The latest news from the Middle East is not optimistic at all. Neither the USA nor the UN have managed to stop the bloody wave of violence in the region. US envoy to the Middle East, William Burns, had a meeting with Yasser Arafat on April 22. As it was reported, America tried to remove the major stumbling block and start cease-fire negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
The Israelis insist that the Palestinians should deliver the terrorists who killed Minister for Tourism Rehavam Zeevi, as well as those militants who are holed up in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The Palestinians in their turn refuse to conduct any negotiations while the Israeli army is on the territory of Palestine. It cuts both ways: neither Israel nor Palestine want to make any concessions to each other. However, Israel has already started withdrawing its troops from Jenin, Kalkilia, Tulkarem, and, partially, from Ramallah. The military commander of Israeli Defense Forces says that the scouring procedures in those areas were 100% successful: the infrastructure of terror was destroyed, and the terrorists were killed or arrested. At the same time, Israelis do not mention the fact that towns and villages were turned into ruins as a result of those cleansing arrangements, as it happened to Jenin, but as they say, the ends justify the means.
The public unwillingness of Israel to execute the decision of the UN Security Council resulted in the new wave of protest in Europe. Demonstrations of protest took place in Sweden last weekend. The people were protesting the USA and Israeli policies regarding Palestine. As Swedish mass media outlets informed, some two thousand people gathered in the center of Stockholm on April 20, with “For Protection of International Right” and “Stop Sharon’s War” slogans.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres claimed that, before criticizing Israel’s actions against Palestine, the leaders of the European countries should remember the way their ancestors acted against Jews. The Washington Times wrote that Peres offered his own variant for the settlement of the Mideast conflict. Pursuant to the plan of the Israeli foreign minister, the administration of the Palestinian autonomy should take Palestine’s armed groups under its total control and stop the violence against Israelis. Then, Israel and Palestine are to acknowledge each other’s right for the establishment of independent states within the period of two months. The plan stipulates the period of one year for elaborating the decisions on the most relevant questions, such as the issue of Palestinian refugees, the status of Jerusalem, and security guarantees.
Peres’s plan does not mention one of the most important issues: the construction of Jewish settlements. Ariel Sharon has recently claimed that his government would never liquidate the settlements on territories, especially on isolated territories. This will not happen at least until the next elections. Sharon also added that the question about the liquidation of settlements is not meant for discussion until the elections of the year 2003 (in October), and even maybe later if he is reelected. Of course, any talk about peace plans is out of the question after such statements. Such a variant is completely bad for Palestinians, and Sharon realizes this.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov