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Peres Calls Speech 'Fatal Mistake' + More

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[Through this billboard we share some of the less predictable Israeli comments to the speech of Bush. We also include two reports sent by internationals who were at the time of the speech observing what was going on on the ground, as well as a report of the Physicians for Human Rights. Israeli readers, please pay attention also to the request for contacts.]

[1] FM Peres predicts a bloodbath
[2] Yediot Aharonot: Bush can wait - we can't
[3] Report from the beleaguered Muqata
[4] Another human shield worker reports from Balata
[5] Request of internationals for contacts in the Israeli peace movement
[6] Recent Incursion into the West Bank Renews Attacks on Ambulances

[1] FM Peres predicts a bloodbath

Some of the most outspoken criticism of President Bush's speech on the Middle East came from none other than Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister in the Sharon Government. The veteran Yediot Aharonot journalist Shimon Shiffer had watched Peres watching the Bush speech on TV last night and today gave a vivid description:

"Shimon Peres' face became more and more weary and angry, the longer Bush went on with his speech. "He is making a fatal mistake" remarked Peres. "Making the creation of a Palestinian state dependant upon a change in the Palestinian leadership is a fatal mistake" he repeated again and again. "Arafat has led the Palestinians for 35 years, kept their head above the water in the international arena. No, no, you can't just brush him aside with one speech." Peres did not watch the speech to the very end. He got up, turned off the TV and left the room, saying before he left: "The abyss into which the region will plunge will be as deep as the expectations from this speech were high. There will be a bloodbath."

For once, the words of Peres correspond quite closely to what we in Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc, feel. Therefore, we today decided to once again address a public appeal to Peres, something which we gave up in despair some time ago. We called upon Peres to leave the government immediately, to help get out the Labor Party as a whole, and to consistently address the Israeli and American public opinion in the spirit of his recent remarks. "It is your unique chance to atone a bitt for all the harm you have done, serving as a fig-leaf in a government of war and bloodshed."

[2] Yediot Aharonot: Bush can wait - we can't

The following, today's editorial of Yediot Aharonot - Israel's biggest mass- circulation paper - may interest you. (June 25, 2002 - written by Offer Shelach)

A big smile must have spread over Ariel Sharon's face at listening to the Middle East speech of his good friend George W. Bush. After all the hesitations and delays, the highly publicized power struggles between the State Department and the Pentagon, the tense waiting and the inaccurate advance leaks (which included the briefing by the White House spokesperson, an hour before the speech itself) - after all these, the leader of the Free World came out with one single meassage: anything but Yasser Arafat. The man with the beard must go - in a free democratic way, of course. How many other people will be gone by then, ours and theirs, the president did not say. It is common to say that following September 11 the Bush Adaminstration is in the habit of dividing the world into goodies and baddies. It is true, but not the whole truth: even before that terrible day in New York, the president has been consistently dividing the world into those who are like America and those who are not. Those who are like America have tranparancy and a free market, elections to change the government and independent judiciaries. Those who are not like America have nothing. Bush's message to the Palestinians is simple: if you become like us, we will help you improve your life; if you don't, we will just wait until you do. The fact that a free market and an independent judiciary are impossible for a people under occupation does not appear to disturb Bush, member of a nation which saw no foreign invader on its soil for the past two centuries. Nor does the fact that legitimate self-defence against terrorism drags Israel into activities which perpetuate and aggravate that occupation interest a person who can send the marines anywhere he chooses and pull them out again at his discretion. And he does not seem to lose sleep even over the fact that while these contradictions bump against each other, the blood of hundreds of civilians is shed over here every month. As far as the White House is concerned, either a new America will arise here, or we will just have to wait. The White House is not concerned with many of us and how many of them will not survive to see that day. So, Arafat is an obstacle - to his people, to us and to the region; a despicable fanatic. Still, peoples are not in the habit of changing their leaders at an order from Washington. Just 90 miles from the shores of Florida there is a country ruled, for more than forty years, by a man which the United States government despises and in whose overthrow successive administrations invested enormous efforts. The Americans impose a blockade on Cuba, starve its people to punish them for daring to adopt such a regime, and wait for Fidel Castro or his people to take the hint. They are waiting for a long time already. And what is true in Cuba is certainly true in the Middle East. Amercica can wait for the Israelis and Palestinians, and they can wait for America while shedding each other's blood. In the coming days, we will undoubtedly hear a lot from Sharon's aides about how this great diplomatic coup was achieved, due to Sharon's charm and Arafat's sins. We will hear how wondefull it is that the American president was convinced to sit on his hands a bit longer, to give some more time for suicide bombings and military operations to follow upon each other undisturbed. We will hear how we won some more time, time in which we can continue to live in fear, to become a bit more impoverished and bit more desperate with every passing day. "Anything but Arafat". The president said it. What a great victory. It was a speech of encouragement to the rejectionists on both sides. No action of any kind was announced. No declaration was made of involvement - by the US alone, or togehter with its allies - in any effort to stop the intolerable bloodletting in one of the globe's most sensitive regions. There was nothing but the narrow worldview of a person who is willing to help everybody become an imitation Amercian, and wants nothing to do with anybody else. Nothing but a promise that, while the roses continue to bloom in the White House garden, the red spots seen on Israeli and Palestinian streets will be no flowers.

[3] Report from the beleaguered Muqata

Adam, here's the text I told you about. The situation is the same, surprising calm and silence. We hold fast Warm wishes Claude

Monday 24 June

Morning at the Muqata’a, after the troops of occupation re-invaded Ramallah.

We had been waiting for them for 3 days Palestinians and Internationals together at the Muqata’a again. The nights were short. Would they come and settle like in Nablus, Qalqilya or Bethlehem, would they strike the compound again? The waiting was wearing, a psychological weapon in Sharon’s dirty war. There are worse, as Jenin once more shows dramatically. At 3 o’clock last night just after I had gone to bed O woke me up: ”they are coming, wake up”. Already armed and ready, he joined his comrades, kalashnikov and gas masks on their shoulders, waiting for the occupier to strike once again, determined to fight to defend the place and their president. Up and ready the Internationals who were then in the room where the “40” used to work and meet in April, moved to a safer place, passing soldiers at the ready on the staircases and landings protected by sandbags. All silent and calm, the frustration of the waiting gone, the anger subdued, the shebab cut an impressive sight in the night, in the rubble still remaining from the previous attack when the occupiers had shelled and bombed the buildings heavily. The night was long for most, the president and his assistants were conferring, the officers organising, we were shown how to use gas masks, and we waited. They have come, rolling through the night streets, to the refugee camps and around the presidential compound. At the Muqata’a the bulldozers have piled up earth and rubble to close the ways onto the parking lot which had just been repaired and cleaned anew. Inside, the defences have been re-inforced yet, more sandbags and containers blocking the entrance. Right now, writing this on the computer, I’m listening to Vaya Con Dios with 2 soldiers, one of them S a friend who shared the 33 days of the April siege with me, and it is surreal to be sitting here with him in this small building guarding the back door, moving to the music, with the song of the birds all around but with the tanks at the door, prowling the city, bearers of death and destruction. The waiting is going on. Until when?

[4] Another human shield worker reports from Balata

1-from Marissa in Balata refugee camp

Note: This is from Marissa, a PSC Seattle member, who joined the International Solidarity Movement to end the occupation for its Freedom Summer. She writes from the West Bank town of Nablus, refugee camp of Balata. Linda

Hi all, I've only got a couple of minutes so I wanted to send a quick update. I'm staying in Balata Refugee camp outside of Nablus in the home of a family that has reason to fear that the occupation forces will demolish their home. Nablus has been under curfew for 5 days but it was lifted for a few hours today. The camp itself has not been under curfew yet but it will be in about an hour. I have so much to write about but little time. Every night between midnight and 2:00 AM the tanks ride up and down the streets throwing the occasional percussion grenade and firing machine guns into the air. The only apparent reason for this is to intimidate the people by disrupting their sleep and making sure that they know who's the boss. They demolished a home around the corner because they said it was a 'bomb factory' but the locals swear it wasn't. In the process they also demolished 6 attached homes. There is another home behind this one that they demolished for no reason and with no explanation. Everyone in this family has been touched deeply by the occupation. There is the widowed mother with 10 children, 8 boys and 2 girls. All of the boys have been injured many times. Less than a month ago the oldest son and his 12 year old son were walking home from buying vegetables when the occupation forces fired on them from behind with a tank shell. The father is now permanently disabled and must be pushed around in a wheelchair. His son lost a finger and may lose his thumb. Everyone has lost friends and family. There is tragedy everywhere you look. I've grown very fond of this family. I was just told that curfew is ending early and I must get back into Balata and go indoors. The army shoots anything that moves after they declare their arbitrary curfews.

Later folks,

Marissa

[5] Request of internationals for contacts in the Israeli peace movement

In these difficult times some peace activists from abroad, who read the many calls for international solidarity want to be in contact with an individual Israeli peace activist. This can be very important in the close future. If you are willing to invest a little of your precious time - please send us ( info@gush-shalom.org ) the following details:

Full Name: Address Hobbies: Profession: Age: Tel. Number E-Mail

[6] Recent Incursion into the West Bank Renews Attacks on Ambulances -

PHYSICIANS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS–ISRAEL

UPDATE

June .24th, 2002

Targeting Medical Care;

Israel's Recent Incursion into the West Bank Renews Attacks on Ambulances.

On Friday, June 21st, 2002, Israel initiated its most recent incursion into the Occupied Territories in the West Bank. The current military operation includes the reoccupation of Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, and while Israel claims it will take responsibility for the Palestinian civilian population, which is to include the provision of food and other forms of humanitarian aid, evidence on the ground paints a different picture.

The last four days have brought with them renewed attacks on ambulances and medical staff, and delays in the provision of medical services. While the ability to access medical care in the larger towns throughout the West Bank is poor, that of the villages, in which many Palestinians live, is grave.

The situation to date has not yet reached the severity and intensity of operation "Defense Shield", yet PHR-Israel views with growing alarm the rising number of cases in which medical neutrality is violated and human life disrespected. These cases stand in contradiction to earlier commitments made by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and rulings by the High Court of Justice*, that Palestinian ambulances would be allowed to travel unhindered, and that soldiers would be instructed to respect the international law as it applies to freedom of movement of medical personnel in occupied zones.

*High Court ruling 2936/02, from 8.4.2002 states:

" However, the State emphasizes that the IDF sees itself as committed to fulfilling the rules of Humanitarian Law not only because these ensue from the rulings of International Law, but also for moral and utilitarian considerations."

(transl. PHR- Israel).

- An ambulance from Qalqilya is unable to reach a pregnant woman with life- endangering complications from the village of Thuluth.

- Ambulance delayed for over an hour and a half on the way to the hospital with a sick baby in Nablus.

- Medical crew faces gunfire when trying to evacuate wounded man in Jenin.

- Patients from villages surrounding Nablus unable to reach Rafadiya hospital for operations; hospital in full capacity since patients cannot be released.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel is a non-partisan, non-profit organization founded in 1988, comprising some 650 members who combat Israeli health and human rights violations, and strive to ensure equal and adequate health services for all.

The campaign to free Marwan Barghouti is getting organized - go to http://www.freebarghouti.org/

---- Full transcript of the war crimes panel available on the Gush site For Hebrew http://www.gush-shalom.org/archives/forum.html For English http://www.gush-shalom.org/archives/forum_eng.html French available at request

Also on the site: photo's - of action or otherwise informative the weekly Gush Shalom ad - in Hebrew and English the columns of Uri Avnery - in Hebrew, Arab and English (and a lot more) http://www.gush-shalom.org

In order to receive our Hebrew statements [WORD documents - not always same as English] mailto: gush-shalom-heb-request@mailman.gush-shalom.org + NB: write the word "subscribe" in the subject line

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