OPINION

Breaking the cycle

Developments in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip should have long ago prompted public opinion in the West to apply moral and political pressure in order to bring about an end to barbarity in the region. For how long will the region remain trapped in a cycle of blood and violence? For how long will the governments in the West – which are otherwise sensitive to the protection of human rights – continue with their double standards in foreign policy? When developments call for action, Western governments tend to reduce themselves to vague pleas that are immediately discarded by the Sharon government. On one hand are the successive raids by the mighty Israeli army which, in the name of the war on terrorism, does not hesitate to open fire indiscriminately against Palestinian fighters and civilians, to destroy the Palestinian infrastructure and the economy, and to tear down people’s homes. The ongoing Israeli raid on Rafah is part of a broader strategy to wear down the Palestinians and drive them out of their ancestral homes. On the other hand, there is the blind terrorism of suicide bombers which has turned the everyday life of Israelis into a nightmare. Their government had pledged to shake off the nightmare but failed to fulfill its promise. Facts demonstrate that no intelligence service and no security measure can thwart terrorist attacks against unsuspecting civilians. And we have reached a point where Israeli hopes for security rest with a controversial wall which is set to turn entire Palestinian neighborhoods into prisons. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stubbornly insists on a disastrous policy. He wants to impose a military solution on a problem that is clearly political. However, Israel is a state and as such it must respect international law. It cannot afford to behave as an extremist organization. The tactics of Sharon’s government are fueling despair and indignation amid the Palestinian people. Palestinians are driven by the will for revenge – which becomes a main source of terrorism. The Israelis are realizing – not without dear cost – that they are not invulnerable to a total and unprincipled war. It is time for them to learn from their pain and, being the stronger side in this conflict, take the initiative and break the vicious circle of bloodletting. A solution does exist. The creation of a real and viable Palestinian state would enable control of the extremist groups and sever the roots of terrorism.