tempt of the electorate for the parties.
What might have engaged the public's attention —
some straight talk about nagging issues and a mean-
ingful national agenda — has been lost among the jingles
and jabs. Israelis are acutely aware of their problems.
Unemployment is running at 11.5 percent. Absorption
is slow and immigration has dwindled — though per-
haps that's just as well, as a recent study shows that
Israelis rank new immigrants last among the sectors de-
serving of government aid and immigrant absorption far
below other social priorities.
But the politicians have, for the most part, avoided the
real issues, perhaps because Labor and Likud realize
they may be faced with the prospect of forming another
national unity government after an election stalemate.
The crisis in Gaza now is a case in point of the parties'
refusal to confront serious problems. For while the par-
ties were sniping at each other, the media were full of
shots of the misery caused by the long blockade of the
Strip: Palestinians on one side of the checkpoint virtu-
ally rioting to get out while Israelis on the other were
equally frantic to reach their employees and get them
back to work.
Gaza is the Palestinian problem at its most frightful,
and last week Israelis had their noses rubbed in it. In all
of it: the poverty, the filth, the crowding, the heat, the ha-
tred, hopelessness, violence — and the knowledge that
the candidates vying for power have no answer to the
question: Where will it all end?
After maligning each other for weeks, Labor and the
Likud may well join forces in yet another national uni-
ty government. Which makes citizens feel they were
right to ignore all the hullabaloo and should do so again
next time. Or perhaps dispense with elections altogeth-
A study by the Israel Democracy Institute shows that
almost half of the Israeli public yearns for a strong lead-
er who will shrug off the constraints of democracy and
"take matters in hand." Sounds scary, yet oddly in sync'
with the U.S., where Ross Perot leads the pack.
Here, too, the sense is that even an unknown is fa-
vorable to what we've got. ❑
Rabin: Restore Confidence With U.S.
Ranan Lurie, internationally
syndicated political analyst and
cartoonist, interviewed Yitzhak
Rabin in Israel. Mr. Rabin, 70,
is a former prime minister, for-
mer minister of defense and cur-
rent head of the Labor Party.
Ranan Lurie: Mr. Rabin, we
are facing a situation where the
relationship between the Unit-
ed States and Israel is very bad.
Do you think that if Prime Min-
ister Shamir were to win the
election, he could do anything
to improve the relationship?
Mr. Rabin: I will not speak in
the name of Shamir. I speak in
my name. First and foremost, I
believe the relationship between
Israel and the United States is
vital to Israel. In the last eight
years alone Israel got $24 billion
dollars in grants to make it pos-
sible for us to be stronger mili-
tarily and pay back our debts to
the United States.
The relationship between our
two countries has to be cher-
ished, it has to be cultivated, and
it must be subject, in all of our
considerations, to one issue: can
we be assisted by the United
States without being dictated to
by the United States?
I believe there is still a solid
basis of understanding and sym-
FRIDAY, JUNE 19, 1992
pathy to Israel by the
I and the Labor Party first priority. The main point is
American people. The
have opposed settle- to change the order of national
problem is the loss of
ments for the past 25 priorities in Israel, to focus on the
struggle against unemployment,
the leaderships of the
Second, I believe and to mobilize Israeli taxpay-
that then we can go er money that is wasted on the
Mr. Lurie: Every
into the details of the political settlements.
time the U.S. secre-
autonomy, that the
The government should not
tary of state comes to
guidelines will be to be involved in building plants,
Israel there is some
let the Palestinians factories, etc., but should create
kind of new settle-
run all their affairs by conditions where capitalists of
ment aggravating the
the United States and her multi-
peace negotiations. Is
Mr. Lurie: All national companies will want to
it possible to actually
start making peace.
Mr. Rabin: All
Mr. Lurie: Do you think that
Mr. Rabin: I be-
their affairs with the if you were prime minister, Pres-
lieve it is possible. Rabin: voters seem to trust him more than they do his party.
exception of security, ident Bush would be more fa-
First, Israel is corn-
foreign relations, and vorable to granting the
responsibility to the guarantees?
offer Jordan a real peace paral-
ly by signing the Camp David lel to the Egyptian peace?
Mr. Rabin: We oppose the
accords to assist in the creation
Mr. Lurie: Will there be sit- "political" settlements, and I hope
Mr. Rabin: Yes, I believe so.
of autonomy for the Palestini- And to facilitate a negotiation for uations where Israeli settlers will that this will facilitate Israel get-
ans in the territories.
autonomy, I will freeze the mas- have to report to Palestinian au- ting the loan guarantees from
As an interim agreement for sive investment, the big con- thorities?
the United States and European
a transition period this should struction of new unit houses in
Mr. Rabin: I don't want to countries. Without a lot of mon-
be the main effort in the peace what I consider to be the "polit- comment on that.
ey we cannot push ahead.
negotiations. Once you reach an ical" settlements. The settle-
Mr. Lurie: You say you would
Mr. Lurie: Doesn't Mr.
agreement with the Palestinians ments that are along the stop "political" settlements, but Shamir know all that?
there will be no problem in reach- confrontation lines, the Jordan you feel that the "military" set-
Mr. Rabin: Look, I explained
ing an agreement over a peace Valley and the Golan Heights, tlements are neglected by the my position. If you want to know
treaty with Jordan. It will facil- have very little being done for Shamir government right now? what is Shamir's government's
itate the approach to the tough- them by the present government.
Mr. Rabin: There are no "mil- position, go and ask them.
est nut, the Syrians.
All the efforts are made and di- itary" settlements, only ones that
Mr. Lurie: If elected, do you rected by the present (Shamir) help security, and they were ne- Copyright 1992 Ranan Lurie.
intend to offer autonomy to the government in the areas where glected. I believe they have to be Distributed by New York Times
Palestinians and on that basis
strengthened, but this is not my Special Features.