By Martin Thomas
On 20 September, six thousand demonstrators from Israel's "Peace Now" movement rallied in Tel Aviv to demand Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories and condemn Israel's policy of assassinating Palestinian leaders.
It was the day after the USA had joined with Israel and two tiny US client states to register the only four votes in the United Nations General Assembly against a motion calling on Israel not to carry out its announced plans to deport or kill Palestinian Authority president Yassir Arafat. The USA had already vetoed a similar resolution in the UN Security Council.
The Israeli peace group Gush Shalom declared: "The assassination of the Palestinian president... will cause a catastrophe...
"After his assassination, the Palestinian Authority will collapse. The Palestinian liberation movement will splinter into hundreds of violent groups, each of them intent on killing Israelis and Americans. The most extreme Islamic fundamentalists will take over... An unbridgeable abyss will open between Israelis and Palestinians, making peace and reconciliation impossible for generations to come."
Gush Shalom also reports that a group of Israeli air force pilots is about to join the "refusenik" movement by publicly refusing to take part in operations to assassinate Palestinian Authority leaders.
International support for these brave peace campaigners, and for the basic democratic right of the Palestinians to their own independent state alongside Israel, is vital. But at present Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has the upper hand.
Yassir Arafat has made another ceasefire offer, following the resignation of Palestinian prime minister Abu Mazen, but Israel has not even bothered to reply. US leaders say they will put no pressure on Israel to negotiate until there is a new Palestinian leadership.
The USA has objected to Israeli plans for the next stage of the "separation wall" because the planned route swings seriously east of the 1967 border, and talked about financial sanctions against Israel. All that remains vague, though. The "roadmap" plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace is near collapse.
European Union policy chief Javier Solana has gone to New York to try to rescue the "roadmap". The US administration has an interest in making some gestures, if only to get more EU cooperation over Iraq. But enough to restore any diplomatic momentum? It looks unlikely.
All the more reason for socialists and democrats across the world to redouble our efforts in support of the rights of the Palestinians.