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Where peace is no longer an option November 15, 2000

Posted by elizabethwong in International, Op-Eds, Politics, Writings.

I was still in university when the Oslo peace process was first mooted in 1993.

The Palestinians in Sydney were devastated by what they called, an "Arafat sell-out". However in time, the Palestinians were told to give "peace" a chance. Many accepted, although not without reservations.

Today, the two-word "peace process", brandished liberally by the United Nations, the US and its allies, has become what Edward Said called "the most hated phrase in the Palestinian lexicon".

Yet, the breakdown of the Oslo peace process was not unexpected. From the start, it has been fundamentally flawed. How can there be peace when a murderous armed state continues to patrol and control the disputed territories?

How can there be peace when the outrageous injustice of 1948 has no redress in the forced statelessness of the Palestinians? How can there be peace when it is clearly designed to break down Palestinian-centred areas, to be surrounded by Israeli-controlled borders, Israeli settlements and roads?

Successive Israeli governments have done nothing to forward peace; only to increase Jewish settlements, conduct forced demolitions on Palestinian homes, annex more land, and further entrench the Israeli Defence Force in firm control.

Playing charade with lives

It would be simplistic to say that right-winger Ariel Sharon's visit was an act of blundering provocation and that he is the only villain in this theatre of the absurd.

Sharon chose to champion Israeli sovereignty over the Haram al Sharif or Temple Mount on the anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre. He was accompanied by 1,000 police and military guards, with roof-top snipers supplied by Prime Minister Ehud Barak. An impending formation of a "national unity" government is in the pipeline where Sharon will once again wield his bloody influence.

All these actions were closely calculated to further fuel Palestinian rage, executed with impeccable timing. This is not unlike history, such as the riots of 1929 and the Hebron massacre, which started from provocative acts.

But aside from further subjugating the Palestinians and preventing a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestine Authority, another objective was met.

Polls in Israel showed the popularity of Barak and his embattled administration soared; the majority of the Israelis allegedly supporting the onslaught on the Palestinians. Even Foreign and Police Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, who once was thought to reflect a new face of humanity and social conscience into the Israeli regime, was part of this charade. As history has repeatedly shown us, war makes heroes of politicians.

It took a child's life to expose the actors. Televised relatively briefly (as compared to the siege of the Yugoslavian parliament which repeated incessantly for days on CNN) into hundreds of millions of homes around the world, was of a child, Rami al-Duri, gasping and crying with his dying breath in the arms of his wounded father who tried to surrender.

Instead of stopping the violence, the Israeli Defence Force was lightly rapped for having witnesses in the execution of innocents.

Media bias

The current siege against the Palestinians was only the supporting act in the international media, primarily controlled by the US media during the time when two historical events occurred; the primary focus was on the people's movement in Yugoslavia, backed by the world community and leaders of the "free-world". However for the Palestinian revolt, none of these leaders chose to see this as a struggle for basic human rights, genuine democracy and self-determination.

Televised images of Israeli killing unarmed Palestinian children and gun/missile totting helicopters in Palestinian neighbourhoods may have minutely exposed the tyranny of the IDF. But listen closely and you will hear keywords of "crossfire", "Palestinian lynching" and suggestions that the violence is the fault of the Palestinians.

Continuous play by the global media on Israeli soldiers glosses over the fact that the Palestinian populace is unarmed and helpless save slingshots and pebbles, facing helicopter gunships, tanks, snipers, laser projectile and paralysing tea-gas. More than 100 Palestinians have been murdered, thousands injured and homeless.

Unreported atrocities

These are what you will not see or hear from the mass media but from small websites transmitting news from the occupied territories.

In Gaza, Muhammad Yousef Abu 'Assi, 13 years old, from Beni Suhaila, Khan Younis, died from live ammunition to his chest, and Ayman Deeb Al Louh, 21, from Gaza died at Netzarim. Israel helicopters shot at civilians around the Netzarim Junction and launched rockets at Palestinian neighborhoods in the area. Israeli forces are firing at protesters using guns with silencers.

In Bethlehem, a peaceful march of religious leaders, Christian and Muslim, was met by gunfire from Israeli occupation forces at Bilal Mosque (Rachel's Tomb), resulting in 10 serious injuries. Clashes are ongoing on the outskirts of Beit Jala and at Bilal Mosque, in addition to the eastern borders of Beit Sahour. In Tqu' Village, near Bethlehem, clashes are continuing, with the village currently under siege by the Israeli occupation.

In Hebron, clashes renewed while the Israeli imposed curfew on Israeli controlled parts of Hebron continues from yesterday afternoon. Clashes were renewed in Halhoul, after the funeral of Muhammad Al Zama'ari, who died yesterday from his injuries. Heavy clashes continue on the outskirts of Sa'ir village. In Samu', an Israeli settler ran down with his car five Palestinian pedestrians. The five have sustained serious injuries. In all, in the Hebron area, 43 injuries have been reported, 14 of which were sustained from live ammunition, with 3 in critical condition.

In Tulkarem, clashes continue near Khadoureh College, on the outskirts of Tulkarem, after the funeral of Hussam Al Hamsheh, who died yesterday. Israeli troops are using guns with silencers to shoot at protesters, resulting in at least six serious injuries. There are also clashes in the nearby village of Ramin.

In Salfit and its surrounding villages of Bidia, Kuful Harres, and Deir Istya, clashes are presently taking place, in which settlers are participating alongside Israeli soldiers. Israeli soldiers are also using guns with silencers to shoot at protesters. Several serious injuries have been reported so far. One is in extremely critical condition from injuries to his head from shrapnel from what may be a hand grenade thrown at protesters.

In Jerusalem, the mass arrest campaign that has been taking place throughout the week has resulted in a total of over 350 Palestinians arrested, according to reports from various human rights organizations and the Orient House. In East Sawahri and Tur Mountain, clashes were renewed today after the funeral of Muhammad Fawzi, who died last night in Beitunia. Several injuries were reported, including one journalist who was seriously injured and transferred to Tel Hashumer hospital in Jerusalem.

Once again, there is a one-sided war of public opinion, mirroring the power relations in this conflict. Israelis, armed to the teeth with support and access to global media and the US administration; the Palestinians, unarmed whose allies are meek Arab nations, pleading for an ounce of humanity.

To further divert attention, the business world reports on the rising cost of oil prices, which sky-rocketed since the revolt started.

Divided community

Despite Barak's growing popularity and a misconception perpetrated in many Muslim-based media, the Jewish community is divided around the world.

There are Israeli independent NGOs and media centres which supports the demands the demands of the Palestinians. Demonstrations in many national capitals, both Jewish and Palestinian people join hands in condemning the US and the Barak adminstration.

The [#1]Independent Media Centre of Israel[/#] reported last week that a young Israeli soldier who had refused to board a bus heading to the West Bank to suppress the current Palestinian revolt, has been imprisoned.

Noam Kuzar, a 19-year-old conscript, was sentenced to 28 days in a military prison, belonged to a pressure group, "Yesh Gvul", (There is a Border or There is a Limit) within the Israel Defence Force, which refuses to serve the occupation. Kuzar was reported to have told his commanding officers that he could not in good conscience participate in such actions

"Yesh Gvul" is not alone. Another is[#2] Gush-Shalom[/#], founded by former member of the Israeli parliament turned journalist, Uri Avnery who wrote on Oct 6, "On each day of this war, the world has seen Palestinian youngsters, almost all of them armed only with stones, expose themselves to the Israeli snipers. Their courage aroused admiration. In the eyes of the world, they are the heroes. No glory here for Israeli generals."

Alternative peace plan?

For once, human rights groups who have staunchly supported the Palestinian cause and often called for parties in conflict to return to the negotiating table are silent. Not because they are in any dilemma, but because there can be no return to the Oslo peace process and no talk of autonomy. Forget Camp David, a media talk-fest to pressure Yasser Arafat to compromise even more in a last public relations ditch by Clinton to leave office in triumph.

Instead, calls are clamouring for the strict adherence to the original UN resolutions of the Security Council number 242 and 338 and the UN General Assembly Resolution 194; all of which outline the demands on the removal of all settlements and military roads; withdrawal of all territories annexed and occupied since 1967; the return of all Palestinian refugees to their homes; the boycott of Israeli goods and services and most importantly, the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli Defence Force from occupied territories.

The global community must immediately table a resolution to suspend Israel from the UN until it has fully complied with the basic principles of the UN, in particular, the right to self-determination and the prohibition against annexing territories by force.

When this is all done, only then can we have the moral authority to look for an alternative peace plan. This alternative peace plan must exclude any US mediation, whose actions, destructive to say the least, have been to primarily secure Israel's hegemony in this conflict.

For the long-suffering people of Palestine, only genocide awaits them. The call for a global intifada is now or never.



1. PB - March 12, 2008

Hows that “global intifada” going?

2. Kee Yong - April 7, 2008

Hi Elizabeth,

I applaud your nuance understanding of the Palestinian Israel understanding and the honest and upright comments of the absurdity of this situation, referring here to the asymmetrical foundation of this fraud relationship. As a social anthropologist in the U.S., I wish more individuals within the academy, both faculty members as well as students could speak to the “truth” of this relationship, regardless of how sensitive the issues are. There is so much that is left out in out so-called discussions of the Palestinian Israelis conflict and as such, obscuring the disparities that existed within each side of this unbalance equation, not to mention, glossing over the social realities within each “side.”

Elizabeth Wong, now that you are a full time politician, I wish you the best and if possible, continue to write (on a much reduced capacity of course) op-ed pieces that remains illuminating, insightful, steadfastly brave. Somehow when reading your piece, it almost sounded like a tribute to …. somehow it reminds me of a conversation I had with former guerilla from Sarawak who said, “May your work be a tribute to those who sacrifice their lives for a cause, regardless of how ambivalence they are in retrospect. If anything else, we are what we have lost.”

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