Jul 14, 2003
In late June and early July the U.S. news media began to broadcast pictures of Israeli soldiers leaving certain parts of the Gaza Strip, handing over the policing of these areas to Palestinian forces. This is meant to create the impression that, after a half century of struggle, Palestinians are finally on their way to set up their own state and determine their own future as a people.
Nothing could be further from the truth, however.
The much-publicized pullout concerns only a small part of the Gaza Strip. And these areas will continue to be cut up by Jewish settlements, which are heavily guarded by the Israeli army. In the Gaza Strip, 1.2 million Palestinians will still be crammed into an area of merely 500 square-miles, surrounded by barbed wire and the Israeli army. Without any substantial resources, industry or infrastructure, the vast majority of the Palestinian people in Gaza will still be forced to go to Israel as day laborers to make a living, going past military checkpoints every day on their way to work.
As with previous peace plans, the "roadmap" doesn't put any real obligation on Israel. There is a vague promise that Israel at some unspecified time will have to dismantle the 60 Jewish settlements in Palestinian areas that have been built since March 2001. But nothing is concrete.
And how about the dozens of other settlements built since 1993 despite the Oslo agreement? And why not all the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip which cut up the territory of the Palestinian Authority? The "roadmap" contains not a single word about those!
On the other hand, the "roadmap" obliges the Palestinian Authority to crack down on "all those engaged in terror" and to dismantle "terrorist capabilities and infrastructure." These are exactly the same words that Israel uses, but the extent of Israeli repression betrays the real target of this repression.
The Israeli army has besieged and raided Palestinian cities and refugee camps, carried out mass arrests and confiscated or demolished homes and property on a daily basis – in short, it has rained down acts of collective terrorism on the entire Palestinian population, not just on individuals who plan and carry out terrorist attacks.
Clearly, Israel has been trying to stop something much broader and deeper in the population than terrorist attacks, that is, the Intifada, the vast movement of the Palestinians, especially the younger ones. But the Israeli army has not succeeded in this, despite the brutality of its methods. So once again, as in 1993, the U.S. wants a Palestinian police force to take over this task.
It is no surprise that the Palestinian people have no illusions about this "roadmap."