Hebron-Past, Present and Forever -- March 7, 1997 -- The Jewish Community of Hebron


By David Wilder

In an interview following today's cabinet decision, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu related to threats by members of the coalition to leave the government. "It is in their hands if they want the government to be run within a different framework."

Netanyahu, together with Yitzhak Mordechai and David Levi, forced the cabinet to accept the first of three planned `further redeployments.' The initial abandonment includes relinquishing an additional 9% of Eretz Yisrael to Arafat, including 2% in area C, presently under total Israeli control. However, the real man behind the cabinet decision is not Bibi Netanyahu. It is Bill Clinton.

According to Arutz 7 news reports this morning Yitzhak Mordechai and other ministers took calls from the State Department several times during the cabinet debate. Martin Indyk, American ambassador to Israel received constant updates. Throughout the day, preceding the cabinet meeting, phone calls between Washington and Jerusalem abounded. The new American Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, reportedly told the Prime Minister that Israel must concede 10% of Yesha to Arafat. When Netanyahu presented the American administration with an alternative plan suggested by the National Religious Party, whereby only .5% of area C territory would be transferred to Arafat, the State Department nixed the idea. Then, of course, Netanyahu rejected it too.Netanyahu, defending the Hebron accords in the Knesset, basked in the glory of the `additional letter' signed by Warren Christopher, declaring that Israel alone would determine the extent of the `further redeployments,' without any intervention by Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. It did not, however, exclude American interference.

Seven ministers voted against the abandonment - Arik Sharon and Limor Livnat of the Likud, Zevulun Hammer and Rav Yitzhak Levi of the NRP, Natan Sharansky and Yuli Edelstein of Yisrael b'Aliya, and Rafael Eitan of Zomet. Deputy Ministerof Education Moshe Peled (Zomet) has announced his intention to resign. Hanan Porat, Shaul Yahalom and Zvi Hendel, all of the NRP, are considering pulling out of the coalition, along with Gesher MK Michael Kleiner, who heads up the Eretz Yisrael Force in the Knesset. He is calling on the other 17 MKs who belong to the Eretz Yisrael Force to join him and the other 4 MKs in voting against the government in next week's no-confidence vote.

It appears that the time has come to make a decision. The right-wing of the Israeli political spectrum broke its back to get Netanyahu elected. Had the elections taken place as scheduled, and had Rabin not be assassinated, it is impossible to know what would have happened. After the murder, it seemed that Peres' reelection was assured. Israeli public opinion and the left-wing backlash, supported by the media, insured the continued rule of the anti-Eretz Yisrael forces in Israel.

But the overwhelming work of tens of thousands of people in Israel and around the world led to `the miracle,' - the defeat of the left and the rise of the right. Ecstasy was an understatement. However, shortly afterwards, Bibi's intentions began to slip out. Arik Sharon, the one person most responsible for the election of Netanyahu was pushed to the side, outside of the cabinet. The Prime Minister's lack of reaction to the September affair left red lights blinking in the minds of many. And of course, Hebron. Hebron - abandonment of all values Netanyahu had ever espoused - the beginning of the end.

There were those who tried to defend the policies as `Netanyahu having no choice' - he was only implementing the agreements signed by the previous administration - and the Hebron accords were supposedly `improved.' After all, Netanyahu declared, towards the end of the election campaign, that he would carry out Israel's obligations as signed by Rabin and Peres. Forget the fact that Arafat continues to violate the treaty - that there is no reciprocity - that Israel is giving and they are taking. Netanyahu promised to change policy when the decisions became entirely his, when he was no longer chained by the constraints of earlier agreements.

So, here we are, arriving at the `first further redeployment' - Netanyahu's opportunity to show the world and the people of Israel who he really is and what he really thinks. As if we didn't know. The resulting decision, made in the early hours of this morning, is the final straw. Concession of land under Israeli control puts Netanyahu in the same boat with his infamous predecessors - he is willingly bestowing Eretz Yisrael to our arch-enemy, a terrorist who continues to spout hate. Only a few days ago Arafat proclaimed that `without east Jerusalem and with (Jewish) settlements in Yesha, there will not be peace.'

Why is he doing it - because of American pressure? The answer may be affirmative. Would he continue on the same path if the pressure didn't exist? It is very difficult to know the answer. One thing is for sure: he is doing it - he is in the process of parting with 70% of Judea and Samaria, which will inevitably lead to the creation of a palestinian state. We should not live under ANY illusions: the continued Jewish presence in Hebron IS IN DANGER. Ma'arat HaMachpela is due to be discussed in one month. Negotiations are sure to lead to concessions - which may be the first of many more concessions in Hebron and at the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

JERUSALEM IS IN DANGER! If Netanyahu so easily bends to American coercion, the end is not in sight. When they `propose' a Vatican-styled solution to the dilemma, my guess is that Netanyahu will fold. And he will attempt to convince Am Yisrael that this is for our own good.

So, what do we do? Up until now there has been a sense of `other considerations.' Toppling the government is fraught with danger - what else is there - who else is there? Maybe the problems can be solved behind the scenes - quietly, without rocking the boat.

The time has come to say NO, without any other considerations. Those who voted against the `further redeployment' are to be commended. But, that is not enough. The responsibility for a government decision is incumbent upon ALL THOSE IN THE CABINET, not only those who vote affirmatively. Rafael Eitan, speaking before the vote said, `we must abide by the majority.' In other words, even if he doesn't agree, he is willing to partake of the responsibility for the decision.

In a democracy, the minority has no choice but to accept the decisions of the majority. Dissent can be, and should be expressed to the utmost. In this case, ANYONE STAYING IN THE CABINET GIVES LEGITIMACY TO THE DECISION TO ABANDON ERETZ YISRAEL, and lends a hand to the continued proposals in Netanyahu's briefcase.

The Prime Minister has yet to reveal, to his own ministers, his overall game plan, his goals to be reached by the third and final `further redeployment.' These `further redeployments,' it should be remembered, are part of the INTERIM AGREEMENT. What after that - what is his aim for the final status of Eretz Yisrael?

So, if Netanyahu believes that he is scaring anyone by threatening a `national unity government' as he suggested during the interview quoted in the first paragraph of this article, he should think otherwise. Let him go ahead and invite Peres and Barak into the government - that is tantamount to political suicide - and he knows it.


There is an advertisement on Arutz 7 saying:

If I wanted to give Eretz Yisrael to Arafat -

*** I would have voted for Peres.

If I wanted to give Hebron to Arafat -

***I would have voted for Peres.

If I wanted to divide Jerusalem -

***I would have voted for Peres.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Netanyahu's mandate was, and still is, to keep Eretz Yisrael. If he has decided, for whatever reasons, to do otherwise, let him do it by himself, without us. We cannot allow ourselves to be sucked into thinking that we have no responsibility - that there is nothing we can do. If we continue to politically affiliate ourselves with him then we are guilty by association. There comes a time to end all other considerations - and that time is now.


Presented by The Jewish Community of Hebron
POB 105 Kiryat Arba, Israel 90100
Tel:972-9965333 Fax:972-2-9965304

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