One need not be a supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu or his political outlook to see through the lies currently being bandied about by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Finance Minister Ehud Olmert.
We are not speaking here about criticism, more-or-less legitimate, regarding Netanyahu's character, his tendency to create havoc and sow panic wherever he goes, his past, sullied with black slander, but rather on twisted facts.
One of these facts relates to the so-called "Wye River Memorandum."
Sharon, trying to prove that Netanyahu gave away more land than Sharon did in pulling out of Gaza, says that Netanyahu gave away 13 percent of the West Bank at Wye, receiving nothing in return.
Strictly speaking, it's not exactly true: Netanyahu was willing to transfer 27.2 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians.
At first, he was willing to transfer one percent into what was then known as "Area A," meaning full Palestinian control, and another 12 percent to "Area B," where Palestinians enjoyed civil authority but Israel retained overall security responsibilities.
At a second stage the agreement provided for an additional 14.2 percent to move from Area B status to Area A.
The agreement was signed in October, 1998, but the government only transferred two percent to the Palestinians before being toppled in May 1999.
One could claim that Netanyahu, sticking to his policy of "they give, they'll get," stopped carrying out the agreement. One could also charge him with giving up a quarter of the West Bank, and that only his political fall prevented him from carrying it out.
But the fact remains that in practice, Netanyahu in fact gave very little.
It should also be noted that the foreign minister at the time, namely Ariel Sharon, did little to scuttle the agreement.
How can this same man, who remained in office until that election, now criticize Netanyahu for resigning just before the Gaza pullout?
This question should be directed to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Best finance minister in generations
Sharon, who is attempting to crush his rival, says Netanyahu was a good finance minister because he received solid backing from the prime minister. Yet is a qualified “good” the grade Bibi deserves?
Some disagree with his moves as a finance minister, but the strong arguments against him come from the left-wing, “social” side of the political spectrum. When it comes to market economists, they view Netanyahu as the best finance minister in generations.
Both backers and objectors agree that is has been a long time since we saw a finance minister who was better at realizing his worldview. He was able to realize it even though is party’s constituency includes many of those who were hurt by his policies.
If Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer can face investors in London and tell them Israel’s economy will grow by 4.5 percent next year, this is thanks to the curbing of terrorism and Netanyahu’s economic policy.
Sharon the “bulldozer,” who in all his previous ministerial posts wasted plenty of public money, knows nothing about economics and did well to appoint a finance minister who is well familiar with the subject.
Be fair, Sharon, and do not dwarf the man who helped your government survive the tough years.
Stabbing Sharon in the back?
An argument repeated by Olmert as if he was possessed by spirits is that Netanyahu strives to remove a serving prime minister and is stabbing him in the back. Such charges imply a scheme that is not declared explicitly.
“Stabbing someone in the back,” is a treacherous, cowardly act, undertaken in dark alleys. The stabber is one who is afraid to face his rival. Is this what Netanyahu is doing? After all, he is challenging his rival openly, at the Likud Central Committee – a well-lit arena.
Meanwhile, “the removal of a serving prime minister” is a sentence uttered by Olmert as if saying it makes him nauseous, as if it was akin to desecrating the Temple. Yet after all, it is an act that is not morally flawed. There is nothing wrong with the dismissal of a party leader whose activists feel he betrayed them and veered off its fundamental principles.
When Sharon and Olmert torment Bibi and Likud members who oppose their way, they will do well to remember they were among the chief architects of right-wing chauvinism and their Likud rivals are also their students, and have not forgotten what they were taught.
There is no need to disparage them only because Sharon and Olmert discovered, after a delay of many years, that the earth revolves around the sun.