Israel out of the West Bank and Gaza!
For a Palestinian state alongside Israel!
by Dan Katz
Another round of terrible violence began in the Middle East after a one ton bomb was dropped by the Israelis on a residential housing area of Gaza on 22 July. It killed not only the Hamas organiser of suicide bombers the Israeli state was aiming for, but a number of civilians, including nine children.
Leaders of the PLO militia say that they were discussing a ceasefire which would have included Hamas, shelved their plan. Hamas promised revenge for its leader's death and sent suicide bombers to Israel. Bombs have exploded at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (killing seven) and on a bus in Northern Israel (killing nine).
As Solidarity goes to press, Israeli tanks are moving towards the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza. Days ago the military sealed off the town of Rafah in southern Gaza. Much of the West Bank is under direct Israeli military rule and Palestinians face curfews and orders which prevent their movement.
Since the election of Ariel Sharon in 2001 the Palestinian population have faced a degree of repression not seen before during the occupation. Thousands are detained, torture allegations have again become widespread, revenge demolitions against the families of alleged Palestinian militants are common. Now the right-wing Israeli government has stated its intention to remove Israeli citizenship from people it claims have been involved in terrorism.
Haned Kishak, currently in an Israeli jail, and Kamal Obeid who is living in Lebanon, both face being stripped of citizenship. Kishak is accused by the Interior Ministry of involvement with Hamas, and Obeid is alleged to be a member of the Lebanese fundamentalist group, Hizbollah.
Ariel Sharon stated that he thinks such a move "considered and balanced", but the move was denounced by the Israeli Association for Civil Rights, which stated, "Citizenship is the most basic civil right. It cannot just be removed." The civil liberties group also noted that if the government planned this policy for Arab citizens they must explain if they "plan to take the same action against Jewish citizens of Israel".
Arab Israelis make up nearly a fifth of Israel's population and are treated as second class citizens. Repression against them has also been stepped up since the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000.
The US administration's pro-Israeli policy, took a further shift towards Sharon when Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld referred to the West Bank as "so-called occupied territory". Rumsfeld told a department meeting that he did not believe that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat could be negotiated with, adding that he expected "some sort of Palestinian entity" would be established "even in my lifetime."
In such a critical situation, socialists need to step up solidarity with the Palestinians. At the same time we need to advocate a solution based on consistent democracy - two states for two peoples, spelling out the issues in their full complexity. We do not, for instance, advocate the politics of revenge as some on the left do - denying the right of Israel to exist. We say for a Palestinian state, alongside Israel. That alone can play the basis for peace, justice and working class unity in the region.