As he did with Oslo I, President Clinton had staged the September signing of the latest Israeli-PLO pact as a Washington photo-opportunity to bolster his presidential campaign. However, Oslo II will neither significantly advance the peace process nor provide that economic and political climate Palestinians need to perceive light at the end of their tunnel.
Not one of the major points of contention was adequately addressed in that September meeting: the final status of Jerusalem, control of water rights, true statehood for Arafat's people, the illegal settlements issue, the release of over 8,5000 political prisoners, and the 3.5 Palestinians in diaspora.
Yes, the Israeli army will depart some major cities, but may return at Peres', not Arafat's, demand. Meanwhile, Israel will establish 62 new military bases in the occupied Palestinian's West Bank. Yes, there will be joint Palestinian-Israeli policing. However, though Peres' officers may arrest both Jew and Arab, "Israelis shall under no circumstances be apprehended or placed in custody or prison by Palestinian authorities." (New York Times, September 29). Palestinians will retain less than 8% of their land promised in 1947. Control of the borders, flow of workers across them, and even travel between Palestinian's cities will remain under strict Israeli surveillance.
As for the economic stimulus so badly needed by Arafat's people, the Likud Party successfully lobbied in Washington against the release of promised U.S. funds. Clinton's $500 million for the Palestinians never got through Congress. Of the $600 million later promised by both the U.S. and the world communities for 1995, only $200 million has so far found its way to Arafat's government. Israel, it should be noted, received her $6.3 billion from the U.S. taxpayers again this year and on time.
Israel's consul-general, Nimrod Barkan (Chronicle Open Forum, October 2) mentioned his country's "profound desire to free itself from its unwilling control over another people." Yet there is nothing in the new agreement to suggest Israel will permit Arafat's people a State of their own, or even begin to treat Arabs within Israel proper as first-class citizens. As for the Consul's stated concern for Israel's "security," it should be noted no people in history have ever been secure while occupying and stealing other people's lands, shooting children, bulldozing homes, imprisoning an adult population, and stealing water.
The apartheid tone of Oslo II, its failure to address the real divisions between the parties, the unfair financial treatment of Arafat's people, plus Clinton's unwillingness to play an even-handed role in the negotiations, will continue to convert some Palestinian's frustrations into acts of violence conveniently referred to as "terrorism."
BY EDWARD W. MILLER
Not content with destroying our welfare system, and gutting environmental legislation laboriously crafted over 30 some years, while threatening to balance the budget on the backs of America's middle and lower classes to excuse tax breaks for the rich, Republicans are supporting Ernest Istook (Rep-Ok) who introduced an amendment to the budget legislation aimed at silencing anti-Republican dissent. This infamous piece, if passed, would prohibit non-profit groups from engaging in "political advocacy." Thus the Boy Scouts, American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, American Association of Retired Persons and hundreds of organizations which lobby actively to improve the living standards of our people would be silenced. However, big business, that recipient of "corporate welfare," those wealthy farmers receiving millions of taxpayer funds to make our foodstuffs more expensive, and lobbies such as the insurance industry, lumber companies, the arms manufacturers, the military, all of whom receive either outright government money or tax subsidies, will remain free to purchase our whores in Washington.
Almost every American charity would feel the oppression of this bill. The size and expense of the federal spy system necessary to insure that not one political word is ever uttered or printed by these thousand of socially-conscious organizations boggles the mind and flies in the face of Republican promises to "get government off our backs."
John Caldwell Calhoun, whose generation still recalled the sacrifices of the American Revolution, speaking in the Senate in 1848 said: "It is harder to preserve than to obtain liberty." He may have been right.