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19 June 1997 Edition

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Apartheid plan for Palestine

By Dara MacNeil

It appears that Israel's Binyamin Netanyahu is composing a cunning plan to guarantee peace in his time. Unfortunately, it also appears that the object of Premier Netanyahu's conciliatory overtures is not the Palestinians, but elements within his own fractious cabinet.

In an effort to convince his smaller partners in government that he is not contemplating a `sellout' of the holy land of Israel, Netanyahu has begun drawing up his own proposal for the final status of the occupied West Bank.

And, as his outrageous decision to proceed with the Har Homah settlement clearly demonstrated, when presented with a choice between making peace with the Palestinians, or making peace within his own cabinet (thus ensuring he remains in power), Binyamin Netanyahu invariably chooses the latter. If serious, his `proposal' for the future of the West Bank merely confirms that unwelcome tendency.

Although the plan has not yet been made public, details have been leaked to the media. They reveal that Netanyahu proposes that Israel retain control over and possession of some 60% of the territory in question. In other words, 60% of a territory that Israel annexed and on which it has no rightful claim. It gets worse.

As the, ahem, `peace process' stands, the Palestinian Authority currently control the Gaza Strip (a territory so reviled by Israel that former Premier Yitzshak Rabin once said he wished it would sink into the sea) and 3% of the West Bank. It should be remembered that the area under Palestinian control amounts to a mere 6.5% of the original land of Palestine.

Under Netanyahu's `deal' the most they could ever hope to control is 40% of the territory. But that territory would be divided up into three or four enclaves, each of which would be surrounded on all sides by `Israeli' territory. In other words, the separate territories would have to acquire Israeli permission in order to establish physical links with each other.

In addition, the enclaves would be subjected to the further humiliation of being traversed by four major highways - all controlled by the Israeli military. Israel would also, of course, retain control over all the territories' water sources. As it stands, Israel currently draws and uses over 80% of the West Bank's water. And naturally, the Netanyahu plan says, Israel would retain full and complete control over Jerusalem and its hinterland.

In the aftermath of the signing of the Oslo Accords, in 1993, the noted Palestinian intellectual Edward Said was fiercely critical of the deal that had been struck by Arafat. His fear was that the deal would allow Israel to impose upon the Palestinians the `Bantustan' solution forged by South Africa's Apartheid regime. There, territories were set aside for blacks and given a quasi-independent status. In reality, they were little more than internal colonies fronted by a few `local' faces. Israel has learned well from the Apartheid regime.


US to ``engage'' with Nigeria

Two and a half years after the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists, the Nigerian regime shows no inclination to relinquish power voluntarily. Repeatedly, the regime has promised elections within a given period and, repeatedly, it has reneged on those promises.

At the time of Saro-Wiwa's executions, opponents of the regime within and without Nigeria urged the imposition of a boycott of Nigerian oil. Revenues from the industry account for 90% of the country's export earnings and a full 80% of the regime's revenue.

Western governments, however, knew better. They decided to impose a wholly meaningless sanctions package. As General Abacha's continued presence in power demonstrates, the sanctions are ineffectual.

The reluctance to impose an oil embargo was explained by a US official who told reporters in an off-the-record briefing: ``There is plenty of oil (available), but there's only so much Bonney Light.'' Nigeria specialises in producing this brand of crude oil, a brand that is extremely pure and economical to refine.

But even the meaningless sanctions may soon be a thing of the past.

According to a recent Washington Post report, the Clinton administration is currently engaged in a rethink on its Nigeria policy. The report makes it clear that many White House officials expect the sanctions will soon be replaced by a policy of `engagement'. In other words, Nigeria will become a `friendly' country deserving of aid and investment, a regime worthy of support. The supposed logic of this approach is that the recalcitrant dictators will learn the error of their ways simply by coming into closer contact with such paragons of democratic virtue as the US. Note the success of this policy in Indonesia.


Right way round

Refreshing to see that South Africa's post-Apartheid judicial system is, at last, getting to grips with the country's growing crime wave. In an admirable show of zero tolerance, a court recently sentenced one Eugene Terreblanche to six years in jail for attempting to murder one of his black employees. Mr Terreblanche is also the head of the AWB, South Africa's answer to the Nazi Party.

Still, at least Terreblanche was spared the fate experienced by one of his compatriots in the 1980s. Claiming a black employee on his farm was guilty of a minor infraction, the outraged white Boer boss began beating the unfortunate man with the nearest thing to hand.

Unfortunately for him that turned out to be a shotgun. And as he held the barrel and beat the defenceless employee with the butt of the gun, it went off. He died instantly. Poetic justice.

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