The question which poses itself now, at least as I understand and accept it, rightly presupposes that the actual, central and most feasible context for resolving the Palestinian question and achieving liberation for the Palestinian people, in this particular stage, is a political one. Although this context does not nullify the right of the Palestinian people to defend itself, or to attain the necessary means to do so, it nonetheless attempts to candidly answer a number of related questions: Is there a strategic military option through which the Palestinian people can achieve liberation and independence, by militarily defeating Israel? Which side stands to gain from dragging the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to a military-security arena? What exactly does a military option mean, and who is advocating it? Which side is trying to simultaneously eradicate any hope for a political solution, to shun a political battle, and to replace it instead with a military confrontation and a military settlement ?!
In my assessment, the last decade and the developments it brought upon the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, have shown beyond doubt that the military option is out of the question, both as a Palestinian strategy to defeat Israel and gain independence, and as an Israeli strategy to extinguish Palestinian aspirations for freedom, independence and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital within the June 4th, 1967, borders. It is also implausible in light of the current imbalance of forces in our region, and in the unipolar world at large. In the past decade, precluding the military option was a fundamental factor in pushing the political process forward, and in confusing Israel. It was natural for it to confuse Israel, and not the Palestinians, since the political option stripped Israel of the overwhelming military advantage it enjoyed, especially in the absence of an Arab element in this equation.
Imposing the political option was an achievement of the first Palestinian intifada (popular uprising) of the late 1980s which brought together the entire Palestinian people, men, women, children and seniors, rejecting the occupation, confronting it with stones, and stripping it of its powerful military card, its military might, which was turned into a liability, a fetter around the occupier’s arms: whenever Israel used its military advantage to win a military victory, it found itself losing politically.
The rejection forces, predominantly the rightist, on either side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, often do not like to take into consideration such compounded issues; they insist on considering the conflict an existential one which can be settled only through military confrontation, sooner or later. These groups are interested in ruling out the political solution and the political opportunity, denying these options a real chance to succeed, since that would contradict their strategy and final solution.
It is not a coincidence that Sharon’s obdurate, colonial government was ushered to power in Israel under the slogan: "Give the army a chance to win," after adopting Barak’s cliches: "There is no peace partner on the Palestinian side," and "Arafat is no partner for peace," and his belief that after Camp David II Israel must impose a solution based on its military might, even if it adopts unilateral moves (including the so-called "separation" plan) to this end.
The truth is Sharon did not bring with him to power the mentality of the military option; it was Barak who laid the foundations for it through undermining the Palestinian partner in the peace process, thus bringing Sharon to power. It is not true either that Sharon’s blood thirsty government, which massacres Palestinians in Rafah, Tulkarem, Khan Yunis, Nablus, and Jenin, is committing these crimes because there is no Palestinian peace partner; on the contrary, such crimes are committed precisely because there is a Palestinian side interested a peaceful and just solution, committed to a political settlement. The presence of such a partner, Sharon fears, may restrict his military option, or even strip Israel of its superior military card altogether.
Rehva’am Ze’evi, Israel’s late tourism minister, who advocated "transfer" [ethnic cleansing] of the Palestinians, was blunt -to the degree of rudeness- when he was interviewed by Israeli television only hours before the suicide bombing of Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem and few weeks before he was assassinated; he demanded his government to "declare war on the Palestinian Authority, to dismantle it, to destroy it, and to end Yasir Arafat’s rule," citing the senseless argument that, "Arafat is not a suitable partner for a solution." (Ze’evi was looking for a peace partner ?!!) He even angrily warned his interviewer, "Don’t frighten the people of Israel with the alternative that might replace Arafat… if Hamas and Islamic Jihad take control of the Palestinian leadership, this will benefit Israel … the world will understand us. Then we can stick to the military option and to the opportunity of eliminating terrorism." This outrageous statement by Ze’evi exposes the true face of the Likud-Labor government: it is not concerned about the Israelis’ security, but rather the occupation’s security and continuity, as well as the perpetuation of its colonization, oppression and aggression, all channeling the conflict into the military track, taking it further away from any political settlement.
The mere creation of the Israeli national unity government reflects the political and ethical crisis that dominates the political structure in Israel. This government has "assassinated reason," as well as the opportunity for peace and democracy; it was not created to offer an alternative to the existing political or peaceful solutions, but was in fact created as an alternative to all political solutions and to every process of negotiation, deemed as an obstacle to be removed. It does not have anything to offer but oppression, aggression, and colonial violence in its attempt to subdue the Palestinian people.
Such "rolling insanity" is capable of creating a dangerous new reality, whereby the Israeli occupation returns to the hearts of Palestinian cities, facing widespread popular resistance anew, after Israel had succeeded in the Oslo accords to dissociate itself from Palestinian population centers. Such a development creates new rules, carrying new dangers, and new confrontation tools, rooted in the tactics of the first intifada. No one then can deny the Palestinian people its right to self-defense and to resist the occupation in Ramallah, Tulkarem refugee camp, and Al Kasaba in Nablus; moreover, no one then can fail to distinguish between the criminal and the victim.
Such dissemination of false consciousness intensifies the complexities of confronting the oppressive Israeli occupation, which is sponsored by the Bush Administration. In fact, the Bush administration is lying when it declares a "war of democracy" against terrorism, whereas in fact the war is on democracy, human rights and freedom of nations, the American nation included. The US intentionally and systematically mixes up, in a criminal and deceitful manner, between any form of national liberation struggle, or struggle for nations’ rights, on the one hand, and "terrorism" on the other, where the latter has become the American magical fig leaf since the September 11th attacks. This "terrorism" has been manipulated as a pretext for suppressing every struggle for social justice, human rights or democracy, despite the fact that since the 1980s until recently the United States used these same values to justify its "rapid intervention" worldwide, where in fact it committed crimes under their guise.
Under the rule of Barak and later Sharon, official Israel has worked hard since it launched its aggression against the Palestinians in October 2000, to portray the intifada as a "war," not aimed at ending the occupation, or gaining independence for the Palestinian people, but on the very existence of Israel, and a continuation of "Israel’s war of independence," which started in 1948 and has not ended yet. This illogical, cunning and anti-historical falsification is meant to prepare the minds of the public to accept mechanisms similar to those used in the 1948 Nakba (Palestinian Catastrophe), and the Israeli war crimes that ensued. It also aims at rallying all Israelis behind the official line, and silencing any real debate on the occupation, the settlements, and the objective differences between those who profit from the occupation and those who are hurt by it. The Israeli fabrication also aims at hiding the true face of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, liberation, and independence, making it look instead as a "war" to eradicate Israel.
Furthermore, official Israel has deliberately and dishonestly used Barak’s failure at Camp David to dictate a Palestinian concession on the right of return, to convince Israelis that the Palestinian strategy is based on destroying Israel and changing its demographic nature, and not on the quest to end the occupation or to achieve independence.
The rulers of Israel, despite their differences, have dealt with the Palestinian refugees issue and the right of return as a scarecrow to generate fear among the Israeli public of the justice element in the proposed peaceful solutions, whereas recognizing the Palestinians’ right of return would actually end such fears. It is futile for Israel’s consecutive governments to arrogantly assign the duty of, and responsibility for, securing the Jewishness of the state of Israel to the Palestinians, through demanding that they forfeit the rights warranted to them by the international legitimacy, and deceptively considering them, if they fail to do so, liable for the failure of the peace process and for the collapse of the final status talks.
It is true that the 1967 borders are not the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; however, they undoubtedly offer a chance for a political solution. Ignoring this fact has helped free the settlers of their isolation, and has wiped out the line drawn to discern between Israeli civilians and settlers, who form a primary component of the occupation, and an obstacle to Palestinian independence.
Inside Israel, the bombings have created a dangerous and fake perception among Israelis and in the international community that the main threat is not the occupation but "terrorism," which aims at killing Israelis and Jews wherever they might be. From the same perspective, the Palestinian struggle is viewed not as striving for liberation and independence, but rather for the destruction of Israel; as a result, the Israeli occupation can once again succeed in presenting itself as the victim of those whom it is actually victimizing. This has given the gory Israeli ruling establishment a golden opportunity to spread ethical, political, and ideological insipidity and apathy in the Israeli community, to uphold its military option, and to maintain the status quo indefinitely.
In light of this conflict, the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership have no right to abandon their faith in their ability to politically penetrate the Israeli society, to accumulate peaceful achievements there, and to await the right moment to shatter the Israeli collective silence, which resulted from an ugly disinformation campaign, thriving on Barak’s deception, Sharon’s lies and Palestinian mistakes. Sharon is seeking ways to avoid the political process and to reduce the conflict to its security dimension, through maintaining the explosive situation, intensifying the bloodletting and committing war crimes. His government not only lacks a political alternative, but has also made itself an alternative to any political solution; his main agenda is guaranteeing security, occupation and settlements, and not guaranteeing the security of Israelis and Palestinians alike, through ending the occupation, dismantling the settlements and recognizing the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights.
Having a breakthrough that can alter the dominant position in Israel is a decisive factor in winning the battle for a just peace, and for completely ending the occupation. Influencing the international public opinion is just as crucial in mobilizing support for international protection of the Palestinian people (a Palestinian demand which both Israel and the U.S. have no moral right to reject, or to impede, because they are both responsible for the crime). International peace and monitoring brigades and solidarity delegations also constitute a real challenge to the Sharon apartheid policies. However, the important question remains: who isolates whom? Will Sharon succeed in isolating the just Palestinian struggle and Palestinian leadership? Or will the Palestinian struggle isolate Sharon in Israel and internationally (perhaps in the Arab World as well)? Isolating Sharon must start in the Israeli arena, which is bursting with internal contradictions, and which is in a state of crisis at the intellectual, social and political levels. This, however, is condition upon giving those contradictions a chance to take off, to explode.
I believe that the snow ball has started rolling, and the uncertainty of who will win the million has turned into a question of time. Furthermore, the Palestinian bet on this breakthrough will ultimately remain a decisive factor, capable of isolating the sea of blood policy, which Sharon is presaging to the Palestinians and Israelis alike, and also capable of laying the foundations for just peace and independence on the ruins of this deadly policy.