EJJP statement on the Bush-Sharon meeting and the Rantisi assassination

April 18, 2004

We, European Jews for a Just Peace*, heard, with dismay, of the assassination of Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz Rantisi, on 17th April, following closely on Bush’s endorsement of Sharon’s plans at the White House last week. This has given a green light for ever more irresponsible, unilateral Israeli actions in flagrant breach of international law.

The ongoing extrajudicial policy of assassination of the Palestinian leadership – with Arafat clearly in the firing line as well – is clear evidence that the Israeli government has no intention of concluding a negotiated peace.

There appears now to be a concerted attempt to destroy the Palestinians as a people. Whatever short-term electoral advantage Sharon may reap among his Likud supporters, this action will only increase the widespread bitterness felt among Palestinians and encourage those who dream of suicidal forms of revenge. We agree wholeheartedly with the condemnation of this assassination by the Israeli Peace Bloc, Gush Shalom, as ‘another act of lethal provocation’.

It will not make Israel any more secure, it will not bring peace to the region.

Bush’s endorsement of Sharon’s unilateral approach is a rejection of any genuine ‘two-state’ agreement. Its waiving of international law in favour of illegally-created ‘facts on the ground’ is a cynical endorsement of the philosophy of ‘might is right’.

* The so-called ‘withdrawal’ from Gaza is in reality merely a relocation of Jewish settlements, while Israel retains military bases and exercises control over Gaza’s borders, coast, airspace and water. The strip will remain a vast detention camp, a concentration of misery and despair that will breed more terrorists, whose acts will cynically be used by Sharon to continue to refuse negotiations.
* The six settlement blocks which Sharon has made clear, with Bush’s approval, will remain under Israeli rule are deliberately located so as to slice up the West Bank and make a genuine ‘peaceful, democratic and viable’ Palestinian state impossible
* The cruel and illegal ‘apartheid wall’ will remain in its criminal route through Palestinian lands, with only cosmetic changes; imprisoning Palestinians, destroying their livelihoods, and ensuring the continuation of the sadistic regime of ‘closure’ and collective punishment of an entire people.
* An ‘agreed, just, fair and realistic’ solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees can only be found through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, that recognises Israel’s role in creating the problem and its responsibility for sharing in a solution, as well as Israel’s legitimate concerns. Bush’s endorsement of Israel’s rejection of this approach can only reinforce hatred and embitter relations between the two peoples beyond any hope of reconciliation.

In particular the statement is a betrayal of those among both peoples who have been struggling together for a non-violent strategy of resistance to the ‘apartheid wall’. As the reaction from Hamas shows, the statement will be seen as a rejection of peace through negotiation between equals, and as confirmation of the argument that Israel and the USA only understand the language of violence.

The Bush-Sharon accord is in contrast to the EU Presidency’s reaffirmation of the principle that the questions of borders and refugees can only be changed by agreement.

We, Jewish groups in Europe, are adamant in our rejection of this unilateral blow against any prospect of a peaceful Middle East and call on the institutions of the European Union to reaffirm their commitment to the rule of international law and to a just, negotiated settlement.

EJJP Executive Committee

18th April 2004

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* European Jews for a Just Peace is a network of 18 Jewish organisations in 9 European countries. EJJP believes that the only way out of the current impasse is through an agreement based on the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state and the guarantee of a safe and secure Israel and Palestine.