M I D - E A S T  R E A L I T I E S - E d i t o r i a l - 1/15/97
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It didn't take long. The morning after the "agreement" on Hebron the WASHINGTON POST maps show the "Jewish Area" of Hebron clearly marked and delineated. In the name of "peace" and "withdrawal" Yasser Arafat has agreed to legitimize the concept of settlements not only on Palestinian land occupied in 1967 but right in the very heart of Palestinian communities. (The reality of course is that Arafat has been forced into this most recent agreement having totally capitulated in the past to the U.S. and Israel which now supply all his money, guns, and protection -- hence Edward Said's actual use of the term "collaborator" to describe Arafat).

It's a made for TV "peace" of course.  The political leaders say "booh" ...and the press jumps and parrots their every word, largely oblivious to reality. In this particular case the new deal is so fragile and so duplicitous that both Arafat and Netahyahu were mostly silent in front of the cameras, letting Dennis Ross for the Americans proclaim the great accomplishment and tell everyone how tired he is.

In the "fine details" one finds that there will be far more Israeli army troops in Hebron than Palestinian "police" -- not to mention that all of Hebron will be encircled by Israeli-manned machine-guns and tanks. And oh, on the map, one finds (imagine that!) that the Ibrahimi Mosque and Tomb of the Patriarch, as well as most of the Arab market that is the life-blood of Hebron, fall in the Israeli zone. There are even going to be separate sides of Shohada Street for Jews and Palestinians! Godfather Abraham surely must be uncontrollably weeping over what has happened to his household.

Indeed, the restrictions on the Palestinian "police" are quite amazing and altogether unprecedented. As summarized by the New York Times the morning after the post-midnight deal, the "agreement authorizes the Palestinians up to 400 policemen, equipped with 20 vehicles and armed with 200 pictols and 100 files 'for the protection' of police stations... The riles will be locked in the police stations [far from the Jewish areas - ed], and only special units of police will be allowed to take rifles out of the stations, and only after notifying the Israelis. There will be two such special units of 16 men each.].

It was fitting indeed that it was King Hussein of Jordan who delighted in turning the last few screws in this latest chapter of Palestinian demise. His Hashemite forebearers began collaborating big time with the Israelies back in the 1940s so as to undermine Palestinian nationalism and promote joint Hashemite/Zionist dominance of the area.

Furthermore, of course, this is really not a new agreement at all -- its just that they have to celebrate something rather than admit the realities of the predicament they have created in the past generation. This agreement was already celebrated at Oslo, then in Washington, then in Cairo, and then in Washington again. And then those past agreements were nullified and a new even more contentious and disengenuous one substituted in its place. Its vital it seems -- indeed its in the American national interest no doubt -- for public opinion to be somewhat mollified by another round of applause for the politicians who are so desperately attempting to keep their fingers poked in the political dike which is constantly threatening to unleash its torrent of pent-up despair and hatred.

The realities are that this path of the moment is neither leading to a just peace nor to a lasting agreement. Netanyahu knows as much...and knows as well that he now can soon get away with reacting brutally to the violence surely ahead, twisting the last ounces of hope from the Palestinian consciousness.

The actual realities of this moment are that what is in effect the partition of Hebron is another step on the road to a Mid-East Apartheid which is providing the seeds for considerable violence to come and may even be leading to a Mid-East nuclear conflagration in the lifetime of those who today sign such duplicitous and self-serving deals of the moment.


For additional information please see the brilliant article about the violence to be expected in 1997 by David Hirst and the courageous comment about Hebron by Palestinian analyst Qais Saleh. Available at http://www.MiddleEast.Org.

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