From David Merhav in Haifa
At least 11 Israelis were killed and 45 others were wounded in a suicide bombing on a bus in central Jerusalem on 29 January. The blast was very close to the official residence of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was not in the building at the time.
Israel's daily Haaretz reported: "The explosion came just two days after senior Egyptian officials made another attempt to win a pledge from Palestinian militants to halt attacks on Israelis. The attack was a further setback to international efforts to bring about a resumption of peace talks. The US-led road map peace plan has been stalled almost since its inception in June of last year."
Government spokesman Ra'anan Gissin said that the suicide bombing illustrated why Israel is building the Separation Fence in the West Bank. "The rest of the world should sit back and let us do what we need to do to defend ourselves." The Palestinian National Authority denounced the bombing: "This vicious cycle can only be broken by renewal of a meaningful peace process," said PA negotiator Saeb Erekat. "Otherwise violence will breed violence, bullets will breed bullets," he added.
According to Haaretz, "A senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, Sa'id Siyam, said that 'the attack in Jerusalem is a natural response to the Israeli crime of occupation, last illustrated by the operation in [the Gaza City neighborhood of] Zeitoun yesterday'".
He was referring to an event when eight Palestinians, including three teenagers, were killed by the Israeli army responding to an attack by invading Zeitoun with tanks and bulldozers.
The revival of the bloody war between Israel and the Palestinians after months of relative calm reflects the refusal of the current leaderships on both sides to accept the right of the other to fulfill their right to national self-determination.
As the Israeli Defense Forces are busy making the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian workers and youth almost impossible, the militant Islamists are forcing a regime of siege and starvation on the Palestinians and pushing Israel to reinstate a cruel policy of national oppression.
Two weeks ago, a young Palestinian mother who was recruited to the Islamic Jihad group blew herself up as a young Israeli soldier let her pass into the Erez checkpoint (near Gaza strip). She had complained of being sick. This woman misused in the most disgraceful way the mercy of that young soldier and killed him among other soldiers. The result was an immediate siege and severe damage to ordinary Palestinians who wanted to work in Israel or get medical treatment outside Gaza Strip.
No reasonable person can justify the horrors committed by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The occupation regime and the building of the Separation Fence are causing anger, frustration, hatred and abhorrence among the Palestinian masses. Socialists in Israel have been struggling for decades against the Israeli occupation. The battle for Israel's withdrawal from the Palestinian lands has long record in the history of the Israeli left.
Nonetheless, no one can justify or understand the principled decision taken by the Palestinian militant Islamic factions to murder by any means necessary hundreds of Israeli innocents under the guise of "national liberation".
The idea of murdering 10 Israelis in the city of Jerusalem illustrates not only the ultra-nationalist idea of the radical Islamists to destroy Israel and advance ethnic cleansing, but also the determination of those terrorists to pay with the blood of their own nation in order to fulfill their terrible ends.
Isn't it obvious that after this terrorist action the Israeli military will find the excuse to implement the most awful means against the Palestinian population?
The recent corruption affairs of Sharon were in the headlines for days during the recent week. Sharon suspected of receiving bribes from a rich dealer, David Appel, who has recently been charged with giving bribes to Sharon. Appel's trial goes on as the State's Attorney considers charging Sharon. If Sharon is charged he will have to leave his office.
Now the Islamists have helped Sharon by providing him with a chance to appear as a national hero who could rescue Israel from the Palestinians, instead of as a corrupted and immoral leader who misused his post as Foreign Minister in order to promote his business.
There is an urgent need to regroup the Israeli and Palestinian peace-seekers in a democratic movement from below of workers and youth. The current Palestinian and Israeli leaderships cannot resolve the conflict - they represent the interests of ruling classes that never sought to achieve genuine peace but only temporary arrangements, in order to save themselves from being overthrown by the "ordinary people".
Any peace between the capitalists from the two nations will not bring about prosperity to the Israeli and Palestinian masses. Nor will it provide national independence to the Palestinians and security to the Israelis. Current peace initiatives (like Geneva Accords) lack any popular or mass basis as they were produced by non-working class political elites.
Ultimately the working classes in Israel and Palestine must fight their current leaderships and replace them by electing revolutionary leadership based on grass-roots organisations of workers' self-management and popular organisations of decision-making (workers' councils, soviets, assemblies, factory committees, etc.) That means overthrowing capitalism and building socialist societies across the Middle East
But the road to revolution passes through the end of the national conflict. No socialism can be worked for as workers are fighting each other for nationalist reasons. Socialism here will be achieved by abolishing the occupation and defeating the militant Islamic factions. It should be fulfilled by building a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem alongside the independent state of Israel.
Israeli socialists advocate the historic unified slogan of the left, "two nations, two states".