By Ariel Sharon

Genuine leaders must tell the people the truth, especially in complex and difficult situations. Barak does the opposite. At best, he tells half-truths.

Once, when we were few and weak in military and economic terms, we acted like an independent country. Now that we are many and Israel is strong, we have almost become a client state. Our leaders receive call-up papers, telling them to report to an army base in the US where they will have two months to reach an agreement.

Time is short for Clinton and Assad. One needs an international achievement by the summer; the other needs money to buy modern arms as soon as possible. So our leaders pack their little suitcases and set off as instructed. But Israel has no reason to hurry. We need lots of time to examine Syria's true intentions.

The Barak government wants a diplomatic solution, knowing it has no solution to the country's economic and social problems. Perhaps it hoped that by selling off the Golan it would get the money to solve its economic problems. But even if Congress approves a security aid package it won't grant funds for evacuating settlements from the Golan and for redeployments. These expenses will fall on us.

For the cost of the civilian evacuation alone it would be possible to lay the foundations for railways and perfect public transport all over the country. It would be possible to create more than 120,000 jobs and solve the unemployment problem, or set up a free education system, including a long school day and free universities for all. It would be possible to set up thousands of startups and again have over 5 percent annual growth, to create a genuine economic and social revolution and move Israel fully into the information age.

The prime minister hasn't told the nation any of this. He says he will insist on our vital interests and that the agreement strengthens us. But that is not true.

BY giving up all the Golan and supporting the arming of Syria, Barak is increasing the danger of war. Yet when he was chief of General Staff he opposed withdrawal from the Golan even in time of peace. American generals who came to assess the military importance of the Golan agreed. The late Yitzhak Rabin said the same, and so, of course, did I. It's wrong to claim that a peace treaty is the answer to a security problem, because the Syrians' intentions may change and a withdrawal from the Golan and the arming of the Syrians are irreversible acts. I was the OC Northern Command and I remember how difficult it was to stand up to the Syrians when they were on the Heights and we were down below.

Barak hasn't demanded the removal of the Syrians from Lebanon. Nor has he insisted on renewed and efficient supervision of Iraq, which is apparently once more producing weapons of mass destruction. Instead, his aides marvel about the "smart weapons" we may receive. They're important, but not sufficient to decide battles. In Iraq the Americans and their allies didn't succeed in destroying even one mobile Scud launcher. In Kosovo the Serbs used simple diversionary tactics, and the Americans managed to destroy only 4 percent of the Serbian tanks.

Barak says he won't destroy the achievements of Shamir, Peres, Rabin, and Netanyahu. But there is a decisive difference between them and him. They all shrank from withdrawing from the Golan. And they were more experienced than he is. Only Barak wants desperately to do it, and he's not telling his government. It's clear he has made commitments to Clinton without discussing them here. This undemocratic behavior is intolerable. Mubarak knows it; Arafat has reported it. But the cabinet doesn't discuss it, the government hasn't decided it, and the opposition hasn't been informed.

Also, Barak is going to expel 18,000 Jews from their homes. This will be a mortal blow to Zionism and the settlement movement. Barak claims he spots "certain chinks in Syria's inflexibility." But the truth is that Syria has noticed gaping holes, to the point of collapse, in Israel's defenses [Editor's Note: Sharon is referring to Israeli national will, morale & Zionism and not to military might]. This, I'm sorry to say, is Barak's true achievement.


Ariel Sharon is head of the Likud and the former IDF general who saved Israel during the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

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