Year 2000 No. 120-121, July 26-27, 2000

Collapse of Middle East "Peace Talks"

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Collapse of Middle East "Peace Talks"

Britain Should Also End its Interference in the Middle East

Anti-Social Offensive in the Health Service
Nearly 600 Beds Lost in First Wave of PFI Schemes
Monopolies to Make a Killing over UCLH

News In Brief
Car Production Falls in Britain
Pay Increases Below the Rate of Inflation
German Bank Buys Bank Austria

News on Bombing and Genocidal Sanctions against Iraq
Further Bombing by British and US Warplanes of Southern Iraq
Over Half a Million Excess Deaths of Children

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Collapse of Middle East "Peace Talks"

The breakdown of the Middle East "peace process" is threatening to ignite once again the powder keg in that part of the world. The summit talks had continued for 15 days at Camp David before they collapsed without an agreement on Tuesday.

This breakdown of the summit comes about because none of the outstanding problems which are the source of the conflict in the Middle East have been addressed and sorted out. Nor could this be said to have been the aim of US President Bill Clinton in getting together Yassir Arafat and Ehud Barak. US imperialism has always aimed for a situation of "no war, no peace" in the region. It is this policy and tactics that continues to be totally detrimental to the interests of genuine peace in the Middle East.

Actually, both sides had refused to compromise on the issue of "peace through land", not to mention the fate of four million Palestinian refugees living in camps across the Arab world. These proposals if accepted would have been bound to have fanned the flames of conflict. But nor were the two sides able to find a compromise on the US proposal that both the Palestinian and Israeli states should have their respective capitals in Jerusalem. The US agenda to share sovereignty was not one that the peoples can rely on to bring a solution. Indeed, US imperialism is the one to exhibit bias towards Israeli Zionism and put pressure on the Palestinian leaders to compromise with Israeli demands.

Nothing short of the Palestinians having full sovereignty in their own state can sort out the situation. Both the Israeli people and the Palestinian people can forge this new arrangement, but it will only be lasting if the malign influence of US imperialism is thrown off, because it is playing its own dirty game for its own ends. All foreign interference in the Middle East must be ended. If initiatives are taken by the two peoples without the mediation of the US, then they are sure to come to an arrangement which guarantees each other’s interests.

Article Index


Britain Should Also End its Interference in the Middle East

Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain said on the outcome of the Camp David negotiations that the British government, having "followed with intense hope the efforts by President Clinton to help Prime Minister Barak and President Arafat to reach agreement", expressed "regret that, although significant progress was made, the final decisions and compromises necessary to reach an historic agreement have, at least for now, proved elusive to both sides".

Britain has for long played a nefarious role on the side of the Israeli Zionists and backing the strategy of US imperialism in the region. It has backed the premise that underlying the "peace process" has been the mutual acceptance of the "principle" of "land for peace", which was laid out in the UN Security Council Resolution 242 after the 1967 war. It was also signatory to the "Berlin Declaration" of March 25, 1999, when the European Council reaffirmed its support for a "negotiated settlement in the Middle East, to reflect the principle of ‘land for peace’ and ensure the security both collectively and individually of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples". However, this declaration also "reaffirms the continuing and unqualified Palestinian right to self-determination including the option of a state", whereas this right has been continually thwarted through the stance of the big powers.

In his speech on "Britain’s Policy in the Middle East" on July 17, Peter Hain underlined that the "Middle East and North Africa remain central to British Foreign Policy". He said, "The region is our neighbour, our trading partner, and a strategic priority." This is the crux of the matter. When the crunch is coming now to resolve the question of sovereignty over Jerusalem, of refugees, settlements, security arrangements and borders prior to the September 13 target date for "Permanent Status Agreement", the British government, as is its wont, does not support the right of the peoples of the region to sort out their own affairs, but "stands ready to help the Americans and the parties in any way" it can.

We have seen the application of the British policy of so-called "universality" of "human rights" at work in Yugoslavia and Iraq. The government is extremely selective in its application of this "universality" in accordance with its own "enlightened self-interest". It is the interference in the affairs of other states in furtherance of Britain’s so-called "enlightened self-interest" which must be ended. Peter Hain’s smooth words conceal the assumption that the Palestinian and Israeli peoples need "practical UK assistance" to achieving peace. This is very disturbing for the prospects of genuine and lasting peace in the Middle East.

Article Index


Anti-Social Offensive in the Health Service

Nearly 600 Beds Lost in First Wave of PFI Schemes

It is reported in the Health Service Journal online that just under 600 NHS beds are to be cut in the first wave of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) funded hospitals. Official figures show that the total number of beds lost at 18 Trusts which have signed contracts to build PFI hospitals will fall from 11,591 to 11,020 a loss of 571 beds.

The figures were revealed by Health Minister John Denham in response to a Commons written question. The figures show that of the 18 PFI hospitals, in only 3 did the number of acute inpatient beds increase at the time the contract was signed and each originally intended to cut beds. Heaviest bed losers are Calderdale Health Care Trust with a loss of 135 beds, Bromley Healthcare Trust with a loss of 96 beds and Swindon and Malborough Trust with a loss of 53 beds. The only hospital to opens so far Carlisle Hospital Trust has seen a net loss of 55 beds the report says.

Mr Denham in his reply said that in future all PFI and publicly funded major hospital schemes which involve bed reductions would have to draw up parrallel plans for expand numbers of "community beds".

Monopolies to Make a Killing over UCLH

It was announced last week that the long-awaited redevelopment of University College London Hospitals has at last been given the go-ahead. The issue has long been a source of contention, among other issues because of the loss of beds that were proposed. However, it is now said that in the £422m plan, the authorities have allocated an extra £8m to ensure there will be no bed losses. However, the deal is that the new hospital north of the Euston Road will be expected to undertake more than 4,500 extra day cases per year, an increase of about 10 per cent.

Also expected is that the redevelopment will lead to job losses. The funding is also said to come from "public, private and charity" sources, indicating a PFI scheme in the making. Contractors and sub-contractors, which include monopolies like AMEC, stand to make a killing from the construction. In addition, it is announced that services like cleaning and catering are to be contracted out.

Article Index


News In Brief

Car Production Falls in Britain

Car production in Britain fell in June, as its car industry continues to suffer from what are described as competitive pressures. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics reported on July 21, the total number of cars produced in June was 153,000. This is down 3% from the figure from June last year. Car production for the domestic market fell 15.4%, while export production was down 6.2%.

Pay Increases Below the Rate of Inflation

According to the independent research body IRS, pay awards in the last three months to June averaged just 3%, which is below the current rate of inflation. They have been at the same level since March. Headline inflation rose to 3.3% last month.

German Bank Buys Bank Austria

While the Dresdner and Commerzbank banks debate their proposed merger, Germany’s biggest regional bank plans to take over Austria’s largest bank, Bank Austria. This will strengthen the role of HypoVereinsbank in Eastern Europe, since Bank Austria, which has already merged with Creditanstalt, has extensive interests in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Combined, the banks will have eight million customers, 2,000 branches, 65,000 employees and equity capital of 17bn euros, with assets of 650bn euros.

Article Index


News on Bombing and Genocidal Sanctions against Iraq

Further Bombing by British and US Warplanes of Southern Iraq

British and US planes on July 22 attacked civilian installations in southern Iraq. They were challenged by Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery, an Iraq military spokesman said in Baghdad.

The spokesman said that at 0925 local time (0525 GMT), 11 formations of British and US planes made 19 armed sorties over southern provinces, from their bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

According to Iraqi figures, bombings by the British and US jets have killed 300 civilians and injured nearly 1,000 others since December 1998, when US imperialism and the British government launched Operation Desert Fox air strikes against Iraq.

Over Half a Million Excess Deaths of Children

According to UNICEF studies, there have been more than 500,000 excess deaths of children under five attributable to the sanctions against Iraq. This is due to chronic malnutrition and a shortage of medicine.

Furthermore, Northern Iraq Save the Children programme director Peter Maxwell said on July 25, "There are whole areas of education which were really quite buoyant until about 1990, but are now very weak." This is due to the impact of sanctions on education.

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