A general strike in the public sector in Israel has been called in
protest against the non-payment of wages and the proposed 2005 budget
cuts. The strike is affecting all government ministries, municipal
authorities, state-owned companies and transportation, including the
national airline El Al. Refuse collection workers, traffic wardens,
dockworkers, railway, telecom, electricity and hospital workers are
also involved. Once again, it reflects the serious class divide that is
opening up in Israeli society.
This is the seventh day of “Operation Days of Penitence” that has
killed at least 70 Palestinians, many of them women and children. This
is the largest operation in the Gaza Strip in the four years since the
beginning of this Intifada.
Anyone who examines the situation of the Middle East, not in each
country separately but as a whole, must come to the conclusion that the
days of social and economic stability are definitely over. Instead of
economic stability we have crisis. Instead of peace we are caught in
the crossfire between the imperialists’ state terror and the individual
terror of the Islamic fundamentalists.
The Sharon government’s days are clearly numbered. His brutal two week
campaign in Gaza has achieved the opposite of what he was expecting.
The question is who and what can replace him? The alternative must
clearly come from within the labour movement.
Arafat is seriously ill. His days are clearly numbered now. Yossi
Schwartz in Jerusalem explains how this will affect the balance of
forces within the Fatah movement and how this will open up more room
for Hamas. It also marks the beginning of a new period in which Hamas
will be called on to stabilise the situation, thus exposing itself
before the Palestinian masses.
After a week in hospital, lying in a coma and suffering from a brain
haemorrhage, President of the Palestinian National Authority Yasser
Arafat has finally died. Yossi Schwartz, writing from Jerusalem,
comments on his career.