The palestinian uprise
Claudia Cinatti
La Verdad Obrera N° 73

The Middle East crisis is in its third week. The great difficulties that the US finds to achieve stabilization and a new peace agreement, shows the limits of the US "strength" and that the military victory of the Kosovo War last year was not enough to build a "new imperialist order."
On October 16 and 17 at the Egyptian city Sharm Al Sheikh an "emergency meeting" was carried out. The US president Bill Clinton, the Palestine National Authority leader Yasser Arafat, Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and Kofi Annan of the United Nations, the European representative of foreign politics Javier Solanas and the king from Jordan; took part of the intense negotiations. A precarious attempt to sort out the crisis.
But the upraise of Palestinian masses and the situation in the Middle East are turning point in the world scene, that could strengthen the resistance struggles against imperialistic oppression and their local agents. World wide mass movement, specially Latin American workers confronting IMF and World Bank plans; and anti-capitalist youths protesting at imperialist countries, must support and take this fair struggle in their own hands.
In these pages we will explain the main problems of the Middle East conflict.


During a 15 year-old Palestinian burial past Monday, at the funeral the peoples shouted (in relation to the Egypt Meeting): "Nothing will change now. Peace is for Arafat and Barak, but not for our people."
More than 20 days ago, the visit of the Likud "hawk", Ariel Sharon, guarded by soldiers at mosque on Temple Mount in Jerusalem; was the spark that ignited a bonfire of tension stacking up for years in the occupied territories. This action of the Israeli right was supported by the laborist government.
The presence of this hated right-wing representative unleashed the anger of Palestinian masses, fed up of the miserable conditions in which they live, disappointed of the promises for "peace agreements" and with a growing distrust on Yasser Arafat, due to his constant betrayals. Dozens thousands stone-throwing youths were out in the streets clashing with Israeli army. These demonstrations became in the course of a few days the most important Palestinian upsurge of the last decades, not only in the occupied territories -the fringe of Gaza and Cisjordania of actual Palestinian autonomy-, but also in the million of Arabs that live as second-hand citizens in Israel. Thousands blocked streets and roads at Galilea, Tel Aviv and Haifa, clashing with the regular troops of the Zionist army, and the armed bands of the Israeli right that launched real pogroms, murdering and burning houses and stores.
The intervention of Arab Israelis that had never historically taken part of any previous upheavals, shows the magnitude of the conflict.
For Israel the rebellion of this sector, 20% of the population, sets out a nightmare scenario that in case it deepens, opens up the possibility of a civil war inside their own territories, what would weaken their political and military capacity to combat Palestinian masses in the occupied territories.
The national Palestinian struggle gains in the entire world the active solidarity of millions Arabs that have demonstrated against the state of Israel, imperialism and US allied governments.
Due to these elements, the actual upsurge of Palestinian masses against the "apartheid" régime established by the Oslo Agreements, and accepted by Arafat, is very superior to the Intifada of late 1980s. It is not yet clear if Arafat once again will be able to contain this upheaval or if on the contrary wide sectors of the mass movement will radicalize even more, to the point of confronting Arafat's leadership.


The Arab mass movement enters the scene

The Palestinian upsurge gained solidarity from mass movement at Arab countries. The wave of demonstrations striking the Arab and Muslim world reached its peak when half million people demonstrated in Morocco; dozens of thousands in Egypt clashing with local police; many thousands in Jordan, where activism in the Palestinian refugee camps does not stop (almost half of the Jordan population are of Palestinian origin). At Lebanon thousands marched while Hezbollah militias took three Israeli soldiers as hostages, in Syria and Iraq and even in Kuwait there were demonstrations that went as far as Indonesia.
The deep solidarity feeling with Palestinian struggle has a strong meaning beyond these demonstrations, it is a great social change that is expressed in the donation of money, of blood, in the disposition of thousands to fight along Palestinians and the questioning of Arab governments for their unconditional alignment with US.
This irruption of mass movement in the Arab world can only be compared with the mobilizations of late 1950s and 1960s when millions mobilized against imperialism and the state of Israel, at war with Egypt under the Nasser's government. The mass movement constitutes one of the most important elements for the regional perspectives as well as for the international situation.

A history of oppression

Under the intense US pressure the Egypt meeting ended in a "non- formal agreement", announced by Clinton, in which both sides committed to make "a clear call to put an end to violence". According to this verbal "understanding" between Arafat and Barak, Israel would retire troops to their positions previous to the crisis opened on September 28; and the frontiers of Palestinian territories blocked by Israel's army would be cleared. It is Arafat who has given in the most, accepting the formation of an "investigation" commission directed by the US, to clarify the crimes made by the Zionist troops that have already killed over 100 Palestinians, many of them children, and hurting other 3000. This is equal as justifying the Zionist massacre, again. According to the Washington Post (17-10-2000): "(Arafat) consented several key demands of Israel, including the putting back in jail of the extremist Islamic fighters liberated from the Palestinian prisons and the disarmament of Tanzim -although this was not explicitly set out-, the juvenile wing of Fatah, the political movement of Arafat."
Arafat once again played his role. The main goal of the meeting was to achieve his commitment to disable the Palestinian upsurge and to avoid the conflict from extending to the rest of the Middle East.
The imperialist press has not hidden this goal. The Washington Post explains that: "In particular, their success [of the meeting] will depend on the capacity of Arafat -and of his security forces- of exercising control over Palestinian demonstrators whose fury and frustration was lit by the aggressive usage of Israeli fire power and the funerals that came after that". The same article questions this possibility, arguing that "some analysts and US politicians suggest that the Palestinian leader's influence on the youth that are the center of rebellion is not guaranteed."
This is a new capitulation of Arafat to imperialism and the Zionist state, a new betrayal to the Palestinian masses that are giving their life in the struggle to end the oppression of Zionist state.
The disposition of Arafat to make concessions in the negotiations table is very well-known by Palestinian masses and it has taken them to the unbearable situation they rebel against. Hence thousands Palestinians are out in the streets in several cities, especially in Hebrón on September 16 to demand Arafat not to attend the meeting. After this the confrontations continued.
Marwan Barghouti, General Secretary of Al Fatah at the Western Fringe and militia major, Tanzim, expressed his opposition to the meeting, denouncing its goals against Palestinian mass movement. He said: "I think that most people here are against the meeting... we are convinced that their main purpose is to defeat the upheaval(...) The Israelis have been killing us for fifty years with the active participation of the US, therefore there is nothing new about this. I believe that their true goals are to avoid the upsurge to extend to Arab countries where the US and occident countries have vital economic and strategic interests" (Palestinian Information Center, 17-10-2000). And he called to continue the protests.
Arafat will have to deal with a mass movement that no longer has illusions in any "peace process" and that has leaped forward in its struggle for national freedom. He will try by all possible means to push back the mass movement, dividing it and controlling peoples with police. Maybe with this new betrayal he will achieve to disable the rebellion in course momentarily, and to give a brake to imperialist policies in the region. If he fails in his task of controlling the Palestinian upraise, there is chance of a repressive military escalade of the Zionist state against the masses, as it has happened in other opportunities. Without a categorical defeat the Palestinian peoples will not peacefully accept subordination to the state of Israel.
On the other hand Barak is still bargaining with the extreme right-wing party Likud, to form an emergency government and thus to strengthen the position of Israel. However, the Israeli right is against accepting any commitments made by Barak in the meeting, hence this plan could stagnate.
The Egypt meeting will serve in the best of cases, to achieve a precarious truce. However, the situation is far from been stable.



Ehud Barak's laborist government had won the elections promising to embrace peace with Palestinians, and now it is deeply weakened. The Likud and other extreme right-wing sectors, consider that Israel has already made too many concessions and they are opposed to any agreements that are not based on the total defeat of Palestinian people.
The alignment of all the wings of the Zionist block with the brutal repression against the Palestinian upsurge, shows that the pacifist suppositions of the Laborist Party is no different than those of the "hawk" of Likud. Both coincide in that the only way to defend the existence of the state of Israel is to react with repression and military escalates against any sign of resistance of the Palestinian masses.
Barak and the Likud have taken advantage of the events to increase the racism and the chauvinist feelings, leading a sharp right-turn of society including the "left" grouped in the Merits - that considers Arafat to be responsible for the violence in course and therefore it justifies the supposedly defensive actions of the army.
The intervention of the Arab Israelis in solidarity with the upheaval in the occupied territories, is the most important element to break the reactionary unity of the Zionist bloc, other symptoms, although to a even smaller scale, are the emergence of small sectors, mainly Israelis academics and intellectuals that have openly pronounced for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories and to cease the repression and slaughter to Palestinian mass movement. Also there were soldiers who refused to repress.


The commitment of Arafat to dismantle the Intifada in the bargaining table at Oslo, the renouncement to fight against the Israeli racist state, accepting in fact to cohabitate with the oppressors of Palestinian people, and his pro-imperialist policies of calling to trust the "peace process" counting on the US, the EU and the UN to pressure Israel to grant some concession, are some of the main elements that prove the terrible betrayal of the historical leadership of Palestinian mass movement, the OLP, to the people's struggle for national freedom.
Arafat is paying the price for his repeated concessions with a deep discredit to the eyes of wide sectors of mass movement.
This has given place to the strengthening of radical Islamic organizations as the Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and the Lebanese Hezbollah that are still fighting against the state of Israel, but with a strategy that is enemy of the independent intervention of the mass movement.
The Hamas is the most important of these organizations, with dozens of thousands of sympathizers, social organizations and assistance webs for Palestinian peoples in the occupied territories. Hamas rejected the participation of Arafat in the Egypt Meeting, denouncing the complicity of the US with the Zionist state, and they call the Palestinian peoples to continue the upraise. But their politics are based on the cross-class collaboration with Arab bourgeois sectors, to the service of the reactionary strategy of establishing theocratic states, i.e. Iranian style régimes, oppressors of their own peoples. In one of their official statements, the Hamas leaderships explains that the alternative to the Egypt meeting is the Meeting of the Arab countries, pretending that such could bring a progressive outcome to favor Palestinian peoples. They demand these reactionary governments to "support the Palestinian upsurge", to close the gap that separates them "from their own people". What the Hamas avoids to explain is that the great "gap" between the Arab oil-bourgeoisies and the mass movement is a class difference, among the workers and popular sectors and the multimillionaire bourgeoisies that live off millionaire oil profits and of the exploitation and oppression of their own peoples. This "gap" has deepened in the last weeks of massive protests at the Arab world, the mass movement starts showing in the streets that their interests have nothing in common with those of their pro-imperialist governments. The Islamic leaderships, beyond the compromise of those who are part of their organizations, are not a progressive alternative for the mass movement.
An independent policy from the Arab bourgeois regimens, whether they are theocratic or lay, monarchists or despotic can only leave part at seeking support in the true allies of the Palestinian peoples in their struggle against imperialism and the Zionist state: the proletariat of the Middle East countries that is the only class capable to expropriate oil multinationals and the great wealth of local bourgeoisies, to push out imperialism of the region and to pave the way for socialist revolution.



The "peace agreements" were a trap for Palestinian peoples, an excuse to dismantle their movement, meantime the national oppression and growing social misery remains the same.
Revolutionary socialists stand along Palestinian peoples in their struggle. Long life for the Palestinian upsurge! We unconditionally defend their right to national self-determination, and we affirm that this is incompatible with the existence of the racist state of Israel. Down with the Zionist state of Israel! Down with the "Peace Agreements" that Clinton wants to impose and that Arafat accepts, that intends to preserve the Zionist state and condemns the Palestinian peoples to misery and impotence! There are no progressive solutions for the mass movement coming neither from the UN or from diplomacy of imperialist powers as France. The only progressive outcome is the victory of the struggle of the own Palestinian peoples and the coming into action of the mass movement in the region and all over the world. This will only be possible with the intervention of the Middle East countries proletariat, with an independent strategy to all wings of the Arab bourgeoisies. There will be no peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Israelis unless the national oppression practiced by the Zionist state comes to an end, and until imperialism is pushed out of the region. For that reason, we affirm that the only guarantee of a peaceful coexistence among Arabs and Jews, i.e. a state that is lay and non racist, will be the creation of a Workers and Socialist Palestine -on all its historical territory including the current Zionist state as well as Cisjordania and Gaza -, as part of the struggle to build a Federation of Socialist Republics of the Middle East.
Claudia Cinatti



After the US victory in the Gulf War, imperialism intended to bring peace to the Middle East, a region of strategic national interests.
This policy materialized with the Oslo agreements that began the so-called "peace process" between Israelis and Palestinians in 1993.
In the Oslo agreements, Israel committed to gradually give back the occupied cities at Gaza and Cisjordania, two small fringes of the isolated territory, economically dependant on Israel that kept control of water, electricity, and employment sources. In these autonomous territories that would later constitute the Palestinian "state", a government settled down with Yasser Arafat at the head, counting on lightly armed police, dedicated in the first place to control the Palestinian masses.
In exchange for this fake autonomous state, Arafat disabled the Intifada and gave up a historical demand of Palestinian masses: the destruction of the Zionist enclave of Israel, built on the lands usurped to Palestinian people.
As the intellectual Eduard Said explains "the leaders of the Laborist Party and the Likud [since 1993] did not kept in secret the fact that Oslo was designed to segregate the enclaves of Palestinian people, surrounded by Israelis border guards, with ghettos communicated by highways violating the essential territorial integrity, the expropriations and demolitions of houses continued inexorably under the administrations of Rabin, Peres, Netanyahu and Barak, along with the multiplication of these ghettos" (The Guardian, 12-10-00).
But for the Israeli right-wing these agreements were unacceptable. The "peace process" was practically frozen during the government of the right-wing Netanyahu. With the victory of laborist Barak last year the process gained new impulse. However, the attempt of imperialism of forcing a final agreement among Barak and Arafat in a moment of internal weakness of both, brought as result the sinking of the "peace process" at Camp David's summit June last year.
In the seven years of "peace process" little has changed for the Palestinian peoples: 2 million Palestinian live stacked up in Cisjordania and a million in the fringe of Gaza, while other four millions continue surviving in refugees' camps in neighboring countries, mainly Jordan and Lebanon. Another million lives in ghettos as second-hand citizens inside the state of Israel. The cities where the Palestinian Autonomy are in government are blocked by Israelis troops that protect the settlements from colonists that have multiplied under the "peace process". Thousands Palestinians are held in the jails of Israel, where torture is legalized as interrogation method. Misery and unemployment strikes the Palestinian population that are forced to work in the Israeli area as cheap labor. This is the oppression Palestinian peoples have stood up against.