Photo: AP
Both of them belong in the opposition, Beilin says. Netanyahu (L), and Sharon
Photo: AP

The dangerous twins

Israel deserves prime minister with courage to make peace, commit to social justice

I have listened to them both. They are so much alike. The both live in the shadow of parents who raised them to always fear and never believe.


(Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon’s mother slept her entire life with an axe under the pillow and asked her son not to believe the Arabs.


Former Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historian father taught him to believe that force was the only factor at play.


Both Sharon and Netanyahu contend the region may be calmed through violence.


In fact, they are mirror images of one another. When Netanyahu carried out the Hebron agreement to the raving applause of the peace camp, and when he gave up 13 percent of the West Bank as part of the Wye Accords, people said that only he was capable of such wonderful acts.


Sharon, Netanyahu’s foreign minister at the time, reacted by telling the settlers to settle under every tree and on every available hill.


Both politicians crack under pressure


Now, when Sharon is leaving Gaza, Netanyahu is claiming that the withdrawal is giving terrorism a tailwind.


Both are carrying a lot of baggage. Sharon dragged an entire country into an unnecessary war in Lebanon. He also visited the Temple Mount and ignited the fire in September 2000. Netanyahu, for his part, opened the Western Wall tunnel, aroused the violence that followed, and even took pride in stopping the peace process.


Only people with short-term memories can believe that either one of them can bring an end to the Israeli-Arab strife. They both act only when they are pressured to do so, and they will both do everything in their power not to reach the moment of truth, when Israel will have to pay the price for peace.


Netanyahu is without a doubt a hysterical man, and becomes helpless amid the smallest amount of pressure. One example of this is his failed attempt at dismissing Sharon from his post. Sharon is also sensitive to pressure. He staunchly opposed the construction of the West Bank security fence, yet eventually built it due to public pressure. The man who once said that the fate of the former Gaza settlement of Netzarim is linked with the fate of Tel Aviv, withdrew from the entire Gaza Strip without getting anything in return (apart from the end of the occupation).


Weakening the weak and strengthening the strong


Never before was there a prime minister with such a dark cloud of corruption hovering above him. Sharon and his two sons are under police investigation, and an indictment has been filed against his son Omri, who is suspected of committing criminal acts to support his father’s election campaign. One would have to be extremely naive to believe Sharon was not involved in this.


However, Netanyahu is by no means the man who should be given the authority to fight corruption. The “Bar On – Hebron” affair ended on a sour note. It was a moment in which Israel’s democracy was facing one of the biggest challenges to its existence, and the affair almost ended Netanyahu’s political career.


As to the economy, Sharon is right when he says the current growth is a result of political developments related to the Road Map and Gaza. But he is also the prime minister who backed Netanyahu’s policy of weakening the weak and strengthening the strong.


Likud members are now tasked with choosing between Sharon and Netanyahu. Israel deserves a prime minister who is more capable than both of them; someone who would have the courage to make peace and commit to a policy of social justice.


We must not allow these two failed politicians dictate the country’s agenda in the next 14 months. The election campaign must be shortened to prevent a stalemate in the peace process, and every effort should be made so these two dangerous combatants will continue to fight each other in the opposition.



Yossi Beilin is chairman of the Meretz-Yahad Party

פרסום ראשון: 09.03.05, 12:52
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