Our Life and Times
Middle East conflict grows more ominous
The Israeli army's siege of Yasir Arafat's compound, which
began on Sept. 19, hasn't really ended. On Sept. 29, Israeli troops pulled back
to positions near Arafat's compound under pressure from the UN Security Council
and mass West Bank protests.
On Sept. 30 George W. Bush signed a law ordering all U.S.
government documents to identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. By
recognizing Israel's claim to Jerusalem without at the same time acknowledging
the Palestinian claim to East Jerusalem as its capital, the Bush administration
has gone the farthest in rejecting Palestinian sovereignty.
More ominous has been Sharon's meeting with Bush on Oct. 16
to discuss preparations for the U.S. war on Iraq. At this meeting Bush gave the
green light to Sharon to retaliate against Iraq if Iraq attacks Israel.
Even before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Sharon is
threatening to launch a war against Lebanon. Lebanon's inauguration of a new
pumping station on the Wazzani river near the Israeli border takes from the
water that feeds the Sea of Galilee, Israel's largest fresh water reservoir.
Sharon has proclaimed this a declaration of war.
In the meantime, the siege of the West Bank and Gaza by
Israel and suicide bombings by Hamas continue. There are currently 5,000
Palestinians in Israeli camps without charges and for an arbitrary time period.
One important development was the Sept. 25 march led by
women in Ramallah against the siege of Arafat's compound and the 24 hour curfews
imposed on Palestinians. Women, men and children banged on pots and pans for
hours after midnight. They were joined by thousands who banged away from
balconies and windows. These protests spread to Nablus, Tulkarem, Bethlehem and
Gaza, as well as the Israeli city of Nazareth, where Arabs and Jews marched
Oct. 20, 2002
Published by News and Letters Committees