to enter Phase III sometime in 2004 to 2005. Then, and
only then, will such fundamental issues as the Palestinian right to
return, Jerusalem and more even be discussed.

The right of Palestinians living in exile is especially critical. In
1948, to make way for the establishment of the state of Israel, 780,000
Palestinians were either evicted from their homeland or fled the
fighting. Their lands, orchards, shops and homes were seized without
compensation. Hun dreds of thousands more were driven out in the 1967
war when Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and the
Sinai peninsula. Today an estimated 4.5 million Palestinian refugees and
their descendants live in exile, many in extreme poverty in camps in
Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere.

According to Israeli law, any Jewish person from anywhere in the world
has the right to "return" to Israel and immediately claim citizenship.
Yet not one Palestinian refugee has ever been allowed to return to their
homeland. This despite UN Security Council Resolution 191, of 1949,
stipulating that all Palestinian refugees must be granted the right to

The Bush administration has conveniently left Resolution 191 out of
those mentioned in the "road map." Moreover, the Sharon government has
stated from the very beginning that it will never consider allowing the
Palestinians back.

Sharon and the entire Israeli power structure are opposed to any
Palestinian right to return. They view it as undermining the existence
of Israel as an exclusivist state in which Jewish people are given
special and superior rights. The U.S. rulers support the apartheid-like
character of the Israeli state, seeing it as a guarantee that Israel
will remain an outpost of Western imperialism in the Middle East.

Many inside and outside Israel have been surprised that Sharon has
agreed to negotiations at all, even with major conditions and
reservations. Sharon's whole career--which spans the existence of Israel-
-has been dedicated to expanding the state. His bloody history of
massacres and repression against the Palestinians is well known.

Two factors explain Sharon's "new look." First, there is intense
pressure from Washington--Israel's economic, diplomatic and military
lifeline--to get on board with the new Bush initiative.

Second, Sharon intends to annex large sections of the West Bank, and to
relegate the Palestinians to disconnected pieces of territory surrounded
by Israeli military power. In addition, Israel would retain control of
the borders, airspace, water and subsoil rights of all of Palestine.

Under his plan, the Palestinians would be "self-governing" within small,
controllable areas that would become labor colonies for Israeli


The U.S. objective in this process is the same one Washington has
pursued for decades: the establishment of U.S. hegemony over a pacified
Middle East. Domination of the Middle East, due to its oil riches and
strategic position, has been a central goal of the U.S. ruling class
since World War II.

Crushing the Palestinian resistance--which is so central to the struggle
in the region as a whole--is considered to be key to establishing U.S.
hegemony over the entire area. Achieving that goal is what the "road
map" is all about.

Elias Rashmawi, a spokesperson for the Free Palestine Alliance-U.S.,
said of the negotiations:

"The road map is the ultimate formulation by the U.S. to fully end all
forms of resistance and fragment the Palestinian national unity. The
plan brings nothing new to the Palestinian people. The claim that a
Palestinian state will emerge is not any different from the 'Autonomy'
project of the 1970s and the first Camp David agreement. Missing are all
core and fundamental issues, particularly the right of return and the
principle of full national sovereignty.

"In reality this is a 'security plan' designed to destroy resistance on
all fronts. The ultimate goal is not Palestinian statehood and return,
but the normalization of Zionist discourse and the Israeli polity
throughout the Arab world.

"This plan is part of the overall design by the U.S. to control the Arab
world in full by gutting out the core liberationist effort--the
Palestinian resistance.

"The ongoing attempt to bring the Palestinian National Authority into
the fold along with other Arab regimes is a dangerous attempt to strike
a wedge in Palestinian society and to further strengthen the dependency
relationship on the U.S. It is geared towards the transformation of the
Palestinian national movement into a functionary entity in a globalized
U.S. economy and a militarized region subject to the garrisons of Israel
and the U.S. Nullified are all aspects of independence.

"This is a plan that is in tandem with other ongoing U.S. projects
worldwide, including the transformation of the Philippines as a whole
into a military base, the destruction of the Cuban model, the control of
the Korean peninsula, and the total grip on Latin America."

- END -

(Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and
distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not
allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY,
NY 10011; via e-mail: ww (at) Subscribe wwnews-
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