The CIA Peace Agreement

Revolutionary Worker #984, November 29, 1998

CIA. The initials evoke images of bloody intrigues and crimes carried out by U.S. imperialism all over the world. The assassination of nationalist leader Patrice Lumumba in the Congo...the rise to power of the butcher Suharto and the mass murder of hundreds of thousands in Indonesia...the Pinochet coup and the killing of over 30,000 Chileans...

Now, under a new agreement signed in October by the U.S., Israel and Yasir Arafat, the CIA will play a direct and open role in the "security arrangements" between Israel and Arafat's Palestinian Authority. This fact alone makes it clear that the new agreement--and the whole "peace process" that the agreement is part of--has nothing to do with justice and liberation for the oppressed people of Palestine. From the start, this "peace process" has been about suppressing the just struggle of the Palestinian people, in order to protect and strengthen U.S. control and domination over this region of the world.

The Reality Behind Land Transfers

The October agreement is known as the "Wye Agreement"--after the resort in Virginia where the negotiations took place under close supervision of the U.S. government. President Clinton was personally involved in the last part of the negotiations between Arafat and Israel's Netanyahu.

According to the Wye Agreement, Israel is supposed to release more land to the control of the Palestinian Authority. (Actually, this is land that the Zionist state already should have handed over under the agreements signed in Oslo several years ago.) Netanyahu also agreed to the opening of a Palestinian airport in the Gaza Strip and the release of 750 Palestinian prisoners (out of a total of over 3,000 held in Israeli jails).

Arafat claims that this agreement and the "peace process" as a whole will eventually lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. But a closer look shows a very different story.

The West Bank is now divided into three different types of areas. Area A is considered to be under "total control" of the Palestinian Authority. Area B is under "joint control" of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Area C is under complete Israeli military occupation. Before Wye, Area A was only 3 percent of the West Bank territory, Area B was 24 percent and Area C was 72 percent.

The Wye agreement calls for Israel to transfer about 14 percent more from Area B to Area A. In addition, Israel is supposed to carry out a phased transfer of an additional 13 percent from Area C to Area B. If all these transfers are carried out, about 40 percent of the West Bank territory is scheduled to be under full or partial control of the Palestinian Authority.

But the reality behind these numbers is that the Palestinian people remain surrounded by a hostile oppressor state which is armed to the teeth by U.S. imperialism. This will be the case even if eventually some kind of a "Palestinian state" is set up through the U.S.-directed "peace process." For the most part, the areas of Palestinian "autonomy" are broken up into small, separate pieces that can be easily isolated and attacked by the Israeli military. The economic lifelines are tightly controlled by Israel. For example, Israel monopolizes the water resources, which are crucial to agriculture, industry and the daily life of the people. Many Palestinians depend on jobs in Israel to make a living--and the Zionist rulers often refuse these workers entry into Israel as a form of "collective punishment." The Palestinian airport will be under the close watch of Israeli security forces who can search planes and cargo at will.

The Wye agreement says nothing about the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. These settlements continue to expand. Many of them are run by extreme right-wing Zionists who oppose giving up any land to the Palestinians. The settlers are heavily armed with weapons supplied by the Israeli military. Well-protected access roads link these settlements to each other and to Israel--while it is difficult or even impossible for Palestinians to move between various areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

And Jerusalem, the city Palestinians consider as their capital, remains off-limits to the residents of the West Bank and Gaza. Meanwhile, Israel has been building settlements in and around Jerusalem at a fast pace.

The areas of Palestinian "autonomy" under the "peace process" do not represent any kind of genuine sovereignty and self-determination for the nation of Palestine. Instead, they are like the bantustans that used to exist in South Africa. The apartheid rulers set up these so-called "independent homelands" in remote and poor areas of the countryside and forced millions of black people into them. The bantustans were a way to contain and suppress the struggle of the Azanian masses. And they also served as sources of cheap labor.

The "Security Arrangements"

A large part of the Wye Agreement deals with "security arrangements." The agreement calls on the Palestinian Authority to increase efforts to combat "terrorism" and "weapons trafficking." What this actually means is that Arafat agreed to step up the crackdown on opposition, especially armed opposition, to Israel and the "peace process." Arafat also agreed to round up 30 individuals that the Israeli government specifically wanted arrested because of their political activity.

And the Wye Agreement gives the CIA an open role as the "monitor" of these "security arrangements." This unprecedented intervention by the U.S. spy agency makes Arafat's actual role even clearer. The U.S. "peace process" had assigned Arafat and his Palestinian Authority the role of local enforcers over the masses of Palestinian people. The Palestinian police force now carry out a lot of the repression that the Israeli police and military used to carry out. The presence of the CIA means that the U.S. is now more openly directing the Palestinian police in this repression.

People who speak out against the Authority are quickly arrested and detained, and there are reports of widespread torture by the Authority's police force. The U.S. and its allies are funding Arafat with tens of millions of dollars. This is a small sum compared to the billions of dollars that the U.S. gives Israel each year. But the money allows Arafat to expand the police and other security forces. And if Arafat's police cannot contain the armed opposition groups or mass unrest, the Israeli security forces are close by to directly intervene.

In the weeks after the Wye Agreement, Arafat showed his eagerness to carry out his end of the bargain by arresting hundreds of suspected members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and putting the leader of Hamas under house arrest.

At Wye, Arafat also agreed to formally delete several sections from the Palestinian National Charter. Among the sections are those that state that "Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people" and that "the Palestinian Arab people possess the legal right to their homeland and have to the right to determine their own destiny." Arafat and those around him have long ago abandoned the genuine struggle for Palestinian liberation. But his agreement to erase even the mention of a Palestinian homeland from official documents signals new lows in his craven capitulation to Zionism and imperialism. Clinton has announced that he will personally attend a special Palestinian meeting where the official deletion of these sections of the Charter are to take place.

A False Peace

After the signing of the Wye Agreement, some Israeli settler leaders denounced Netanyahu as a "traitor." There are some sharp differences among the Zionists over the "peace process." In 1995, these contradictions exploded to the surface with the assassination of then-Premier Yitzahk Rabin.

But for now, the top Zionist leadership agrees that the U.S.-directed "peace process" is the best way to pursue their own interests. This became quite clear when Ariel Sharon--a top right-wing politician and rabid proponent of Zionist expansionism--joined Netanyahu's cabinet as defense minister shortly before the Wye agreement. Netanyahu himself had been a vocal opponent of the "peace process" before becoming premier.

In Palestine, the U.S. is promoting so-called "peace." Not far away, in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. is blatantly threatening war and maintaining a deadly embargo against Iraq. "Peace" in Palestine and war in the Gulf--these are two sides of the same coin. They are both part of an imperialist strategy by the U.S. ruling class.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497
(The RW Online does not currently communicate via email.)