In today’s complicated Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the political assumption that a Palestinian State is part and parcel of any future peace agreement is now a common realization that the U.S. and Israel have finally come to terms with. The U.S. administration, the Israeli press, and even the hawkish Israeli government, now openly make public statements to this regard. I do not question the fact that a Palestinian State is on the horizon, but I have serious doubts that the geographic location of this State is the same between the world’s conviction and that of the Israeli government led by Prime Minster Ariel Sharon.
The Jerusalem Post website reported, “IAF [Israeli Air Force] F-16 warplanes may have dropped munitions as large as 250 kilograms on their targets” (5/18/2001). Among these targets were a Ministry building, police stations, a TV station, and a prison–all in civilian neighborhoods in several Palestinian cities under Israeli military occupation for the past 34 years. The warped justification for Israel’s latest war crime is that it is a response to yet another Palestinian suicide bomber, who hours earlier took the lives of seven Israeli citizens in a shopping center in the Israeli City of Natanya.
The report on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the commission led by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell is a failed effort–not for what it includes but for what it does not include.
The quick conviction on Monday in a political court of Dr. Saad El-Din Ibrahim and 27 associates is a serious blow against Egypt’s burgeoning pro-democracy movement. It also raises serious questions about continued U.S. military and economic aid to the increasingly authoritarian regime of Hosni Mubarak.
The U.S. veto of a UN Security Council resolution calling for the deployment of unarmed monitors to the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip demonstrates the new administration’s contempt for human rights. The United States was the only country to vote against the resolution, which came before the Security Council on March 28 after five days of tortuous negotiations that moderated the wording of the original draft. Still, this was not enough for the U.S., which vetoed its first UN Security Council resolution in five years.
The air strikes against suburban Baghdad this past week continue and escalate the failed policies of the Clinton administration.
The guilty verdict against Libyan intelligence operative Abdel Baset Ali Mohamed Al-Megrahi may have finally established guilt in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988, yet it will not usher in a new era for U.S.-Libyan relations. Perhaps, however, it will lead the new Bush administration to re-evaluate the failed anti-terrorism policies of recent administrations.
The election of the far-right Ariel Sharon as prime minister of Israel, while not unexpected, has sent shock waves through the Israeli peace movement. His participation in war crimes, his overt anti-Arab racism, and his refusal to endorse the already inadequate concessions of ousted prime minister Ehud Barak significantly dim the prospects of peace with Israel’s Arab neighbors.
There is a touch of poetic justice for George Bush the Younger in the current state of affairs in the Persian Gulf. Bush takes the White House after Saddam Hussein’s flamboyant success in making a shambles out of United Nations weapons inspections and in the midst of his audacious campaign to unravel what remains of UN economic sanctions against Iraq. Even other Persian Gulf countries have moderated their positions toward Saddam in light of his ostentatious and highly popular condemnation of Israel’s violent retaliation against the new Palestinian Intifada. What might this mean for the future of Kuwait and the other Arab gulf states?
During the past two decades, the American military presence in the Middle East has dramatically increased, yet American interests—as well as individual Americans—are more at risk than ever. The new administration must look critically at how we define security. We cannot advance our real interests in this vital region through bombing raids, punitive sanctions targeted at innocent civilians, the arming of dictatorial regimes, the denial of the right of self-determination, and the undermining of basic principles of international law. The new Bush administration, however, appears to be unwilling to seriously reevaluate the failed policies of the Clinton administration.