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From George to Ariel

Thursday, April 22, 2004

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Written by Kyle Lambert

From George to Ariel, Happy Belated Passover. That is what I envisioned the little gift-label on George W. Bush’s recent present to Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon saying. Last week at a White House press conference, both leaders stood practically arm-in-arm, announcing a deal which works wonderfully for each one’s prospects in the Middle East. With one short speech, Bush and his neo-con puppeteers gave Ariel Sharon the most significant gift he’d received in a long time – American public approval of his annexation of the West Bank.

We didn’t immediately hear about the annexation, all we heard from American and pro-Israel news sources was that Israel was giving the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians. How kind of them! Of course, Israel’s great gesture has all the compassion of a bully who steals a kid’s lunch money, only to offer him a bite of an apple a few days later. The point is that Gaza was never Israel’s to give back and they should never have been there in the first place. The IDF has been wanting out of Gaza for years because protecting the over-zealous Israeli settlers in the region is one supreme headache. Gaza is of very little strategic value to Israel, its only importance being its border with Egypt, which the IDF will continue to control, along with the airspace and coastlines of Gaza. Given such a strong continued presence in Gaza, it is hard to imagine Israel ever really leaving.

The key area for both Israel and Palestine is the West Bank. The land in the West Bank is much for liveable than Gaza and it has access to vital fresh water supplies. For Israel, the West Bank is of important military value because it sits close to a number of neighbouring Arab countries. I won’t get into the religious importance of the West Bank because I honestly do not know enough about it and from what I do know, the religious significance of the area cannot be properly given its due in one column. I also do not believe that religion is the determining factor here.

What is of greatest importance is that Israel is not only going to maintain its occupation of the West Bank, but that it plans on expanding it – all with the approval of the world’s most powerful country. The current security fence has cut off thousands of Palestinians from their rightfully-owned farmland and given it to Israeli settlers. By accepting Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the U.S. has essentially given Sharon carte blanche to continue his infringement on Palestinian territory and the imposition of the brutal and inhuman closure regime on the Palestinians.

Perhaps the most striking comment made by Bush was his rejection of the Palestinian Right of Return, a right which the UN and most of the West has accepted. The Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon were forced out of their homeland some 50 years ago by the Zionist expansion of Israel after the Second World War. With massive international backing, the Israeli policy has always been that Jewish people have a right to the so-called “disputed territories” because of their ownership of them over 2000 years ago. Israel calls this the “right of return” for Jewish people, and return is exactly what thousands have done. They have moved from Europe to the West Bank and settled on Palestinian lands. This same Right of Return is, however, not allowed to the Palestinians who were forced out only 50 years ago. Anyone in Canada or the U.S. who thinks this is justified ought to be prepared to hand their homes and properties over to our Native populations.

Bush has decided to give Sharon and Israel a gift which was not only his to give, but not Sharon’s to receive. Palestine belongs to the Palestinians and those in the West Bank know it. One must unfortunately wonder how many more bombings it will take for Israel and America to figure it out as well.

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