by Selwyn Manning
Israel and Palestinian peace-talks have again been called of by right-wing Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon.
Sharon cited continued violence against Israelis by Palestinians as the reason for calling the talks off once again.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was scheduled to talk with Israel’s deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, Shimon Peres. Arafat called a truce last week and the two planned peace-talks after 48 hours of non-violence was achieved.
Within hours of the truce being accepted by Israel, the Israel Defence Force tank-shelled a Palestinian/Netherlands joint venture complex that was an aspiring symbol developing Palestinian infrastructure and autonomy. No injuries were sustained in the eight tank attack, but the destruction was nevertheless designed to inflame retaliation from Palestinians, Arafat said.
Violence did flare, again between Israel’s IDF and Palestinians albeit at a more skirmish level compared to the slaughter that has been occurring since Israel reoccupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in recent weeks.
Late last week Israel withdrew its occupation from the Palestinian settlements after pressure from the United States. The US wants Israel to settle into peace-talks with the Palestinians especially as it does not want an escalating conflict within the Israel, West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon areas of the Middle East while it wages war of terrorists in Afghanistan.
But Ariel Sharon defiantly blocked Peres from meeting Arafat once again, rising threats of resignation from Peres, the country’s former leader. The US secretary of state Colin Powell spoke to Sharon on hearing the news.
Sharon subsequently decided to agree to allow Peres to meet with Arafat, but only after 48 hours of non-aggression by the Palestinians had been observed.
Israel’s stance in this whole debacle has been one of defiance. News agency reports suggest he continues to refuse peace-talk meetings to take place as he will not allow Arafat to appear “the peacemaker” to the west.
Forty-seven years ago, Ariel Sharon led a raid on a West Bank village that killed about 70 men, women and children, most of them civilians. The villagers and the PLO have not forgotten. Likewise Arafat and the PLO are the focus and cause of many Israeli fears and deaths.
Palestinian leaders have called Sharon a ‘war criminal”. And Sharon refers to Arafat as a ‘terrorist’.