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Want Security? End the Occupation 

 

   

By Marwan Barghouti

IHT-  January 18, 2002

Barghouti is general secretary of Fatah on the West Bank and was 
elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council.


RAMALLAH -- Israel's assassination of Fatah activist Raed Karmi on 
Monday was predictable. Despite Israel's having killed more than 18 
Palestinians since President Yasser Arafat's call for a cease-fire on 
Dec. 18, there have been no Israeli civilian casualties during that 
time. That, according to world governments and the international press, 
constituted a "lull in the violence." But a lull in the violence is 
exactly what Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon cannot afford. He was 
elected in a time of crisis and knows that his rule is sustainable only 
in a time of crisis. For his own political survival, he will do whatever 
it takes, and look for any excuse, to stoke the flames of unrest and 
avoid a return to peace negotiations.

Hence, more than 600 Palestinians, already refugees, were recently made 
refugees yet again as Sharon's bulldozers razed their homes in Gaza. A 
day later Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem were destroyed. 
And then, just to ensure that Palestinians are sufficiently provoked and 
the cycle of violence starts again, Israel assassinates Karmi.

Sharon justifies such barbaric and illegal measures in the name of 
"security." But as someone often considered a candidate for Israeli 
assassination myself, I can assure the Israeli people that neither my 
assassination nor any of the other 82 assassinations during the past 15 
months will bring them any closer to the security they seek and deserve.

The only way for Israelis to have security is, quite simply, to end the 
35-year-old Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Israelis must 
abandon the myth that it is possible to have peace and occupation at the 
same time, that peaceful coexistence is possible between slave and 
master. The lack of Israeli security is born of the lack of Palestinian 
freedom. Israel will have security only after the end of occupation, not 
before.

Once Israel and the rest of the world understand this fundamental truth, 
the way forward becomes clear: End the occupation, allow the 
Palestinians to live in freedom and let the independent and equal 
neighbors of Israel and Palestine negotiate a peaceful future with close 
economic and cultural ties.

Let us not forget, we Palestinians have recognized Israel on 78 percent 
of historic Palestine. It is Israel that refuses to acknowledge 
Palestine's right to exist on the remaining 22 percent of land occupied 
in 1967. And yet it is the Palestinians who are accused of not 
compromising and of missing opportunities. Frankly, we are tired of 
always taking the blame for Israeli intransigence when all we are 
seeking is the implementation of international law.

And we have no faith in the United States, the provider of billions of 
dollars in annual aid to fund Israel's expansion of illegal colonies, 
the "fighter of terrorism" that supplies Israel with the F-16s and 
helicopter gunships used against a defenseless civilian population, the 
"defender of freedom and the oppressed" that coddles Sharon even as he 
faces war crimes charges for his responsibility in the 1982 massacre of 
Palestinian refugees. The role of the world's only superpower has been 
reduced to that of a mere spectator with nothing to offer other than a 
tired refrain of "Stop the violence" while doing nothing to address the 
root causes of that violence: denial of Palestinian freedom.

Watch as the hapless Gen. Anthony Zinni focuses his efforts on 
"violence" while Jewish settlers violate international law and even 
American policy by moving into a new illegal colony in occupied East 
Jerusalem. We Palestinians are not impressed.

Over the past 15 months, Israel has killed more than 900 Palestinian 
civilians, 25 percent of them under the age of 18. And still the United 
States has the audacity to veto a U.N. plan for an international 
protection force to stop the onslaught.

So we will protect ourselves. If Israel reserves the right to bomb us 
with F-16s and helicopter gunships, it should not be surprised when 
Palestinians seek defensive weapons to bring those aircraft down. And 
while I, and the Fatah movement to which I belong, strongly oppose 
attacks and the targeting of civilians inside Israel, our future 
neighbor, I reserve the right to protect myself, to resist the Israeli 
occupation of my country and to fight for my freedom. If Palestinians 
are expected to negotiate under occupation, then Israel must be expected 
to negotiate as we resist that occupation.

I am not a terrorist, but neither am I a pacifist. I am simply a regular 
guy from the Palestinian street advocating only what every other 
oppressed person has advocated -- the right to help myself in the 
absence of help from anywhere else.

This principle may well lead to my assassination. So let my position be 
clear in order that my death not be lightly dismissed by the world as 
just one more statistic in Israel's "war on terrorism." For six years I 
languished as a political prisoner in an Israeli jail, where I was 
tortured, where I hung blindfolded as an Israeli beat my genitals with a 
stick. But since 1994, when I believed Israel was serious about ending 
its occupation, I have been a tireless advocate of a peace based on 
fairness and equality. I led delegations of Palestinians in meetings 
with Israeli parliamentarians to promote mutual understanding and 
cooperation. I still seek peaceful coexistence between the equal and 
independent countries of Israel and Palestine based on full withdrawal 
from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 and a just resolution to 
the plight of Palestinian refugees pursuant to U.N. resolutions. I do 
not seek to destroy Israel but only to end its occupation of my country.

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