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January 1999 
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A "PEACE PROCESS" BUILT ON POLITICAL QUICKSAND

By Mark Bruzonsky*

Clinton arrived to blaring trumpets very late Saturdayevening. He arrived in Israel, not Palestine, and no one should doubt thatbasic significance.

One of the greatest ironies of this generation is that whilethe world mobilized to bring the Apartheid of South Africa to an end, atnearly the same historic moment it allowed the U.S and Israel toimplement a variant of Apartheid in the Middle East. Another generationof conflict is thus ensured, no matter what the politicians ofthe moment proclaim.

Whatever further symbolism takes place with Clinton's Gazavisit, it is sure to be feverishly played up by the Arafat crowd. But thebasic reality that Gaza has been twisted into a ghetto/prisonsurrounded on three sides by an Israeli-patrolled electrified fence, on thefourth by the Israeli-guarded sea, and internally "policed" by aquisling regime, cannot be masked indefinitely.

This "peace process" is build on political quicksand. Afternine unprecedented days together at Wye Plantation the protagonistscouldn't even agree on the relatively simple matter of who among thePalestinian prisoners would be released.

When it comes to the "Palestinian Covenant", supposedly thereason for Clinton's visit, Arafat hasn't even managed to gather a quorumof the once proud Palestine National Congress, not to mention pursuea serious formal vote on such a weighty matter.

And with Ariel Sharon in charge of the "final agreement",Israeli settlements still expanding at feverish pace, and "by-pass"roads increasingly criss-crossing the very areas Arafat claims forhis quasi-State, the future may not be clearly forseeable, but what isat least clear is that what Arafat keeps proclaiming is certainly notwhat is coming to pass. About the only thing the Arafat regimemanages to consistently pursue is to bribe and cajole many into parrotingits own slogans while repressing everyone else into fearful silenceand depressed acquiescence.

The fragmented and confused remains of the Palestiniannationalist movement has been meeting in Damascus in recent days,declaring their disgust with Arafat and all that he has wrought. But they notonly lack the requisite power and resources to pursue their goals,they lack basic cohesion and strategy as well, thus constantlyrelegating themselves to marginality on history's sidelines.

The Jordanian Hashemite regime, colluding with the Americansand Israelis more than ever before, prevented many Palestiniansfrom crossing the border and even getting to the Damascus meeting.And the 300 or so Palestinians who did manage to gather there hardlyeven managed to get the world's attention at a time when worldattention is focused on their very concerns.

American Presidents come and go; the U.S. has seriousinstitutions and long-term strategies that transcend individualadministrations. Too many among the Arabs just don't seem to understand this basicreality, essentially mortgaging their own fate to whomever happens tobe in the White House at the moment believing that a few kind words area substitute for actual policies, even while history constantlyproves otherwise.

But unlike the Arabs, Western countries, and that includes theIsraelis, have serious institutions and strategies transendingindividual leaders and "regimes." At the political level, theArabs today are little better off, as the millenium nears its turn,then they were generations ago at the time of the Ottoman Empire'scollapse. They were as outmanuevered at the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991as they were at the Paris Peace Conference of 1918. Their corrupt,inept, and infiltrated "client regimes" continue to be easily manipulatedby the tried and true "divide and conquer" approach. With such anhistorical dichotomy, the West manages to get one Arab leader or anotherto sign this agreement or that, constantly pushing forward their owninterests while Arab interests, not to mention rights, are constantlytrampeled under.

Until the nationalist Palestinians and their supportersseriously organize themselves in a coherent and determined way to opposethe Apartheid Reservations fate, their destiny will continue to besubverted. Ongoing and sophisticated opposition using modernmeans of communication, as well as the building up of sustainableinstitutions that can both conceive and pursue alternative policies andprincipled goals, are what today's situation urgently requires.

* Background and publication information for Mark Bruzonsky isat:http://www.MiddleEast.Org/mab.htm

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