is no intention that Arafat will survive the encounter with Sharon's
He will watch for his chance, wait for a moment when the Americans look elsewhere - and then he will pounce." That was the immediate
response by Uri Avnery, former member of the Israeli Parliament and est Member and veteran activist of Gush Shalom (The Israeli Peace Bloc). "The cabinet ministers of the Government of Israel have tonight adopted an ominous, criminal decision, whose implementation would entail rivers of shed blood - far beyond all the horrors we have already
seen in the past three years. The effects will spread far beyond the confines of this country - throughout the region and the world. The ministers who raised their hands for this infamous resolution will never be able to shake of responsibility for what they have done".
Avnery - spry and energetic, two days after his eightieth birthday had been marked at hundreds of political and personal friends packing the Tzavta Hall in Tel-Aviv - said these ominous words at the peak of an hours-long vigil opposite the gates of the defense ministry in Tel-Aviv,
the place Sharon had chosen to gather the members of his Inner Cabinet. For hours we have been tensely waiting - more than a hundred Tel-Avivian activists of Gush Shalom, Ta'ayush and smaller groups, among them also the former KM Tamar Gozansli, as well as a similar number of Jerusalemites at a simultaneous vigil outside the Prime
Minster's office - until we heard the cabinet's ominous decision on a squeaking small transistor radio.
Israeli peace activists seem doomed to spend a portion of
their lives on that dismal small parking lot, coming again and again to manifest protest at ever more outrageous acts of the government and army - but this time was different. This time we had the knowledge that in one of the official buildings behind the fence on the other side of the
street, a small group of men was at that very moment gathered to take life-and-death decisions - and we, whose own lives might be directly affected, had no confidence whatsoever in their motives or their judgment. This lent an extra electric quality to the atmosphere, the feeling of being actors in in vast tragedy - an extra poignancy to the
ongoing chanting from young and not-so youngthroats: "Sharon, Mofaz and Ya'alon -terrorists in power!" / "All the ministers - are war criminals!" / "Down with the Occupation!" / "Sharon, Sharon, the Hague is waiting for you!" / " Jewish - Arab Brotherhood!" / "Peace Yes - Occupation NO, NO, NO!".
Over all fluttered a big banner bearing a long series of words:
And now what? The Americans blocked Sharon from sending his
troops into the Palestinian presidential compound already last night - as according to some press accounts he planned to do. But how much reliance can be placed on the Bush Administration - which itself engaged more than once in adventurous, ill-considered and ill-fated decisions? For us, at least, the immediate idea is to organize a visit of
our own to Arafat's compound - not a visitation of death and destruction such as Sharon is planning, but a visit of solidarity, of belief in the peace between this land's two peoples, a peace which is still possible and which is more then ever a vital need.
Stay tuned for further developments (for further info call Uri Avnery