First Published: In Struggle! No. 156, May 1, 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The ink of the peace treaty signed by Sadat and Begin was not yet dry when the Zionist State of Israel launched a new round of provocation and attacks against the Arab peoples, particularly the Palestinian people.
The latest to date was the annexation of Southern Lebanon which was covered up by Commander Haddad’s declaration of independence. Haddad is head of the extreme right-wing Christian Phalangists, who are financed, equipped and clothed by Israel and billeted on territory conquered by Israel during its fall offensive. One of the Phalangists’ objectives is to disarm the Palestinian fighters stationed in Lebanon. At the same time, for four consecutive days, Israeli cannons pounded Palestinian refugee camps. Last week, the Israeli government authorized two new colonies for the occupied territories.
In the face of all this, the Palestinian people and their brother Arab peoples have not remained silent. As soon as the treaty was signed, massive demonstrations were held in the Middle East countries and a general strike was called in the occupied territories.
With the signing of the Sadat-Begin treaty, certain events have taken place which should make us stop and examine the orientation of the Palestinian people’s struggle. Recently, the Palestinian resistance has been working on two different fronts.
For some time now, it has paid much attention to consolidating its alliance with the different Arab regimes, as well as with the USSR. After the treaty signing, this alliance was concretized with the meeting of the Arab League countries in Baghdad. But no matter what success the Palestinian resistance might have in temporarily unifying the different regimes – some of which are in the U.S. orbit, and others in the Soviet orbit – behind a programme of reprisals against Egypt, the entire history of the Palestinian revolution indicates that this unity is short-lived. Depending on their interests of the moment, these reactionary regimes have all already betrayed the cause of the Palestinian people at one time or another.
Today, Sadat is playing the role of a traitor. A few years ago the Egyptian president claimed to be a great defender of the Palestinians when Syria invaded Lebanon to bolster faltering extreme right-wing Phalangists against the progressive and Palestinian forces. Today, Syrian President Assad has become a “friend”, as has King Hussein of Jordan. The same Hussein, who during a certain Black September in the early seventies launched a campaign of violent extermination against the Palestinians. Again recently, at the very same time that he broke diplomatic relations with Egypt, he organized a campaign of arrests against Palestinian militants. Two months ago, Iraq cut its financial aid to the Lebanese National Movement by half, in an attempt to force it to come to a compromise with the extreme right. As for the USSR, which tries to pass itself off as a natural ally of the Palestinian people, we have only to remember that it accepted UN proposition 242 which reduces the rights of the Palestinian people to a “refugee” question. And at the height of the Israeli-Egyptian war, it stopped delivering arms to Egypt. It is not in the interests of the Palestinian people to rely on the different reactionary Arab regimes nor to risk being used as collateral for one superpower against the other.
The other front on which the Palestinian resistance has been active is that of the military operations in Israel and the occupied territories, which were intensified following the signing of the treaty. During the general strike in the occupied territories, a bomb went off in the Lod marketplace, killing one and wounding 21. On April 9, newspapers announced that a hidden package had wounded a dozen postal workers in Frankfurt; 13 other people were wounded in a bus in Jerusalem, 15 more on April 12 in a restaurant; and yet another explosion in the Tel Aviv market caused one death and 34 wounded.
It is difficult to understand how these actions are compatible with the political objectives of the Palestinian revolution which are to create a secular State of Palestine where Moslems, Jews and Christians will live together in equality. These terrorists action can only spread fear and distrust among the Jewish masses, thus furnishing arms for the Zionist anti-Palestine propaganda. The struggle of the Palestinian people has nothing to gain from this kind of military operation.
There is no doubt about the justice of the Palestinian people’s struggle and it should receive the active support of the international proletariat and all progressive forces around the world. However, the difficulties which confront it and the many betrayals which it has suffered, at the hands of those who claim to be its friend, increasingly raise the question of the orientation which it should take and the allies it should seek out. The facts show that to be victorious, popular resistance requires an orientation aimed at the true liberation of the workers and at unity in the struggle of all the workers on the Palestinian territory against Zionism, imperialism and internal reaction. Only a proletarian leadership can guide the struggle of the Palestinian people onto the victorious path, the path of socialism.
There is no question about it. The hopes which have been placed in the support from certain major powers and the Arab regimes in power are only delaying the development of the Palestinian people’s struggle for its liberation and its emancipation from all exploitation.