As history seems to be repeating itself in the Middle East, with the region on the brink of a second intifada, it becomes more and more apparent that Yitzhak Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir, has triumphed. The murdered peacemaker has been replaced by a prime minister who uses the language of reconciliation while actively eradicating any possibility of achieving a just and peaceful settlement. For the first time in perhaps 29 years, Israeli tanks rolled down the streets of West Bank towns and Palestinian protesters were sprayed with bullets from helicopters. It took Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a mere 100 days in office to destroy the modest trust that Rabin had so laboriously built up.
The recent clashes are not about a tunnel, or about Netanyahu's unwillingness to redeploy the Israeli troops in Hebron, nor about Netanyahu's reinstated strategy of demolishing Palestinian houses. I would even argue that the confrontations are not the result of the government's resolution to resume the construction of 1,800 Jewish houses on Palestinian land. These are but symptoms of a policy that at its core seeks to deprive the Palestinian population of the right to self-determination in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The central issue is the far from radical Palestinian demand for statehood. This is a basic right that we, the Jewish population living in Israel, have been enjoying for over 48 years.
By continuing to deny the Palestinians this right, Netanyahu is attempting to choke off the peace process. The recent deaths of over 60 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, including 10 children, and the injury of over 1,600 people, is a direct outcome of the course he has chosen.
Since the bloody clashes, the Israeli authorities have imposed a military siege on the towns and villages of the West Bank. They have also sealed off the Gaza Strip. Physicians for Human Rights reported that the movement of ambulances and medical personnel has been obstructed, especially to and from major clinics and hospitals. Medical supplies are not reaching pharmacies and hospitals. The situation is so precarious that Physicians for Human Rights, together with Rabbis for Human Rights, are operating an emergency 24-hour telephone line for Palestinian patients who are delayed or stopped at checkpoints as they desperately try to make their way to hospitals.
This obstruction of free movement is not only a consequence of the recent violence; it is also causing the unrest. Netanyahu's rhetoric of …