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Between Gaza and New York - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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After spending many hours trying to reach Jerusalem, that used to be only twenty minutes away before the imposition of the humiliating Israeli checkpoints, a Palestinian woman said: “I am dying to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque but after so many hours of being harassed on so many checkpoints I was not allowed to pray and I am hungry and thirsty because I am fasting and now I have to live the same ordeal on my way back home”. Her eyes were fixed towards Al-Aqsa as she swallowed her tears and expressed what thousands of Palestinians around her were experiencing. On the same day the mother of the Palestinian child, Mahmoud al Kifafi, whose young body was crushed by an Israeli tank said with unbearable pain in her voice: “He was here a moment ago alive and well, any movement by us or our children could be deadly, how cheap the life of a Palestinian has become!” From Gaza too, the New York Times has published an article about the daily killing of Palestinian children citing the killing of three Abo Ghazala relatives as a stark example and speaking about their bereaved fathers and mothers (For Gaza’s Young at Play, Fields Can Be Deadly, by Steven Erlanger, New York Times, 26 Sept. 2007). The children were Yahya Abo Ghazala (12 years old), Mahmoud Abo Ghazala (9 years old) and Sara Abo Ghazala (9 years old). The fathers and mothers whose lives were destroyed as a result of the tragic and unnecessary loss of their children were distraught; they could not understand how could the Israelis kill such young and innocent children in cold blood.

All these tragic actions against the indigenous Palestinian people, and many others, from erecting hundreds of checkpoints to turn their lives into a nightmare to imprisoning Gaza in a big jail, to killing five thousand innocent Palestinians since the year 2000, 870 of them are children, seem to have nothing to do with the so-called preparations for the peace meeting in Washington in November. In all the talks and meetings about November, the Israeli occupation and collective punishment measures which reached the status of genocide had not even been mentioned either, as if the meeting in Washington is going to be about Mars rather than about Palestine. Ehud Olmert even went as far as to say: “The upcoming meeting to which Washington has invited, is not a peace conference, but a meeting with the participation of Arab moderate states which aims at providing an international cover for a political operation between the Israelis and Palestinians and at consolidating Arab moderate states which support a compromise with Israel and accept the bases of the international community and the road Map. Remember the ” A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm “in which the authors of the strategy stressed that “no land for peace” after today, but peace for peace between the Arabs and the Israelis. This is why Tony Blair said that “land is not the most important thing to make a state, a state needs institutions and infrastructure.” The Foreign Minister of Israel, Tzipi Livni, in front of the General Assembly, told the world that the struggle in the Middle East is “a struggle about values and not a struggle about land”, if this is the case let the government of Livni announce their intensions to return the land occupied by Israel in 1967 to its original owners and to stop the confiscation of Palestinian lands for settlement building and to return the best farmland swallowed by the apartheid wall which they built especially in order to deprive the Palestinians of their best farm land and turn it to settlers. On October 09 Israeli army ordered the seizure of Palestinian Land surrounding four West Bank villages apparently in order to hugely expand settlements around Jerusalem (the Guardian, Conal Urquhart, Wed. October 10, 2007).

Hence the aims of the Nov. meeting in Washington are clear and one can easily predict the results of that meeting long before it starts. It will speak about the necessity to normalize relations between Israel and the Arabs and to have a united front against terrorism and to face the Iranian danger of developing nuclear weapons without mentioning the Israeli nuclear weapons or the necessity for Israel to end its occupation, of Arab land, or the rights of the Arabs to resist foreign occupation, or the difference between this kind of resistance and terrorism. No mention will be made of the incarceration and the daily humiliation and killing of the Palestinian people at the hands of Israelis occupation forces and no mention will be made of the inhuman life imposed on the Palestinian people and the dangers looming over their health and life. Thus, the meeting will end and the Palestinian people, and the Arab people for that matter, will find no way except to continue their struggle for the liberation of their land and the return of their legitimate and inalienable rights. From an Israeli perspective the most important results of the meeting would be to normalize relations with some more Arab countries and deceive the world by stressing that the struggle is not about land and water but about “values”. The core issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict is land and water. Israel occupies the best and most fertile Palestinian lands and kills, transfers and pushes the Palestinians into a corner. Israel did not sign peace with Syria in 2000 because it refused to allow Syria to reach the Lake Tiberius as it used to do. The Fall meeting in Washington will come and go and the distance between Gaza and New York will be further than ever. After watching the news of the conference the Palestinians and the Arabs will continue to look for the best ways to liberate their lands and restore their stolen rights in their land and water: “They are trying to extinguish the light of God with their mouths, but God will complete this light no matter what the unbelievers do.” The Nov. meeting will prolong the cycle of agony and pain for all of us in the Arab world and hence, it will not contribute either to ending or even to reducing the conflict. The exact opposite is expected to happen.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media advisor to the Syrian presidency, and the former minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer, and has been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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