Israeli Military Assault Continues and Sharon Reiterates His Rejection of Final Settlement

Over the past several weeks, Israel, the occupying Power, has continued to carry out its illegal policies and practices, committing more human rights violations, war crimes and State terrorism against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. The most recent example of such illegal practices has been the Israeli reoccupation of the city of Ramallah and the re-imposition of a military siege on the headquarters of President Arafat in the city. That military siege was preceded by more attacks against the President’s headquarters, including the blowing-up/destruction of most of its buildings.

During this time, the Israeli occupying forces have also continued to raid and reoccupy parts of other Palestinian cities, often for days at a time. Using all types of heavy weaponry, the occupying forces have continued to assault, kill and abduct Palestinians and to cause further destruction to homes, properties and roads in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Israel has also continued to impose severe collective punishments against the Palestinian people, including the ongoing military siege and the repeated imposition of curfews on Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps.

All of these illegal actions and atrocities committed by the Israeli occupying forces continue to be the cause of vast suffering and loss for the population and have led to the socioeconomic collapse of the Palestinian society as a whole. Clearly, the intention has been to destroy not only the present but also the future of the Palestinian people. Israel’s ongoing attempts to institutionalize the situation created by the Israeli military assault as the norm, through the creation of several isolated areas and through the reemergence of the civil administration of the Israeli military government are further proof in this regard.

The political aim of the Israeli government of Mr. Ariel Sharon has obviously been to drag us all back to a pre-Oslo situation by destroying the Palestinian Authority, imposing vast destruction and devastation upon the Palestinian people and effectively preventing the achievement of a final settlement between the two sides. That Mr. Sharon is inimically opposed to reaching a final peace settlement was made ever more clear in an opinion article, penned by the Prime Minister himself, which was published in The New York Times on 9 June 2002. That article provided additional proof, if any was needed, of Mr. Sharon’s actual rejection of peace in the Middle East.

The conclusion of final peace settlement with the Palestinian side, in the near future or even at a later stage, and the achievement of any meaningful peace in the region are apparently not part of Mr. Sharon’s agenda. On the contrary, Mr. Sharon’s words, including his distortion of the facts and delusional interpretation of Security Council resolution 242 (1967), which is the agreed basis of the Middle East peace process, convey the exact opposite. In fact, his efforts in the article are directed at justifying expansionism and occupation according to his distorted translation of resolution 242 (1967), as he completely ignores the principle of international law underpinning the resolution regarding "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" and essentially negates it.

Indeed, rather than discussing a final settlement, Mr. Sharon has once again expressed his rejection of it, instead reiterating his idea for a "long-term interim agreement", essentially proposing a situation of perpetual transition for the Palestinian people, who have been suffering under Israeli occupation for 35 years now. He rejects any reasonable or just final settlement when he states, "Israel will not return to the vulnerable 1967 armistice lines, redivide Jerusalem or concede its right to defensible borders under resolution 242". This basically represents a flat rejection of Saudi Prince Abdallah’s peace initiative, which was adopted by the Beirut Arab Summit. Further, even Mr. Sharon’s understanding of the proposed Middle East Peace Conference is one aimed at serving his own agenda rather than the goal of achieving a solution among the parties.

Mr. Sharon also continues with his campaign against President Arafat, the elected leader of the Palestinian people, and continues to insist that there is no Palestinian partner to negotiate with. This is yet another manifestation of his determination to avoid the conclusion of a peaceful settlement with the Palestinian side. This time his determination is being pursued through attempts to create a situation of anarchy among the Palestinians. Mr. Sharon was allowed to kill the recommendations of the Mitchell Committee aimed at salvaging the Oslo agreements under the pretense of "7 days of quiet". He should not be allowed now to succeed in killing the entire potential for peace under similar pretenses.