The road map already at an end?
Dozens of civilians from both sides died again last week in a palestinian suicide bombing and several israeli airstrikes. After the road map that "road map to peace", while the road map might have raised hopes, at least internationally and in israel, they are now history.
Especially in the gaza strip, people did not expect anything from the current international peace efforts. 1.2 million palestinians live in the densely populated area, hermetically sealed off from the outside world. The borders are controlled by israel. In addition, one third of the strip is off-limits to palestinians. There live about 5.000 jewish settlers, protected by the israeli army.
"This is the road map", comments a palestinian truck driver at the abu holi roadblock, which isolates the southern third of the strip from the rest. "The israelis drive and we stand still." on 9. June, thousands of palestinians are blocked there for twelve hours. Meanwhile, settlers in an after-work mood speed unimpeded across a bridge at highway speed to their state-subsidized home in gush katif.
The waiting people heading north are not controlled. They are just left standing in the blistering heat. Water is scarce, toilets are non-existent. As a few jeeps come out of the nearby military base, a man calls out: "here comes abu masen". All laugh. The palestinian prime minister is seen here as a mere accomplice of israeli interests. According to the local opinion, the road map serves exclusively to crush the palestinian uprising against the continuing israeli occupation.
The whereabouts of abdelasis rantisi, the best-known spokesman for islamist hamas, are known. Anyone who gets lost in the sheikh radwan neighborhood in gaza city can ask any child for directions to "dr. Abdelasis" ask. "We already have experience with peace", says the pediatrician, referring to the period from the israeli-palestinian peace treaty in 1993 to the beginning of the uprising against the occupation seven years later. "Peace with israel meant for us faster expansion of jewish settlements (in the occupied territories), cantonization of our land and judaization of east jerusalem. This peace only gave israel more time to make a palestinian peace impossible."
The alternative is armed struggle, rantisi added. "It makes no difference to us, but now the israelis are suffering too." hamas has enshrined the destruction of the jewish state in its statutes, but rantisi calls this an illusion. "We dream, the israelis dream", he says. "Hamas was now ready for an interim solution. What will happen later is in the hands of future generations." with the declared acceptance of a two-state solution, the recognition of israel was de facto pronounced. Hamas, which is responsible for most of the suicide bombings in israel, would be satisfied with a palestinian state in gaza, the west bank and east jerusalem.
Although an israeli helicopter had a clear field of fire on rantisi’s sofa, the militants preferred to liquidate him in central gaza three days later. He escaped the five missiles with a leg wound. However, a bodyguard and two female passersby, 50 and eight years old, were killed. Over the next few days, helicopters in gaza and west bank cities will close in on more hamas members. Civilian casualties are always included.
The airstrike against rantisi took place two days after an attack on the eres crossing. In a joint operation by hamas, islamic jihad and the al-aqsa martyrs brigades, three armed palestinians overcame the high security installations and shot four soldiers before being killed themselves.
Israel’s government described the attack on rantisi as a response to the eres action. However, the airstrike was condemned even by the u.S. Government, which asked: "why now?" rantisi is an easy victim, moreover, one of hamas’s most tempered. For weeks, palestinian prime minister mahmoud abbas (abu masen) has been trying to persuade the armed opposition to cease its actions. An effort that now seems futile. Rantisi already did not sound as conciliatory from his sickbed as he had three days earlier. A ceasefire is now ruled out. And the following day, a hamas member blew himself up in central west jerusalem, taking 17 people with him.
The sacular opposition
"If sharon is smart", says rabbah muhanna of the popular front for the liberation of palestine (pflp) political bureau in gaza, "then he makes life easier for the palestinians. No more liquidations and the lifting of a few roadblocks. Then people felt that their lives were becoming safer and that the road map was benefiting them." negotiations with israel were then an option, and the armed opposition, including the pflp, had a harder time of it.
But this is not to be expected. On thursday, the army received orders to crush hamas. This means new airstrikes against real or suspected members of the organization with further civilian casualties as well as military actions by ground forces in the occupied territories. In this way, the palestinian police will never be able to take control of it.
Muhanna was almost beaten to death by islamic militants in the 1980s, as evidenced by the scars he still bears today. Today, his organization talks with hamas and other groups about unifying the resistance. The common enemy is the israeli occupation. The more brutal the army, the easier the "coalition negotiations" of the armed groups. Moreover, hamas and the pflp have nothing in common. Pflp members describe an islamic state as "just as racist as a jewish state".
International response force
Un secretary-general kofi annan called friday for the deployment of an armed peacekeeping force in the occupied territories. They should be used as a buffer between the israeli army and the palestinians.
Israel already rejected the proposal as well as international interference as a whole. The palestinians, on the other hand, have been calling for the deployment of a third force for years. "This is the only realistic solution to break out of the vicious circle of violence and counter-violence, "said yasser abed rabbo, the palestinian cabinet chairman.