Palestine is still the Issue
Palestine is still the Issue
LAST October, in the early hours of the morning, a young expectant mother called Fatima Abed-Rabo awoke with intense labour pains; and she and her husband Nasser set out in a friend's car for the hospital in
The couple had been trying for a second child for three years and had undergone fertility treatment. "The news of the pregnancy had made us so happy," said
The couple were stopped at the Israeli military roadblock just outside their village. The soldiers turned them back, even though
"We cut the umbilical cord with a razor blade," she said. "My husband wrapped the tiny boy in his jacket, and eventually one of his relatives found a back route."
Barely three pounds in weight, blue and in a critical condition, the baby was dead by the time they arrived at the hospital.
We don't know why they did this to us," she told me in my film on ITV tonight. "It wasn't personal. This is how they treat all Palestinians. I'm sorry to say this, but they would rather help an animal than an Arab."
"We don't know how many have died like this," said a spokeswoman for the Israeli Physicians for Human Rights, "because many people don't even bother to set out for hospital, knowing the soldiers will stop them. "These people offer no threat to
Israeli soldiers enforcing the illegal occupation of Palestinian land can cause the death of babies and other innocents, or kill them outright, and words such as murder and terrorism are almost never used. The same immunity has been enjoyed by those politicians who design and permit this "routine terrorism," which is the product of a form of colonialism.
Indeed, to understand both the roots and the double standards of Bush's "war on terror," whose propaganda the Israeli regime of Ariel Sharon has adopted almost word for word, you need to come to
When I was passing through Israeli checkpoints last May, there were several of these routine murders. A nurse was one of them. Nine-tenths of Palestinians killed by the Israelis are civilians; 45 per cent are teenagers and children. In
"At first, it was very successful," said Walid Al Dirawi, who looks after the deserted ruin of rusting rides and dodgem cars. "Then the shooting started from across the road. The Israeli settlers and soldiers shot it up every weekend, and of course people stayed away." Behind the dodgems is a wall pock-marked with bullet holes, like a shooting gallery.
THE "settlers" are mostly religious Israelis or immigrants from
They have no right to be there under international law, and the United Nations says they should get out. Their justification is usually Biblical.
For the Israeli state, they serve a practical purpose; they occupy and encroach upon more and more Palestinian land, while allowing the military to control the Palestinians with more and more roadblocks and restrictions. Many Palestinian villages are surrounded by barbed wire, and people require a special permit even to travel to the next one.
When Archbishop Desmond Tutu came here recently, he said: "The way the Palestinians are treated is the way we were treated in apartheid
Trapped by checkpoints and arbitrary curfews the Palestinian economy is in ruins. According to a
People struggle to live on less than £1 a day. One of the most moving sights I have seen are the kites that reach for the sky every dusk, displaying the colours of the Palestinian flag, flown by terribly thin children from their open prison in refugee camps.
Cutting a swathe through this poverty and despair are the Israeli "settlements": surreal, middle class suburbs that are armed fortresses with watchtowers. From here, the "settlers" shot up the amusement park. I visited one of these fortresses. What struck me was the lushness: the constant sound of running water: sprinklers nourishing hothouse crops and manicured gardens. On the other side of what looks like the Berlin Wall, in impoverished
These illegal, provocative enclaves, and their surrounding security areas, control almost 42 per cent of occupied
The truth is very different. Following peace negotiations in America in 2000, President Clinton's National Security Adviser Robert Malley, who was there with Clinton, revealed that, although the Palestinians rejected certain Israeli proposals, "it could also be said that Israel rejected the unprecedented two-state solution put to them by the Palestinians, including the following provisions: a state of Israel incorporating some land captured in 1967 and including a very large majority of its settlers; the largest Jewish Jerusalem in the city's history (and) security guaranteed by a US-led international presence."
Shortly after it was founded in 1948,
When he retired, General Moshe Dayan,
DURING the Six-Day War in 1967, the Israelis occupied the remaining 22 per cent of
Little of this background is known or understood widely in
This has been manipulated by the Israeli government and its foreign lobbies, especially in the
Many Israelis, like many Jews in
They are still a minority. The Palestinian suicide bombers and their mass murder of innocents have hardened Israeli public opinion, but what is seldom reported is that they are a relatively recent phenomenon.
For much of their resistance, the Palestinians have fought back courageously with slingshots - against a modern army, equipped with tanks, fighter aircraft and helicopter gunships.
AS a permanent member of the UN Security Council, successive British governments have pledged to support the resolutions that have called upon
In the General Assembly, there have been an estimated 450 resolutions calling, in one form or another, for justice for the Palestinians. This is a world record. No country has incurred the opprobrium of the world community as often as
On the contrary,
But it was
They also know that it is being intensified by Ariel Sharon, a man whom a commission of his own parliament found indirectly but "personally responsible" for the massacre of more than 800 Palestinians in 1982 and who once boasted: "They (the Arabs) have the numbers. We have the matches."
With Bush and Blair about to ignite another war in the