Are the Palestinians expendable?
This article was written in response to one by the Israeli consul general in Boston.mSkip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
More than four years have passed since the signing of the Camp David accords. If things had evolved the way the world expected, we would have had by now a Palestinian entity on the West Bank and Gaza where Palestinians ruled themselves within a federation with Jordan and in peace with Israel. This remains Egypt's goal. It spares no effort for it to be achieved. But ever since the signing of those accords, and subsequently the peace treaty, the extremist elements, both in Israel and among its supporters, have one thing in mind: to find a way to make Israel get away with the de facto annexation of the West Bank and Gaza, against the will of more than 1.4 million Palestinians who live there, and equally important, in spite of the letter and spirit of the Camp David agreements.
Those inside, some of whom had not voted for Camp David, or the peace treaty, led the way to make the evacuation of the Sinai a traumatic event, instead of a ''celebration for peace,'' vowing they would never again allow trading land for peace. They planned, supported, and helped execute policies that emphasized expansion and confrontation - not peace and reconciliation - as the course of the future.
Policies were designed to change the situation on the ground in the occupied territories in a way that would render meaningful negotiations regarding autonomy for the Palestinians useless and were certain to alienate any moderate Arab country from joining the peace process.
The annexation of Arab Jerusalem, the building of the new settlements in the occupied territories, the annexation of the Golan Heights, the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor, the heavy-handed policy in the West Bank and Gaza, the delay in evacuating some parts of the Sinai in Taba, the invasion of Lebanon without any provocation, since there was a cease-fire in effect negotiated by Ambassador Habib that was respected for 11 months, and the atrocities that accompanied that invasion - all these are examples of the policies we're talking about.
In the meantime, the extremist elements outside Israel, and especially in the US, embarked on a campaign of misinformation and distortions regarding Egypt and its policies. The formula was simple: Discredit Egypt's commitment to peace, and its adherence to the Camp David accords; then it will be easy to claim that the Arabs cannot be trusted; hence, disregard any attempts to promote peace between Israel and its neighbors that will involve exchanging land for peace, including President Reagan's peace initiative of Sept. 1, 1982.
The prime target in the beginning was to question the ability of Egypt, let alone its commitment to carry out the agreements.
These days the questioning centers on Egypt's alleged abrogation of the treaty by recalling its ambassador, and by allowing an anti-Jewish campaign in its press, and by not encouraging tourism, trade, cultural exchange, etc. The objective is still the same. It is alarming to see members of the Israeli embassy in Washington and Israeli consulate missions around the country get involved in questioning Egypt's sincerity for peace. It is alarming because these representatives know the following facts:
* The Egyptian ambassador was recalled on the 20th of September, four months after the beginning of the invasion and only after the massacres were committed in Sabra and Shatila, and as a minimum reaction to an overwhelming popular demand in Egypt to sever the relations completely. It is important to state here three facts: