After spending many hours trying to reach Jerusalem, a trip which took twenty minutes before the imposition of the humiliating Israeli checkpoints, a Palestinian woman said: “I am dying to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque, but after so many hours of being harassed at so many checkpoints, I was not allowed to pray and I am hungry and thirsty because I am fasting and now I have to re-live the same ordeal on my way back home.” Her eyes were fixed towards Al-Aqsa as she held back her tears and expressed what thousands of Palestinians around her are experiencing.
On the same day the mother of Palestinian child Mahmoud al Kifafi, whose young body was crushed by an Israeli tank last month, said with unbearable pain in her voice: “He was here a moment ago alive and well. Any movement by us or our children could be deadly. How cheap the life of a Palestinian has become!”
From Gaza too, the New York Times published an article about the daily killing of Palestinian children, citing the murder of three Abu Ghazala relatives as a stark example and speaking about their bereaved fathers and mothers. (For Gaza’s Young at Play, Fields Can Be Deadly, by Steven Erlanger, New York Times, 26 Sept. 2007). The children were Yahya Abu Ghazala (12 years old), Mahmoud Abu Ghazala (9 years old) and Sara Abu Ghazala (9 years old). The fathers and mothers whose lives were destroyed as a result of the tragic and unnecessary loss of their children were distraught; they could not understand how the Israelis could kill such children.
All these tragic actions are taken by the Israelis against the indigenous Palestinian people. And there are many others, from erecting hundreds of checkpoints to turn Palestinian lives into nightmares to imprisoning Gaza in one huge jail, to killing five thousand innocent Palestinians since the year 2000, 870 of them children.
But none of these actions seem to have anything to do with the preparations for the so-called peace meeting in Washington in November. In all the talks and meetings about November, the Israeli occupation and collective punishment measures, which have reached the status of genocide, have not even been mentioned, as if the meeting in Washington is going to be about Mars rather than Palestine. Ehud Olmert even went as far as to say: “The upcoming meeting … is not a peace conference, but a meeting with the participation of Arab moderate states which aims at providing an international cover for a political operation between the Israelis and Palestinians and at consolidating Arab moderate states which support a compromise with Israel and accept the bases of the international community and the Road Map. Remember the “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” in which the authors of the strategy stressed that “no land for peace” after today, but peace for peace between the Arabs and the Israelis? This is why Tony Blair said that “land is not the most important thing to make a state; a state needs institutions and infrastructure.”
The Foreign Minister of Israel, Tzipi Livni, in front of the General Assembly, told the world that the struggle in the Middle East is “a struggle about values and not a struggle about land.” If this is the case, let the government of Livni announce its intention to return the land occupied by Israel in 1967 to its original owners and to stop the confiscation of Palestinian lands for settlement building and to return the farmland swallowed by the apartheid wall which they built in order to deprive the Palestinians of their best farm land and turn it over to settlers. On October 9th the Israeli army ordered the seizure of Palestinian land surrounding four West Bank villages, apparently in order to hugely expand settlements around Jerusalem (the Guardian, Conal Urquhart, Wed. October 10, 2007).
The aims of the Nov. meeting in Washington are clear. One can easily predict the results of that meeting long before it starts. It will speak about the necessity to normalize relations between Israel and the Arabs and to have a united front against terrorism and to face the Iranian danger of developing nuclear weapons without mentioning the Israeli nuclear weapons or the necessity for Israel to end its occupation of Arab land, or the rights of the Arabs to resist foreign occupation, or the difference between this kind of resistance and terrorism.
No mention will be made of the incarceration and the daily humiliation and killing of Palestinian people at the hands of Israel’s occupation forces and no mention will be made of the inhumane life imposed on the Palestinian people and the dangers looming over their health and lives. The meeting will end and the Palestinian people, and the Arab people for that matter, will find no way out except to continue their struggle for the liberation of their land and the return of their legitimate and inalienable rights.
The core issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict are land and water. Israel occupies the best and most fertile Palestinian lands and kills, transfers and pushes the Palestinians into a corner. Israel did not sign peace with Syria in 2000 because it refused to allow Syria to reach Lake Tiberius as it used to do.
The Nov. meeting will simply prolong the cycle of agony and pain for all of us in the Arab world.
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