WHAT DO THE PARTIES STAND FOR
By Elyakim Ha'etzni
It is the unanimous opinion in Israel that these elections will decide
the future of Yesha, the Golan and Jerusalem.
This being so, one would expect all political parties to submit a clear, specific, picture as to the party's beliefs, intentions and plans with regard to such crucial matters. Unbelievably, this is not so in the case of the three big parties, who - jointly or severally - are to form the next government. The agenda of the extreme Left, Meretz and the Arab parties, is clear: A Palestinian state, the surrender of the entire Golan - down to the Kinnereth, the delivery of at least 90% of Yesha to the Palestinians, combined with the ethnic cleansing of almost all of the two hundred thousand Jews living in Judea-Samaria Gaza.
On the other side of the political spectrum the new party of the Right is also unequivocal: Not one more inch in Yesha, no retreat whatsoever from the Golan, no Palestinian state, the settlements to be developed on a grand scale.
But neither Meretz nor Cherut-Moledeth-Tekumah will be at the helm of the state in June 1999. But what is the message of the three big Oslo parties - Labour, Center and Likud and their political satellites - Shass, N.R.P. (Mafdal) and the Charedim? We never get a straight answer. Take the Golan. Netanyahu and Likud hint that they will accept a compromise, leaving in Israel's hands parts of Mount Hermon and some strategic heights. All the rest, which is perhaps 90% of the territory, to be evacuated. What is to happen with the Jewish villages, with the city of Katzrin, the industry, the agriculture, 20,000 human beings? Not a word, not a whisper.
Labour and Barak use Rabin's formula : As large as the dimensions of Peace - will be the dimensions of the land given back. This means - but does not explicitly say - all of the Golan. But does it include the shores of the Kinnereth and the El Hamma hot springs, which were parts of the Palestinian Mandate, and only later taken from us by force? Will the Syrians get a claim to the waters of the Kinnereth? Here too: Not a word, not a whisper.
Only one thing is known. In secret negotiations which took place some months ago between Netanyahu and Barak, in an attempt to iron out a common platform for a government of National Unity, both gentlemen very quickly reached a common formula dealing with the fate of the Golan. The "Third Way" party, whose sole orientation is the preservation of the Golan, published these days a challenge, demanding to bring to light the protocols of these Netanyahu-Barak deliberations, for the electorate to know, what they are voting for. The answer is silence.
As to Yesha - Judea, Samaria and Gaza - Netanyahu is bound by Oslo and Wye, and yet - the most important questions are still left open: Will the delivery of land resume after the elections, also the release of terrorists with "blood on their hands", although - as we all know - Arafat is still in breach of his undertakings? Will Netanyahu endorse a Palestinian state, albeit under conditions, such as demilitarization, etc., or is his opposition to Palestinian statehood unconditional?
How far is Netanyahu ready to go in surrendering land in Yesha? 60%? 70%? Will Netanyahu uproot settlements by force? Or will he abandon them to the tender mercies of the Palestinian terrorist dictatorship?
Is it conceivable that Netanyahu expects the so called "National Camp" to go to the polls without getting an answer to such elementary questions? Facing Arafat's plan to declare a Palestinian state, Barak too is silent. People guess that he will give his consent. But isn't it our right to get a clear answer? As to the extent of Labour's intended retreat from Yesha, a murky formula is used: Most settlers, although not most settlements, will remain under Israeli rule.
Question: Most settlers sit in a small numbers of townships - Ma'ale Adumim Har- Adar, Giv'at Ze'ev and Beitar, all close to Jerusalem, then Alfei Menashe near Kfar Saba, Kiriat Sefer close to Modi'in on the Green Line and so, too, Oranith. If the rest goes to Arafat - does it mean the relinquishment of 90% of the territory, some hundred and twenty settlements? And what will happen to them? Forceful eviction by the army, style Yamit? Incorporation in the Palestinian state?
The voter is called upon to decide on these questions , but he is not entitled to know.
We are left with the "Party of the Center", headed by Yitzchak Mordechai, which is famous for the vagueness of its formulations. They have not managed, yet, to write down a common party-platform. All they are saying is that they intend to create an atmosphere of "harmony and reconciliation". But how? And what is their specific stand as to the above mentioned life-and-death questions? Here, too, there are no answers.
But there are indications. The intimacy between Yitzchak Mordechai and Arafat's establishment is so deep, that according to Ma'ariv, quoting Associated Press, he did not hesitate to give them a friendly advice: Put a leash on terrorism, lest Netanyahu make political capital out of it. A.P. claims that Mordecai actually achieved an "understanding" with the P.L.O. to this effect. The implication of this is far-reaching . First, this is an admission, that terror, like a tap, can be opened and closed by Arafat, serving his political needs. A tap running blood.
Secondly, that Mordechai knows this and is ready to live with it. Finally, that Mordechai speaks and acts as if he and Arafat regard the downfall of Netanyahu as a common interest. Another indication as to Mordechai's orientation is his attack against Barak in the Arab Israeli weekly, "Kul il Arab". There he claims - I quote - that Barak "is not able and does not have the tools to negotiate with the Arabs honourably and sincerely". That Barak "opposed the Oslo agreements, drawing criticism from Rabin". That Barak "is the one who initiated the expulsion into the Lebanon of 400 Hamas men", while he, Mordechai, then Commanding General of the North "opposed this".
It is one and the same pattern : Here Mordechai invites the Israeli Arabs to join him against Barak. Further, Mordechai, accuses Netanyahu of freezing the implementation of Wye - thereby making negotiations with Syria impossible. This implies, that Arafat carried out his part in the Wye agreement faithfully and that Netanyahu's "lack of reciprocity" claim is untrue. This position of Mordechai is scandalous, because he himself voted in the government to discontinue Wye for the reasons given by Netanyahu.
Lastly, Mordechai, in his speech before the convention of his party, had this to say: (I quote): "Once I head a broad government, I shall be able to take harder, more difficult decisions". This is the most ominous indication of them all, because "difficult decisions" in Israel's political slang means cutting into the flesh until the bone.
It seems, that between the three of them, Mordechai - who calls himself "Center" - is the most extreme Left. But with him, too, we must make inferences, he does not tell us in a straightforward manner what his real platform is.
Such a short period before the elections the time has come for the nation to say to all three big parties: Don't insult our intelligence, don't treat us like voting cattle, give us the truth!
Elyakim Ha'etzni is an attorney and activist for the undiminished right of Israel to YESHA.