22 Iyar 5759 May 7, 1999 Issue number 216
Gov't Congratulates Itself on Lack of Palestinian State
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Moshe Arens held a special press conference Tuesday morning on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords in Cairo. Netanyahu stated, "Today is May 4th, and there has not been a declaration of a Palestinian state by Arafat. This is a great achievement for the State of Israel and the government of Israel - one that did not come of its own. Arafat has warned many many times over the past few months that he plans to declare a state. Arafat is a smart man. He realized that our reaction would be sharp, and that our government would not allow him to unilaterally decide the future of Israel and its borders. However, he left himself the option of declaring the state at a later date. I would like to announce clearly: The government that I head will not allow, under any circumstances, the implementation of a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. We will enter into negotiations on the final status arrangement, and we will reach a final decision only by mutual consent." Foreign Minister Sharon said, "The announcement by Arafat on the postponement of the unilateral decision is the result of many months of hard and intensive work by this government... I myself have met with over 40 heads of government and foreign ministers since January..." Sharon also said that the government made it clear to Arafat that a unilateral declaration would lead to the Israeli annexation of broad areas of Judea and Samaria. MK Yosi Sarid (Meretz) mocked the government, saying that for all intents and purposes a Palestinian already exists. Palestinians rioted early today in Ramallah and other locations in Judea and Samaria, in favor of a Palestinian state and against the lack of a declaration of one. They threw stones and Molotov cocktails at IDF soldiers, who returned fire with rubber bullets. Three of the rioters were injured. (Arutz 7 May 4)
Advice for Netanyahu
Unrest is evident within the Likud party, in light of recent polls forecasting a major setback for the party in the upcoming elections. Optimistic Likud insiders say, however, that much is dependent on the active support of the Israeli right and the Yesha settlers for Prime Minister Netanyahu - which, despite the efforts and promises of the Yesha Council, has not yet been forthcoming. The Likud is also apparently concerned that Shas leader Aryeh Deri's open call for his party to support Netanyahu may turn away potential supporters. Another uncertainty for Likud television campaigners is whether or not to air segments of the wave of terror attacks that preceded the 1996 elections. The latest public opinion polls show that Netanyahu is trailing Barak by 4-8 percentage points. Even an internal Likud survey shows similar results, according to pollster Dr. Yaakov Katz of Bar Ilan University. "Netanyahu's problem is that although he direly needs to reach the population sectors that supported him in '96, it is not clear that he has succeeded in doing so," Katz observed. "He needs the overwhelming support that he received in '96 from the hareidi and Sephardic sectors, and he also must return to the strong 65% support level that he enjoyed until very recently among the new immigrants." Other noted right-wing personalities also related to Netanyahu's increasingly poor showing in the polls. Emunah Elon (noted children's author and Maariv columnist, resident of Beit El, wife of MK Rabbi Benny Elon, and former advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu for Women's Affairs) told Arutz-7: "We must face the reality, that most of the population doesn't care about the future of the settlements. It's not that they hate us, or anything - they are simply not particularly concerned what a Palestinian state will mean for the settlements. We must clarify to them that a Palestinian state does not only endanger us, but even more so - the rest of Israel. Only Netanyahu can stop the dangerous process leading to a Palestinian state, and this only if he is sufficiently strengthened and 'handcuffed' by a strong National Union Knesset faction." Rami Sadan, former advisor to Netanyahu on religious affairs, said: "Netanyahu must say clearly what he wants. He must decide who he wants to appease - Deri or Sharansky. He must not neglect even one of the various sectors that previously supported him. The Russians and the religious will decide the election." Journalist Yevgenya Kravchik of Israel's Russian-language Vesti newspaper said: "He must get the 'right wing intellegentsia' to openly support him. Barak's campaign recently paid for an insert in the Russian-language newspapers, in which some professor claims that nationalistic views are anachronistic, and that no truly enlightened person could support them. It's high time some of the right-wing intellegentsia around Prime Minister Netanyahu turn to the generally well-educated Russian immigrants to explain the other side." Yeshai Veiner, editor of an Israeli chain of local religious newspapers: "Netanyahu must use all the money that he may have been planning to save for the second round and get activists onto the streets. The presence of One Israel people and posters at every intersection around the country plays an important role, and this must be combatted. Secondly, he must become more right-wing. He needs the settlers and they need him. He must pay more attention to the religious and hareidi sectors. He is visiting Bnei Brak this week, probably for this very reason." (Arutz 7 May 2)
Mordechai Won't Give up
Yitzchak Mordechai is hanging in there. "We'll meet on the 18th of May [the day after the election]," the Centrist party Prime Ministerial candidate said Wednesday, after meeting with his party colleagues on the question of whether to remain in the race or not. The other Centrist leaders - Shachak, Meridor, and Milo - refused to speak with reporters after the four-hour meeting, at which they discussed recent polls showing that Mordechai's support in the Prime Ministerial race stands at only 5-7%. The party will now conduct polls to determine how the party's showing in the Knesset elections would be affected if Mordechai drops out. Mordechai attacked the media for "ganging up against him and in favor of [Ehud Barak's] One Israel." Number 3 on the Knesset party list, Dan Meridor, said earlier this week that if it becomes clear that Mordechai cannot win, he will call for Mordechai to withdraw from the race. Dr. Aharon Fein of the Tatzpit Research Institute has a possible explanation for Mordechai's stubborn insistence on remaining in the race, despite both his minuscule chances and the service that this does to Netanyahu's campaign: "Mordechai's considerations are less political/electoral, and more financial. Israeli law states that each party is paid 800,000 shekels for every Knesset member voted into the Knesset from its list. Several months ago, when the Centrist party was established, its leaders went to the bank for a loan. When asked how they would pay back the loan, the leaders cited the then-current polls forecasting 12-15 seats for the party - worth some ten million shekels or more in public funding. Now, however, polls show that if Mordechai drops out of the race, his party may not receive even one Knesset seat. This would leave the party with a huge debt, and with no bargaining chip for any coalition negotiations. If he stays in the race, however, the party may get 3-4 seats. With these in hand, the party could offer its support to whomever is heading the coalition negotiations after the elections, in exchange for an agreement to 'help out' with the remainder of the Centrist party debt." (Arutz 7 May 5)
Record Crowd in Meron
Despite the tremendous heat, the area around the gravesite of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai at Meron on Lag B'Omer was packed with a record number of visitors - close to 200,000 - and the police say that "not even a needle could fit in." Prime Minister Netanyahu was greeted enthusiastically by the crowd; Ehud Barak would not come. Signs and banners in favor of Shas and Netanyahu can be seen all over, as well as a few scattered ones in favor of other parties. (Arutz 7 May 4)
Anti-Israel Feeling among Arab Citizens Increases
Nearly 18% of Israeli Arabs feel that the State of Israel has no right to exist - up from 7% ten years ago and 13% just five years ago. So finds a new survey by the Institute for Peace Research in Givat Chaviva. Head researcher Prof. Gabi Samucha says that the results mandate a new study of the relationship between Israeli Arabs and the State of Israel. Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Uzi Landau observed that the survey results are yet another serious result of the Oslo Accords. Labor MK Ephraim Sneh, on the other hand, told Arutz-7 that the high rate of hostility on the part of Israeli-Arabs is the result of the stalling of the Oslo process. (Arutz 7 May 4)
Elon Does Not Rule Out National-Unity Government
MK Rabbi Benny Elon (National Union) was the chief organizer of Tuesday's Lag Ba'Omer celebrations in Jerusalem's Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood. Hassidic music star Mordechai Ben David, as well as Mussa Berlin and Mona Rosenbloom, will entertain the expected thousands of visitors at the dedication of the renewed Jewish neighborhood east of Jerusalem's Highway #1, not far from the Beit Yisrael neighborhood. The celebrations also noted the fifth anniversary of the Oslo Accords. "What is there to celebrate about that?" asked Arutz-7's Haggai Segal today. MK Elon's response: "Specific clauses of the Oslo Agreement itself say that the agreement lasts from May 4, 1994 to May 4, 1999. This means that as of tomorrow, Arafat is no longer 'chairman' of the Palestinian Authority, the mandate of the Palestinian Council expires, and the entire legal basis of the Palestinian Authority elapses. Arafat has been aware of this all along, and acted vigorously up until 3 months ago to declare a state if there was to be no final-status deal, because he knew that the legal vacuum that would otherwise result would cause him to lose all." Segal: "I haven't heard any Israeli officials talk this way, and it's clear that nothing will change in the way things run in the future." Elon: "The legal advisor of the Foreign Ministry wrote a legal opinion explaining these facts to Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon, and Amir Oren has written of this in Ha'aretz, but for the most part, the issue has been deliberately ignored. The official Israeli approach is that our relationship to the PA is similar to that of a landlord-tenant contract, which continues by default even after the official end-date if neither party makes any changes. What this means, though, is that for even the most minor Oslo violation by Arafat, Netanyahu has the legal basis to say that the Oslo process is cancelled. He can no longer claim that he has no choice, that he is bound by an international agreement. If he says so as of tomorrow, this will simply not be the truth."
Segal queried, "A left-wing government may arise in two weeks' time, and the withdrawals will continue. What will you [as someone involved in toppling Netanyahu] have then gained?" Elon explained that in the last several months, "there has been a huge change in the settlement map, a revival, many hilltops in Yesha have been grabbed, and the like. In addition, by dispersing the Knesset, Arafat was denied a chance to declare a state, because all he had was eight cities in non-contiguous enclaves. He had hoped to arrive at the May 4th date with contiguous territory from Jenin to Mt. Hevron, but he didn't get this. Netanyahu can now begin a new term in office free of the 'interim agreement' and will be able to move right on to 'final status' talks. A third gain is that the domestic political constellation has changed. In our second 'marriage' to Netanyahu [if the National Union joins a Netanyahu-led government], he will understand that he is dealing with different people - not like when the NRP's Sha'ul Yahalom essentially gave him the green light to sign the Wye agreement by assuring him that the NRP would not topple him." What if a national unity government is formed, and Elon's National Union party will have no ability to directly effect policy? "From past experience, a national unity government is not necessarily bad," Elon answered. "It can be of great value. It often just preserves the status quo. If such a government were to face a war against Arafat, for instance, the nation will be united. On the other hand, what will we have gained if a narrow right-wing government of 61 MKs faces a showdown with Arafat, and half the nation comes and demonstrates against the government in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, instead of fighting the war - and all of this after we have given away Hevron and other parts of Eretz Yisrael!?" Elon summed up, "A strong right-wing government is my first choice, but even if a national-unity government is formed, I won't regret our unavoidable step [of forcing elections], since it prevented the withdrawals and pre-empted the declaration of a Palestinian state, saving the Land of Israel and the State of Israel." (Arutz 7 May 4)
Following reports of Yasser Arafat's intention to establish diplomatic relations with Iran, and to raise the status of foreign missions in the autonomy, Prime Minister Netanyahu said last night, "Arafat's intention to establish close relations with Iran demonstrates the danger to be posed if a Palestinian state is created. It will bring Iran - Israel's great enemy - to our doorstep." The Prime Minister added, "If it is true that the Palestinian Authority is acting to raise the level of its relations with other countries, this would constitute a flagrant violation of the Oslo Accord, and Israel would be obliged to take aggressive action." (Arutz 7 May 3)
Hamas and Arafat
Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman took issue with one of the lead stories in the Israeli press Sunday. Radio and newspaper headlines announced, in the name of unnamed security sources, that Hamas had agreed not to carry out terrorist attacks until after the Israeli elections. "The press made it sound as if Hamas is against Netanyahu and tacitly supports the Oslo agreement," Huberman said. "But the truth is that Hamas is simply incapable of perpetrating terrorist attacks. Ever since the killings of the Awadallah brothers by Israeli security forces [eight months ago], Hamas has basically been crippled." Huberman also explained that Arafat and Hamas presently find themselves on good terms: "Arafat and Hamas conduct an ongoing dialogue, and are willing to work together. They have agreed that no matter what, there will not be a civil war between them. It is not in Arafat's interest to have terrorist attacks right now, as he sees no reason to upset the very comfortable diplomatic relations he has with Clinton and the rest of the world. It is convenient for Arafat to keep Hamas around as a card that he may one day need to play." Huberman noted that Arafat's refusal to dismantle the Hamas terrorist infrastructure is a blatant violation of the commitments he gave at Wye Plantation. "This is not the only violation, however. He has also not arrested the famous 30 wanted terrorists - Israel gave up on their extradition at Wye, but not on their arrest. In addition, the only illegal weapons confiscated by the PA were some 50 handguns somewhere in Gaza; the PA shows off these guns every once in a while as a kind of travelling display showing how it has fulfilled its obligations. There are many illegal weapons circulating within PA circles themselves, not only among private citizens in Gaza. These and other violations are what held up the implementation of the second stage of the Wye Agreement withdrawal." In conclusion, Huberman noted, "The Americans are well aware of these violations, but have chosen to ignore them, and to present the Palestinians as being in compliance. This is apparently an attempt to get the Israeli electorate to vote out its present government..." (Arutz 7 May 2)
National Union Begins Talks with Netanyahu
National Union MK Tzvi Hendel revealed Sunday that his party is conducting pre-election coalition negotiations with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Speaking with Arutz-7, Hendel stated that although he would rather see someone like Benny Begin as Prime Minister, "one has to be realistic. Our operative assumption is that the second round run-off will be between the left and the right, and that the right will be represented, for better or for worse, by Binyamin Netanyahu. Therefore, we have to do all we can to ensure that he, and not Ehud Barak, is elected. The National Union can then be a central component and backbone of a government under Netanyahu... We have our gripes with Netanyahu on the Wye process, but in the meantime, we have succeeded in stopping the withdrawals. Our presence in the government can help Binyamin Netanyahu be the same Binyamin Netanyahu who wrote that famous book with which we all identify." Hendel noted that the official legal status of the Oslo agreements elapses to days from now, and "only a Netanyahu-led coalition will be able to take advantage of that fact to move immediately to final-status talks, which can then take many many years to be resolved." Arutz-7's Ariel Kahane asked him, "How can you be sure that the National Union will be in a Netanyahu-led coalition? Netanyahu may very well opt for a national-unity government with Labor, or Barak may win. In both these scenarios, you'll be sitting in the opposition..." Hendel answered that his party had already begun pre-election coalition negotiations with Netanyahu: "He needs it no less than the Land of Israel does. Prior to the second round, he will want to present voters a prospective government. If he tells voters that he'll form a national unity government with Labor, he won't win - Barak will." (Arutz 7 May 2)
At Least 15% of Palestinians Support Attacks and Peace Process
Almost half the Palestinian population supports armed attacks against Israelis. At the same time, 70% of respondents in a recent poll conducted by the Center for Palestine Research and Studies say that they support the peace process with Israel. 45% of those polled support the attacks - 4% more than two months ago - while 48% oppose them. 63% of respondents see no difference between the two leading Prime Ministerial candidates - Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak - in terms of their ability to advance the peace process forward. (Arutz 7 May 2)
No Vacancies in Eli
How many houses stand empty in the budding Binyamin community of Eli? According to MK Yossi Sarid of Meretz, the answer is about 300 - as he told national viewers during a campaign ad shown last week on television. However, the Jerusalem weekly Kol Ha'Ir found that the actual number of empty houses in Eli is only 34 - and that none of these are inhabitable. The paper found that the empty homes were built not by the Netanyahu government - as the Meretz ad claimed - but by the Shamir government (before Labor came to power in 1992). Shamir's successor, Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, forbade the sale of the homes for several years, during which time they became uninhabitable. An Eli town council representative told Arutz-7 today that the town's population has doubled over the past three years. (Arutz 7 Apr 30)
Arens in Washington
Defense Minister Moshe Arens, visiting in Washington, said that Israeli policy is not to permit Yesha settlements of what he calls "individuals." After meeting with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright last week, Arens announced that he had ordered the removal of several settlement points of this type in the past. Yesha activists are now saying that they will continue to establish more settlement sites - at least until the elections. In response to Arens' remarks, Yesha Council Chairman Pinchas Wallerstein explained that Arens is a student of the old-time Revisionist ideology that puts less stock in grass-roots settlement efforts and facts on the ground than on diplomatic efforts. "Paradoxically, our settlement movement is a continuation more of the traditional Labor movement than of the Likud's forebears," Wallerstein said, admitting that there have been government efforts against the new settlement efforts. He said, however, that these do not negate the Yesha Council's support for Prime Minister Netanyahu: "If Barak wins - and it is not certain that he will not win - we will be in a very difficult position. Barak talks openly about the evacuation of Yesha communities, using the more politically- correct terminology of 'transfer' and 'settlement blocs.' If he wins, there will be difficult problems for us, but we will deal with them... Barak made a particular strategic decision to go with very leftist elements, which is too bad, because he has definitely made important contributions to our country." (Arutz 7 Apr 29)
Official PA Radio Broadcasts Sermon Forbidding Recognition of Israel
Following are excerpts from the April 30, 1999 weekly Friday prayer sermon broadcast live on the official Palestinian Authority radio station Voice of Palestine:
"Our position has not changed at all. The land of Muslim Palestine is a single unit which can not be divided. There is no difference between Haifa and Shechem (Nablus), between Lod and Ramallah, and between Jerusalem and
Nazareth. The division of the land of Palestine into cantons and the recognition of the occupation is forbidden by religious law, since the land of Palestine is sacred Wakf land for the benefit of all Muslims, east and west. No one has the right to divide it or give up any of it. The liberation of Palestine is obligatory for all the Islamic nations and not only for Palestinian nation. All Israeli politicians across their entire political spectrum, regardless of their labels, they all have a single Zionist view embodied in the occupation of the land and the establishment of the Zionist entity at the expense of the Muslim Palestinian land. Allah shall free the captives and the prisoners, Allah shall grant victory to our jihad warriors." (PMO/PA Radio May 4)
181 - A Declaration of War Editorial Nativ
In its session in Gaza on Tuesday, April 29, l999, the Palestinian National Council (PNC) discussed the postponement of the declaration of Palestinian statehood, scheduled for May 4. The debate centered primarily on the demand to establish a Palestinian state which will include all territories designated as Arab land in UN Resolution 181. For about a half a year now, the Palestinian Authority has vigorously pushed forward a political initiative calling for the implementation of UN Resolutions 181 (November 1947) and 194 (December 1948). In other words, fulfilling those resolutions which call for the State of Israel to return to the partition borders and for millions of Arabs to overrun the emasculated stump which will remain of the Jewish state.
After a series of meetings with personalities in Europe in which this matter was raised, Arafat met with Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the UN, on March 21, 1999 and received his blessing. Annan claimed that Arafat's demand was firmly anchored in the General Assembly's resolutions.
After receiving the green light from the UN Secretary-General on March 25, the PLO, now operating in its role as the Palestine Liberation Organization, submitted an official request for a General Assembly session in which Israel be called upon to explain its violations of the UN Resolutions. The PLO demand is supported by all of the Arab states - led by Egypt.
Europe, at the insistent urging of Germany, the dominant force on the continent and the nation currently presiding over the European Union, supports the Arab demand. It was Germany which raised the demand for the internationalization of Jerusalem by transforming it into a separate entity (corpus seperatum) based on the partition borders.
The UN Human Rights Commission (a body which enjoys great prestige and influence), in its annual meeting in Geneva on April 28, l999, adopted a resolution calling for self-determination for the Palestinian nation on the basis of Resolution 181 from November 1947, and demanding that Israel fulfill Resolution 194 from December 1948. Of the committee's 53 member nations (Israel's candidacy was rejected due to the claim that Israel violates human rights), 44 voted in favor of the resolution, including all the European nations, and 8 abstained. Though the United States voted against, it adamantly refused to accede to the Israeli request to expend efforts to prevent the resolution's adoption. As a result, within a short time, the residents of Jerusalem, Nahariya, Lod, Ramle, Jaffa and Beersheba, to name but a few, can anticipate their cities being labeled "illegal settlements and obstacles to peace" by the international community.
The precedent for the new Arab demand is a direct result of the strategic abuse to which Israel has been subjected since 1990 (better known by its sarcastic euphemism: "peace process"). From the moment that Israel waived its basic right as an attacked nation to maintain territories which served the aggressor as a springboard for war, the return to the partition borders and the liquidation of Israel have become merely a function of time.
Now that all pretenses have been eliminated and the malicious Arab intentions to annihilate the Jewish state have been exposed, the critical mass which demands courageous action required of any sane nation standing on the verge of a national catastrophe has crystallized. The minimal response required to upset the Arab strategy would be to immediately announce suspension of the "peace process", annexation of those parts of Judea and Samaria which have not yet been relinquished to the Palestinian Authority, expulsion of the PLO from Jerusalem and disarming the "Palestinian police force". This step will almost certainly lead to the severing of diplomatic relations with Egypt and Jordan, riots in Judea and Samaria and possibly economic sanctions by the European Union. Taking all factors into account, it is a reasonable price to pay. The probability of a comprehensive war is low, as the Arabs are unprepared at this point. On the other hand, if the Arabs decide to wage a war, there is a reasonable chance that they would be routed, as Israel has not yet squandered its strategic holdings in Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights. If Israel does not take the above actions and chooses "disgrace instead of war", ultimately, to paraphrase Churchill ("You chose disgrace instead of war, you got disgrace and war as well."), Israel will get both "disgrace and war". However, one major distinction exists: Disgrace was the worst that Churchill feared as he never considered the possibility that Britain might be destroyed. The Jewish state does not have that sort of British luxury at its disposal. (Nativ/Ariel Center for Policy Research May 5)
WHOEVER is elected Israeli prime minister will face a new demand from Yasser Arafat - to revive a 52-year-old U.N. plan for dividing Israel into a larger Arab state and a shrunken Jewish one.
Nabil Shaat, one of Arafat's chief negotiators and someone well known to the State Department, has repeatedly said this is the Palestinian president's message during his recent travels to 50 states around the world.
The explosive demand has stunned and disappointed Arafat's ardent sympathizers among Jews affiliated with the Israeli left and the opposition Labor Party.
Arafat is no long asking for just the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He is demanding control of regions that include the Negev city of Beersheba and the western Galilee - and the installation of an international regime under U.N. auspices in charge of Jerusalem.
While the world's attention was diverted last week to the Balkans, the Palestinians presented their demand - and were backed by more than 40 countries - at a session of the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva. Only Israel and the United States said no.
The call is for reaffirming General Assembly Resolution 181, dated Nov. 29, 1947, which divided the land west of the Jordan into two states - one Jewish, one Arab - to replace the British mandate.
Since it was adopted, a lot of blood has been spilled, beginning when the Arabs rejected the partition and went to war with Israel in 1948 - and lost.
After that, Israel regarded Resolution 181 as dead. As David Ben-Gurion, founder of the Jewish state, said: "They started the war and they will pay for it."
The Arabs began another war in 1967 but Israel gained full control of Jerusalem as well as the West Bank and Gaza.
After that, the U.N. Security Council passed two resolutions, 242 and 338, which called for Israel to turn over the captured land in return for peace.
Those resolutions started to be respected after Israel completed its turnover of the Sinai desert to Egypt in 1982 in return for peace and later when Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres agreed in principle to return the West Bank and Gaza in the Oslo agreements of 1993.
Benjamin Netanyahu, then the Israeli opposition leader, rejected Oslo, claiming Arafat was, using "salami tactics" to cut off one piece of Israel at a time.
Nevertheless, when Netanyahu became prime minister in 1996, he accepted Oslo, 242 and 338 and eventually agreed to turn over 80 percent of the holy city of Hebron.
After he agreed at the Wye Plantation in Maryland last year to withdraw from another 13 percent of the West Bank, his ruling coalition broke apart and he had to call for new elections, 18 months before his term was up.
Meanwhile, the United States approved when Arafat announced last week that he would not declare the creation of a Palestinian state May 4 but would wait until after the Israeli elections.
But few noticed when Arafat was in Moscow on April 6 and made a more dangerous assertion: "The right for a Palestinian state to exist is based on Resolution 181 and not on the Oslo agreements."
Therefore, Netanyahu called an emergency meeting of foreign ambassadors to Jerusalem last week and told them plainly that 181 is "null and void."
It will remain that way if Netanyahu is re-elected, either on the first round of balloting May 17 or if, as expected, a runoff is needed June 1.
But if a rival wins, a 52-year-old skeleton might emerge from, the attic and provide a new haunting challenge to the survival of Israel. (NY Post May 2)
Yasser Arafat, upon his return from Algeria last night, said it straight out: "The Palestinian state exists." He continued, "The declaration will be made one day, whether they [the Israelis] like it or not." Middle East expert Dr. Rafi Yisraeli of the Ariel Institute for Policy Research basically agrees: "A state is built on actions, not declarations," he told Arutz-7 today. "In practice, they already have a mini-state, with their own stamps, passports, and the like. I fail to understand why the Israeli government saw it as such a great victory that Arafat didn't declare his state yesterday. What difference would it have made? He simply held this threat over our heads. It's too bad he didn't just drop it already, and then we would have reacted... But he didn't want to use up all his ammunition, so to speak. Instead, by very cleverly using this threat, he was invited to Washington to meet with Clinton, and toured Europe, and was able to collect lots of money, win support for his cause, and significantly improve his international image. Instead of getting so flustered, Israel's reaction should have been, 'if you want to, go declare your state,' and we would have known how to react." News Editor Ariel Kahane then asked Yisraeli what he feels Arafat's next move will be. Yisraeli responded: "If Netanyahu is elected, and he continues with the Wye withdrawals, Arafat will wait until he has a certain stretch of contiguous territory, and then he'll declare his state. Then, in keeping with the PLO's famous plan of phases, he will next demand a return to the 1947 Partition Plan borders, something which the PLO is already openly proposing. This is the point at which the process will collapse. If Labor wins, the same explosion will come, although a bit later, because Labor also has its red lines - Jerusalem, for instance, and the settlements - Arafat wants all of the territory, and Labor only wants to give 90%. All the Israeli leaders said they will not give in to Palestinian demands in Jerusalem. A confrontation is inevitable; it's just a question of whether it happens sooner or later." (Arutz 7 May 5)
With KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) the byword of all the parties, the election campaign to date has been fraught with unfortunate oversimplifications and distortions and its fair share of ironies.
Here are my favorites: When the Likud illustrates the Beilin-Mazen agreement by putting Palestinian flags on the Temple Mount, one might think that at least Yossi Beilin has some kind of deal on Jerusalem up his sleeve. But the truth is that Beilin solved nothing and instead agreed to leave the issues of Jerusalem and refugees for negotiations after the establishment of a Palestinian state in almost all of the West Bank and Gaza! Not exactly the formula for a stable peace.
That's not to say that dividing Jerusalem would satisfy the Palestinians. As Hamas spokesman Dr. Mahmoud Zahar told me earlier this week, such a concession would, at best, yield Israel a few years of respite and then the struggle would renew for the liberation of the rest of Palestine.
The same people who criticize Binyamin Netanyahu today for introducing exploding busses to the campaign broadcasts used a similar campaign in 1992 against the Likud-Shamir government. With one major difference: In '92 the Labor Party showed knifing victims. Thanks to Oslo, we have "graduated" from knives to professionally prepared bombs and the threat of a fully armed infantry of 40,000 Palestinian soldiers in the heart of Israel.
"Netanyahu divides the people?" We were far from national consensus when the Rabin-Peres administrations, relying on the tie-breaking vote of a politician who betrayed his constituents for a deputy minister's Mitsubishi, cavalierly plunged down the uncharted Oslo pit.
As of this writing, both Shimon Peres and Beilin have not appeared in Labor's campaign - a clear indication Ehud Barak believes most voters don't want them playing significant roles in a future government.
Would Barak's government match Barak's ads or will Barak's No. 2 -Shimon Peres - play a key role?
"The defensive strength of the IDF," the Meretz Platform notes, "is the principal guarantee of Israel's security." How unfortunate that Meretz is at the forefront of those pressing for withdrawals that will undermine the IDF's defensive strength.
While Meretz openly declares that "Israel must agree to withdraw to the international border," Meretz goes on to state that "the peace treaty with Syria must ensure that the Golan Heights will not be used again as a base for aggression against Israel, its settlements and water sources." But who is to say that it is possible to guarantee this with the IDF sitting somewhere west of the Kinneret?
As Amir Oren, a respected military analyst from Ha'aretz, recently put it to me, "the most important experience Barak might have gained was his civilian experience over the last four and a half years." During most of that time Barak faced severe criticism from senior party members and the Labor Party's finances remained in shambles.
As for civilian experience on the Arab-Israeli front, I note that while in the opposition he adopted Shimon Peres's approach of scrupulously avoiding criticizing Arafat, arguing that Palestinian violations pale in comparison to the threat of Iraqi and Iranian non-conventional weapons.
If he continues to apply the nuclear benchmark as prime minister, Arafat will have carte blanche to do everything but smuggle in a nuke!
Perhaps the most important unseen hand in the 1999 campaign is GSS agent Avishai Raviv's. His efforts to defame the Right (either instigated or not stopped by a GSS leadership that, since retired, identifies closely with the Left) bear fruits to this day.
We see it in the liberal use of the term 'extremist' to defame political rivals. Hardest hit is Benny Begin's National Union, whose critical role in stopping the Wye withdrawals, thereby precluding the establishment of a viable Palestinian state before the final status talks is an achievement that had the potential to be rewarded by double digit mandates.
Unfortunately, Netanyahu, whose own image continues to suffer greatly from Raviv's handiwork (the broadcast of the folio sized Rabin in Gestapo uniform photo-montage), opted not to clear up the Raviv story when he was elected three years ago.
And this is only scratching the surface of the distortions and soft thinking that pervade the election campaign in all areas.
One can only hope that the electorate has the sense to reject distortions, manipulations and simplistic answers to the critical questions we face this election day. (Jerusalem Post May 5)