THE ISRAEL REPORTSeptember/October 2000
Barak's Failure to DeliverBy Ariel Sharon
(September 1) - Prime Minister Ehud Barak's "unity offensive" is in full swing: preparations, conjecture, analyses, and purported emissaries conducting secret negotiations in the dark of night.
It's nothing but virtual unity, for gaining room to maneuver. All the publicity is anesthesia and pressure aimed at the political parties, while Barak continues negotiating towards his concessions agreement with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.
Barak has not approached me since the inception of the "unity government negotiations." It should be obvious that because of Barak's concessions, especially on Jerusalem, and because of his poor record on internal matters, there is no point in joining this government. The only way out is to move elections forward and move this government out - as quickly as possible.
The Likud will never join a government that adopts the understandings and agreements reached by Barak at Camp David. We will never agree to divide Jerusalem. We will never abandon the Jordan Valley, compromise on security areas, evacuate the settlements, allow Palestinians to "return," give up control of our water resources, or leave the Golan.
We will join a government to achieve national aims. We will not join a government to help Barak shore up his disintegrating administration. The Likud is not a default; it is the national choice over a government that has lost its way and broken its promises.
We have had 16 months of broken promises. Enough! This is no way to run a country. Israel is sick of politicians and public figures who cannot deliver.
During his election campaign, Barak promised the nation "one Israel." However, now he is aiming towards division through enforced legislation.
The Likud is pro-constitution, but that constitution must be arrived at through agreement, not coercion. Barak is fracturing the nation in a desperate effort to stay in control. And that is his big mistake.
It is vital to stress that the Likud does not wish to destroy the government. The Likud seeks to prevent a rift in the nation. And therefore, the Likud supports those reforms that foster unity and consensus but will adamantly oppose those who instigate divisiveness.
What about Barak's new socioeconomic order? Let's take a look at the list of his election promises, all of which have blown away in the wind: Barak promised that an "undivided Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Israel. There will be no compromise on this principle." But compromise he did, to the point of willingness to divide the city. Arafat's intransigence is the only thing standing in his way.
Barak promised free education for three- to four-year-olds, a long school day for all, and incentives for advancing the educational system in national priority and urban renewal areas.
He promised, but did not deliver.
Barak promised full tax and National Insurance exemptions for minimum wage employees. Promised, but did not deliver.
Barak promised to "encourage factories creating jobs in high unemployment areas." But unemployment has gotten worse in Sderot, Mitzpe Ramon, Kiryat Shmona, and several other areas.
Barak promised tax reform. Where is it now?
Barak promised changes in the Tal bill, the law that exempts haredim from military service. He backed down.
Barak promised to distribute state resources according to national criteria and aims, instead of factional interests and political pressure. But he quickly caved in to political pressure.
Prime Minister Barak promised, but didn't deliver. Credibility, it would seem, is not his strong suit.
Furthermore, democracy is in danger because there is no government. The prime minister does not have a majority. He is trying to ignore the Knesset and carries out mass political firings. The state is trying to take over the Broadcasting Authority, just like in mostly totalitarian countries, and is planning a Russian television channel to disseminate propaganda to immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are repelled by Barak's policy.
Barak promised a "different kind of politics," strengthening the Knesset, and presenting his policy to the public "without adornment."
All promises, but no delivery.
So I ask Barak: Now that your promises are gone, where are you going? Tricks won't work. Coalition maneuvers not aimed at forming a functioning government will not help. Even Machiavelli can't save you.
Worst of all, contrary to his promise, Barak has raised his hand against Jerusalem, and anyone who does that must be supplanted.
We all want peace. We are all committed to peace. But we must act to bring about a better peace, a safer peace, a peace for the generations, a peace with an undivided Jerusalem as the eternal capital.
(The writer is chairman of the Likud.)
© Jerusalem Post 2000
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