New Worker Banner

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Palestinian success but cease-fire is on a knife-edge

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

AS RELIEF convoys enter the Gaza Strip, Palestinians are working to restore services in the besieged Palestinian enclave that defied 11 days of terror bombing which ended only after the Israelis agreed to curb Zionist settler violence in Jerusalem.

US President Joe Biden has made some concessions to America’s feudal Arab allies by reviving talk about a “two-state” solution to the Palestine problem, pledging financial assistance to the Palestinians and agreeing to re-open the US consulate in Jerusalem – the unofficial American ‘embassy’ to the ‘autonomous’ Palestinian Authority in the West Bank that was closed by the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, Irish MPs are calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador over the Zionist regime’s latest atrocities before it was forced to accept a ceasefire deal. The motion moved by the People Before Profit socialist movement and Sinn Féin blasts the Israeli regime for engaging in war crimes, ethnic cleansing and illegal settlement expansion, insisting that “the Israeli ambassador’s presence in Ireland is untenable in these circumstances”.

Palestinians took to the streets last week to celebrate the cease-fire that ended 11 days of fighting in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel. Hamas, the Palestinian resistance movement which runs Gaza, claimed victory in the conflict that left 248 Palestinians dead and 1,910 wounded in the Strip. But Israel did not escape unscathed. At least 13 Israelis and foreign workers were killed and over 300 wounded by resistance rocket fire that closed two major airports and paralysed parts of southern Israel during the fighting.

Israel says that the Egyptian-brokered truce was “mutual and unconditional”, but Hamas officials say they imposed their own conditions including an end to forced expulsions of Palestinian families in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah and to incursions by Israeli security forces into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The US foreign minister, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, flew to the Middle East this week to try to restore US imperialism’s flagging prestige following the resurgence of Palestinian resistance.

There he told the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority that the “two-state solution” was the “only way forward” whilst saying that “any steps” by the two sides that risk more conflict would harm its prospects.

This old US formula, which goes back to the Camp David talks in the Clinton era, has long been ignored in Tel Aviv and it was finally dumped by the Trump administration last year. But what the Americans will do concretely to revive it remains unclear.

Blinken says the USA will oppose anything that could create more tension between the two sides. “That includes settlement activity, it includes demolitions it includes evictions, it includes incitement of violence, it includes payment to terrorists,” he told the media on Tuesday.

“Ultimately, there’s a possibility of resuming the effort to achieve a two-state solution, which we continue to believe is the only way to truly assure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, and of course to give the Palestinians the state they’re entitled to,” Blinken said.

But the cease-fire remains on a knife-edge following waves of arrests of “Israeli Arabs” as pay-back for their protests against Israel’s colonial policies, including the forced eviction of long-time Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem, Israel’s encroachments upon the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and Zionist settler mob violence.

Dr Hasan Jabarin, the Director of Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said this crack-down was a “declaration of war against Arab-Palestinian protestors, political activists and minors to take revenge on them for their recent political and national positions”.

Last week some 1.6 million Palestinian citizens of Israel participated in a general strike called by the Arab High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel. And several thousand peace activists rallied in central Tel Aviv on Saturday calling for Jewish–Arab partnership and urging Israel to work towards resolving its decades-long conflict with the Palestinians.