Last night, Yasser Arafat made an impassioned appeal to Palestinians to halt all armed activity in the occupiedterritories and especially attacks on Israeli civilians. Arafat was bowing to intense world pressure to rein inmilitants after a week of violence that killed 10 Israelis and 20 Palestinians and prompted the Israeli government tosever ties with the Palestinian Authority and launch wide ranging military strikes in the West Bank and Gaza.
With Israel’s tanks parked only 200 yards from his Ramallah headquarters, the Palestinian leader also appealed toIsraeli to halt its military strikes, which have killed more than 60 Palestinians and wounded hundreds in recentweeks. Palestinian officials said yesterday they had already closed 33 offices of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but thatIsraeli military attacks were making it more difficult to go after militants by destroying police and securitybuildings and generating intense public outrage.
The Bush Administration has publicly and explicitly defended Israeli military actions, which have involved the use ofU.S.supplied F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters. The U.S. vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemningterror attacks and calling for an end to violence by both sides, with Ambassador John Negroponte saying theresolution was an attempt to isolate Israel. And U.S. officials appearing on talk shows yesterday adopted virtuallythe same stance as the Ariel Sharon government, insisting that the primary threat to peace in the Middle East wasPalestinian terrorism and making no mention of the Israeli occupation.
- Islah Jad, Professor of Cultural Studies and Women’s Studies at Bir Zeit University.
- Amira Hass, correspondent in West Bank for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and one of Israel’sleading journalists. She lives in Ramallah.