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http://www.gush-shalom.org/archives/article123.html


 

Barak's trap

By Uri Avnery, 16.12.2000


Ehud Barak has set a trap for himself. And because he is brilliant, the trap was so good that he promptly fell into it. To quote Psalm 7 (16): "He made a pit and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made."

For many months now he has been spreading the mantra: "I have turned every stone on the way to peace."I have given the Palestinians much more than any previous Israeli Prime Minister. But the evil Arafat (also the devious, treacherous terrorist, the corrupt liar who breaks every promise and violates every agreement) refuses my unprecedentedly generous offer. Instead of kissing both my hands and signing an agreement to end the historic conflict, he started to shoot, blow up, murder and butcher us.

Addressing the right-wing he spreads the opposite message: "I haven't given anything at all." The weakling Netanyahu has given them 19% of the West Bank and most of the town of Hebron. I am tough and haven't given them back even one square yard. Nothing, nothing at all!

Now Barak intends to combine these two messages and to contest the elections both as the man who-has-turned-every-stone and has-not- given-back-anything.

In order to reinforce the first message, he sends somebody to meet Arafat every day: the innocent Lipkin-Shahak, the not-so-innocent but willing Shlomo Ben-Ami and others. (He wanted to send Ami Ayalon too, but being an honest person, the former Security Service chief requested to see the files first, and after studying them for four hours declined to go.) Barak has read the polls that show that the majority of Israelis desire peace, and he is telling them: See, even in the middle of an election campaign, and even while Arafat is butchering us, I continue turning every stone. That's how I am, a peace-maker!

And at the same time he sends word to the right-wing: "Trust me, I won't give them anything," and continues enlarging the settlements at a frantic pace and "liquidating" Palestinian activists wholesale, in the style of Pinochet's death squads.

This may all look sophisticated. But in practice, it ensures his defeat by whoever stands against him.

There is a simple reason for it: The real leftists know that Barak's right-wing message is true, and that he indeed has not given back an inch. Therefore they will not vote for him. While the rightists and the bulk of the center really do believe the left-wing message, that he has made the Palestinians an incredibly generous offer, giving in to all their demands, and that they refused and then opened fire. Therefore, it is obvious that the Palestinians do not want peace. They only want to kill Jews, as we knew all the time. If so, the Likud has been right all along, and one must vote for Netanyahu or Sharon.

The truth is, of course, that the first mantra is totally mendacious. Barak's proposals are manifestly unacceptable to the Palestinians. Contrary to the story spread by his "leftist" agents, that he will settle for 5% of the West Bank and is ready to give back all the rest, he proposes to annex immediately 11% of the territory, in the form of "settlement blocs" that cut the West Bank up from north to south and from west to east. In addition, he wants to annex the Jewish areas near Jerusalem. Also, he intends to keep "temporarily" the "back of the mountains" along the Jordan and the Dead Sea. Only a fool would believe that in the distant future, after the Palestinians have already signed a declaration ending the conflict, when every square yard will be covered by a settlement, Israel will return these territories.

The practical upshot of this is that in his most generous offer, near the end of the negotiations, Barak intends to annex 30% of the West Bank. Since all the occupied territories amount to only 22% of the pre-1948 Palestine, Barak is ready to give back to the Palestinians only 15% of the country (70% of 22%), and these, too, only in the form of disconnected enclaves, each of which will be surrounded by Israeli settlers and soldiers.

At Camp David, Barak thought that the Palestinians would swallow this bitter pill if he sugar-coated it with nice words about Jerusalem. He did indeed break an Israeli taboo and made verbal concessions there. But when the Palestinians took a magnifying glass and examined the offer closely, they found out that the changes were mainly cosmetic. The sovereignty - and that's what counts - was left with Israel.

Summing up: Barak did not make an offer that the Palestinians could accept. The leftist stone-turning is make-believe, while the rightist wink is the real truth: He indeed did not give up anything.

Actually, one could offer the Likud some advice: If you folks can't make up your minds between Netanyahu and Sharon, why not take Barak? He does the same, and, contrary to the other two, he makes the whole world believe him.

Trouble is, the right-wing people and the bogus left-wingers believe the story of Barak's stone-turning and Arafat's Jew-killing, and therefore will vote against Barak, while the real left and the Arab citizens know the truth and therefore will not vote for him.

Out of sheer sophistication, Barak will find himself falling between all the stools.


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