"Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours... Everything we don't grab will go to them." - Ariel Sharon, as Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.
By now it should be clear to all Middle East analysts that the main impediment to peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is Israel and the right-wing Zionist extremists in Israeli politics. Time and again the Palestinians have expressed their sincere desire to end the inhuman conditions under which they are forced to live by the occupying IDF forces. Yet every time that a peaceful settlement seems to be within their grasp, bizarrely, Hamas or Islamic Jihad decide to fire a few, usually harmless, Qasam rockets at an illegal Israeli settlement, or unknown "Palestinian gunmen" will murder an Israeli settler, inviting the IDF to retaliate with deadly and overwhelmingly superior force.

How to explain such repeated, apparently self-defeating acts by the alleged representatives of the beleaguered Palestinian people? It has been obvious for many years now that the Palestinians cannot win an armed conflict with the massively militarily superior Israel and any further attacks against Israeli forces, population or interests simply provide Israeli politicians with the justification to increase Israeli control and oppression in the occupied territories. And Israel's nukes ensure that no other Arab nation dare interfere. It is equally obvious that the international community has all but washed its hands of the conflict and is resigned to allowing it to play out to its final and surely tragic denouement.

In the June 2005 "summit" between Ariel Sharon and PA authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Abbas told the Israelis that he wanted "freedom of movement in and out of Gaza, air and sea ports re-opened, key Palestinian towns handed back to their control and the release of Palestinian prisoners." Such demands are widely understood to be a precursor to the formation of a Palestinian state, an eventuality that Sharon built his political career on ensuring never occurs.

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On that occasion, the Israeli government agreed to Abbas' demands with the proviso that all Palestinian attacks against Israel must first stop. What is clear is that the only reason Sharon accepted Abbas' demands is because he was confident he could ensure that the Palestinian authority never met the condition of a cessation of all "terrorist" attacks.

It is clear that Israeli government oppression of Palestinians has little to do with "security concerns" and everything to do with harassing and murdering Palestinian civilians and leaders in order to prevent them from establishing themselves as a independent people with a sovereign voice on the world stage.

Central to this goal is the continued portrayal of any Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation as "terrorism" when, in reality, resistance (including armed) to an occupying power is a fundamental right laid down in the article four of the Third Geneva Convention.

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However, according to humanitarian law, in order to lawfully use force in a conflict you must first be designated a lawful "combatant." To be a "combatant," you have to belong to an "armed resistance group" which must belong to a "party" to the conflict. It is in this fact that we find one of the chief reasons why Israel will never willingly allow the creation of a Palestinian state.

As long as Palestine does not have official state status, any Palestinian resistance group cannot claim to be a party in the conflict and must remain a simple independent resistance group, or a "terrorist" group in modern parlance.

Not only did the developed world oversee the theft of Palestinian land in order to create the state of Israel in 1948, but in continuing to refuse to lobby for an independent Palestinian state, they ensure that any Palestinian resistance to Israeli aggression is delegitimized in advance.

To the shame of the international community, in April 2006 it was an Israeli court that first officially ruled that the Palestinian Authority fulfilled all of the criteria to be classified as a state and that Israel had no jurisdiction over Palestinian lands. Of course, the ruling changed nothing, and any opportunity that it contained to open international debate on the Israel-Palestine conflict was immediately crushed by a mainstream media blackout on the story. As I have said so often in the past, from the ruling Israeli right-wing's point of view, open and honest discussion, dialogue and debate on the Palestine issue must be prevented at all costs, because the day that ruling Israeli politicians engage in fair negotiations with the PA is the day that they lose their death grip on Palestine and its people. And that is the very last thing they are willing to do.

But how then can the Israeli government be so confident that the Palestinian dream of a state of their own will remain just that -- a dream?

Israel controls all entrances and exits to and from the Gaza strip and the West Bank, it is Israel therefore -- or more accurately the Israeli military and intelligence apparatus -- that decides who and what gets in and out of the occupied Palestinian territories. Without doubt, the Israeli army could, with relative ease, accomplish the goal of a cessation of all "terrorist" attacks that successive Israeli Prime Ministers have demanded of their Palestinian counterparts, yet the cold, hard fact of the matter is that Israel's present position as the dominant force in the Middle East is dependent on the continued existence of a "terrorist threat." That this has been true for many, many years was made clear by Israeli commentator Yoram Bar Porath in the Israeli News outlet, Yediot Aahronot of 14 July 1972:
"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands."
In attempting to ensure that the "terrorism" so necessary to the state of Israel is never vanquished, Israeli politicians have gone to great lengths to infiltrate and co-opt various Palestinian resistance organizations. Indeed, there is much evidence to support the thesis that, far from being the victim of terrorism, Israel is in fact one of the prime instigators of terrorist attacks in the Palestinian territories -- attacks that are conveniently set up to look like the work of Palestinians. For example, consider the following excerpt from a June 2002 UPI article, Hamas history tied to Israel, by Richard Sale...
"In the wake of a suicide bomb attack Tuesday on a crowded Jerusalem city bus that killed 19 people and wounded at least 70 more, the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, took credit for the blast.

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Israeli officials called it the deadliest attack in Jerusalem in six years.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon immediately vowed to fight "Palestinian terror" and summoned his cabinet to decide on a military response to the organization that Sharon had once described as "the deadliest terrorist group that we have ever had to face."

Active in Gaza and the West Bank, Hamas wants to liberate all of Palestine and establish a radical Islamic state in place of Israel. It is has gained notoriety with its assassinations, car bombs and other acts of terrorism.

But Sharon left something out.