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July 15, 1994 - Image 65

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-07-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


sideshow. For most Israelis, the
main event was the latest bout of
name-calling between Prime
Minister Yitzhak Rabin and
Likud. It began at the Jerusalem
demonstration, when Likud lead-
ers dubbed as "criminal" the de-
cision "to bring Arafat to Eretz
Yisrael." The next day, Mr. Ra-
bin charged that "an evil circle of
collusion has emerged between
the Hamas murderers and Is-
raeli's radical right." He also
called Likud's accusation that his
government planned to concede
parts of Jerusalem — creating
the impression that Israelis are
not united in their stand on the
capital's future — "an act of po-
litical villainy."
In response, at a Knesset ses-
sion on no-confidence motions
(which were defeated, 56-47),
Likud Chairman Benjamin Ne-
tanyahu decried the "verbal hooli-
ganism of a prime minister who
has lost control of his mouth."
"Where do you think you are?"
he scolded Mr. Rabin for his
sharp attack on the opposition.
"Do you think this is Saddam
Hussein's Baghdad? Do you think
you're in Stalin's Soviet Union?"
But privately, various Likud
figures wondered aloud whether
Mr. Rabin hadn't correctly ob-
served that Likud was being
drawn into the wake of the rad-
ical right. Once again, the party
had failed to get its classic con-
stituency out on the streets. Most
protesters in Jerusalem were
young, religious people ("settler
types") — and they are not going
to win Likud the next election.
Worst of all, perhaps, in terms of
its effect on wider public, all this
rhetorical mayhem was going on
while a paternal Yassir Arafat
was wooing his own people as
"my brothers, my beloved."

The atmosphere had calmed
somewhat as the chief architects
of the peace process (Mr. Rabin,
Mr. Arafat and Shimon Peres)
flew to Paris to receive a peace
prize from UNESCO. But the im-
pact of the Arafat visit will not
soon be forgotten since, finally,
Palestinian autonomy is taking
on flesh and, despite the gloom-
and-doom of Israel's opposition,
the process is going forward.

In Paris, the three leaders will
discuss a timetable for extending
autonomy to the West Bank, the
redeployment of Israeli troops, and
scheduling Palestinian elections
(perhaps in October). No one is
betting they'll pull this off quick-
ly. But courtesy of Mr. Arafat's
arrival, there is a new sense of
movement in the air. Wherever
this historic week leads to, its most
decisive result is the growing re-
alization, and the spreading ac-
ceptance, of what Palestinians
have hoped and Israeli, have sus-
pected since Oslo: Things will nev-
er be the same, and there's no
turning back now. 0

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