We have just received this appeal from the Abna elBalad movement. In spite of appealing - and going on hunger strike - the imprisoned leaders of this movement are still being held in terrible conditions.

Yossi Schwartz looks at Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's "disengagement" plan and why George W. Bush, and now Tony Blair, as well as many inside Israel support it. The unilateral plan is presented as a means to solve the endless crisis and bring about peace and stability in the region. But beneath the road to the implementation of the Sharon Plan there lie two big landmines - the settlers and the Palestinian masses.

The assassination of Hamas' Gaza leader Abd Al-Aziz al-Rantisi by Israel on Saturday, April 22, is the second such act of state terror against the leadership of the Islamist movement in less than a month. This is unlikely to weaken Hamas's popularity among the Palestinian people. Moreover, the open support of the Bush administration for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's expansionistic designs in the West Bank will make the powder keg not only in Gaza but in the entire region even more volatile

As we predicted so many times over the last few months, Sharon’s “disengagement" plan from Gaza is leading us directly to hell. The plan was supposed to lead to a troop withdrawal from most of Gaza and the removal of all 21 settlements while at the same time annexing large territories in the West Bank. It was never a step towards general withdrawal. In reality it was a manoeuvre to steal even more land from the Palestinians. As soon as it was clear that the withdrawal plan had been rejected by Sharon's own Likud party, the Israeli army intensified its attacks on the West Bank and Gaza.

Periodically tensions rises between Israel and Syria. Bush has enough problems in Iraq and looks worryingly on developments between the two countries, but Sharon may have other ideas. Yossi Schwartz looks at where this situation may lead.


In Defence of Marxism will be publishing irregularly over the holiday period, and will resume regular output on 1 September.

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