The Guardian June 11, 2003


Bush's Middle East road-show

The Bush travelling road-show made a sweep through the Middle East and 
turned on the biggest show of all at the resort city of Aqaba in Jordan. 
Its aim was to impress some Arab leaders that the Bush administration is 
committed to the creation of an independent Palestinian state and that he, 
Bush, is prepared to force the Israeli Government to make some "hurting 
concessions".

But the festive press conference, at which no questions were allowed, gave 
the impression of déjà vue.

The list of previous shows that led nowhere, except to give the Israelis 
more time to steal more Palestinian land and build more Israeli 
settlements, long. To give a few examples:

* The Madrid international peace summit show with George Bush the father, 
European Heads of States, and Israeli PM Shamir in the leading roles;

* The Washington White House 1993 hand-shaking signing ceremony of the 
Israeli-PLO Oslo accord with the lead roles given to Bill Clinton, Yitzhak 
Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat;

* The Washington summit show of signing the abortive Israeli-Palestinian 
Oslo II Interim accord with Clinton, Rabin, Peres and Arafat again in the 
lead roles, and the Egyptian Hossni Mubarak in an assisting role;

* The Wye Farm bluff with the assassinated Rabin exchanged for Benjamin 
Netanyahu and Peres exchanged for Ariel Sharon.

All promised peace. But it was all about more pieces of Palestinian 
territory.

One aspect of the Aqaba get together and almost totally ignored by the 
media was Bush's call for the future establishment of a US-Middle East 
"Free Trade Zone".

Its real aim is to oust the European Union, particularly Germany and 
France, from their current position as the main trading partners of the 
Arab countries, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

By this Bush expressed the real aim of the whole show — to strengthen the 
hegemony of the US "New Order" in the interests of the leading capitalist 
power and their big corporations in the region, in the wake of the Afghan 
and Iraqi wars.

Beyond the handshakes and rhetoric, it was business as usual.

On the very day of the Aqaba show, the Israeli forces again intruded into 
several Gaza Strip towns and refugee camps in West Bank cities, executing 
several leading members of the Hamas and Jihad militias, destroying another 
22 houses, adding to the 1200 houses already turned into rubles during the 
last 25 months alone. And there is no end to it yet.

According to Sharon's Aqaba promise, some of the 17 settlement outposts 
would be evacuated by the Israelis, most probably filmed and broadcast by 
the domestic and foreign TV networks.

And at the same time, and this has been sworn by the right-radical 
settlers' leaders, or the very next day, all those dismantled outposts 
would be re-established, this time without TV crews present, and probably 
even prohibited by the occupation forces to be present.

It has all happened before and there will be no difference now except that 
Sharon now regards these settlements as "non-authorised" and no longer as 
"illegal".

There already exist more than a hundred such "outposts", set up since 
Sharon came to power, set up in order to obstruct any possibility of ever 
establishing a viable Palestinian state.

True, Sharon formally adopted the roadmap, however he preconditioned their 
acceptance by demanding from the new Palestinian Premier, Abbas (who Sharon 
and Bush have taken to their hearts as the native indigenous "boy") should 
bring an end to the Palestinian Intifada. Sharon defines this struggle as 
"Palestinian terrorism". He demands the disarming of all the Palestinian 
militia.

Only after this, will Sharon and his associates be prepared to consider any 
kind of withdrawal from some of the occupied Palestinian areas.

But Abbas has not the slightest chance of fulfilling this demand. The 
Israeli occupationists have, during the last 25 months, systematically 
destroyed or stolen the political, economic and administrative 
establishment of the Palestinian Authority.

Its archives and documents, electronic computer equipment, including police 
stations, records and jails have all been taken or destroyed making the 
task that the Israeli and US bosses are demanding of Abbas into an 
impossible task.

By this device, Sharon will be excused from implementing his side of the 
obligations.

The Israeli media made an enthusiastic victory of Bush's recognition in his 
Aqaba speech that Israel was a "Jewish" State and explained this folly as a 
US commitment to the Israeli reservation against allowing any Palestinian 
refugee to return into Israel, as implied by the roadmap.

Maybe Bush was not aware of the consequences of what he said. Perhaps it 
was a slip of tongue put in by a speechwriter.

Anyway, the chair of the Hadash Front (which is close to the Communist 
Party of Israel) and Knesset Member Mohammed Barakei, defined Bush's 
recognition of Israel as a "Jewish" State, as outrageously racist. How can 
Israel, with almost 20 per cent of its citizens being non-Jews, but Arab-
Palestinians, be defined as a "Jewish" State?

The cheers of the jubilant media over Bush's lapse express the wishful 
thinking of the right-radical Israeli chauvinists, who design to annex the 
whole of pre-1948 Palestine and to ethnically cleanse the land of its 
indigenous Arab-Palestinian population, said Mohammed Barakei.

The Israeli Labor Party has supported the roadmap and promised support to 
Ariel Sharon should the right-wing fascist parties that are behind the 
settler movement and the expulsion of all Palestinians, desert him.

For their part, the radical right-wing and fascist parties, with their 
terrorist setup in the colonialist settlements and their supporters in 
Israel proper, accuse Sharon of being a traitor who wants to "give away 
part of the holy land of Israel to foreigners". By foreigners, they mean 
the indigenous Palestinians.

A mass rally of tens of thousands of their followers on West Jerusalem's 
Zion Square reminded many of the anti-Oslo rallies of the Right in 1995. 
They culminated in the assassination of Rabin in November 1995.

In truth, all those shouting that "Sharon is a traitor" should remember 
that he is the mastermind of the settlement movement and that he has not 
changed. He has already, and will continue to commit treason, not against 
the settlers, but against the true interests of the Israeli people.

* * *
Based on an article by Hans Lebrecht

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